Coming together over the last few years at school in Auckland, Emma Wagner (Lynfield College) and Maggie Burke (St Mary’s College) were originally happy playing covers in the Billie Eilish-inspired indie pop mould. Realising they wanted to go further they expanded the band, added a couple of original songs to the repertoire, and followed the universe’s misplaced signage to name themselves No Smoking After 3:15. NZ On Air Music included the band’s exuberantly catchy debut single Never Ever on their NewTracks compilation this September.
Emma Wagner – lead vocalist and rhythm guitar and bass. Caleb Young – lead guitar. Maggie Burke – drummer, some vocals and acoustic guitar. Tilly Wells – bass.
We are all involved in music at school and perform in jazz ensembles and other school bands. The involvement from the school through their music academy and itinerant teachers has helped expose us to all genres of music. The more opportunities to perform has definitely helped. Musical theatre training was very important to Emma’s vocal development.
Emma got interested in pop/rock after filling in at the last minute for lead vocalist in her friends’ band for their 2020 Bandquest performance. She discovered her voice was a good fit for the genre – and the belting she learned in musical theatre (which she was big into at the time) really suited rock songs. So, in 2021, she and drummer Maggie decided to start their own band, initially playing covers from Billie Eilish to Portishead. Indie pop was a heavy drawcard for them though lead guitarist Caleb (17), who was recruited the next year, was keen for a more rocky edge, which has helped develop their sound. In early 2022 Tilly (15) was recruited as the band’s new bass player. She has an eclectic taste in music and after her first gig discovered she really enjoys performing in front of an audience.
Joe Lonie (Supergroove) is Emma and Tilly’s bass and guitar tutor, but is also our mentor and coach and crucial in getting us stage-ready. He was a crucial part of producing the Never Ever single which was a finalist in the Play It Strange‘s 2022 Youthtown Songwriting Competition, which allowed us to record our first song professionally in the studio.
Our families are pretty involved. Emma’s dad films all of the gigs and helped create the first music video (out soon!) and her mum is a temporary band manager/admin and does all of the bookings and promo stuff. Maggie’s dad does some of the graphic design for posters.
The band’s name originated from the weirdly specific and enigmatic red and white sign they found propped on a shelf in Maggie’s study. Apparently, the sign (see photo) came from Maggie’s mum’s work and was to advise the staff to not smoke when kids knocked off school. Although personally against smoking, the band in no way promotes smoking during school hours… or after 3:15. And the band name is just a funny inside joke.
One big highlight was winning the Audience Choice award at the [YMCA] Raise Up’s New Found Sound 2022 competition – and of course recording the song (our very first professional recording experience) at Parachute Studios.
Another favourite moment is probably the Kingslander gig we did in June. So many of our friends and family turned up to perform and support us.
It’s catchy and very different from songs released by other bands our age.
With all this being new, we realised this song had potential when we performed it for the first time in front of our peers at the Young Blood Open Mic in Kingsland where the crowd started to really dig it. It’s a pretty catchy tune and the chorus is one to get stuck in your head for days.
The song came together in a two-hour session. It was fast. The lyrics are inspired from a storyline from the Netflix show Heartstopper, which Emma was completely obsessed with at the time. “Although the lyrics and storyline are based around Heartstopper, I think that this type of relationship can be common among people around our age. The song is about the anger and frustration that someone goes through in a one-sided relationship.” – Emma. We are pretty stoked with this banger and had a great time recording it.
“I love the instruments that drop out before the bridge and jump back in.” – Tilly
“I love the rhythm we play when we come in, it’s super attention-grabbing. Also the high note that Emma screams at the end of the song put everyone in awe when we first heard her record it.” – Caleb
“The really cool guitar strums at the very beginning of the song.” -Maggie
The song was independently written by the four of us at a single rehearsal, collaborating after Caleb brought his ideas of the guitar riff. Emma largely wrote the lyrics, bass line and melody. Maggie came up with the beat and drum fills. Vocal coach, Cherie Moore, helped Emma tweak the vocals. It all came about from there, and then with the magic of sound engineer Christian Tjandrawinata from Parachute Studios and with musical direction from Joe Lonie, the final product of Never Ever came to life.
“My favourite moment in the studio was either when we were all clapping, or at the very last line when we got all the parents to scream with us.” – Maggie
We would love listeners to enjoy the song, we’d also like them to consider the way to treat people right.
Joe Lonie (band mentor). Sherry Wagner (admin/temp manager).
Currently we are just finishing our music video for Never Ever. We also are working on a couple of new songs that we will hopefully get to record in November!
Stream Never Ever!!