Witney lads beat 20,000 bands in national competition

Contraband, featuring, from left to right, Marc Eaglestone, Dan Hobbs, Shaun Thomas, Ricky Hill and Del Mobbs

Contraband, featuring, from left to right, Marc Eaglestone, Dan Hobbs, Shaun Thomas, Ricky Hill and Del Mobbs

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

ROCK group Contraband say the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since they were crowned winners in a national music competition.

The five-strong group are flying high after beating 20,000 other groups to be named the best rock band at the Live and Unsigned 2012 contest on Saturday night.

The five young men, who practice in Stonesfield, performed in front of thousands at London’s O2 Arena, were also awarded the Best Original Song.

The band, all based around Witney, hope their win could be the start of something big.

Lead singer Shaun Thomas, 24, said: “It feels good. We are over the moon.

“It was a long and hard day, but worth it in the end.”

The band formed in 2004 and is made up of Mr Thomas, drummer Ricky Hill, 19, guitarist Dan Hobbs, 22, bass player Del Mobbs, 27 and freestyle rapper Marc ‘Pot Luck’ Eaglestone, 20.

They won local, regional and area finals to reach the grand final and performed a mix-up of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and their own original song Stand and Stare.

The final was judged by Kerrang radio station’s Alex Baker, Bloodhound Gang drummer Adam Perry, TotalRock presenter Holly Wright and other big names from the music industry.

Comments about Contraband from the judges included they “managed to mash up a mind-melting combination of elements with charisma”, were “definitely one of the more original acts” and had a “great ability and sense of effortless”.

Mr Thomas said: “We felt pretty good and confident that we had a good job, but that’s all we could hope for.

“We came off afterwards and decided it didn’t matter if we won anymore as we had played as well as we could.”

The band have now won a slot at the Butserfest festival in Hampshire supporting Kids in Glass Houses, a drum kit and a year’s subscription to the Bandwagon website.

But they hope the biggest prize will be the doors it now opens for their future.

Friend and manager Ben Drew-Smythe said the band had drummed up a lot of interest from promoters and other music industry experts.

He said: “The phones have been ringing off the hook since Saturday.

“We never thought we would win both the best original song and the best rock band so it was incredible.”

He added: “The place was packed.

“There were more than 3,000 people there and a fantastic atmosphere.

“Who knows what is next?”

Click on the links to find out more about the band or watch their video here via Youtube .

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