IT is only the end of March but already it has been a whirlwind year for Bolton band So Called Friend.

Guitar and vocalist Jonny Rogers, bassist David Grundy and drummer Nathaniel Jepegnanam are on a high after beating off stiff competition from a number of local acts to win a prestigious battle of the bands competition judged by former Elbow star Richard Jupp.

The drummer – who recently left the Bury-based band to concentrate on solo projects including his drum school – crowned So Called Friend as winners at the event at Band on the Wall in Manchester last month, and praised their performance, saying: "This band had everything… they owned the stage."

Jonny, aged 17, who lives in Little Lever, says he hoped that this is just the beginning for the rock three-piece.

He said: “We are still buzzing from winning the battle of the bands competition. The bar was set quite high so it was amazing to be told we were the best.

“The first round was at the Rabbit Saloon in Horwich, which we won and went through to the finals at Band on the Wall.

“It was a really good gig. We felt quite confident because we knew we’d played well, but we weren’t expecting such nice comments from Richard. He came to both events – it’s really good to see that he takes such an interest in new music.”

The lads formed at Canon Slade School last year, playing their first gig at a competition at the school in November to rapturous applause. It was when they realised that they had something special.

The band, who write all their own music, recently recorded their first single Asleep in the Fire at Big Unit Studios, Bolton, and also hope release their debut EP in the summer.

Jonny said: “We’re really excited with what the future holds for us. We’re currently mixing our debut single and hope to have an EP out soon too. After then we want to start performing more gigs.

“Bolton’s a great place for music. There are some fantastic bands doing the rounds – and we hope to soon be one of them.”

So Called friend will play at the Market Place shopping centre on Saturday. For more information visit