Stuss chat music, mentors and leaving The X Factor

We talk to the boys from Stuss

Their elimination was overshadowed by the sacking of judges Willy Moon and Natalia Kills, but Auckland rockers Stuss don’t blame the bullying scandal for being the first act booted from The X Factor NZ.

“I don’t think the result would’ve been any different,” drummer Luke Lattimore tells Woman’s Day. “It was hard to lose two of the judges that supported us – we didn’t expect it was going to happen – but it didn’t knock our confidence.”

Remaining mentors Melanie Blatt and Stan Walker “were really supportive through it”, says Luke. “They really stepped up as judges, were really positive and just concentrated on the talent. But it all came down to the public vote. Lili [Bayliss] is an amazing, amazing singer and we would’ve been devastated if she had left.”

For now, the 17-year-old students have returned to Rangitoto College to finish off Year 13. Guitarist Josh Strand insists, “We will continue playing music together as Stuss. Nothing would stop us from that because we enjoy it and are all passionate about it.”

The group, who have won the Best Song Award at the Smokefree Rockquest for the past three years, famously caught Mel’s eye on the last season of The X Factor, when they were a backing band for contestant Cassie Henderson.

Stuss frontman Cody Wilcox says, “We’ve known each other since Year 7, which was when we first met. Apart from Luke, we were all in the same class. We weren’t really close, but we’ve got to know each other over the years and we’re all such good friends that it’s cool to write music together and bounce ideas off each other, which makes our music better.”

From left: Pierre Beasley, Luke Lattimore, Josh Strand and Cody Wilcox

Bass player Pierre Beasley is known as “the funny one” and is the most musical of the group. And – form an orderly queue, ladies – he’s now single after going through a “hefty break-up”.

His bandmates were the first people Pierre talked to about the split. He explains, “They’re all my closest friends and the band is a massive part of my life. What they did was basically talk to me about it and then change the subject. The boys really help a lot with personal problems.”

Cody is the “jokester” and the “free spirit” of the band, as well as the main songwriter. He’s been dating fellow Rangitoto College student Sophie for three years and says the most romantic thing he’s ever done for her is write a song. So how does she feel about groupies? Cody says, “She said obviously don’t do anything. Trust is a big one.”

Josh is known as the band’s “mirror man” as he spends so long getting ready in the mornings. “I just like to change up my look,” he explains. “It’s fun, like a hobby almost.” Josh is single at the moment and is open to the idea of dating a Stuss supporter. He says, “That really depends on who they are. You could meet a fan that’s genuine.”

Meanwhile, Luke may be the band’s “ladies’ man”, but he has just celebrated his two-year anniversary with his girlfriend Sarah, who has a “bubbly personality and amazing looks”. The volunteer firefighter and aspiring pilot says, “I try to be romantic and surprise her with little things she’s not expecting, like flowers and chocolate.”

Read all about what the Stuss boys think of Willy and Natalia in our latest issue.

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