I N T E R V I E W
by Ian Duggan
Thrash metal band Alien Weaponry hit Mount Maunganui on Saturday as part of their ‘Trembling Earth Tour’, on the back of their latest single and brand new video ‘Rū Ana Te Whenua’— a song inspired by a tupuna of two of the members who fought at Pukehinahina (Gate Pa). Hamilton will have to wait until September. The band have a number of Hamilton connections, including the father of two members, and band manager, being the front-man for ‘80s new wave band ‘Ebony Sye’, who were based in Hamilton for a time, while their latest video was made by ex-Hamiltonian Greg Page. We talked to the band about their cultural awareness, influences, Deathnir t-shirts and what they think about their father’s music!
HUP: I find your band fascinating, as you go against so many expectations people might have of a metal band. As well as your latest song, you have released ‘Urutaa’, about cultural misunderstandings, and ‘Raupatu’, about Māori land confiscations. Do you feel your songs might actually act to educate a lot of New Zealand metal fans about these cultural and social issues?
Alien Weaponry: Yeah, well it seems they already have. We didn't really set out to educate, we were just writing about stuff we knew from our history. It kind of grew from there.
HUP: You guys are so culturally aware for people so young. What themes should we expect you to tackle next?
Alien Weaponry: We used to have to listen to our dad go on about stuff in history, especially when we were driving anywhere. He would be like, "guess what happened here"? But as we got older we realised how awesome our own history is. [Guitarist/vocalist] Lewis [de Jong] was really into the Vikings TV series a while back and he was like, "Maori history is as brutal and interesting as the Vikings; even more maybe". (continued below)
HUP: Who are your biggest influences musically, and are there politically aware bands that have inspired you?
Alien Weaponry: We listened to all sorts of things growing up, but I suppose bands like Rage Against the Machine probably shaped the stuff we like to write about. Also Public Enemy, Metallica, even New Zealand bands like Subtract, Cripple Mr Onion and non-metal like Che Fu. Lewis is a big Lamb of God and System of a Down fan and [bass player] Ethan [Trembath] is crazy into Trivium. We have all been listening to Twelve Foot Ninja lately. Gojira are pretty good too.
HUP: I notice in a lot of your photos at least one of you will be wearing a t-shirt featuring locals ‘Deathnir’, which I think is a fantastic promo opportunity for them. Are you guy’s fans of their music?
Alien Weaponry: We always wear other New Zealand band merch on stage. It started when Paul Martin sent us some New Zealand band merch after we opened for Devilskin in 2014. Among the merch was a ‘Leave The Dead’ shirt that Ethan always used to wear on stage. He grew out of it and we were like "let's ask bands we play with to merch swap". Yeah, we have played with Deathnir a bit and they are cool guys. We wear the merch of bands we gig with and who are great dudes. New Zealand metal represent \m/
HUP: You are based in Northland, but you have a Hamilton connection through Lewis and Henry’s father (and band manager) Niel de Jong, who was in ‘80s new wave band Ebony Sye (who were based here for a time). Ebony Sye’s style was quite different from Alien Weaponry! What do you think of your father’s music?
Alien Weaponry: Hahaha, yeah dad played in several bands in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Some of it hard rockish and some not so much, like Ebony Sye. It's pretty funny for us to hear dad sing. Now we are touring we realise just how many venues he used to play at when he was in bands. It’s a crack up. We started playing music 'cause dad had his Marshall and guitars sitting around in the lounge as kids and we got into jamming early. He is our live sound tech now. He used to work in recording studios as an engineer, so it's all good.
HUP: What are the plans for the bands future?
Alien Weaponry: We want to get our album finished and out and our ultimate plan is to be touring the big European festivals like Wacken in Germany.