Hardline Media presents
ALIEN WEAPONRY Tickets
12:00pm, Sat 16 December, 2017
Oxford Art Factory, NSW
Teenage thrash metal band Alien Weaponry shock and surprise audiences on a number of levels. Their songwriting is complex, developed and highly political. Their live performance energy is startling, with just two fifteen year olds commanding the front of stage as effectively as four and five piece bands three times their age. But perhaps most surprising of all, given their blonde flailing locks and Viking appearance, many of their songs are in New Zealand's native language, Te Reo M ori.
In fact, guitarist/lead singer Lewis de Jong (15) and his brother, drummer Henry (17), are of Ngati Piki o and Ngati Raukawa descent - they call themselves 'Stealth Mori.' They attended a full immersion kura kaupapa M ori (M ori language school) until they were seven years old, where singing waiata and performing haka were a daily routine. Also ingrained in their early learning were stories of New Zealand history from a M ori perspective - giving rise to songs like their first two singles 'Urutaa' (about an early Maori-European contact incident which resulted in an outbreak of sickness; and the subsequent revenge - the burning of the ship The Boyd and the massacre of its crew) and 'Raupatu' (about land confiscations by the colonial government).
Their latest single, 'R Ana te Whenua' (the trembling earth), released 30 June 2017, refers to the mighty battle at Pukehinahina/Gate Pa in 1864 where their ancestor, Te Ahoaho, lost his life. The band's English material is equally controversial, with songs like 'Hypocrite,' 'Rage,' 'PC Bro',' and 'The Cult of Sanitised Warfare' calling out everyone from teachers and friends at school to the media for variously glorifying and destroying the lives of television and sports stars. "We listened to all sorts of music when we were younger," says lead singer and guitarist Lewis de Jong, "but we were drawn to thrash metal because it's quite complex music, and it is a great vehicle for expressing real stories and emotions."
"It also works with Te Reo M ori," adds his brother Henry. "Both the musical style and the messages have a lot of similarities with haka, which is often brutal, angry and about stories of great courage or loss."
Other early musical influences included Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and Metallica; and the brothers wrote their first song together when they were 8 and 10 years old. The band's name was also decided then - inspired by the movie District 9. Bass player Ethan Trembath (15) and guitarist Lewis met while honing their unicycling skills at the local circus school in Waipu, Northland, where the de Jong brothers moved to in 2012. He scored the job in Alien Weaponry because he could play the ukulele and (at age 10) he was the first one of their friends who could reach the end of the bass guitar.
Initially, the band's focus was competing in NZ school band competition, Smokefree Rockquest. As they amassed more material, they began touring locally, and had a breakthrough in 2014, when Paul 'The Axe Man' Martin played their demo 'Cages' on The Rock FM as part of his radio show 'The Axe Attack'. He subsequently invited the trio to open for his own highly successful band, Devilskin, on their sell-out 'We Rise' tour.
A year later, Tom Larkin (drummer for NZ hard rock legends SHIHAD) saw some of their clips on YouTube, resulting in an opening slot with SHIHAD, and an ongoing relationship with Larkin, who is producing their first album. "These kids are leagues beyond their years," he says. "This is some seriously crushing metal."
Winning the national finals of both Smokefree Rockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats in 2016 (the only band ever to win both competitions), as well as independently obtaining a $10K NZ On Air grant a few months earlier, has put Alien Weaponry firmly on the global music radar as a force to be reckoned with.
Metal Hammer magazine recently included the trio in its Ten Best Metal Bands from New Zealand feature (Oct 2016), describing them as "One for the future."
And it's not just the metal community who are taking notice.