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Alien Weaponry has taken the metal world by storm.
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The New Zealand-based thrash metal trio released their debut full-length album Tū in July this year, to a resoundingly positive response. Renowned for infusing thrash metal with Māori language and history, Alien Weaponry has captivated audiences around the world. In the wake of this, Alien Weaponry has graced not only Australian shores but also some of the biggest festivals in Europe. This March, they are bound for Melbourne and Sydney’s own Download festival.
Alien Weaponry are bound for Download 2019, and drummer Henry De Jong is pretty excited to share a festival billing with some of the bands that have inspired him for a long time. “Playing with Slayer should be a real good time,” he says, “you know, just being on the same music bill will be awesome…I mean Judas Priest we’ve played with several times in Europe and they’re an amazing band to watch live and I just really, really love just going and watching their set, and I mean for me, Anthrax were a big childhood band… and that should be cool to go and see Anthrax. And then, Alice In Chains, again, another childhood favourite, so should be good.”
On what Alien Weaponry’s fans can expect from their set, de Jong hints intriguingly at what may be, as he suggests, “It’ll be all stuff from Tū …we may have a couple of new tracks done by then, so depending, we may or may not be playing unreleased material as well, so yeah, look out for that.”
Alien Weaponry has recently landed from touring in Europe. Of course, there must have been some amazing experiences. “Ah, definitely”, De Jong recalls, “I’d have to say playing Wacken Open Air, which has been a dream of ours since we formed the band. Our goal was to be playing there before I was twenty, and I’m eighteen now, so it was pretty awesome, yeah.”
[Our set will] be all stuff from Tū …we may have a couple of new tracks done by then, so depending, we may or may not be playing unreleased material as well, so yeah, look out for that.
If you can believe it, they were only eighteen, and killing it at Wacken! Alien Weaponry formed in 2010, when the founding members were only eight and ten years old. Obviously, being in a band is something they’ve always wanted to do, as De Jong explains, “Yeah it really is, its been something that me and Louis were talking about since were probably about five or six years old, so you know that was the thing we wanted to do, and we’re actually making it happen now, which is really, really awesome.”
And ‘making it happen’, they certainly are! Hailing from New Zealand, Alien Weaponry has become known for its lyrical use of Māori language, which as De Jong explains, was a conscious musical decision made by the band while participating in Pacific regional competitions. “So,” he begins, “pretty much [the decision to sing in Māori] came about because we were watching some other bands who had been entered in SmokeFree RockQuest, [an NZ high school music competition] and one of the bands, a couple of the members had also entered this contest called SmokeFree Pacifica Beats, and they were in a rock band in RockQuest and a reggae band in the Pacifica one, and so their reggae/ska band was singing in Māori, doing a kind of a more typical Māori sound, that’s often the genre associated with Māori music is reggae, so pretty much we thought about it, and we went well, what if we kept doing metal, but also did stuff in Maori, and kind of tried it out, we wrote Rū Ana Te Whenua and entered it in the contest and everyone seemed to really, really, like it. So we kept writing in Māori and kept going from there.”
Using Māori lyrically has encouraged the members of Alien Weaponry to use it more often in day-to-day life, as they did when they were much younger. “Ah yeah,” De Jong says of speaking in Māori outside of Alien Weaponry, “here and there I’ll have a little chat to mum or dad in Māori …when we were young we used to speak it a lot around the house, mostly because of the fact that Lewis [De Jong, vocalist/guitarist], for the first two years of his life, couldn’t speak English, so he actually only knew Māori when he was two, so yeah we were speaking Māori a lot more when we were younger, but now that we have started doing it with the band we have started picking it up again.”
ALIEN WEAPONRY AUSTRALIAN DATES 2019
Wed 6 March // The Zoo // Brisbane
Sat 9 March // Download Festival // Sydney
Mon 11 March // Download Festival // Melbourne
Wed 13 March // The Basement // Canberra
Thu 14 March // Enigma Bar // Adelaide
Sat 16 March // Amplifier // Perth