ALIEN WEAPONRY Talk Māori Culture, GOJIRA's Influence, Love Of LAMB OF GOD
September 8, 2021, a week ago
You know the expectations are high when decorated industry-mag Metal Hammer thrusts a band on their first issue of the year with the tag: “Meet the Future of Metal.”
No pressure, right?
Such is the trajectory of the seemingly unstoppable rocket ship that is Alien Weaponry, a New Zealand three-piece that incorporate groove and thrash metal elements with traditional Māori language, lyrics and instrumentation. Composed of brothers Henry and Lewis de Jong and recent addition of bass Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds, Alien Weaponry are set to uncork their highly anticipated sophomore album Tangaroa on September 17 through Napalm Records.
Before the official release, and their massive world tour with France’s resident metal-gods Gojira, the brothers caught up with BraveWords for a deep dive in the bands’ meteoric rise, bringing Māori culture to the masses, the albums and bands that kicked off their metal-addiction and much more!
BraveWords: The amount of anticipation and expectation surrounding Alien Weaponry is massive. How strange and somewhat disheartening has it been having that momentum halted with the pandemic?
Henry: “I mean, we’ve kind of had the blessing of being here. So we’ve been able to at least do shows in New Zealand. You know, we haven’t been able to go overseas, so that’s given Tūranga a chance to get settled with everything. It’s given us the opportunity to keep our touring stamina up a little bit. You can never really fully tour New Zealand like you do the states or Europe. We’re a pretty small country, but it still provides some pretty cool opportunities for not only just being able to do shows, but being able to do things like film them and be one of the only bands that can put live shows out online and actually have a crowd there.”
BraveWords: What are some of the earliest metal bands you can remember, either locally or international, that lured you into the genre?
Lewis: “Lamb Of God are one my all-time favorite metal bands. It’s probably one of the main reasons why I’m actually doing this and having gone crazy.”
Henry: “They’re kind of the first metal band I discovered on my own. It was kind of what got me into discovering new music and not just listening to the stuff that Dad played, but was kind of how I was introduced to metal. As far as local influences go, there’s not a whole lot, at least in the metal scene. If we’ve got influences they’re definitely more recent and very few off-genre.”
BraveWords: Getting to tour with Gojira later this year and in 2022, you both really borrow that mix of groove metal with the idea of incorporating real world, relevant themes with your music. How influential do you see a band like that in how you’d like to take the next necessary steps forward?
Henry: “Pretty massive in my book. I mean, I discovered Gojira back in 2013-14. They just blew me away. Like I had no idea that the band could be that good and that technical while sort of being so groovy. Some of the hardest bits to play in their songs are also the most groovy. It was a very inspiring thing for me when I discovered Gojira.”
BraveWords: The idea of incorporating Māori language, music and history in your music seems like an absolute no-brainer. It would have been easy to just play as a straight up thrash or groove metal band. How early on did you know that this was a conscious step you wanted to take with Alien Weaponry?
Lewis: “When we first wrote a song in Māori, we were kind of just experimenting. We did it because we wanted to enter a competition called Smokefree Pacifica Beats. And to be honest, I didn’t know how people would take it. I thought there was a good chance that people wouldn’t get it. Is there a niche for this sort of experimentation? When there was kind of an overwhelming positive reception from it, we kind of just went with it, kept going with it. So it wasn’t really planned out as such it just kind of happened that way.”
BraveWords: Continuing with that, fans have really gravitated towards your sound, whether it’s in English or not. You see fans doing the Haka dance at your shows. How cool has that been to see you guys responsible for being able to spread that piece of your home country?
Lewis: “Definitely. I mean, it’s pretty wild to see people on the other side of the world who are actually properly taking an interest. And not only like what the songs say, but we’ve had a couple people actually come and tell us that they had been studying in university, you know, studying Māori and actually going above and beyond, informing themselves about these things. Native people who aren’t native English speakers and then delving into the realm of learning Māori. A lot of New Zealanders, most of the New Zealanders, haven’t delved that far.
Harry: I mean, I feel like because it’s been so popular overseas, like more New Zealanders are inclined to get interested in it. That’s kind of the way it works over here. It’s like until it’s popular in the US or Europe, a lot of people come here for a lot of stuff that’s just kind of purely New Zealand based. It helps a lot with the kind of thing that we’re trying to do as well. Part of the reason we’re still doing this is because we feel like it inspires people to learn more about New Zealand history and learn more about Māori culture.”
BraveWords: You mentioned your love of Lamb Of God earlier. Were there definitive albums that stood or stand out for you as holy grails? What would you recommend to a non-metal fan?
Lewis: “Either Sacrament or Ashes Of The Wake. Although someone who isn’t into metal might listen to that and say holy shit, that’s way too much.”
Henry: “Lamb Of God is like jumping in the deep end, as far as listening to metal.”
Lewis: “Something like Tool would be more accessible to someone. It’s a bit easier to listen to from a nonmetal perspective.”
Henry: “Me and Lewis, we both grew up listening to metal, so there wasn’t kind of that discovery phase for us. We always knew that metal existed. We were probably listening to it before we even came out. It was kind of just that going through the different, I guess, heaviness stages as we discovered more and more bands. And I think one of the kind of wow moments for me as far as drumming goes was one of my friends showed me Infant Annihilator, the drum play through. “C**tcrusher” I think it was.”
BraveWords: Having the chance to play in your home country is one thing, but how jacked are you guys to get back on the road and really continue that momentum you’ve built on tour?
Henry: “You have no idea. We’re so excited for this, not only to be touring again, but to be doing it with Gojira as well. It’s going to be amazing. There’s also a few festivals and stuff that we were booked on for 2020 and we’re finally going to be actually getting to play them in 2022. So yeah, I mean that’s going to be a good feeling actually being able to do that.”
(Photos - Piotr Kwasnik)