Interview: Teen thrash sensation Alien Weaponry discuss the creation of their Māori metal sound
Video by Napalm Records/YouTube

Formed in 2010 by brothers Lewis and Henry de Jong when they were just 8 and 10 years old, the three-piece thrash metal band from Waipu, New Zealand, Alien Weaponry, is taking the music world by storm with their fusion of Te Reo Māori (the native language of New Zealand) and thrash metal music. Native warriors would intimidate opponents before battle by stomping and jumping up and down with their eyes wide open and tongues out as if they were demonically possessed. This empowering, cathartic tribal energy is badass and lends itself so well to thrash and heavy music in general. Lewis de Jong (guitar and vocals), Henry de Jong (drums), and Ethan Trembath (bass guitar) have been called the Māori version of Sepultura. The band is currently on the road with Ministry (tickets), AXS had the opportunity to sit down with the guys before a recent show and learn a little bit more about their roots and incredible new sound.

AXS: In the documentary on YouTube it looks like you grew up in a fairly remote area in New Zealand, where were you exposed to metal music?

Lewis De Jong: Earlier on my brother and I grew up in Auckland, which is New Zealand’s biggest city, but then we moved to Waipu about seven years ago. When we were living in Auckland our dad used to play us all kinds of music, anything from Bob Marley to Metallica and Pink Floyd. When we moved we sort of began to explore a little bit on our own and kind of took a liking to heavy metal and started discovering bands for ourselves. Just before we left we decided to form a band called Alien Weaponry and that band has been going for about nine years now.

AXS: When did Ethan join you two? Was that the official forming of the band?

Ethan Trembath: I lived in Waipu my whole life, I met Lewis in primary school and I got to know him better in circus school.

AXS: Circus school?

E.T.: You know, juggling and cycling and stuff. It was for younger kids, I think I was 10. We had a circus gig and for some reason, mum couldn’t pick me up from the gig so Lewis invited me back to his place. I think there were three other mates too. Henry and Lewis were in the band room and jamming, which I thought was pretty cool. They didn’t have a bass player at the time, so their dad handed me the bass. Turned out I was the only kid there that had arms long enough to reach the end. It was the first I ever played and kind of self-taught from there.

AXS: Sounds like your dad was a big influence.

L.D.: Yeah, he has played music pretty much his whole life. There was always music in the house and guitars in every room. He was always really supportive of creativity and all that kind of stuff.

AXS: What is the music scene like in Waipu? Is there one?

L.D.: Ha! No, not really. Waipu has a population of about 2,000, in the summer it goes up to about 10,000 because it is right next to the beach and all the tourists come. There is one primary school and there is no high school. We are pretty much the only musicians we know there.

E.T.: New Zealand isn’t a very big place, there isn’t like a booming music scene or anything like that.

AXS: You are all teenagers, have you noticed any change in how the other kids back home treat you now that you have had some success?

L.D.: Yeah there is a lot of having to really look at people now to determine what their true intentions are and if they are someone who is just trying to jump on the bandwagon.

E.T.: Sometimes I have noticed certain people have become friendlier as the band has kind of moved on. I have a group of friends that I have had for a long time and I just keep them closer.

AXS: The way you celebrate your indigenous heritage in your music is honorable and the way the native chants groove with thrash metal is so catchy. The songs are brilliant. Can you explain how that all came about? Your great-great-great grandfather, Te Ahoaho, died in a historic battle, but you came up with the fantastic idea to write a phenomenal song about it.

E.T.: When we first started out we were just writing in English. We had done about two tours at this point. Neil, Henry and Lewis’ dad would tell us stories wherever we went. You know, like what battle happened there or what Hikoi, a march, that took place there. We thought they were pretty cool, but we were young kids and thought they were just cool stories. A couple of years later our mates from a band called Strangely Arousing won a competition where you had to incorporate your native language or culture or native instruments and they actually won. A couple of them used to play in a metal band. We thought why don’t we try writing a Tangi and keeping it metal. We tried it out to see how people liked it, the response was good so we kept on doing it. It all sort of came about by accident.

AXS: Congratulations on getting signed to a record label. How did you meet Napalm, guess New Zealand isn’t as remote as people think!

L.D.: Napalm came about after we got signed to a music management company Dust Machine. My dad and I met them at a music managers forum. This German guy struck up a conversation with me, he was friends with this other guy Niko that had a management label in Germany. Basically, we got talking and we decided to go with him, they became our management for everything except New Zealand and Australia. From there, they approached people like Napalm, then things really started.

Visit the Alien Weaponry website for more information n the band or to purchase their explosive new album Tu’. Catch the band live on tour with Ministry (tickets) and feel the mana for yourself. They may be young but they are no joke, this is a highly talented and entertaining band with a bright future ahead of them. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience something new, exciting and very special. Watch the new video "Kai Tangata" above for a taste of what Alien Weaponry have to offer.