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Interviews : “We do get shit for our age” – An interview with Henry de Jong (Alien Weaponry)

By on May 7, 2018

Alien Weaponry – Henry de Jong

These guys could be bigger than Lorde in terms of our (New Zealand’s) musical export,”

When a mainstream commentator declares that a metal band could achieve a broader reach and a bigger audience than a commercial titan like Lorde, one does wonder if the musical world is starting to shift, if ever so slightly. New Zealand’s TV One Breakfast music correspondent, Sarah Gandy knows her stuff, and like many of us who have had the opportunity to sample Alien Weaponry’s considerable chops and converse with the brothers Lewis de Jong (Guitar/Vocals), Henry de Jong (Drums), and bassist Ethan Trembath, her comments are far more than a polite gesture.

The band’s debut is called Tū, an album sure to appeal to the broad church of fans of groove and thrash metal. Think Pantera, Prong, Lamb of God and a hint of Vanity/Nemesis (’90) era Celtic Frost. is also unique as it contains lyrics sung in Te Reo, a language spoken by the Māori people. Alien Weaponry’s members all have a strong connection to Māori heritage, demonstrating an eagerness to ensure their music is a vehicle that fosters both respect and a continuation of culture. “Rū Ana Te Whenua” and the epic “Kai Tangata” are just two examples of cuts with lyrics sung in Te Reo. Henry provides some commentary.

Lewis and I started off our schooling at Kura Kaupapa Māori, which is pretty much Māori school. I went there for, I think it was about three or four years before I moved schools. We grew up speaking it. With the band, we’ve got back into it. It was a bit of time where we ourselves lost it, just because of the fact that it is so rarely spoken here… it is a hard thing to keep up for a lot of Māoris and Māori speakers here.”

It could be said that the trio are breaking down boundaries. Lewis is keen to ensure he plays a role in removing obstacles or perceptions regarding who can participate in the learning and practice of Te Reo.

One thing I like to address is that a lot of New Zealanders seem to think that, ‘Oh, I’m not going to learn Māori because I’m not Māori, and why would I do that?’ You don’t have to be Māori to learn how to speak to Te Reo Māori, and I don’t think it’s disrespectful if you approach it in a right way.”

Brothers de Jong met Ethan in an unlikely location. Lewis talks about the support they received at home and how Ethan came to become Alien Weaponry’s bassist.

Henry and I have grown up in a really musical household, and we’ve always been encouraged to express ourselves through our music. As I and Henry were jamming as kids, we just kind of built it from there… about six years ago, we moved up to Waipu, and that’s where we found Ethan. So, funny story how we meet Ethan actually. We actually meet in a circus school. “

Given the extraordinary talent the lads in Alien Weaponry demonstrate through their ferocious live performances, the maturity of , and given each member is in their teens, do they find that a particular focus of questioning from journo types is their relative youth? Lewis again offers the following insight.

My answer to that would be like we used to, but kind of since everything has happened like this year with all the festivals in Europe and kind of just everything that’s happening, and how well everything is going, I think a lot of people that were giving us shit for being so young and kind of thinking that maybe we weren’t that great or whatever have kind of shut up. To be fair, the times that we do get shit for our age, you always have to think that like if that’s the only thing that they think of to criticize you about, you’re getting off pretty lightly. “

is out via Napalm Records on June 1. The album is available for pre-order via Bandcamp and Napalm Records

For more information, head to the band’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AlienWeaponry

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith