By JACK LEONARD.
Alien Weaponry is a three-piece metal band that has made the Smokefreerockquest finals four years running and opened for Shihad and Devilskin. We chatted to them about success, inspiration and not being dicks.
Alien Weaponry consists of brothers Lewis (guitar/vocals) and Henry de Jong (drums) as well as Ethan Trembath (bass).
What inspired your band name?
Henry: At the time District 9 had quite recently come out and we were a little bit obsessed with it, so that’s kind of what inspired our name.
What attracted you guys to metal?
Henry: We actually grew up listening to all kinds of genres of music. We listened to a bit of Rage Against the Machine, some Public Enemy as well. I quite liked Stevie Ray Vaughn as a young kid. But we listened to quite a lot of Metallica, which inspired us towards thrash metal.
Have you had any memorable lessons or experiences through playing with the likes of Shihad and Devilskin?
Lewis: One really good lesson that Paul Martin [Devilskin bassist/backing vocalist]- well, he’s taught us a lot of stuff- but one that sticks is ‘never think that you’re the best, because otherwise you’ll get big-headed and nobody will want to work with you.’
Henry: And we’ve got four rules in the band. One of them really relates to what he said. We’ll give you the four rules, they are: stick together, write good songs, rehearse, and don’t be a dick. So those are the rules that we stick by every time we play, rehearse, and associate with people from other bands.
What’s your favourite gig that you’ve played so far?
Henry: We had a talk about this one, and we can’t really decide between the Devilskin gig and the Shihad gig. So the Devilskin gig, there was just such an awesome vibe at that venue and there were so many people and they were just so into it, eh. And then Shihad was just mental. But we can’t decide between the two. We’re not picking a favourite.
Is there any sibling rivalry between you two brothers?
Henry: Aw nah, not even! (laughs)
Lewis: There is quite a lot. We have our differences.
Henry: We’ve actually had to go ‘Look. This is achieving nothing. We need to get on with it.’
Lewis: We get over it in the end, but sometimes it’s hard. But me or my brother will just decide to shut up and let it go.
Ethan: It all works out in the end, I guess.
How did the idea of incorporating Te Reo into your music come about? (The band all have Maori ancestry and received a $10,000 grant from NZ On Air to finish recording and produce a music video for their song Ruana Te Whenua (The Trembling Earth).
Henry: Well, we’re quite good mates with a band named Strangely Arousing, who are like a ska/reggae band. The year before last, they won the Pacifica Beats competition. We met them, and we were real inspired to do our own stuff in Maori. It kind of just came out from that. And then we entered Pacifica Beats [at the] start of this year. You know, we weren’t expecting anything, but we got into the national final which meant we had to have more material, another song. So we wrote another one.
Are you guys still writing material for your full-length, or are you just laying everything down now?
Henry: It’s hard to tell at the moment because we’re still writing songs, and every time we write a new song we think ‘Oh, it’s waaay better than this other song. We should cut that song and put the new one in.’ So there will be a point where we have to set it into concrete, which songs we’re gonna do for it. But I think we’ll have a few new songs on the record, and possibly ones that no-one’s even heard.
How are you finding the studio environment?
Henry: I myself have found it really helpful, especially with Tom Larkin [Shihad drummer/producer] being a drummer. I’ve been able to be listened to really closely, and kind of critiqued. In fact, I’ve never had any formal lessons, so having someone there listening to how I’m drumming and giving me some coaching on it has been a real fresh experience for me cause I’ve kind of been self-taught until now.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Lewis: Lamb of God. I’m a really big Lamb of God fan. Henry is as well. When I was young I listened to a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughn; I wanted to be him when I was older. I experiment with music sometimes, so I’ve got a lot of inspirations, but Lamb of God’s definitely a big one for me.
Henry: And like I was saying before, the fact that Tom has been so inspirational for us as a band, not even as individual musicians. So lately he’s been one of our biggest inspirations in really getting us working harder than we ever have, and getting us to strive for better quality and all that stuff.
Ethan: For me it’s been Paul Martin [Devilskin bassist/vocalist]. Seeing him up on stage and seeing what he’s achieved as a New Zealander, I’ve also really wanted to be like him, you know? He’s such a great bass player. He’s pulled us backstage and had a great talk to us, he’s been real awesome.
Have you made any plans following your album release?
Henry: We’re looking at possibly doing some overseas gigs in maybe Australia, or there’s even been talk of Europe. Our goal as a band, our kind of top goal at the moment, is to play at Wacken in Germany, which is a huge metal festival, by the time we’re 20.
Do you have any advice for younger people who want to make their mark on the music world?
Ethan: Just keep on practising and moving forward, and try your best, you know?
Henry: Yeah, if you put your all into it you’re gonna get what you put in.
Ethan: And stick by those rules.
Henry: Yeah those four rules are a helpful thing to go by. I mean you can have your own versions of them, but we’ve found it works quite well for us.
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