Teenage Te Reo metal band Alien Weaponry are New Zealand’s rising musical stars. With a career that started when the band members were just 10 and 12 years old, they supported hard rock icons Devilskin when they were 12 and 14, opened for the legendary SHIHAD a year later, and in 2016 took the top prize in two of the country’s major music competitions – Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats.
In September 2017, they won the prestigious APRA Maioha award for their song ‘Raupatu’ – a thrash metal commentary on the 1863 act of parliament that allowed the colonial government to confiscate vast areas of land from the indigenous Māori people. On 16 November, they took their places among NZ’s musical elite as nominees at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.
How did you first get in to music? Who or what turned you onto rock/metal?
My brother Henry and I grew up on all kinds of music, we were drawn to metal because of the rawness and passion I guess.
What got you started playing music and how old were you?
When we were growing up my brother and I played and jammed on all kinds of instruments but it was Stevie Ray Vaughan that inspired me to pursue guitar. I wrote my first song when I was 2 – it was on the ukulele and it only had one word. And I got my first electric guitar for my 3rd birthday – it was blue and sparkly, but it had real machine heads on it and it actually worked.
How did the band form and how did the band name come about?
The band properly formed in 2011 when my family moved to Waipu, where I met Ethan at circus school. One day after circus Ethan and a few other mates came to my house, and when we were jamming on the instruments Ethan was the only kid who could reach the end of the bass so we recruited him to join the band.
The name came around ages before when my brother and I were still living in Auckland, we had just watched the movie District 9 so we decided to call the band Alien Weaponry.
What was your local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?
When we were first starting off I think a lot of people didn’t take us seriously because of our age but we started to get noticed for singing in Te Reo Māori and then things started to move a little faster.
Devilskin was an influence on us early on because Paul Martin (the bassist for Devilskin, and also known as ‘the Axe Man’ because he runs a metal radio show called the Axe Attack that has been going since years before we were born) played our music on the Axe Attack when we were just starting off.
We have also worked with Tom Larkin from Shihad, who produced 5 of the songs on our album so we have been listening to them as well.
How did you become a vocalist? Are you proficient in any other instruments?
I have to admit when I was younger I did just kind of yell into the mike, but nowadays I have been working with my voice and sing a variety of styles apart from what I do with Alien Weaponry.
I grew up playing different instruments and am kind of a jack of all trades but a master of some, I am mainly a guitarist but I also play in a Caribbean steel pan band, I play a C tenor.
What makes a good Alien Weaponry song?
For us, a good song needs to be about something that is meaningful to us, and also the songwriting process needs to flow so that it doesn’t sound forced.
What artists with a message have made you change in any particular way and what was that change?
We have always been political but I think the biggest change came about when we started writing in Te Reo Māori. We were inspired by a band called Strangely Arousing, who won a school band competition called Smokefree Pacifica Beats with a song partially in Te Reo Māori, we decided to write a thrash metal song completely in Te Reo Māori and enter the competition, which we ended up winning.
Who are some of your influences? Who can we hear in your music?
Lamb of God is a huge influence on my guitar style and also Stevie Ray Vaughan early on. System of a Down, Trivium, and even a lil bit of Bob Marley, Eminem, J Cole, and also Slipknot kind of, for vocals, but it’s a bit of a mix.
What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?
I never really bought CD’s but I used to listen to dads CD’s. He has everything from Metallica, Anthrax and Kiss to Baroque harpsichord and opera music The first album I downloaded on Spotify was Sacrament by Lamb of God.
Bands you would love to tour with and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?
LAMB OF GOD!! I’d also love to meet Metallica because they were kind of my childhood heroes. And I would like to meet/collaborate with Eminem.
What can we expect from a live Alien Weaponry show?
When we are on stage we always go 135% and get the crowd moshing, be prepared for an insane mosh pit.
How would you like to be remembered?
To be honest I don’t know at this point in my life, I hope it doesn’t come to that any time soon.
Who have been some of your favorite bands you’ve hung out with and shared the stage with?
Not too long ago we opened for Prophets of Rage in Auckland and had the honor of talking to some of the members. Rage against the Machine has always been a massive inspiration for us, as well as Public Enemy. At Auckland City Limits I got to meet and chill out with the boys from a New Zealand reggae band called Katchafire who I have been listening to for a little while now.
Do you still buy CDs and records or mostly use streaming sites? Which sites do you use?
I use Spotify but I have always wanted a record player so if and when I get one I will be listening to vinyl as well.
Top 5 albums or songs released in the last 12 months and all time?
(top 6 of all time, don’t know what dates so here are my favs)
- The Sin and the Sentence by Trivium
Both of Post Malone’s albums
As Daylight Dies by Killswitch Engage
Sacrament by Lamb of God
Resolution by Lamb of God
All of the Sticky Fingers Albums.
You’re on a desert island and only have three albums to listen to for the rest of your life, what are they and why?
- Land of Pleasure by Sticky Fingers, because its relaxing and diverse.
Legend by Bob Marley, Bob Marley is a classic and helps you calm down and stay positive.
As Daylight Dies by Killswitch Engage, it was always a favorite of mine and has a variety of stuff.
(hate picking favorites)
What does rock n roll mean to you?
Doing the kind of music you want to do and not listening to the hate.
Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?
Shout out to everyone who has supported us so far by coming to our shows and listening to and buying our music, and hope you all have a wonderful day.