Interviews Photos

Interview with Alien Weaponry (Lewis De Jong, Henry De Jong and Ethan Trembath)


Words: Brendan O’Mahony

Live Photos and Video Production:Olga Kuzmenko

© Olga Kuzmenko

MGM: Guys, thanks so much for coming over to Dublin. How do you feel about your first show in Ireland?

LDJ: Yeah mate we’re excited.

ET: It’s an awesome venue here and we can see so many people lining up already so it should be fun.

MGM: Yeah, most definitely we have been looking forward to this show for a good while now. You’re here on the Tūmatauenga tour, a follow on from the album name Tū, named after the God of War. Can we expect that kind of energy to be brought to the stage?

HDJ: Well that’s what we definitely try and do. We are definitely going to bring the energy tonight so we hope the crowd does too.

MGM: So, T?matauenga, he is also the God of cooking and fishing, so do you guys have anything that helps you relax on tour or before a show?

ET: We always sing some traditional Māori Waiata which is always a good way to get in the mood before jumping on stage. Lewis likes to do a bit of meditating so that he’s at peace. I suppose it’s all the way chill or absolutely nuts like smacking each other in the face to get pumped up, just depends on the day.

MGM: Well with this tour starting off in New Zealand and Australia before heading over to the USA and now over to Europe, you’re doing your own headline shows, you’re getting to play Slayer’s last show in Germany, you’re doing shows with Anthrax alongside the festival shows as well.

ET: Yeah man we are doing a lot of shows, we’ve been really lucky with this tour. It will be Slayer’s last European show ever which is going to be great and we’ve got six more shows with Anthrax and we’ve also got a bunch more headline shows.

HDJ: We couldn’t have asked for a better tour in Europe, the U.K and now you guys as well. It’s really awesome to be coming back and doing this for a second time. We had hoped to come here last year but it fell through unfortunately and a lot of people have been waiting to see us for a while as you said so we are really glad we could be here tonight.

ET: It’s really blown our expectations away so we are really happy.

MGM: So, in terms of being on tour and meeting all these different bands, who have you learned the most from on tour?

HDJ: It’s hard to say but it would probably be Ministry eh.

ET: Yeah, we actually had time to make pretty good friends with the guys from Ministry when we toured with them. Big Al actually invited us back to his place in L.A. and we got to hang out with him and he told us some pretty crazy stories as Al would. Just before we came over here to Europe the drummer from Ministry, Derek, we got to hang out with him for a day and went around Venice Beach and saw some cool stuff. Another band would be Devilskin, another New Zealand band, who really supported us earlier on and their bass player Paul Martin was the first guy who ever played us on a radio station so he was really awesome for us.

MGM: In the rock and metal scene in New Zealand we would know of bands like Shihad, a band you have a lot of association with as their drummer Tom Larkin produced your album, and also Beastwars as well. So, what other bands should we be checking out from New Zealand?

LDJ: Seas of Conflict definitely. We got to tour with them on the New Zealand/ Australian part of the tour. They are really good lads and make some killer music. Devilskin of course, Blindspot, Shihad are kind of more rock but they’ve got some pretty heavy stuff as well.

HDJ: Their earlier stuff is pretty heavy.

ET: They’ve got some thrash in there.

MGM: They are kind of like New Zealand music royalty in a way?

AW: Oh yeah man.

MGM: When touring you guys are in really close proximity all the time. I mean Henry and Lewis you guys are brothers and Ethan well you’re pretty much family now.

ET: Almost.

MGM: How do you guys stay on good terms?

HDJ: Sometimes we don’t know how but, on this tour, we have two vehicles so. Some travel in the van while others travel in the camper. Me and him (pointing to his brother Lewis) we get separated most of the time you know. Brothers always argue about stuff you know.

ET: Space is the hardest thing to come by when you’re on tour. I mean physically being close is a different thing from being emotionally close. We support each other fully but we have got some rules, four actually, write good songs, practice those songs, stick together and don’t be a dick.

LDJ: Pretty straight forward but we manage to break them somehow. Mostly rule number four.

MGM: So, who can be the biggest dick in the band?

ET: Those two.

MGM: So, when you guys are traveling so often and playing shows from one day to the next, do you get time to practice or are the shows your practice?

LDJ: Yeah, you can’t really practice on tour eh.

HDJ: Yeah, as you said each show is the practice. Sometimes during sound check, we might come up with a bit of a riff idea we might explore. I guess, as far as songwriting goes on tour, it’s a really different mindset that you’re in versus when you actually have time to put your mind to writing music. I know some bands do it but for us you know..

LDJ: You kind of need space and the time.

HDJ: Yeah if you can find a good space overseas then you can do some stuff.

ET: Yeah but that will come later down the road.

MGM: So, in terms of writing music how do you all contribute?

ET: We are all kind of in the loop. There is no set way we write or approach songs. We try out new ideas whenever they come up. We’ve tried stuff like locking Lewis in the band room for two hours and seeing what he comes up with. We leave him some water and stuff you know or a pot full of coffee.

MGM: Well, whatever you’re doing it’s working. Considering your lyrics then I never knew that English is not technically an official language in New Zealand merely a de-facto language, it’s actually Māori Te Reo and NZSL New Zealand Sign Language that are the official languages, yet there isn’t as much music coming out in Māori as you might expect. What is the scene for music using the Māori language like back home?

ET: When you think of Māori music in New Zealand you kind of think of reggae, RnB, hip-hop, dub and stuff like that or traditional Waiata, which people would know from learning it in school, but I guess we are trying to break the mold a bit. When we started writing in Māori we had a lot of kids kind of announcing to the world that they liked rock and metal too.

MGM: Yeah, the music that would be really big would be Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Black Seeds, Katchafire and Kora.

LDJ: Yeah, I am a huge fan of Katchafire and Fat Freddy’s Drop especially. They have made some great music.

MGM: Are the Māori kids who are starting to enjoy rock and metal more, are they coming to the shows in bigger numbers?

ET: Yeah, most definitely. I think it’s a worldwide thing really. Metal is growing and there are loads of great new bands coming out now. All the cool music these days is getting heavier, even if it’s not rock or metal specifically. A lot of the mumble rap, rap, and hip-hop, it’s all heavier than it used to be.

HDJ: I feel that it’s also partly due to the accessibility of music now. Before you had to go to a record store and commit to buying something and you really wanted to know what you were going to get was good. Now you are able to go out and find whatever you want and decide what you like from so many options.

LDJ: Yeah, the rappers and even dubstep are incorporating guitars and metal elements now.

ET: Then you’ve got 12 Foot Ninja who incorporate everything into metal. They’re really cool.

MGM: With the material that you write about, you’ve got a lot of weighty subjects like your Great, Great, Great Grandfather Te Ahoaho in a battle against the English armed forces, you sing about the land confiscations. That’s heavy material for guys at such a young age to be singing about.

ET: It didn’t start out as a purposeful thing I don’t think. We grew up with stories from Lewis and Henry’s dad. We weren’t so interested when we were quite young but as we grew older and matured more, we took more interest in it and understood it more. We realized how messed up the situations were and the more we learned about it the more passionate we became about it. I don’t think we were specifically meaning to single out New Zealand history or anything, it just ended up being a subject we became very passionate about.

MGM: It also seems you’ve got the ear of your Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as well with the music you’ve made and the topics discussed?

HDJ: Well I mean I think she is the coolest Prime Minister we’ve had for a long time, actually probably the coolest Prime Minister we’ve had a full stop in New Zealand. She’s into music, into metal, she understands people our age and really has the future of New Zealand in mind.

ET: In New Zealand, we’ve got a pretty good infrastructure for supporting music so we are pretty lucky and she likes our stuff.

HDJ: Apparently her kid does as well.

LDJ: Yeah, her kid is in the car moshing out to us so that’s awesome.

MGM: Best way is to get them into metal when they are younger. In terms of your album Tū, it’s been out for a year now?

HDJ: Yeah, a year and eleven days which is awesome.

MGM: So, is it too early to start talking about the next album or will you look to tour this one a bit longer?

HDJ: No, it’s not at all. We are going to be playing two songs tonight which we hope will go onto the next album so you guys will get to hear them. One of them is already out, Ahi Kā, and Blinded which will be coming out pretty soon. We’ve got a music video for that one completed as well which was a lot of fun to make.

MGM: Well guys thanks for sitting down to chat. Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers online?

AW: Yeah, guys thanks for those of you who have come to the shows already. We are really happy with the tour so far and for those of you who don’t know us, check us out online and come see us at a live show.

MGM: Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us and best of luck with the show and the rest of the tour.

AW: Thanks, man.

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