Topics: Entertainment, Te Reo Māori

Heavy metal band Alien Weaponry takes Te Reo Māori to the next level

  • Northland

Lewis de Jong (13), Henry de Jong (15) and Ethan Trembath (13), make up heavy metal band, Alien Weaponry.  There's something quite unique about them, their songs are sung entirely in Te Reo Māori, the first of its kind in this genre. 

They have been awarded a $10,000 grant from New Zealand on Air, which will go towards producing and completing the video for their song, "Rū ana te Whenua".  They are the youngest recipients ever to receive the grant.

"It's been a huge boost to us.  We started working with record producer Tom Larkin (who is also the drummer for Shihad) earlier in the year and have a couple of tracks recorded for our debut album.  The funding is going to help big time in getting Ru Ana Te Whenua finished and a video shot so we can bring our sound to the general public," they say.

Brothers Henry and Lewis, who are of Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Tuara descent, spent most of their younger days growing up in Auckland where they attended Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Maungarongo.  Ethan, on the other hand, hails from the small Northland town of Waipū.

Music runs in the de Jong family and as the brothers explain, they grew up listening to "all sorts" of music.

"Our Dad never played us "kids" music when we were young - we listened to bands like Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Anthrax and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and also stuff like Public Enemy, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Blindspott.  We have a whole lot of different influences now.  Lamb of God are pretty influential as well as Pantera, System of a Down and Trivium.  We have also been listening to New Zealand band Subtract quite a bit."

During their time together as a band, there have been a number of people who have influenced them, including former winners of the Smokefree Beats Competition, Strangely Arousing.

Alien Weaponry became "good mates" with the Rotorua-based band who inspired some of the trio's work, "Even though our style is very different from them, we thought we might give it a shot."

Known for its distorted guitars and vigorous vocals, the heavy metal genre may not be for everyone. Alien Weaponry's songs however, hold a great deal of meaning, historically.

"We decided to write a song (Rū ana Te Whenua) about our tūpuna, who was killed in the Tauranga conflicts at Pukehinahina (Gate Pa).  He was part of a Ngāti Pikiao contingent that went to help their whanaunga from Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pūkenga defend the fortifications at the Gate Pā in 1864," they add.

It hasn't all been smooth sailing for the popular teen band recently.  Following the announcement of the "Te Reo Metal" band receiving the grant, they have been accused of "cultural appropriation", something the boys strongly deny.

"As we are telling our stories from our whakapapa, we feel confident that our music will help strengthen that.  We know that some of the newspapers will be fishing for an angle that has Pākehā/Māori conflict but most of the comments are really supportive - like from the Māori Party's co-leader Marama Fox saying she's thrilled for our success."

Positive messages and feedback continue to flow for the youngsters both on and off the stage.  They say it's a real adrenaline rush being on stage with a crowd going wild in the mosh pit while they perform.

"The satisfaction of making music that will give pleasure to others and maybe even help them with struggles in their own life.  When people tautoko us, it's an awesome feeling!"

Alien Weaponry is working alongside Shihad drummer Tom Larkin to record their debut album which is set to release next year.

You can keep up to date with the band via their Facebook Page.