Teenage te reo metal band Alien Weaponry are New Zealand's rising musical stars. Alice Guy caught up with the band to discuss their new music video and why te reo Māori is so important to them.

Who are Alien Weaponry and what do you do?
We are three guys from Waipu but Henry and Lewis have Te Arawa/Ngāti Pikiao whakapapa so have a link to Otaramarae at Rotoiti.
Henry de Jong (drums), Lewis de Jong (guitars/vocals) and Ethan Trembath (bass).

Their latest music video tells the story of when chief Hongi Hika brought muskets back to New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Their latest music video tells the story of when chief Hongi Hika brought muskets back to New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

Why do you choose to use te reo?

Henry and Lewis grew up speaking Māori at school.

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We both went to a full immersion kura kaupapa till we moved away from Auckland and headed up North.

We decided to enter The Pacifica Beats music contest because some mates of ours (from Rotorua) played in a band called Strangely Arousing.

They are a ska band and had won it two years earlier. We thought if they can do it we're sure we can make some kind of impact with a metal song in te reo.

It went much better than we expected and we won Pacifica Beats in 2016 along with the Smokefreerockquest. It was an awesome year.

What has the response to that been?
We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from people.

We were not really sure how it would be received but in rehearsal it sounded so brutal that we felt we had to do it.

Lewis de Jong, (left) Henry de Jong and Ethan Trembath make up te reo metal band Alien Weaponry. Photo / Supplied
Lewis de Jong, (left) Henry de Jong and Ethan Trembath make up te reo metal band Alien Weaponry. Photo / Supplied

We have had the odd person commenting on our pale skin and making smart remarks about it not fitting the image but then being Māori is not a colour, it's whakapapa and we have plenty of stuff to sing about with our history.

We think that all genres should have artists singing in te reo.

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We just happen to be the ones doing it with metal at the moment.

What is something people don't know about the band?
Lewis rides a unicycle. Ethan and him met at a circus school.

He also plays in a Caribbean steel pan band and did a few shows in Australia earlier in the year with that band.

Do you think there's more room for te reo in mainstream music and movies?
Yes of course, its important to normalise te reo.

When I was at kura I was frustrated at the small number of books in te reo compared to English ones so as a result I was slow to start reading.

If there was relevant contemporary stuff out there in te reo then it would be awesome for those kids learning and in Kura Kaupapa.

Where would you like to see your career go?
That's easy, we would like to be headlining the big European festivals we are playing at this year like Wacken Open Air [in Germany] and MetalDays in Slovenia.

As it is we are pleased to be there and have some pretty good slots at the festival.

It's going to be awesome meeting some of our musical influences in person.

You have a new album coming out, what can we expect to hear?
Our album is called and is named after Tūmatauenga.

The word tū also means to stand or stand strong.

There are 13 tracks on the album with about half being in te reo Māori.

It's also being released on vinyl and will be available at JB Hi-Fi, Marbecks, Real Groovy and even The Warehouse we think.

Many of the warriors shown in their latest video are from Ngāti Pikiao. Photo / Supplied
Many of the warriors shown in their latest video are from Ngāti Pikiao. Photo / Supplied

What inspired your music video?

We have been inspired by lots of things since we started writing music back when Lewis was 10.

Bands like Rage against The Machine and Public Enemy played in our house which is great as we got to open for them.

We were also influenced by the early American thrash metal bands like Anthrax and Metallica.

Lewis is into a band called Sticky Fingers at the moment and Ethan's into Twelve Foot Ninja and Animals as Leaders.

We all like Lamb Of God a lot. We have a Spotify Playlist that has some of our historic and current influences on it for fans to play.