Photo credit: Lisa Crandall.
Alien Weaponry, the teenage Kiwi thrashers have been making waves in the metal community and have finally released their debut album Tu! We got on the phone with the guys to have a chat about the record, what it was like working with Tom Larkin (Shihad), how they feel about playing Wacken later this year and more! Read the full interview now, and take a listen to the record while you're at it.
What can you tell us about your debut record?
It's called Tu, which is short for Tumatauenga which is the Maori god of war. We think it's killer, so hopefully, everyone else likes it!
You've been working with Tom Larkin from Shihad - Kiwi heavy music royalty. What's it been like working with him?
Working with Tom is a very intense process, but I'll tell you what - you get shit done. He's an amazing producer, and he's been coaching us. Mostly it was for the first half of the recording process, and he's really helped us develop our songwriting. He's a master for setting up drums and everything, making sure he gets the most amazing sound out of the kit that he can.
On the record, you sing in both English and Maori. When you are performing, is it easy to switch between languages?
It's pretty normal for me. Once you get the first word right it just kind of flows naturally. Because we've practised it so much, we've been in the studio and recorded it and all that.
Your Maori background is obviously influential on the record. Was it at a conscious decision to do it that way, or did it come naturally to write about that subject matter and in that language?
When we started writing in Maori we wanted to enter this music competition called Pacific Beats which requires you to sing in Maori or Samoan, Tongan or whatever - a Pacific language - and implement your culture into it. So that's what spurred us on to write in Maori and start singing about New Zealand history. It just went from there, we got really good feedback from people about the first song we wrote and so we kept doing it.
You're off to perform at Wacken soon. How do you feel about playing such an iconic heavy metal festival?
This was actually one of our goals since 2010. Our goal was to be booked and playing on Wacken before we all turned 18, and me and Ethan are 16, so we've achieved that goal two years in advance. It's an awesome feeling, and it feels like its finally paying off.
We suspect you guys are the youngest band to play on it?
Yeah, we are. That was one of the first things we checked when we got booked on it - it was like are we actually the youngest band playing at Wacken? And I think we're also the first New Zealand band to play there.
How did you get into heavy music?
Henry: Me and Lewis were brought up on heavy metal. Really it was all around us all the time and we liked it.
Lewis: To be fair, we listen to all kinds of music outside of metal. We're all really into an Australian band called Sticky Fingers. And we're into our reggae and our blues. Anything that's not crap pretty much!
Ethan: I never really heard heavy metal before I met these guys. Growing up I was just listening to whatever everyone was listening to. A bit of Shihad in the car. Pink Floyd and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Heaps of Bob Marley. The first metal band we ever went to was Metallica. Robert Trujillo was a big inspiration to me. From there on I got into Trivium and heaps of other cool bands, and now it's kinda my go-to genre of music.
Your sound reminds us of old-school Machine Head and Sepultura. Are you guys into those artists?
Henry: That's really strange you say that, because I think I've probably only heard about four or five Machine Head songs my whole life, and it was the same for Sepultura until people started comparing us with them, and then I started listening to them just so I know what people were talking about when they brought up Sepultura and said you sound like them.
Lewis: Yeah people always say that we sound like one band or that were heavily influenced by them, and we're like nah not really, we don't listen to them much. It's just a certain style that we have that's similar to certain artists.
When are you coming to Australia?
That will be early July. We're coming over I think it's on the 4th, and we're playing Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.