Interview: The Download Tapes – Alien Weaponry “There wasn’t a day in our house when a record wasn’t on.”

Hailing from Waipu, New Zealand, Alien Weaponry’s music goes hand in hand with representing their Maori ancestry. With many of their songs performed in the Maori language, it is something they are proud to represent which is intrinsic to who they are as artists. Aggy Gillon speaks to one half of the brothers Henry de Jong (drums and backing vocals) who started this band while they were children over a decade ago. They chat about how the band has grown over the years, how they have learned from those they have shared stages with and about new music on the horizon.

How did you find your set earlier, did you enjoy it?

I f*cking loved it, it was amazing. We had this swarm of people as we started playing which is always really awesome to see. They loved it, we loved it. Twenty-five minutes was not a lot of time but we had to power through it. I think we finished bang on the dot of that twenty-five minutes. We made the most of it.

I really enjoyed it, it was awesome! How many Downloads have you guys done?

This is our second Download. We played here first in 2019, again it was f*cking awesome.

Oh, yeah and that was another wet year as well!

I remember that year I was up to my knees in mud. It’s actually a lot better this year.

What does it mean to you to play Download Festival?

For me, it’s an awesome festival. It’s a f*cking massive festival that a lot of metalheads dream of playing. I’m also really into my racing so the fact that it’s a racecourse as well is really cool.

So you have been going for quite a while. You were quite young when you started this band, is that right?

Yeah it was 2010 so we have been going for fourteen years now. Me and my brother were ten and eight years old respectively. It’s been a minute.

What made you guys so young decide to start a band together?

I think it was just growing up around music. Our Dad loves music, of all sorts. There wasn’t a day in our house when a record wasn’t on. Stuff from old Baroque music to Motorhead, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica. Growing up around music I think it was inevitable that we were going to start playing music at some point.

What is that like to be in a band with your brother?

Honestly, we used to fight a lot when we were younger. It’s gotten to this point of understanding between us. We’re grown f*fucking men now and we treat each other as such. We still clash a little bit on the odd occasion but very quickly get over it. My brother is probably one of the most amazing people I know.

How do you feel you have grown as musicians and as a band over the years?

Sometimes you don’t see all these little steps you’re taking but then you go and look back at stuff from just a couple of years back you see. You’re like hey our live performance has become more of a show than just us playing each song. We have learned a huge amount from bands we have toured with like Gojira, and Black Label Society. We did a tour with Ministry a while back.  Each one of those tours with these bigger bands really shows you the kind of potential that you can have as an artist yourself. It’s just picking up all of these little things from these people who have been doing it for years.

How important is it for you all in the band to represent where you come from and your heritage?

Yeah, it’s a huge part of what we do. The fact we sing in Maori and represent ourselves as Maori is intrinsic to what we do as a band. For us, the day we stop doing that is the day we stop being a band which is hopefully never. Just getting back to playing Download as well. I always find that it’s quite funny that we have such a massive fan base over here because actually, we have got so many songs about how the British Crown has basically shafted Maori in New Zealand. It’s really awesome to see people over here vibing with it, you know? Like they get it as well.

Absolutely and for many of us here, they don’t represent us.

Yeah, fuck em *laughs*

Can you tell us about your most recent album release?

That was Tangaroa in 2021 so it’s been a hot minute since we released something. I can say that we have a bunch of songs written and ready to record. It just needs some pre-producing and getting into the studio which is booked but I can’t say when. There will be new music soon. Keep an eye on our socials and our website for updates.

Have you got any more UK shows after this?

Yeah! So we’re playing the 02 Academy in London on Tuesday. We are playing with Urne. They have been supporting us on our European run. It’s going to be the last show they are doing with us so it’ll be a bit of a send-off for those boys as well. They have been fantastic.

Is there anything that sticks out in your mind that has been the highlight of your career or maybe a milestone kind of thing?

There are so many at this point. Obviously playing some of these huge festivals like Download and the other being Wacken. They have always been a dream for us. That’s just amazing to be able to say we have done that, you know? We have had certain things like, we had a crowd in Denmark at the Copenhell festival basically twenty thousand people done the haka to us when we were standing on stage. I was holding back tears it was f*cking massive.

Are you guys here all weekend or just for today?

We are going to be here today and leaving tomorrow morning. We have a jam-packed tour schedule. We drove 1600K from the Czech Republic here. Me and our tour manager, five hours, twelve hours, fourteen hours and we arrived at 7 am this morning. I got about an hour’s sleep before the set.

Wow, you must be exhausted! Are you going to be able to catch any of the bands today?

We’re probably just gonna hang out with some of our friends that we have got over here and catch a few bands. There’s no one in particular I’m super keen on seeing. I might go and watch some of Avenged Sevenfold as I have never seen them live before. Might also catch The Black Dahlia Murder as we did a tour with those guys not long ago.

What do you see in the future for Alien Weaponry?

Oh man, more of this! More mud! *laughs*

More mud!

More mud! *laughs*

What would you like to say to your fans?

This is the last tour before really big sh*t happens. Anyone who still wants to come to any shows that are yet to happen jump on our website, jump on our socials. Honestly, we appreciate anyone who comes out and supports us. Love you guys! Absolutely. They are the people that make it possible.

Alien Weaponry – Facebook

Interview and photos by Aggy Gillon