Shihad shoulder-tap a dream come true for Alien Weaponry
A shoulder-tap from Shihad is a sign of things to come for teenage rockers Alien Weaponry.
Some of the Whangarei band's members aren't old enough to stay home alone. Nevertheless the trio will take the stage at Auckland's Powerstation later this month, playing a 40-minute set opening for one of the country's most successful and prolific bands - Shihad.
Alien Weaponry drummer Henry de Jong, 15, says the band were ecstatic when they found out, with Henry's brother Lewis and friend Ethan Trembath, both 13, making up the other two thirds.
"Dad [the band's manager] got the call during the day," Henry says. "He came home and told us and we pretty much just started screaming and jumping around."
Shihad members overheard the boys being interviewed on The Rock FM and decided to check out their website and recordings of their performances on YouTube.
"Their energy and vitality took us back to the early days of Shihad," says Shihad drummer and manager Tom Larkin.
The boys will play as part of Shihad's 20th Anniversary Killjoy album concert on May 22 - the only New Zealand date on the tour.
Shihad-related hype isn't the only thing Alien Weaponry are adding to their resume. In 2014 they toured with Devilskin and reached the national final of the New Zealand Battle of the Bands - the only under-18s ever allowed to enter the competition.
Now, they've written what they believe is the first-ever metal song with all Te Reo Maori lyrics. They have entered the song - Ruana Te Whenua (The Trembling Earth) - into the Pacifica Beats competition.
Henry says the song is a tribute to the de Jong brothers' great-great-great-grandfather, who died in the Tauranga conflicts at Gate Pa in 1864, while defending his home territory against the British.
"Thrash metal is not generally associated with a Pacifica sound," says singer/guitarist Lewis. "But if you think about it, haka is much more like metal than it is like reggae, so I'm sure we will make an impact."
Henry, who along with his brother spent his early school years at a Kura Kaupapa Maori [immersion school], says they will play the song for the first time as part of their Shihad set.
"It's a chance to share a part of us that many people may not realise exists," he says.
Alien Weaponry write all their own material and are mainly self-taught. Lewis only lasted a few weeks when he took up guitar lessons - "the teacher couldn't cope with him, " his brother says.
Henry says the band is keen to be taken seriously despite their age, but have occasionally come up against it.
"Sometimes we'll get guys looking at us going 'I thought it was meant to be R18?'. Then they see us play and they're like 'woah!'."
The boys' lofty ambitions extend outside New Zealand - they are determined to be playing at big Metal festivals in Europe and the USA before they reach their twenties.