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Rockquest Winners On A Roll

Northland thrash metal band Alien Weaponry (Hammerhead de Jong) has made it through to the National finals of both Smokefree Rockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats for the second year running. 

After placing second overall in both competitions last year, the trio from Waipu are stoked that the judges have once again deemed their unique brand of ‘Te Reo Metal’ worthy of a placing in the top six from among the 700-odd acts that entered. 

 “We initially started writing in Te Reo Maori because the elements of haka and Te Reo work really well with thrash metal, and we thought it would be something different for Pacifica Beats,” says 16 year old drummer Henry de Jong. “We got such an overwhelming response that we carried on writing more songs in Maori, so it is really cool to be recognised not just in Pacifica Beats, but in the mainstream as well.”

Following last year’s Smokefree successes, that recognition extended to independently receiving a $10,000 NZ On Air ‘Making Tracks’ grant to record and produce a video for their song, Ru Ana Te Whenua, which is due for release shortly. The group were the youngest ever to be awarded the grant, and have been working with industry veterans like record producer Tom Larkin (drummer for SHIHAD), legendary music video director Greg Page (whose credits include clips for Six60, 8 Foot Sativa and Blindspott), and cameraman Simon Raby (Director of Photography on The Lord of the Rings) to bring the project to fruition.

Their focus now, though, is on the national finals in Auckland – Smokefree Pacifica Beats on Friday 23 September and Smokefree Rockquest on Saturday 24 September. And their strategy is simple:

“We will just do what we have always done,” says bass guitarist Ethan Trembath (14). “Write good songs, practice heaps and stick together. We definitely want to win, but all the bands are really good and in the end it will come down to the judges’ opinion. Blowing the audience away and people enjoying our music is just as important.”

As well as the prizes of NZ On Air funding for more recording and video production, and musical equipment from the Rock Shop, there is another incentive for Alien Weaponry to take out the top prize – in the 27 years of the competition, there has never been a National winner from Northland. 

“It would be awesome to be the first band from Northland to win,” says guitarist and lead vocalist Lewis de Jong (14). 

In the lead-up to the Smokefree Rockquest finals, Alien Weaponry will be filmed for a documentary series, which includes a music video for each of the finalists. This will be shot at the Whangarei Skate Park on Saturday 20th August. 

“We thought the skate park, with lots of people skating and riding, would be a great backdrop for the video,” says Lewis. “And we wanted to make it somewhere our friends and fans can get involved.” 

With this in mind, local skateboarders, BMXers and fans are invited to come out and be in the video on the 20th. In case of rain, filming will be postponed to the 21st. For details and updates see