Northland thrash metal band Alien Weaponry (Hammerhead de Jong) are still recovering from the shock of winning both the 2016 Smokefree Rockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats.
Comprising 14-year-old Lewis de Jong (guitar/vocals), brother Henry, 16 (drums), and Ethan Trembath, 14 (bass) - Alien Weaponry have made NZ music history as the first band to win both competitions, the youngest band to win either final, and the only metal band to win Pacifica Beats.
“We are speechless,” the band posted on its Facebook page shortly after the Smokefree Rockquest winners were announced at the conclusion of the National Final on Saturday 24 September.
“We were already surprised to win Smoke free Pacifica Beats [the previous night],” says Henry de Jong. “There are such great musicians in both competitions, and we don’t really fit the mould. We play thrash metal, we’re political and we sing in te reo Maori.”
However, it was these very differences that impressed the judges and earned the band the top prizes.
“They believed in their identity as a metal band, their use of Te Reo was impressive, there’s really nothing else like this in the world at the moment,” said one of the judges, Jeff Newton from NZ On Air.
The band is humbled by the recognition. “We feel very privileged to get these awards,” says guitarist and lead singer Lewis de Jong. “The NZ On Air funding and gear from the Rockshop will really help us to achieve our goals, and we plan to make the most of the opportunity.”
These plans include recording with Shihad drummer and producer Tom Larkin.
“One of the things I am really excited to see is how they develop in the next three to five years,” says Larkin “They already have such strong identity and combined with their level of skill we are going to see some really interesting musical changes as they mature.”