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New Zealand thrash metal band Alien Weaponry (Niel de Jong) has formally announced the first of their European Festival performances for 2018 – a slot on the Boško Bursać stage at Metaldays in Slovenia, which runs from July 23-28. The Boško Bursać stage is one of two main stages, and the festival is listed among the top in Europe by authorities like NME and

Believed to be the youngest act ever to perform at Metaldays, as well as the first New Zealanders, the connection was made when a fan approached festival booker Črt Batagelj at an airport in Athens and showed him a YouTube video of Alien Weaponry’s recently released single, Rū Ana Te Whenua. After watching more music videos and a short documentary, Črt immediately got in touch with the band, offering them a slot on Metaldays “whenever you are ready to come to Europe.”

The offer prompted the band’s NZ management to seek further opportunities in Europe, resulting in a three-year contract with Berlin-based management agency Das Maschine, who have secured a number of additional festival engagements to be announced over the coming months.

Adding more shows to the tour made it a real possibility, as the income from performance fees will help cover the costs of the band living in Europe for several months. However, the three teenagers still had the problem of getting there – until Creative New Zealand came on board, approving a grant of $19,000 to cover the costs of travel, insurance and transporting instruments. 

“We were all still at school this year, and there’s no way we could have raised that much money ourselves,” says bass player Ethan Trembath (15). “So we are incredibly grateful to Creative New Zealand for helping us.” 

The trio, from the tiny town of Waipu in Northland, set a goal to play at a number of big European festivals before they were out of their teens, so it’s a dream come true that it’s happening two years ahead of schedule. 

“It’s hard to believe that come the middle of next year we’ll be sharing the stage with some of the biggest metal names in the world,” says 17-year-old drummer Henry de Jong.

Henry and his younger brother Lewis (guitar and lead vocals) are direct descendants of Te Ahoaho (a warrior who died in the battle at Pukehinahina, Gate Pā); and a number of their songs, including Rū ana te Whenua, connect with the whakapapa and history of their rohe, as well as historical injustices and modern post-colonisation issues affecting Māori.  Other songs focus on social and political issues that have affected them as rangatahi (teenagers).

The brothers attended Kura Kaupapa Māori when they were younger and use Te Reo Māori in many of their songs, as well as incorporating elements of haka into their live performances. The result is a unique blend of high-energy thrash metal and kaupapa Māori lauded by critics and fans around the world. 

They have previously supported popular New Zealand bands Devilskin and Shihad; and this (NZ) summer will be performing at the Wavefront festival in Whangamata on New Year’s Eve, Soundsplash in Raglan (Jan 19-21) and in shows in Porirua and on the Wellington waterfront on Waitangi Day. They are also heading to Australia for shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in February/March 2018.

See for further European festival announcements in coming weeks.