Piotr Kwasnik

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Jim Beam Homegrown: Alien Weaponry on Why ‘People Are Good for You’

The heavy metal band break down their biggest influences and how their music connects cultures around the world ahead of Jim Beam Homegrown 2024

In Partnership with Jim Beam

It’s not often that you Google an artist or band and, rather than simply learning about their latest album or next gig, you uncover an entire culture, language and history. 

That’s exactly what happens when you look up New Zealand’s most exciting metal band, Alien Weaponry – featured at Jim Beam Homegrown 2024. It’s clear from the hype surrounding the band online and on stages, they’re not just making music, they’re making an impact. 

The band’s ability to connect with their fan communities and create a sense of belonging is something that caught the attention of the team at Jim Beam, who’s brand platform is all about showcasing why ‘people are good for you.’

Lewis and Henry de Jong formed the band, with bassist Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds joining in 2020. It’s a great tale: two brothers inspired by the likes of Lamb of God, Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd, and Metallica, messing around and dreaming big.

“When we first started, it was me and Henry just jamming in the lounge,” Lewis recalls. This humble beginning marked the start of an extraordinary journey.”

Image Credit: Piotr Kwasnik

Their music blends thrash metal with traditional Māori culture, recounting parts of New Zealand’s history that are often left out of the school curriculum. In fact, many of their hit songs are written in Aotearoa’s native language te reo Māori. 

The genre is still relatively niche in New Zealand, making the pairing of metal and Māori culture unusual. As Lewis explains, it’s been part of the band’s fabric from the beginning: “We thought, why don’t we try putting our native tongue into it but keep that heavy aspect,” he says. “I was pretty apprehensive and we didn’t really know what to expect, but it just blended really well.” Their unique style took off from there. “We started writing songs about our Tūpuna (grandparents and ancestors) and some New Zealand history that a lot of people don’t know.” 

We’re speaking from different time zones, while the band is at home in New Zealand writing new music for their next album and gearing up for a run of shows. They’re preparing for a set at the Jim Beam Homegrown Festival on March 16th, before heading to Europe and North America. Jim Beam is known for bringing together artists and fan communities around the world – using their platform to celebrate music culture and bring people together through live performances. It’s something Alien Weaponry does naturally.

Jim Beam Homegrown

They start each set by performing a Haka, which instantly gets people excited, no matter where they are. “It triggers this response in international crowds because lots of them go, ‘Oh wait, this is that thing that the All Blacks do,’” says Tūranga. “They have this reaction to the rhythm and the passion behind it and we carry that pretty well through the music.”  

From Spain to Scandinavia to Japan, their audiences may not speak English, know the Haka, or always get the lyrics correct, but they show up with the right attitude. “Music is the international language,” adds Tūranga. “It’s all about the energy and the passion of the show at the time.” 

No matter how far Alien Weaponry travels, it’s always their family that keeps them grounded. “They were very supportive of us doing music from a very young age,” Lewis says about his and Henry’s parents. “We always had that creative nurturing. I wouldn’t be anything like I am today without both my parents.”

Some of Lewis’ earliest musical influences came from his Dad. “My dad used to play Bach and Mozart,” he says. “Stevie Ray Vaughan was the dude that made me want to play guitar.” For Tūranga, it’s a similar story: though a bass player in the band, he’s a multi-instrumentalist who counts his parents as having the biggest impact on his talent. 

“My dad’s the oldest in a family of thirteen Mormons and they are exceptionally musical people, which was a byproduct of their upbringing in the church,” he explains. “They raised us on music. The minute I was old enough at five years old to get my hands on an instrument, they were like, ‘You’re going to learn.’”

Image Credit: Piotr Kwasnik

At the end of the day, it’s all about having a support system, and people they trust to remind them of who they are beyond the big stage. According to Tūranga, that’s why people are good for you. “You can’t have a support system on your own. A little bit of balance is needed from mates to stay grounded.” 

Their success so far is a testament to the influence of key individuals – from family members to fellow musicians and dedicated fans. Each has played a crucial role in the band’s development, shaping their sound, ethos, and career trajectory. 

Alien Weaponry are working hard now. They’re pumped to be working on their next album, but they’re not quite ready to reveal the title. But first, they’re going back on stage in Wellington for Jim Beam Homegrown 2024 – an event that promises to be an epic day that brings all sorts of artists and fans together. “If you see that we’re playing in a city or town near you, please feel free to buy a ticket and come say hi,” says Lewis. How could you say no to that? 

Check out Alien Weaponry at homegrown.net.nz and see how Jim Beam is bringing people together to celebrate the very best of New Zealand’s music and culture. 

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