Waipu-to-the-world metallers Alien Weaponry are getting ready to release their second album ‘Tangaroa’. It’s been a three-year gap since their breakthrough debut album and the first single, also named Tangaroa, or god of the ocean, is an environmentally conscious song about how we are polluting our oceans. Sam Smith spoke with guitarist and vocalist Lewis de Jong about the song and the inspiration behind it. Made with support from NZ On Air.
As a band, Alien Weaponry grew up next to the ocean on the northern east coast of the North Island, so from a young age the ocean has been a big part of their lives. It makes good sense then that the ocean is the inspiration behind Tangaroa, their new single – albeit for the troubling reasons of pollution, as Lewis de Jong explains.
“It’s hard to go to the beach and not find little bits of plastic everywhere. I was on the west coast last year and there were so many bottle caps and random bits of plastic everywhere. I always knew it was a bad problem, but didn’t realise quite how bad until seeing all this stuff washing up on the shore.”
From this observation came a song, and the chance de Jong says, to remind people that this is a pressing global issue.
“We wrote the song to kind of remind people that this is something that we need to work on, and something we need to be conscious of. We wanted this song to be about our oceans and how we are killing them. And I think the song suits that message quite well.”
That message also flows into the Tangaroa music video, which was shot mostly underwater at Whangārei’s wave pool.
“Having to open your eyes underwater in a chlorinated pool isn’t the most fun thing. But you have got to do what you have got to do to make a good music video!”
In announcing a new album with this single it was also a chance to showcase a slight change of direction sound-wise for the group, a refection perhaps of the influence of mew member Tūranga Porowini Morgan-Edmonds, who replaced Ethan Trembath on bass in August 2020.
“I would say the album is quite diverse. But in general, we are amping up the heaviness in the second album. I think people will be surprised at some of the stuff they hear in this new one. I think we have changed it up a bit while also keeping our original flavours in there.
“We have updated our sound. We are adding a lot more progressive technical elements into the music. The songs are still as catchy, still as groovy, but they are a bit more technical in their playing style.”
As has become the norm with Alien Weaponry’s music, Tangaroa combines English with te reo Māori, something de Jong admits is always challenging, but has many rewards.
“I feel it is a language where you can do so much more with the words. You can use symbolism, metaphors, much more with Māori, and I think that makes for some very nicely written lyrics. Usually when we write songs in Māori it is very much a collaborative process. Henry is the most fluent in the band. I wouldn’t consider myself fluent. It is definitely much more challenging writing in Māori than in English.”