Well, it has been an unnecessary yet “on the fleek” ritual of pinpointing musical groups into certain genres, isn’t it? As for AW, what do you think about the various monikers imposed as in Tribal Groove, Māori Thrash etc??
Even though we think it’s super cool that our fans find our music unique enough to want to give it its own genre, we try to stay clear of putting labels on our music. We like to keep our music open to all options and influences.
What in particular made you embrace the roots of Thrash Metal over everything else that are equally popular these days?
I suppose that we naturally started jamming thrash right from the start. Early influences included Metallica, Anthrax and others alike. We enjoy the vibe thrash gives us on stage and the way it works with groove elements that we include when writing our material.
Well, the last band that I had a conversation with before you guys were Sodom and you might know that they’re essentially called an “Anti-War” band. Since you guys have been political with your lyrics and writing about war as well, I wonder if you look forward to making that a signature of your band too?
War and conflict is definitely a major theme in our song topics, and the historical events we sing about had a big impact on New Zealand society and politics. But rather than being anti war, we promote awareness of history, as there are many people in NZ (and probably other parts of the world) who are unaware of what happened here in the past. If people know about those things, they can understand why some things are the way they are today and hopefully learn and move on to be better.
Although we definitely do not promote war I wouldn’t call ourselves an anti war band – we sing about lots of other things too – like social media, social anxiety and depression, fighting with friends, the hypocrisy of teachers.
Tell us about the Māori traditional themes that you focused on while making the album. Do you mind telling us the story of your great great great Grandfather behind the track “Rū Ana Te Whenua”?
We didn’t set a particular theme when writing this album but we did write a lot of songs about NZ history and also personal battles we have gone through. So the theme of conflict evolved.
The song Rū Ana Te Whenua is a tribute to our great great great grandfather who fought in the battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina) in 1864. There were 1700 crack British troops and about 230 Māori from several different iwi (sub-tribes), including Ngati Pikiao (our tribe). Our ancestor Te Ahoaho was among them.
The Māori dug themselves into underground bunkers and withstood 24 hours of relentless cannon fire – the heaviest artillery bombardment the British army has ever delivered. When the British invaded the pa, assuming everyone was dead or had run off, the Māori warriors emerged from the underground bunkers and defeated the British.
They didn’t have cannons and guns, so they had to wait until the British were at close range in order to defeat them with traditional weapons. The use of trench warfare was at the time not something the British were familiar with (although many armies later adopted it in World War I and II). So they used cunning and patience to deliver a crushing defeat to the 1700 strong British forces, which changed the course of history.