18 Feb 2019

Director Kent Belcher on the making of RNZ's Alien Weaponry documentary

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:44 pm on 18 February 2019

Capturing Alien Weaponry’s life-changing European tour was an “amazing” experience for cameraman and director Kent Belcher.

He was embedded with the teenage thrash-metal band for six weeks from June to August 2018, as they made their way to the world's biggest metal festival, Germany’s Wacken Open Air.

The result was RNZ Music’s 10-part web series Rū Ana Te Whenua: Alien Weaponry Shake Europe.

Kent joins us to talk about the experience.

Jesse: Was it fun, as well as being hard work?

Kent: It was hard work, and it was really fun.

How did you get involved in the project?

I did a documentary project on them for VICE this time last year and it just continued from there. The band manager got me in touch with a production company [the Down Low Concept], and the band wanted me to go with them, so it all happened.

What made this different to just a normal story of a band on tour?

Mum and Dad were on tour, it was a teenage band on tour, the boys' first time they'd ever left the country.

Really?

Yeah, it was kind of a coming of age tale, really.

But so much of life on the road is just same, same, same, boring, boring, boring. Was there enough drama or interest that you could find a 10-part story?

Yeah. What we've got is basically just skimming the surface. There's a lot that didn't make it in. The episodes are only five to six minutes long.

What sorts of venues were they playing?

They were doing club shows in cities … medium-sized cities and big cities [including Berlin and Hamburg], and then festivals.

One of the things that makes the group different is the te reo Māori lyrics. Is that featured in the documentary?

Yeah, there's footage of Germans and Slovenians and Eastern Europeans all singing along in te reo. It's actually a great language to go along with metal. It's kind of haka, fighting, powerful, very powerful language.

Other than those moments, how were they received in Europe?

They were received really, really, really well.

And how did they handle it?

Well, at the time of filming they were 16 and 18. They handled it really well. Yeah, they were sponges. Just absorbed everything and, yeah, they were great.

Favourite moments in the documentary, for people to look out for?

The lightning storm, their Wacken performance. What else? Just general shenanigans, maybe.

Any big disputes between the band?

No ... I was thinking that at the start, that this is potentially about conflict, but the overall story is not about conflict.

It's about how these guys are all on the same journey together. There's little bits and pieces of friction, but at the end of the day, they know how to work with each other and get over little tiffs and get along with a common goal.

Europeans seem really into thrash metal. Why is that?

There was one band we saw that never change their clothes, and they put dead animals on stage, and then they sort of rub themselves in dead animals. They were pretty feral but they had a massive following.

You must be interested to see where these guys go next.

They’re going back to Europe this year, and they're doing their first headline show shows over there.

Related:
  • New Alien Weaponry documentary follows the band’s European tour
  • Alien Weaponry's new video features controversial comments made by Don Brash
  • Get the RNZ app

    for easy access to all your favourite programmes

    Subscribe to Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

    Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)