There’s a fire brewing across the ditch in New Zealand and the bigger it gets, the more attention we start to give it over here in Australia. That fire is the ever-growing number of heavy bands that are hellbent on having their music heard by the masses in their own country, and the adopted land down under just across the Tasman Sea.
Today we are stoked to bring you the latest single, ‘Stand For Something‘, from melodic-hardcore act Amanaki, who have been creating heartfelt heavy music with a message for over four years, and like a fine wine, they’re getting better with age. This new jam is full on, in-your-face hardcore screams invoking the listener to think about the issues important to them and have their voices heard on the subject.
We grabbed frontman Jared Kerr to dive into the track, and band, to find out what makes them tick, their motivation for change through their music, Ethan’s
unhealthy obsession with Northlane and, if presented with the option of choosing anarchy or a pokemon – where his decision would lay… no seriously, it’ll make sense when you get up to that question!
Greetings Amanaki! – You’re just over the ditch in NZ but you’re making music that’s certainly worth the time and attention of the world. Tell us how you all came to be!
Hey thanks for having us! Amanaki started between April and I back in early 2018. We were playing in different bands at the time but found we had very similar interests and musical style for a new project. From there we actually co-wrote our debut EP Immutable, which is when we had some close friends join – Jethro on drums and Ethan on bass. We then released Immutable in 2018 and have been writing and playing gigs ever since. This was a big change for me as I had been a bass player in many bands before but had only ever done a little backing vocals, never the lead vocalist. However, I have enjoyed the transition and my job is made easy by having such a solid band behind me.
If we were to categorise you, you’re a blend of hardcore screams with chunky metalcore riffs and sassy basslines – akin to that of Stray From The Path/The Ghost Inside meets KoRn and fellow NZ band Antagonist A.D. Is that a fair judgement and/or who would you say are your biggest influences?
Wow thanks, definitely taking that as a compliment. Stray From The Path would be one of our biggest influences and it was actually April and my shared love for them that really kicked Amanaki off. April is beast with writing sick guitar lead melodies and a lot of this is influenced by Counterparts and similar styled melodic hardcore bands.
One of my biggest influences would be Rage Against The Machine with their catchy riffs and in your face vocals. As a band, we have a very diverse list of artists and genres that we listen to and you might hear some of these come through in different songs like our heavier sections as well as more punk sections.
Does any of Ethan’s Northlane obsession seep into the band or do you guys keep his fanboying at bay elsewhere?
Luckily we’ve been able to show him there’s more to music than just Northlane and there’s actually more clothing brands as well! I guess the key way we keep this at bay is by making sure he’s never in charge of the Aux cable on tour! All jokes aside, Ethan is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the heavy music genres, filling us in on all the new releases and new inspirations. Along with an Aussie fanbase following him haha.
He’s a future wizard, we love him too! There’s so much aggression from New Zealand in the metal world – especially with bands like Antagonist A.D, Devilskin and Alien Weaponry – What’s going on over there to inspire this because from our perspective New Zealand looks like a great place to live life!?
Maybe it’s from everyone thinking we are part of Australia? Maybe it’s from everyone thinking we are Hobbits? But you’re right, there’s a lot of really aggressive music coming out of NZ and I ain’t complaining. I think we face very similar issues here as many do overseas such as racism, sexism and every other form of discrimination, which are all the key concepts and ideas fuelling these aggressive bands. Maybe our smaller population intensifies these issues?
Big things come in small packages so I reckon you’re on the ball there. What inspired ‘Stand for Something’ the banger you are premiering with us today?
This song came out of my own passion for having something to stand for whether it be religion, politics or any social issue. I also find it difficult witnessing people who don’t have that “something” they stand for which is where songs like ‘Hypocrite’ from Immutable come from. I’ve always believed in having a strong foundation in something that then your moral views come from. As a band we all grew up in the church and collectively would say that’s our foundation. This can be picked up in lyrics and the general moral stance we take on situations.
And off to the top of your head – what are three key social issues you as a band stand for?
1. Standing against racism
2. Standing against sexism
3. Advocating for mental health awareness
All fantastic social issues to speak out about. Keep it up! Luckily for us, you’re releasing more music with your Tempest EP (out November 4th) – What can you tell us about this release?
Tempest has 7 tracks and our NZ audience will recognise a couple of these from our setlist. There are 6 heavy-hitting songs followed by an instrumental track, which we always like to incorporate. We cover topics such as self-worth and discovery, mental health, loss and discrimination.
The second track on Tempest is called ‘Tumor’ and this was a song written by April when her father was diagnosed with cancer. Lyrically the song is about the fight he was going through. Sadly he passed away early last year so this song means a lot to us as a band.
We also have two songs with guest vocalists; ‘Leech’ featuring Luke Manson from Xile and Antagonist A.D and ‘Scars’ featuring our Kiwi friend Josh Smith.
As the band grows and expands your wings, will we see you heading outside of NZ to play a bunch of shows here in Australia?
100%! We can’t wait to head over the ditch and play some shows with the killer Aussie heavy scene. We actually had some shows lined up but sadly COVID wrecked that opportunity for us. So now that’s kind of over and done with (fingers crossed) maybe we will be heading over sooner rather than later.
I’m calling for a UNIFY slot please and thank you! For the ill-informed, what’s the local heavy scene like over that way? Is it thriving, growing, or needing a bit more attention on it?
I would say the scene has been growing over the last few years as a bunch of new younger bands have been joining the scene such as Stacked. They pull a massive all-ages crowd that really knows how to have a good time. Definitely wouldn’t be saying no to more attention though. I feel like the NZ heavy music scene has a bit of a cap on it that many other countries don’t.
With our lack of big heavy music festivals and the distinct lack of funding we receive that seems available for every other genre. Small steps are being made but would be awesome to see some future growth in the area of musical development in the NZ heavy scene like what’s available to other genres.
I didn’t even know that was a thing until now. I’m shocked, but keep fighting for it because it’s definitely deserved. Let’s lighten the mood for a second with a fun one – Would you rather live in a world of anarchy or own a real-life pet Mankey from Pokemon?
As fun as that would be for the first 3 hours before the world explodes into utter chaos I think I’m going to go with the pet Mankey. As long as that bad boy evolves into Primeape soon so it can rip up in the pit.
hahahaha brilliant! Okay, what’s next for Amanaki and do you have any final thoughts?
We are really looking forward to getting this release out and growing our reach and fanbase. So I guess our main goal for the rest of this year is that Tempest really kicks off. Along with opening up more opportunities for bigger and better shows. We can’t wait to play shows with this new music and see how crowds react.
Thanks so much for this interview. Shout out to Nate from North Supply Co for all the support he gives us. Also a big shout out to all our friends and family who support us and the ever-growing NZ heavy music scene.
It’s been a pleasure Jared, go kick ass!
Interview by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
Amanaki is Jared Kerr (Vocals), April Haines (Guitar), Jethro Wall (Drums) and Ethan Downey-Parish (Bass/Vocals)
Pre-Save ‘Stand For Something‘ and
Pre-Order/save Tempest EP here
Amanaki – Tempest EP tracklisting
3. Leech (feat. Luke Manson of Xile)
4. Stand For Something
6. Scars (feat. Josh Smith)