Twelve Foot Ninja Talk Progress of Next Album, Fusion of Genres + More
The talented Aussie band Twelve Foot Ninja continue to make waves with their latest album ‘Silent Machine,’ recently winning the Revolver Golden God Award for Best New Talent. The band also enjoyed their first headlining trek in the U.S. earlier this year. During a press day in New York, Loudwire had a chance to chat with vocalist Kin Etik and guitarist Stevic MacKay.
The guys spoke all about their unique sound which meshes different genres of music together as well as their plans on making brand new music. Check out our interview with Kin Etik and Stevic MacKay of Twelve Foot Ninja below:
You guys kicked off this year with a Golden God for Best New Talent. What does this mean to you?
Stevic MacKay: I think it means validation. It’s a form of validation which I think is actually going to have an impact.
Kin Etik: Yeah, I think to me it means we’re on the right track to further cementing our identity in America.
SM: It’s a symbol that we’re not crazy.
KE: And that all of the hard work and putting up with each other is worth it.
What influences all of this fusion in the music? You have reggae and Latin undertones that work so well with the heavy sounds.
KE: Attention Deficit Disorder, really. Stevic kind of based it on what we call the iPod mentality, it’s a shuffle mentality. Twenty seconds of one song and they’ll skip to the next. Stevic thought it would be a good idea to capture that.
SM: People don’t listen to full albums. I wanted to make music that I’d like to listen to and whenever I listen to the reggae stuff that I like, after a while I want it to do something else. With metal, I’m not a big metal head but when I hear something really cool — like imagine smashing Radiohead or Jamiroquai or something contrasting — so when it comes in it’s got a lot more impact. You know those films that have a mute person and then when they speak it’s this big event? It’s like that. I think everything’s got to be in moderation.
KE: We’ve all got very diverse tastes, we all listen to a lot of different music and grew up with a wide range of music.
SM: With Kin he’s always listening to new music and trying to find new sounds. For me I guess I gravitate towards principle and so for me reggae is reggae for a reason so I’ll keep going back to the same sources to understand more. There’s so much material and every time you listen to it you pick up something else.
KE: At the very basis of it, it has to have authenticity. It’s one thing to try and replicate a style or a sound but for us if we do cover a style we want it to be as authentic as possible so that we don’t offend anyone who might be into that sort of thing and that what we’re doing is genuine.
SM: I think that point that Kin just made is why we polarize a lot of metal people. Some metal fans believe that there’s metal and that’s it and others enjoy the diversification of it. Putting a different spin on it doesn’t mean that we’re ruining it but some people don’t see it that way, that’s why music is subjective.
KE: All music comes from the same place, we’re merely connecting the dots. I don’t think those purist metal heads really own up to the fact that their tastes have been perhaps forged by the blues, a lot of metal heads weren’t listening to metal since they came out of the womb.
SM: I think the other thing and I have a theory about this that I’ve shared, if you look at metal at its core it’s like angry music. It has got a lot of primitive, tribal sounds. It’s very percussive. A lot of younger dudes or not even younger but males in general associate it with masculinity and I think they listen to it to feel tough.
If a band comes along and they do that and then they go Latin or acoustic guitars, they see it as a threat to their masculinity. That’s when they get this disproportioned hatred of what we’re doing because they might see it as an attack on the foundation on who they see themselves as. I think a lot of people who like our music have a common thread and they don’t really define themselves by what they listen to. They just listen to music, it’s just something that you enjoy.
KE: We’re not the sort of people that identify ourselves to one particular sub-culture or another.
SM: I think that’s what gives us the Harry Potter invisibility cloak because there’s no conforming to a way of behavior or dressing or whatever. I think when you subscribe to any kind of belief really strongly, whatever it is, you are essentially conforming to a preset and also narrowing your point of view and perspective.
Along with mixing genres the music itself invokes so many different moods and feelings, it can be forceful, uplifting, etc.
KE: It’s all about the gambit of the human condition and experience and we all have those moments of joy and despair and all these things. I think our music in particular deals with the duality of humanity, that love, fear thing. The story we’ve concocted was about a protagonist with a really dark past and he’s seeking atonement. For me it’s about self-empowerment, seeing the light through the darkness and that it’s all one place.
Where did the love of Ninjas and martial arts come from?
KE: I grew up with martial arts around me. My mom dated a Kung-Fu master who she studied with and who I eventually studied with. When I was like eight or nine years old, he used to bring home Jackie Chan films and take me out to see all sorts of Kung-Fu movies so I had a lot of that martial arts culture around me. I was a big fan of Sho Kosugi, he’s probably the most famous Japanese, ninja actor — he plays a ninja in pretty much every film he’s ever done. Stevic on the other hand is into Ninja Turtles.
SM: Yeah, for me I think it started in school, I grew up on a farm and it was very isolated. At school this kid decked me in front of the class and then I just became obsessed with bashing people and I always used to draw pictures of Ninjas kicking a—es. Then Ninja Turtles came along when I was a young kid and it really captured my imagination. I also think I watched every [Jean Claude] Van Damme film ever made.
Can we expect any more singles off of ‘Silent Machine’?
KE: We actually don’t have another single off of ‘Silent Machine.’ We’re actually onto the second album, We’ve begun tracking the second album. We’re going to be working on more of it so yeah we’re onto the next thing.
How has the progress on the new material been for you both?
SM: We really evaluated how we made ‘Silent Machine’ and looked at the ways on how to improve the efficiency on how to do it and how to engage the individual band members more and just upgrades in computer software and programs and all that s—t.
KE: This guy spent four days installing software.
SM: If you can imagine the OCD people that line up their shoes and their socks and they fold everything, we’ve done that and now we’re ready to get dressed. [Laughs]
KE: We’ve learned a lot about ourselves as a band and continue to grow stronger. I think ‘Silent Machine’ was an exercise in discovering who we were as a musical entity.
How has the creative process been for this forthcoming material?
KE: It’s been a lot easier.
SM: Ridiculously with ‘Silent Machine.’ I also decided to build a house and start a degree and it just drained any sort of creativity. As it turns out you need to be in the right headspace to create stuff. It’s been great because now all the other stuff is gone.
KE: It was like forcing a watermelon through the eye of a needle at times when we would try to figure out how we were going to approach this.
SM: I wasn’t sure what you were going to say just then, it was like forcing a watermelon through your d—. [Laughs]
KE: Wow that says much more about you than it does about me. [Laughs]
Watch the Video for Twelve Foot Ninja’s ‘Aint That a Bitch’