Wednesday, March 9, 2011

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Stevic - Twelve Foot Ninja

Stevic looking fierce, second in from the left

As night descends over the metropolitan city of Melbourne four agents of darkness rise to wreak groovy ninja havoc ... they are ... TWELVE FOOT NINJA!

Recently the clan's guitarist and producer, Stevic, took some time off from his secret training to share some words of wisdom with a lowly wanderer.
BS: It isn't every day you come cross a group of seasoned shinobi playing djenty reggae metal ... in Australia: how'd you guys come up with all this and how does a band of ninjas go about writing a song?

SV: I wanted to team up with some guys and start a band that allowed me to write what ever I wanted yet somehow made all of the music make sense – I’d always written genre hopping music since I was a teenager. Then I started writing a story about the Twelve Foot Ninja and joining the music up to it – the story evolved substantially, as did the music. I am glad I went with Twelve Foot Ninja and not TOUGH ELF ALFAFA (although this may end up being a side project because I have a fantasy of hearing a crowd chant toughelfalfalfa).

Songwriting involves a lot of respectful scrutinizing of ideas, structures and arrangements. We write in a few ways and always monitor and strive for the most efficient way to write.

BS: I don't know, I think you were on to something with that original name! Australia has gained quite a reputation in recent years for it's ambitious rock scene. Has this spotlight helped in any way to draw attention to Twelve Foot Ninja?

SV: It is hard to recognize what we are sort of intrinsically submerged in, but it's great that guys like yourself take an interest in this scene and our band. Thanks!
BS: Not a problem; it destroys most of the U.S. rock scene at the moment!

You guys are about to tour Australia this month with Clint Boge's new band, Thousand Needles in Red, on the Into Eternity Tour (from the title, I wasn't sure at first if you were going out on the road with the progressive death metal band :). How did this come together? Unless I'm mistaken, Butterfly Effect is pretty huge in Australia.

SV: I’m not sure how it actually happened or who initiated it, but Clint told our Drummer Russ that he really dug the band and wanted to do some shows with us, so I guess that is how it evolved. We appreciate any opportunity to get out there. Kudos to Clint!

BS: Are there any sharp objects flying at your shows?

SV: Our friend threw a glass at Nik but I think he was on some sort of hallucinogenic snake poison. We made a short video about killing hipsters and stealing their instruments for a rehearsal in which I stopped at a Bakery and bought the blokes cakes. This sort of caught on so I got my Mum to bake a shitload of TFN cupcakes which I threw into the crowd. Not very sharp, but tasty.
BS: Smoke Bomb EP kicks a load of Pirate ass. It seems you took a heavier and, occasionally, even tech-ier direction on this release; what inspired the change?

SV: Ha ha ha thanks mate! As soon as the lineup was sorted we were always heavier than the first EP. We’ve played a lot of those tracks live for quite a while so ‘Smoke Bomb’ is really for those who see us live all the time to take the tracks from gigs home with them and those who can’t see us live in person to get more of a vibe of what we do live. We are all fans of Meshuggah and that polyrhythmic style of percussive playing, so I guess it comes out in our music. Whatever it is, it has to have groove, if people need calculators to understand it then its missed the mark.

BS: Stevic, you were recently endorsed by Toontrack Drum Software. How will this impact your recording process and will your drummer, Russ, still play on acoustic drums live?

SV: Yes! I am absolutely stoked with this endorsement. ToonTrack make incredible stuff and from my contact with the company, they seem like a great bunch of people. The recording process will remain fairly unchanged as all of the recordings were made with an electronic kit using drum software. We actually used ToonTrack’s EZ Drummer for the drum sounds on the first two EP’s with Russ playing it all in on electronic kit. For the album tracks we are using Superior Drummer 2 and real hats and cymbals. The hats and cymbals in Superior kick arse but the articulation needed for various genres on hats and cymbals is hard to capture with electronic hats and midi without excessive programming. We really like to keep Russ's drum feel on our recordings so there is no discrepancy live.

BS: Are there any other tour plans for 2011 or tentative releases/ninja parades we should keep an eye out for?

SV: We are always plotting and scheming. We will be releasing our album in a very interesting way that we hope people really enjoy. More on that very soon!

BS: Anything else you'd like to say to the nice people at home?

Nothing I can think of! Just thank you for taking an interest in Twelve Foot Ninja and we would love anybody reading to take the time to check out some of our stuff, hook us up on facebook, join our forum on our website. It is becoming quite ‘the ninja clan"- people in other countries meeting up with each other and chatting about all sorts of shit. We love it.

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