Q & A with Twelve Foot Ninja
To understate it in the biggest way possible, 2016 was a big year for Twelve Foot Ninja. Tours across the US at some of the country's biggest rock festivals and alongside some of the biggest rock and metal bands on earth, they dropped their second full-length record Outlier, (Top 5 Billboard Hard Rock Chart debut and top 10 overall ARIA Chart debut) that scored them an ARIA award nomination, they toured Australia with Disturbed and headlined their own sold-out shows as well AND dropped two of the most hilarious filmclips - ever - for their singles One Hand Killing and Sick, which earned them a combined 1.7 million views on Youtube.
Also... they released one of our favourite records of 2016.
And now they're on their way to the Coast to play The V Room on February 17th. We were lucky enough to send through some Q's to Rohan (guitar) in the lead up to this epic show...
Hello legends! I have to say, congrats on the success of 'Outlier'. Hands down, one of my favourite releases of 2016 (and I'm not just blowing smoke up your collective arses... I truly think it stood out last year). Being that heavier genres often have to battle harder for attention in this country, were you surprised at how well it was received?
Thank you Koala Feet. And yes! We didn’t know what to expect, so any outcome would have been surprising. But the reception has been awesome and it’s inspired us to get cracking into round 3!
With so many goddamn musical styles that are all blended in together in TFN, what would've been the hardest song on 'Outlier' to construct? It's not like we're dealing with simple 3 chord progressions here...
Dig For Bones and Oxygen. They both took a lot of trial & tribulation and completely evolved. Their original demos would surprise you. Actually, they were all a pain in the arse.. HA HA HA.
Personally, I've been into the band since a friend introduced me to 'Beneath The Smiles' (which was up on Triple J Unearthed some 9 years ago), which showed a very Faith No More (circa King For a Day... well to me, anyway) sound. To you, how do you feel you have grown as a group, in style and technique?
The obvious stylistic difference is how much heavier it is now. One Hand Killing vs Beneath The Smiles or anything on New Dawn seem worlds apart. The songwriting is constantly evolving. There’s a lot more focus these days on how strong the song head is, once it’s been stripped of its production. There have been a lot of lessons learnt & a lot of development in all aspects since then, as you’d expect.
You've managed to score some epic tours time over in the US... how did the American audiences react to this different style of Australian heaviness? Which was the wildest show on the tour (and why)?
Any festival. We were in a bloody Anthrax and Killswitch Engage sandwich at Revolution Rock festival. Shit like that spins me out. I instantly thought of the Rock Allegiance festival in Pennsylvania, where we played at this stadium amongst bands like Slayer and Alice in Chains… It’s definitely growing. Peoples’ reactions are as contrasting as our genre changes. They either really love it or really hate it. Some purest ‘Metal Heads’ tend to find the genre-mashing thing a bit challenging. No different to home I guess.
You always have interesting (and goddamn funny) film clips... 'Sick' has its fucked up horror/cabin in the woods theme happening (with that twisted ending), and my favourite 'One Hand Killing', even the weirdness of Mother Sky... so who comes up with the concepts for the clips, and please tell me there would have to be a special stack of blooper reels from the shoots?
The clips are a brief snapshot of Stevic’s whacked out imagination. So both blame and credit go to him! We shot a lot more for the Sick the video than we ended up using. So there are a lot of out-takes and blooper reels that may eventually see the light of day..
TFN have utilised crowd-funding quite successfully... do you see this as the future for the majority of independent bands to get their art out there (and how long do you see this as being a viable option before crowd-funding becomes saturated)?
Crowd Funding is tip-bloody-top! Thank you to everyone who got involved and pre-ordered Outlier by the way. It’s not just helpful; it actualises the project. So cheers! For as long as the band has demand, it’s a viable option. As soon as people stop wanting our music, it obviously won’t work for us. Most of the challenge is in creating that demand.
And finally, In regards to the ARIA bullshit that happened towards the end of 2016, do you see the industry actually taking the heavy genre seriously in the near future? With no disrespect to King Gizz (not a fan, but you have to give props to a band that manages to pump out that many albums in a short time, and gain such a huge following), but they really had no business being in the heavy genre...
Firstly, we were stoked to be nominated amongst some great bands and had a bloody blast! We went in with no real expectation to win, so there was no reason for us to be disappointed about anything. On reflection, I think Metal might need to be it’s own thing though. There’s obscurity around the title; ‘Best Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Album’. So to call it ‘The Heavy Genre’ is a good indication that there is some misinterpretation around the category definition. It’s like having a category for two separate genres; Metal and Hard Rock. Sausages and Bananas mate. It’s doomed for some pissed off fans. I was more surprised that they cut it from the broadcast, along with other genres. We’re like, the shit kickers of music or something. Controversial outcome and all, but only the Metal community know about it (probably through Facebook) and give a shit.
Thanks guys! Love your work, looking forward to the next chapter, and enjoy the 'Sick' Tour. We'll be seeing you when you hit up The V Room in Noosa on February 17!
Bloody cheers! See you then.
Catch Twelve Foot Ninja at The V Room on February 17 with Osaka Punch, and Humality.