Melbourne music juggernaut Twelve Foot Ninja are a band who have never been afraid to not only push musical boundaries, but more redefine the very parameters on which they were founded.
They have delivered some of Australia’s finest musical outputs over the years, including the highly popular 2016 album Outlier, but they return in 2021 armed with a swag of new material in the form of Vengeance, which will be unleashed on October 15 through Volkanic Music.
The album has already spawned the singles Start The Fire, Long Way Home and Over and Out, plus seen the introduction of a range of new platforms including a video game, graphic novel and fantasy novel, with each, in typical Twelve Foot Ninja style, being an eclectic extension of the band’s musical taste and vivid imagination.
Guitarist Stevic Mackay joined HEAVY to chat about the album and other things that go bump in the night.
“It’s not like any of the other albums,” he revealed when quizzed about Vengeance. “I think… we sort of went down more of a… I can’t name one thing, but if there was a theme, it does go down a bit of an 80s video gamey kind of vibe a little bit more than other albums. There’s also quite a bit of orchestral stuff. We worked with a 12-piece orchestra and recorded in Sing Sing in Melbourne – and that was wild, it was really cool. There’s probably the heaviest song we’ve ever written is on there and the softest song we’ve ever written is on there, so it’s a bit of a journey as they say.”
It has been five years since previous album Outlier, and while this may not seem much of a time-lapse in the overall scheme of things, when you are dealing with a band with as many differing components as Twelve Foot Ninja it may as well be a lifetime.
So we pose the question, how has the band changed and grown musically in that period.
“Well, we’re definitely closer to death,” Mackay laughed. “I think in that time we’ve really honed… we kind of became really aware of, I guess, what we internally call the dark side of the force, which is this fixation on riff porn. You know, like writing songs for the technical purpose, like riffs. Lots of riffs. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a song… We kind of went on a bit of a trip of really breaking down what makes a song a song. What’s interesting? Does it work when you strip it back to just an acoustic and what are we saying? What’s the point? is it purposeful? I think we, I guess, rejected the temptation to be clever for clever sake and really tried to prioritize songs, like a cohesive idea that’s communicated by that medium. So, I think if I was gonna try and summarize it, it would probably be that.”
In the full interview, Stevic runs us through the diverse nature of Vengeance, how far they are willing to push musical boundaries, public expectation, their film clips and how much thought and preparation goes into them, the novels and video game, having Tatiana from Jinjer provide guest vocals on their recent single, heading back out on the road and more.