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By: Wade Reitz
Have you heard of Twelve Foot Ninja? If not, you’re missing out! A fusion metal band from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, they have recently released a new album, Outlier, on September 16, 2016 via Volkanik Music, and are wrapping up a US tour. Thankfully, guitarist Rohan Hayes took some time to answer some questions for Wade Reitz about the new album, its recording, their current and upcoming tour, along with a few other things.
(((o))): Hi Ro! Thanks for taking the time!
Ro: No worries pal!
(((o))): You guys are currently on tour, and from your Facebook posts, it looks like things are going well. What’s your relationship with the other bands? Have you toured with any of these bands before?
Ro: Things are kicking arse! This is our fourth time to the States, yet our shortest trip. There’s a few new bands in here, especially in the festival line ups. We did a headline tour in 2014 with Nothing More, we’re pretty tight with those dudes. Other than that, never played with Sevendust, Hell Yeah or Slayer before.
(((o))): What plans do you have for touring once this leg is over? Is there any place you have not been that you would like to tour?
Ro: We have an Aussie tour with Disturbed coming up in November which we’re stoked for. Hoping to get back to Europe in 2017. Our first and only London show in 2014 is one of the band’s favourites to look back on. We’ve only played in the UK and Germany so we’re hoping to bring the Ninja to everywhere else in Europe!
(((o))): On tour you are representing your newest album, Outlier, which was released recently on Volkanik Music. This is your second album with them. How did that relationship come about? Are you playing much of the new material live? How are the crowds responding?
Ro: We also released Silent Machine through Volkanik. Volkanik have been there from the start. They are passionate about the Ninja! We’re playing 60% of Outlier mixed in with the most popular tracks from Silent Machine. So far, the reception has been good. ‘Collateral’ is a crowd favourite!
(((o))): As I listen to Outlier, I hear some different elements being introduced. Some you have briefly touched on in the past, while others are completely new. What were some of your influences when making this record?
Ro: I wanted to revisit and build on some of my personal favourite moments on all of our previous releases, such as the Spanish stuff on Smoke Bomb – where I’d draw from dudes such as Paco De Lucia, or the funk stuff on Silent Machine. As for the heavier riffs – I’m not sure. I really wrote what felt good. Some of my favourite heavy riffs are from bands like Vildhjarta, Meshuggah and Deftones, I guess I can hear that stuff shine through. We’ll always try new things without straying too far away from what works well in Ninja.
(((o))): You released the first single and track, ‘One Hand Killing’, really early in the recording process. What if anything changed between its release and the release of the full album?
Ro: We started the crowd funding campaign (which completely blew us away!). I think this was the main difference. We went from writing by ourselves, to sharing the experience with our fans and getting that instant feedback. It was actually a pretty hectic period. We shortlisted our 65 songs down to 15 or so, finished and tracked them.
(((o))): Speaking of the recording process, it was a pretty lengthy one for Outlier. Were there issues, or did you just really want to make sure everything was perfect? Did you have help with the process (production, mixing, etc.), or was Outlier literally all you?
Ro: The songwriting does take time and we do get quite microscopic (especially Stevic), but it comes down to our day jobs. Unfortunately you need that paper stuff, you know… money.. to keep ourselves alive.
(((o))): Twelve Foot Ninja seems to get pushed into the djent category, along with other great bands like Periphery, TesseracT, and Monuments. However, you also seem to identify with bands like Sevendust and the other bands you are joining on tour. How do you feel about this? Does it bother you? Do you care? Are you afraid it could turn off a potential new fan?
Ro: It’s an honour because all of those bands are great in their own way. We’re doing our own thing and the industry has found it hard to categorise us, but people can’t help but make comparisons to what they know. Not a bad thing, it is what it is. We spent some time hanging out with the Sevendust dudes on this run, which was bloody amazing as we all grew up listening to those dudes! Morgan Rose has a knack for delivering the best stories.
(((o))): Ok, last question, not music related; I’m a beer guy, and it appears so are you all, so, do you have a favourite beer, and if so, which one?
Ro: I bloody love my Pale Ale. Anything hoppy! One Fifty Lashes is my current ‘go to’ at the moment.
(((o))): Thanks again!