Interview: Kin Etik - Twelve Foot Ninja

Hailing from Melbourne Australia, Twelve Foot Ninja have endured five years of progression up the ranks of the metal scene, it hasn't come without hard-ship (does it ever?) but remaining positive, talented, and driven - the quintet have constantly barged doors down all over the world. Their captivating live show has made them a project that needs to be experienced by any corner of the metal spectrum. We caught up with Kin on the bands last date of the UK tour for some perspective on their achievements. Noizze: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today! Tonight’s the last date of your UK tour, how’s it been so far? What have been the best and worst moments?

Kin: It’s been amazing! We’ve had five sold out shows so far, which is awesome and not what we expected either. Everyone's been so lovely with us too. The audiences have been so generous. The best moment, t’s hard to say, but I think it was in Birmingham. It just stood out for some reason. The energy there, the crowd was unbelievable - we really felt the love, it was a tangible thing. One of the hardest parts was the other night in Nottingham. We had an issue with our in ear monitoring system. It was throwing this incredible sound in our ears, like some alien transmission or something, so we sort of had to improvise. Stevic started telling jokes, really really bad crappy jokes, I jumped out into the crowd at one stage and heckled the band. It was only for about fifteen minutes but it felt like an hour to us. The audience were so cool about it and we were talking to fans after the show and they said “It was great, the best night of my life!”. Like, were you actually in there? Did you just see the car crash that just happened? They were so, so lovely with us. N: Where are you heading after this leg of the tour?

K: We’re heading to Germany, Spain, Italy, the Czech Repulic, Switzerland, I believe, but I might be missing something.

N: How much longer are you going to be on the road for? Do you have any plans for once you have some downtime, or is there not going to be any?

K: Well, I think we’re on the road now for another 4 weeks. There’s not going to be much downtime when we get home. We work, so we head straight back to our jobs. We’re also talking about getting to work on our third album as well, so we’ll probably just hit the ground running and keep going. There’s talk of other tours going on later in the year as well. There’s not going to be much downtime, but that’s something we’ve come to accept.

N: Last year you were handpicked to tour with Disturbed. Can you tell us a bit about that?

K: I can’t remember who it was who got onto us, I think it might have been Dan actually, but they asked for us specifically. We did four amazing shows back at home with them and they were the biggest indoor shows we had ever done. It was a luxury too. The fact that there was catering and everything was set up for us so we could just walk on stage, be really relaxed and get on with what we do. The guys were really cool with us too. Dan ended up taking us out to a whiskey bar on the final night and we had some really expensive whiskeys with him, talked a whole heap of shit and it was such a good experience for us. We learnt a lot too. It was something else.

N: It’s been a long time since you last played London. You sold out then and you’ve sold out tonight. How do you think playing Underworld compared to the old Barfly (now Camden Assembly)?

K: The first and last show we had was there, I think it was in 2013? It sold out two weeks before the date and it was unbelievable. We weren’t expecting that at all. We’d done a couple shows in Germany and the attendance wasn’t so great. You kind get used to those things especially when you’re entering a new market. If no-one knows you, then how do they know to come? We got to England and we thought, maybe there’ll be like twenty if we’re lucky, maybe fifty people. It was absolutely packed, they crammed a few extras in that night. The whole place was jumping around together, singing louder than I was. It was, speaking on behalf of the band, one of our favourite gigs ever. To be able to return and do it again and double the size of the audience, it’s a really cool thing.

N: Listening to your back catalogue on the way here, the second album combines a lot of different genres of music that aren’t exactly similar or usually played together. What drove this combination?

K: I think a number of things influenced that. Firstly, we’re all into a wide variety of styles and music. We don’t only listen to heavy music. Most of us have been brought up with a lot of different music around us. We try to incorporate different elements in just to make it interesting. The second point is we don’t want to make it boring. We don’t want to be that boring. The third is because Stevic has ADD, which is undiagnosed, but he would definitely get bored if we just stuck to a heavy thing all the time. We love to experiment and play around with it. We like to see what would work, play the music we want to hear. I think it’s a combination of those things.

N: Your music videos are always quite, uh, interesting. How much creative input do you actually all get when brainstorming concepts and when you’re on set?

K: Well, Stevic is the mastermind of those crazy videos. It’s a bit of an insight into how his brain works. He comes up with a concept, script and a storyboard, we check it out, discuss what would work and what won’t. He’s got a really good visual mind for that stuff. He’s visually creative. He knows which member of the band will play which character best. When it comes to the actual day of shooting we all throw in various ideas, how about we do that, how about we do this. We just see what works in the edit. So we all have a little bit of input but it’s definitely the masterpiece of Stevic.

N: What’s, personally, been your favourite video to shoot?

K: That’s a really good question! I think the ‘Ain’t That A Bitch’ film clip because we had the Periphery boys on board and we love those guys. There’s so much going on in that film clip. It was a really cool experience. We ended up doing so many different scenes. When you’re just doing the same thing, just playing a room, and something outside of that acting as the story can be a bit boring to shoot because it’s long and monotonous. Our ‘One Hand Killing’ clip was pretty much that. It was a 15 hour shoot and we had to cram it into one day. We had us as a band being shot, then we got changed into a different band. I think when you have that much variety in the scenes that you’re shooting it stays interesting and its a lot of fun.

N: In previous interviews, you’ve said politics is another influence. Why do you think that’s important to incorporate that into your music?

K: It’s not like we wear it on our sleeves or fly a political flag. I’m, personally, interested in global politics and have been for a really long time. I’m interested in the ever-changing world and how difficult it can be for other people. I think the story of Twelve Foot Ninja is about an internal struggle between that light and darkness that we all experience in ourselves. We experience a microcosm of that as well in the outer world and so I try to take little elements of politics or philosophy and put it all in a blender, but somehow paint it with an ambiguity so others can have their own interpretation of it rather than ramming a political or philosophical message down their throats. We’re not an ideologic band. We’re a band who want to have a good time and we’d hope our audience have a good time too when we play. I wouldn’t ever call us a political band but there are hints of it in the lyrics. I think it’s important for us all to be a little bit aware of what’s happening around us and how things are shifting.

N: You’ve been a band for quite some time, how have your live shows evolved over the years?

K: Yeah, it’s ten years this year. Well, we started out as a four piece. We became a five piece in 2012. The sound has somewhat progressed from the first EP through to the second album. There’s quite an aggression, and naturally we’re all into different types of music so that’s seeped through to the fabric of our musical conscioussness. That’s come out a lot as we write. Now we’ve got production. We brought our lighting director over from Australia, our stage manager over from Australia, we’ve got our TM (tour manager), Dylan, who is also our sound guy and we call them the A-Team. They’re the best. We have our full production and that’s definitely made things a lot easier for us. There’s a lot now we don’t have to worry about. If something happens, it’s being handled and looked after. For years and years, almost a decade, we’ve been a band that’s done everything ourselves. We still load in our own gear, and load out and set up ourselves but now we have the luxury of having extra sets of hands to help. As far as a gig or a show is concerned, Stevic especially has been about streamlining our set up and streamlining our technology. We run our guitars through our pedalboards straight out, rather than through amplifiers. It allows us more room on stage and less stage sound as well, because you can battle with that on stage. We are constantly looking for new ways to streamline our operation, so I’d say that’s the only way its evolved.

N: Do any of you have rituals while on tour or while warming up for a show?

K: We do a little toast before a show. We’ll get in a huddle and Stevic will give us a pep talk and its hilarious. Sometimes its completely nonsensical which is fantastic, but its good if we are feeling a little bit edgy because it helps us relax a bit. He does us a great service by doing that. Then we toast and when we toast we have a little saying in our band. Someone will call “We’re not here to…” and the rest of us will say “fuck spiders!”, because we’re not here to fuck spiders, basically! It boosts the moral and we march out there and we’re ready to go. But that’s probably the biggest ritual we do.