Fancy Bhangra with Metal? Catch Twelve Foot Ninja This Week
The Australian band will bring their genre-blending brand of metal as part of their three-city debut India tour
During the course of our video call, Melbourne-based guitarist Steve Mackay a.k.a. Stevic from metallers Twelve Foot Ninja brings out an ektara and shows it off for us. He says as he plucks the string randomly, “I used it on one of our songs – it’s an Indian thing – I love this thing. I play it completely differently, though.”
It’s just one of the things that proves how much fun you can have being in a metal band, even if you’re playing heavy, brutal music. Of course, it’s not all slash-and-grind with Twelve Foot Ninja. Their second full-length album Outlier (2016) was a diverse listen—going from dissonant riffage (“One Hand Killing,” now a fan favorite) to soulful melodies and horn sections (“Point of You”) and then, the ektara-employing “Monsoon” that turns a bhangra beat into a groovy djent monster.
Understandably, hitting India for a three shows (organized by BlueTree) between October 25th and 27th in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru is exciting for Mackay and the band, who’ve been active since 2008 and only recently broken through Europe and the U.S. He says, “I love the instruments and the musical genres that have evolved through traditional styles. Like even the pop music, the Punjabi, modern stuff. I don’t know if it’s considered offensive by some, but I love that. I can feel that beat and put it in with this – I’m really into that. I love mixing up different styles. It’s sick.”
For a band from Australia, Mackay says that playing around the world is important, mostly because it’s just about numbers. The guitarist says, “Anywhere is bigger than Australia when it comes to population. It’s a big country, but it’s just not that many people. Making friends around the world is really super important for Aussie bands, because otherwise it’s not really sustainable.”
One of those friends includes graphic designer and bassist Reuben Bhattacharya a.k.a. Visual Amnesia, who’s worked on merch and promotional artwork for the band on the regular. Mackay says when they began talking, they really got along. “He’s my go-to guy for all sorts of artwork-related things. I got him to design this tattoo that I got. That’s how much I like his work – I had him on my arm,” the guitarist says with a laugh.
A part of Twelve Foot Ninja’s defining identity (and a reason for their steadily increasing worldwide recognition) comes from their hilarious music videos, peppered with Aussie banter, goofy costumes and too-good-to-be-true makeup. Mackay says, “I think for me, when we create the music, it’s serious. But whenever I’ve gone to make a music video, I can’t resist taking the piss out of it a little bit and having to joke.” But forthcoming material that the band has just begun working on, however, might just be a turn away from hilarity. “It’s all getting a bit darker. I think we’re all thinking that things are more centred around mortality and time, those kind of themes of being temporary, in whatever it is – whether it’s a life, or a relationship or a band. Sort of being hyper-aware about that and letting it seep into the musical ideas,” the guitarist says.
Following their current run of shows, Twelve Foot Ninja are likely to get into proper writing mode for the next release, although Mackay hints that there may be another U.S. tour early next year. For their India visit, though, Mackay’s only a bit spooked about gastro, even though he admits he loves Indian food too much to care. He says, “I’m going to try some stuff, but I’ll probably end up spewing or something.” Clearly, they’re always up for fun, just like they are with their music.
Buy tickets here. Hear “One Hand Killing” below.