Twelve Foot Ninja don't want to play the same style over and over

Three years since the release of Outlier, the last few months spent bigging up their Upload tour happening next month, and of course, appearing on the Download Australia bill, too – Twelve Foot Ninja have been busy, if illusive. 

“We’ve been writing new material,” says guitarist Stevic MacKay. “Just chipping away. A lot of writing, a lot of extracurricular stuff – I started a guitar company, had a baby, did a whole bunch of crazy shit.”

Time flies for MacKay and the rest of his band of merry genre-fusing men, but it’s been productive, laughs MacKay as he says, “Time just bloody flies. It sounds weird when I hear 2016 and we’re 2019 [now] – it feels like it’s been two months in between.” 

Life does that. Twelve Foot Ninja from the outset, experienced a rapid escalation of, shall we say, a cult status. Dropping EPs and albums since 2008, then of course with life happening along the way, the cult following hasn’t waned through quieter periods, giving MacKay confidence the upcoming tour will be well received. “I suppose at the outset it looks quiet,” he reasons, “But I think it’s a fair statement – life does happen.

“From our point of view, there’s always a choice to just drop everything and hit the road indefinitely, but it’s not really a life any of us want. I think it’s about choices as much as anything.

“We’re definitely moving toward more frequent content and trying to work out a way to do that because when we tour, we’re often not writing because of how we write and how long it takes to put this kind of music together. So we need to find a way to keep more frequency with the releases, that’s been a big priority.”

With 30 songs lying in wait, MacKay says Twelve Foot Ninja are slowly picking away at putting together a new release, changing their strategy a little more. “We’ve surveyed the whole thing – ‘it’s been 11 years, what do we enjoy?’ What works well for us? How do we want to tour, how much do we want to tour? How do we balance it out with everything else we want to do?’

“It’s about designing the band to suit our objective and personal beliefs, like in terms of how we want to live. I think there’s an illusion about being on the road for a long period of time.

“I think it was Mark [Hosking] from Karnivool who said, ‘When you’re in a touring band, you’re this weird sort of drifter, in a tin can.’ It’s not normal, you don’t have access to basic things.

“Not to paint a bleak picture, it’s bloody fun as well. Getting hammered is fun also, but you wouldn’t do it every day.”

Touring has been a massive part of life for Twelve Foot Ninja – the tour dates for next month alone are evident that the band are back – not that they ever really went away – and that this tour will be huge. For MacKay, living life in the last few years will in some ways, dictate how Twelve Foot Ninja will conduct themselves on tour, and how the new album shapes up. “It’s unavoidable that you shape all your experiences, it sort of happens,” he says. “For us I think we just roll with it, make sure we’re still having fun and that we’re all still on the same team.

“Things do change with people and the style of music we play, and how many people still like that kind of music, all those things come into it.

“How to evolve musically is another objective – we don’t want to do that same thing. We’ve got to strike a weird balance – which is almost a bit paradoxical – between what makes us sound like us but not doing the same thing we’ve already done. I think we’re getting there and if we’re enjoying the music, that’s just the start.”

Twelve Foot Ninja come to Download Festival at Flemington Racecourse on Monday March 11. Grab your tickets via the festival website.