This writer believes the scene is about to have its second wind however, with leading lights Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus, plus several other bands within the scene, set to release albums in 2013. Leading the charge of the ‘new breed’ of Australian progressive rock acts is Melbourne five piece Twelve Foot Ninja. They released their debut album Silent Machine in late 2012 to a rapturous and rousing reception and this week they begin their nationwide tour in support of the album. Founding member and lead guitarist Steve ‘Stevic’ MacKay joined us over a few brews recently to chat about the album, tour and future of the mighty Twelve Foot.
“Relieved!” he laughs, when asked how he felt now the album was complete and out there. “It’s fantastic that it’s had this response. In terms of the process, it’s been pretty full on. But you never know how it’s gonna go, until it’s out, because by the time you’ve finished something that you’ve focused that intently on, you don’t know whether it’s good or not. I always say it’s like trying to look at a picture with your face pressed up against it. You can only watch other people looking at it, and go ‘is it good?’ We’ve just had the most positive press, it’s been fantastic, overwhelmingly positive.”
One of the things that have been turning heads and getting such incredible reactions from people is the sheer weight of musical styles that the band seems to have a mastery over. They cover such incredible amounts of musical territory over the course of the album, it fairly blows the mind. They have a precision grip over rock, metal, funk, reggae, ska, electronica, Latin and plenty more, and they blend it all seamlessly together. Steve feels it’s more about hard work and musical curiosity than something that just flows out of them easily.
“Everything takes work,” he explains, “from my point of view, I’ve always liked heaps of different music, and then when I’ve liked it, I’ve attempted to understand it and play it and write it. It’s like having a split personality, and it’s an opportunity to let it all come out in the one thing. But keep it all cohesive. It is a linear progression, it’s not like that was written over there, and that was written there and we put it all together like Lego. There’s a plan, it’s all thought out.”
The band have left some time in between the release of the album and going on tour, to get the Christmas/New Year period out of the way and to allow fans to ingest and get to know the album more intimately before they hear them live. But now that the tour is about to start, Steve’s excitement for the road, the stage and the lineups they’ve chosen grows.
“Yeah I am, I’m really looking forward to it,” he enthuses, “‘cause I love playing gigs. And I think it’s going to be good because we’ve picked some good bands to play with, we’ve tried to go with bands that we like, ‘cause I think the whole show has gotta be good. We want people to come early and check the support bands out, they’re not all the same style, we’ve gone for variation. We’ve tried to think what works, what people respond to.
“So definitely pumped, it’s gonna be good to get back out there and play, we’ve been rehearsing these songs and some of them are pretty intense so it’s gonna be fun.”
Once the Australian tour is done, the band will jump right back into writing the follow up to Silent Machine, booking their next tour and casting their musical net beyond Australian shores.
“Yeah we’ve a lot of writing to do,” he foretells, “and just more gigs. We’re discussing getting overseas, but we’re very aware of the costs of all that. It’s all about the logistics. It does cost 30-40 grand to do it. That’s why it’s funny when people get pissed off when you don’t go where they live. It’s not like, ‘Oh we’re not going to go there’, it’s got nothing to do with that. It costs a lot of money.
“But yeah we’re getting a lot of good overseas reactions in the background, so it’s just a matter of seeing how it plays out. We’re very, very fortunate to have a brilliant management team with international experience, that makes it a lot easier. So that’s the plan. Oh, and I’m probably going to play a lot of Halo!” he jokes.
BY ROD WHITFIELD