If you suffer from ADD you might appreciate Ninjaspy’s twists and turns. Interview answers by Joel Parent (vocalist/guitarist). Anders Ekdahl ©2011
I’m a bit of a word nerd. What made you combine two words like Ninja and Spy to ones band name?
-Awesome! I am a HUGE word nerd too. I want to study linguistics and philology one day if the band ever takes a break… But for the band name, a friend once asked me who would win in an international battle to the death, a ninja or a spy? And I figured the combination of ancient martial traditions and modern gadgetry would be unstoppable, so why not combine them? It runs parallel with the way we like to combine musical styles also…
Mixing so many different styles of music as you do into one, when does it become an overkill?
It’s all about segue. If you have segues that feel natural I think you can get away with just about anything. But with that said, we are definitely looking for ways to make our music more cohesive stylistically, with less blatant genre hopping.
I remember bands like Mr Bungle and Primus but I haven’t for the longest of times heard a band that mixes so many styles. Do you ever worry that the listener will be lost in the twists and turns?
-It has already happened! It takes a good long listen for most folk to get into our music. And with the attention deficit affliction that seems to affect the new generation, a lot of people just don’t give it the chance. But I’m not worried about it. I wouldn’t change our music just because it is a tough sell. That would be fucking sad.
You released your debut album “Pi Nature” in 2007 and you’re still promoting it 4 years later. Are you overly critical in your songwriting for a new album to be released?
-Critical yes, and also writing songs that are challenging us in new ways, so they take longer to complete. Plus we have such a busy touring schedule combined with day jobs and side projects, there isn’t a lot of time leftover for writing. We plan to take it easy this winter and get some writing done. Maybe some recording too, but the production team we work with are not cheap so affording recording is a challenge, and another reason why you only see one Ninjaspy album in 6 years.
How do you as a young unsigned band get GGGarth Richardson to produce your album? That sounds expensive?
-We once had a manager (who jumped ship when he realized what a tough sell we were) who was friends with GGGarth. He talked him into coming to see us play at a little pub in Vancouver. We lucked out and signed a production deal that got us the record for no money down, but we give Triple G Productions a huge portion of proceeds from the music. We will be paying for that album for a looooooong time!
I seem to be returning to this topic but the way labels operated in the old days seem to have changed forever. What are the advantages of doing it on your own compared to having a label doing it for you?
-I like having all the power!!! Haha! It’s nice because it’s not about being lucky and snagging a record deal, you get what you put in. If you work hard, you can be as successful as you envision yourself to be. It’s simple, and satisfying.
Is Canada a good country for a band like yours? To me you seem to have a better chance in Japan.
Actually Canada and Japan aren’t much different with regard to appreciation for a band like ours. It’s the same all over the world. Top 40 garbage gets regurgitated all over the charts, and weird bands have to struggle. It builds character!
When promoting your band, which way is the most efficient in reaching/getting people to understand what you’re all about?
-People need to see us live. Without the blood, sweat and vomit I don’t think you can really get the full meal deal. We get most of our dedicated fans from touring hard, a few new faces at a time. But the internet is nice too, if you don’t like leaving your house!
From what I understand a new album is on the way. What can we expect from that one in terms of progression?
-“No Kata” is a ten minute soundtrack to a graphic novel of the same name. It includes the single “Skaingkh (The Skank)” and runs real time alongside the novel, integrating lyrics into the dialogue and the whole nine. Musically there are a few trippy twists that make “No Kata” unique, like the influence of some drum n bass for instance, but it still bears the staple dub reggae and hardcore roots you hear on “Pi Nature”.
Do you expect to make a career out of playing in NinjaSpy?
-I don’t expect anything specific, but I am very dedicated to this band. It is my identity, my philosophy, my spirit. It is what keeps me alive and holds my family together. So if it ever makes enough money to feed and clothe me as well, BWAMPIN!!! Hahaha.