If you’re reading this, perhaps you’ve posted a video of your playing on YouTube. Maybe it’s your band, maybe it’s you playing along to your favourite Megadeth solo, maybe it’s a lesson video. Whatever it is, you’ve probably run across the horror that is the Internet Troll. Twelve Foot Ninja have too. That shouldn’t be surprising: they’re a talented, innovative, driven band who have charted their own course and worked their way into some pretty enviable opportunities. And that tends to bring out the haters, the jealous, the miserable, the sickish: the trolls. So the band decided to do something about it, releasing a video for the song “Ain’t That A Bitch” which pits the band up against an internet troll – an actual, filthy troll – with bloody and not-safe-for-work consequences.
“I would certainly describe it as cathartic now that it’s finally out,” guitarist Stevic Mackay says of the video. “It’s good to see people get the humour and also understand the message. We’re clearly not condoning mincing up and cannibalising internet trolls but the message is really the last text on the screen, it’s to just …not do that! That would be nice! And also to frame the portrait of a troll. You see this overweight dude eating his junk food, jerking off over the computer, and these flashbacks of rejection and he lashes out at the world. That’s basically the storyline of the majority of trolls. There was recently a university study, quite a credible, scientific study of trolling behaviour and the personality disorders that it correlates to. Hopefully anyone who’s getting cyberbullied can understand that there’s no weight behind those vitriolic words – it’s just a bunch of pathetic people being dickheads, basically.”
So what have those trolls said about Twelve Foot Ninja, whose stylistic shifts and instrumental virtuosity encapsulate the Zappa-playing-spy-music-at-a-carnival adventurousness of Mr. Bungle, the aggressively angular rhythms of Meshuggah and all points in between? “One dude commented on one of our songs that the structure was boring and generic. I thought ‘Let’s entertain this and see what this dude’s about. Maybe I’ve got something to learn from this guy.’ And I went to his page and checked out his uploaded videos. He turned out to be a musician himself and the song turned out to be something called ‘Wizard Walk’ or ‘Mystical Forest’ or something and it was just horrendous. And I instantly thought from that point forward, anyone who feels the need to write that kind of rubbish on other peoples’ creations is really coming from an internally damaged place. It’s not really about being the arbiter of the universe and providing constructive criticism. It’s more about elevating themselves by putting others down. It reminds of the Andy Kaufman movie Man On The Moon where Jim Carrey realises right at the end that the cancer treatment he’s getting is fake.
So will the upcoming Australian tour (with The Algorithm in support) incorporate any element of the video? “That would be good. I think the problem when you start getting into the logistics of doing visual stuff gets a little hectic but we hope to have some guests that appeared in the video maybe making some surprise videos. But we’ll see. I won’t promise anything.”
Stevic’s guitar rig is based around the Line 6 Variax JTV89US, Pod HD500DX and an AxeFX II. “And I’ve recently had a Charles Cilia custom 7-string built and that’s one of the best guitars I’ve ever played. Just straight away doing testing, the quality of the recordings is measurably improved. Charles is a bit of a wizard when it comes to building guitars. I thought he was taking the piss when he was talking about knocking on planks of wood to listen to the tone and I thought ‘Is this guy for real?’ But when I actually played his guitar – he had a similar model in his showroom – it was off its head. It was awesome. So I’m really excited about the next lot of recordings just because I’ve got more tools to work with. And I’ve been talking to Line 6 directly about the Variax and hopefully I get the opportunity to be involved in some development there, because playing that thing I know what it does best and where it can be improved, so it would be great to have the opportunity to tweak it. Anyway, we’ll see how that goes.”
TWELVE FOOT NINJA – THE ‘TROLL BURGER’ TOUR With Special Guests The Algorithm
Friday March 21 – The Zoo, Brisbane QLD
Saturday March 22 – Miami Tavern, Shark Bar Gold Coast QLD
Thursday March 27 – ANU Bar, Canberra ACT
Friday March 28 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
Saturday March 29 – Manning Bar, Sydney NSW
Friday April 4 – 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC
Friday April 5 – Pier Hotel, Frankston VIC – NEW!
Friday April 11 – The Gov, Adelaide SA (ALL AGES)
Saturday April 19 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA
Sunday April 20 – Players Bar, Mandurah Perth WA -NEW!