Interview: Twelve Foot Ninja [Download Festival 2019]

By Benjamin Gladstone
By June 24, 2019 December 26th, 2021 Features, Interviews, Spotlight

Ahead of their short but sweet debut show at Download Festival 2019, we caught up with Shane “Russ” Russell (drums) and Rohan “Ro” Hayes (guitar) of Australian experimental metal heavyweights, Twelve Foot Ninja.

SS: We’re here at Download Festival 2019, how’re you guys doing?

Russ: Very well, thank you. Can we swear?

SS: Swear as much as you want.

Russ: [screaming] UNFUCKING REAL! I feel relaxed now.

Ro: It’s hard to sort of hold that in.

SS: So, you can feel the excitement I take it?

Ro: Fuck yeah!

SS: Are you enjoying our beautiful British weather?

Russ: Unbelievable, mate.

Ro: The mud tastes different over here.

SS: How’s the mud taste in Australia?

Russ:  It’s a little bit, erm, it’s a bit saltier.

Ro: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say.

SS: So, this is your first time playing at Download, how does it feel to be playing the home of rock, Donnington Park?

Russ: It’s surreal, I can’t believe it.

Ro: It feels like Elvis tucked me in and kissed me on the forehead and said “goodnight, sweet princess”. That’s what it feels like.

Russ: [Laughing] See what happens when we can swear? We were brain dead before.

Ro: It’s like every adjective is removed.

SS: You guys have a real unique sound, a real fusion of different genres. Was that something you tried to create from the very beginning or was it something that happened naturally?

Russ: It happened naturally.

Ro: Yeah, I mean, I’ve known Russ for a million years and he played in a weird band…

Russ: A Bungle-esque (Mr Bungle) band.

Ro: …And that’s how I found out about him [and] I’ve always written music that way.

Russ: Short attention span and I just say that we just play the music that we wanna hear.

SS: That’s good. So, you’re doing it for yourselves more than anything?

Ro: It’s like if you keep eating the same meal it gets boring.

SS: So, one thing that drew me to you guys when I first got in to you was your music videos so I have to ask you about them. First of all, who’s the crazy one that comes up with all the ideas?

Russ: [Point’s to Ro]This guy.

SS: So, you’re the one with the warped mind?

Ro: Yeah. Well, I think I’m normal and everyone else is weird.

SS] Can you tell me a bit more about how them ideas came about? I imagine there is quite a big production process for videos that are around ten minutes long.

Russ: I think Elvis, again. He gets into the old brain.

Ro: He pops out of a drain pipe and gives me a packet of salt and vinegar chips and it’s the ideal Sunday. Honestly, the ideas are instant. Like, it’s usually the first idea but it takes forever to source every prop, costume and location. I produce it as well and I hate that. I hate doing it.

SS: Really, I never knew that. Is it the pressure?

Ro: It’s just, like, executing the idea. Weird things, like a blow up doll. I’d never bought one before.

Russ: Yeah, right, mate.

Ro: Yeah! And I didn’t know where you get a blow up doll from.

SS: I think you know where to buy a blow up doll from…

Russ: Same place you bought the fist from.

Ro: Yeah, actually, yeah. Correct.

Russ: Your mum was playing with it.

Ro: Yeah, my mum was playing with it. She didn’t know what it was.

SS: The acting and banter in the videos, is it scripted or is it just you guys being you?

Ro: Yeah, sorta. Like the ‘One Hand Killing’ and the ‘Mother Sky’ banter; which was obviously pretty shit so Stevic (guitar)overdubbed it.

Russ: Yeah, it sucks.

Ro: That’s why there’s subtitles.

Russ: We had sort of an idea but it flowed naturally.

SS: I hear whispers that there may be a new album, how’s it coming along?

It’s getting there. That’s the hard thing with the “do it yourself”. Where you make the video, you produce, where you do everything and you’re only one person. You’re only one band it gets hard trying to live.

SS: Going back to what I said about you guys being so unique and mixing genres, how do you write something like that? Are you all in one room writing or do you pass ideas back and forth?

Russ: We tried that years ago, you know. Going to the holiday house and jamming out. It’s just a bit more slick now with it being 2019; being able to send files to each other.

SS: Finally, would you ever consider performing a whole show as Ferret and the Sickos (12FN’s alter ego’s who appear in the video for ‘One Hand Killing’)? Full outfit, full banter and everything?

Russ: Aw, mate. That’s your dream [looking at Ro]

Ro: Well, we aren’t Ferret and the Sickos…

Russ: [laughs]

SS: You look a lot like them…

Ro: Yeah, but we bloody hate those dickheads. You can ask them. I think they’d love to get a gig. They’re just sitting around…

SS: Would they be supporting you then?

Ro: Fuck yeah! You ask them and they tell you they should be headlining but they definitely shouldn’t be.

SS: I haven’t met those guys yet…

Ro: Bunch of pricks.

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