Shinobi Ninja is a high-energy Brooklyn based band that combines elements of reggae, rock, metal, punk and hip-hop into what they call Voltron-eque. The band recently released their second CD The Baby G EP which contains numerous apps that will entertain the user and keep them up to date on the band. The group is now getting ready to head back out on the road in support of the new release and I caught up with drummer Terminator Dave to discuss the band and the new project.
What is your view on the current state of the underground music scene? How do you identify with it?
Terminator Dave: The underground music scene is pretty tough right now. Everybody and their mother has a band or is an artist today. Digital just makes being in music more accessible and as such, all these new musicians are competing for the attention of music fans, bloggers and professionals. The amount of clutter you and your band have to get through to make it to the right eyes and ears is enormous. You really have to work harder than ever before to make sure you get noticed in the underground scene. The scene itself is alive and kicking though… I’ve been to some of the most fun shows ever in the last few months. Wild lurker parties in Brooklyn in venues that are off the beaten path, shows in Manhattan that pull in a bunch of hungry bands that pack the spot to the back with positive people… it’s a real community out here for sure. When we roll to parties, more often than not we run into a ton of heads in our scene because we’re the ones who make these fun events happen. It feels like a big family sometimes especially when everybody rallies in support of a show, release, party etc.
What is the toughest lesson you have learned in the studio and on the stage?
Terminator Dave: In the studio: don’t think too hard. If what you’re up to doesn’t effortlessly come out, stop wasting your time and go practice your part and make it right the next time. Struggling makes it sound canned. On stage: if you’re not giving it your all from the onset of the show, the crowd knows it instantly. They’re at your show because they want to see a dope performance with gobs of energy and charisma. Don’t disappoint your fans!!! Turn it up to 11 every time… the whole time.
What kind of preparation goes into your live show?
Terminator Dave: We practice!!! We drill our ish till its perfect. Playing these shows note for note and arranging our stuff so that it’s faithful to the recording while also having live randomness. We also promote every show we’ve got like it’s the last. We live for rocking shows… it’s literally the best way for us to more forward so we work really hard when we’ve got a gig opportunity.
Do you have any touring plans made yet?
Terminator Dave: WE BEEEEEEN TOURING YO!!!!! In 2 years, we’ve got about 150 gigs under our belt and we’re still booking tons of shows. We did a tour from Brooklyn to Texas for SXSW in March with 14 shows, a bunch of local gigs in nick in April, in May we were out every weekend in either DC, Virginia Beach, Philly, Upstate NY, Wisconsin, Chicago, or Cleveland. We just finished a little tour out to Milwaukee for Summerfest where we opened for Slightly Stoopid a couple weeks ago. We’re planning a big fall tour with high school dates around the northeast, industry and college gigs. We really can’t wait to get back out on the road.
Can you tell me a little bit about your iPhone video game app, ‘Brooklyn to Babylon: Shinobi Ninja Attacks!’
Terminator Dave: This is a video game album! Part side scrolling beat-em-up video game, part music player, part video player, part interactive fan experience, we took everything we knew about the new music economy and made an innovative new product. If fans bring the game to the show, it realizes that they’re in the venue and unlocks further content. We put 10 months into its development and have a really dope vehicle to push Shinobi Ninja through. Search that ish in the app store!!!! Or just click HERE.
The songs on your new release are not exactly what you would find on your typical hard music album. You offer a welcome range of musical sounds and abilities. Do you think this is due in part to your varied influences and/or a desire to explore new realms of music?
Terminator Dave: When we wrote this music, it came out effortlessly. It was really a product of the chemistry we have together and the roles that we play as a live band. We describe ourselves and our sound as Voltron-eque. Everything in the music on the EP is everything we are… unadulterated and straight to the recording. BLING!
What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
Terminator Dave: We write in a bunch of ways. It’s like a tag team where we have an 8 hour session where everybody is in the studio and we bang the track out… or at least the production idea. Sometimes they start with two people writing and we fill in the blanks. Sometimes we order a Sushi Party Platter and all of a sudden we got some tracks!!!! Sometimes one of us writes a great tune and we play all our parts with our own signatures. This EP took a few days to write, and months to perfect. We’re perfectionists.
Now that your brand new CD, Video Game EP, is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Terminator Dave: COMPLETELY SATISFIED… SATISFACTION GUARENTEED!!! You wouldn’t be hollering if it was wack… so yeah, we’re really happy with it and we want to show it to the world.
The name of the band Shinobi Ninja is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Terminator Dave: D.A.’s favorite game growing up was Shinobi on Sega Master System and he’s a huge video game fan which has a big influence on his style. When we recorded the production versions of these songs, we did them in my mom’s house in Rockland County. Dude, thought my mom’s house looked like a ninja house and immediately made the connection “Shinobi Ninja.” We thought it was wack at first and called the band “Brooklyn to Babylon.” One of our best friends heard “Shinobi Ninja” and said that was the coolest name ever so we tried it on for our first show at the Knitting Factory in lower Manhattan (RIP). The crowd loved our ish… and the name… so it stuck!
Any closing words?
Terminator Dave: BLING!!! BLAOW!!!! www.SHINOBININJA.com. Holler at us anytime yo… we’re real people over here! Blaow!