5 questions for Shinobi Ninja
This Thursday, Feb. 23, the NoDa-based music venue the Neighborhood Theatre will be exploding with a genre-crossing sonic blast — courtesy of an event called the Neighborhood House Party.
Pop in the show and you’ll be able to take a listen to artists like Brody & Choch, Mr. Invisible and Soul Khan, among many others, bumping out hip-hop, dubstep, rock and more.
One group on Thursday night’s bill that exemplifies this genre-jumping mentality is the band Shinobi Ninja. The Brooklyn-based crew (consisting of vocalist’s D.A. and Baby G; twin brothers, guitarist Maniak Mike and drummer Terminator Dave; along with Alien Lix and DJ Axis) mashes up the sounds of 311, The Beastie Boys, Sublime, and Rage Against the Machine.
Qcitymetro checked in with the members of Shinobi Ninja and got the lowdown on their past, present and future before they hit the stage.
1. With a band that's reflective of so many genres, how did you guys actually end up coming together in the first place?
Terminator Dave: We all met at Progressive Studios in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, an insane melting pot of musicians, engineers, songwriters, singers and dancers. Baby G was a dancer and singer for huge pop artists, and in her free time was in vocal class in the live room; D.A. was engineering and producing at the studio; Maniak Mike was the studio intern turned engineer and was in a band with me and Axis that practiced and recorded in the live room; and, A-Lex was fams with D.A. and was always hanging out. We were all friends and partied and lived the New York music life for like two years together before we ever wrote the first Shinobi Ninja tracks. One day, my band with Axis and Mike fizzled almost the same time as one of D.A.'s project's ... we just got together like normal at our apartment one day and D.A. freestyled the vocals to a beat Mike and I made that became [the song] “Brooklyn to Babylon.” Seven demos and after a ton of rehearsals, we rocked our first show at the Knitting Factory on August 17, 2008 ... from then on its been go time!
2. Since your style is so hard to categorize, how have major labels and radio reacted to your music?
Duke Sims: Major labels love it. They all want to sign us. It’s hard to turn on the radio without hearing us coming out of it. The radio loves us. On the real ... we not signed. And I be calling the radio stations to play our ish. So, yeah ... play it. Love you. We trying to be like “MMMBop.” You know what I’m saying? “MMMBop.”
3. What's the songwriting process like? And how do you write to accommodate and incorporate people coming from such divergent musical directions?
Alien Lex: We just like to have fun and party, and naturally art comes from who you are and where you come from. We don’t really try to put any rules in place or accommodate things; we just play music and wherever it’s coming from we go with it. Metal, punk and grunge was the new music I was into when I was growing up, but now I find myself going back to old-school hip-hop and classic rock like the Beatles, Black Sheep, and Heart. I guess the bottom line is, as long as you're open to new concepts and ideas and expanding your horizons, you’re free yourself to create at the highest level — and if you’re lucky enough, with other amazing people.
4. The video for "Rock Hood" was brimming with kinetic energy; how do you translate that energy to live performances?
Maniak Mike: I would say that the kinetic energy from our live show made its way into the video — not the other way around. Our live show has been our bread and butter since we started touring two years ago. All six of us push it as hard as we can every night, every show. At the end of a long tour, our stamina is up and so are our antics. A bunch of that was captured in the “Rock Hood” video. Nothing can accurately replicate the passion of the Shinobi Ninja Rock Circus moment besides getting your faced washed in the front row at a gig.
5. What should folks be on the lookout for from Shinobi Ninja next?
Duke Sims: Look for that large ishhhhhhh. Second record. A monster album. Only some super dope thangsssssssss. Brooklyn. Can’t say what the future holds, but that’s the focus: to make a super dope second album.
Catch Shinobi Ninja this Thursday at the Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. Tickets: $7-$10. Doors open at 7 p.m. All ages show. For more info, visit www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.
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