Since coming together at a Hells Kitchen recording studio in 2008, Shinobi Ninja has attacked the music scene with a unique mix of styles unlike any other band out there.
By combining elements of hip-hop, punk, reggae, funk and rock, the party band has carved out a niche for itself with a high-energy live show and a DIY ethic that has attracted fans all over the country and across the Internet.
The six-piece band consists of veteran musicians, dancers and sound engineers including two vocalists Baby G and Dave “DA” Aaron, twin brothers Maniac Mike (guitars) and Terminator Dave (drums), Alien Lex on bass and DJ Axis Powers.
The Brooklyn-based band will make a stop through Myrtle Beach Thursday night as part of a tour that will stretch down the East Coast and around the Gulf Coast before culminating in an appearance at the famed South by Southwest festival in mid-March.
ListenUp caught up with the band recently on their way to Chapel Hill, N.C., and talked with DA and Terminator Dave about the band’s tour, new album and upcoming video game release. Here’s what they had to say:
Myrtle Beach Music: Shinobi Ninja will perform Thursday at the Island Bar & Grill in Surfside.
How did Shinobi Ninja come together?
DA: It was really something that happened over the course of about five years, we all met at the same recording studio in Hells Kitchen, in Manhattan. I started out as an intern engineer and Mike became and intern engineer a couple years later, Baby Girl was taking vocal classes and the others were doing their thing. It took awhile to form the band but after awhile we just banded together.
You guys all had careers in the music business before coming together, how has it been to transition from producing, dancing or running a studio to performing on stage and touring all the time?
DA: I was a bass player and had toured once for about two weeks and I liked it, but everyone in our band has done interesting things. Terminator Dave DJ’ed at Radio City Music Hall a bunch of times. Baby Girl danced for Diddy, Rihanna and Ricky Martin so she’s used to playing super high-end venues.
We just kind of play lower level venues and sometimes shitty little bars and we’re just kind of grindin’ it out and just living the grimy life, you know. I’ve been eating fuckin’ Ramen noodles my whole life man, there’s no reason to change now.
You guys represent a lot of different styles of music, was there any attempt to wrangle all that into a certain form or has it always been very open?
DA: Yeah, well we all listen to similar types of music, but at the same time each of us represents some different influences. Baby Girl will have Brooks Valentine on her iPod and I have Pantera and Mike has some Jimmy Chicken Shack and Axis will have Mobb Deep, but when everybody puts their own stuff together all those different things kind of rub off on each other and we share music.
We try to really keep an open book on life.
If you go
Shinobi Ninja w/ Mat Musto & J-Sneez
- When | 10 p.m. Thursday
- Where | Island Bar & Grill Surfside, 2272 Glenns Bay Road
- More Details here
Tell me a little bit about the process of creating music together. Is it something where you each bring pieces and fit them together or is it a big collaboration?
DA: It really depends on the song and on the year. Now that we’ve been a band for three years it’s really always evolving into something. That’s a tough question really, it’s just like you take it out of the air and try to put a song together.
Where are you at in the recording process? Do you guys have any new material coming soon?
DA: We have an album that’s about to come out in early April. It’s been done since January 2010, but in that time we just hit the road and kind of became more of a live band.
It’s 14 tracks and three skits. And recently just to have something extra for the fans we did three songs, like a little B-sides thing. Two songs are really hard and one is really more of a hip-hop thing with Baby Girl doing her thing, but they’re all in the key of “B” so we called it the “Little Bud B-Sides” and that will be out when the album comes out as well. So now that’s 20 things to fill up your ears with.
We also put out a mixtape, and that’s just random freestyles and us just smokin’ blunts and freestyling over other people’s beats and stuff.
But as far as the album goes, having it wait that long is kind of just business. I mean, you can shit our records into the wind all day, but in the end nobody’s going to listen to it because you didn’t structure your release and all that shit right. So instead of walking down that path, which we’ve all been down before, we wanted to really respect the music — which was great music — and really give it a great marketing plan so it can reach as many people as possible.
How has your sound been received outside of the major markets? Have you had success touring and bringing folks out in some of the smaller cities and here down south?
DA: Right now we’re in North Carolina and we played with The Movement yesterday to a packed house at the Lincoln Theater [in Raleigh].
The one thing that we just keep hearing is that our music is different and it sounds different to people and you just have to respect everybody’s opinion for what it is. In the music business, everybody is going to give you their opinion and I try to treat a lawyer’s opinion the same way I would a fan’s opinion.
But, yeah everybody’s been real cool. We’ve touched N.C. a couple times but we’re seeing people from the Internet come out to the shows and we’re seeing people we’ve met before and at shows bringing their people out to see us. And really, I don’t know, but it seems like there’s some sort of positive momentum building, so we’re just going to ride the wave, you know.
Has is been hard for you guys to manage the dynamics of touring with so many different personalities?
DA: Yeah that kind of goes back to the first question. Since we all met each other over a long period of time we were friends before we ever started the band and we’ve supported each other on so many levels that now it feels like we’re just kind of coasting.
When we’re in the van, you know, as long as we blaze and just keep it cool then everybody is good. We’re just real breezy people man.
You guys are known for being high-energy party music. Doesn’t that ever get exhausting? How do you keep up that energy on a nightly basis?
DA: It’s fun man. I see it the same as playing sports. Whatever you sport is, if you like basketball or baseball or wrestling or NASCAR or whatever it is, once the ball is tipped you just go and when it’s all over you just say “you know, hey I did my best.”
And with the partying, it’s like if you want to party, then you know how to do it. When you’re in your 20s you have to know how to be a professional partier. Teenage partying is different, you know you’re going to puke and a whole lot of crazy shit is going to happen, but once you get into your 20s you should know when you have to stop drinking and grab a water and transition.
We just rock and once you get off stage, we drink, we party, we smoke, we hang out with people and once you get back to the hotel, maybe you keep partying, maybe you don’t but it just kind of depends on what you have to do or where you have to be the next day.
You just ride the wave and we’re just having a great time. I’ve really got no complaints at all.
And what can folks expect from the live show on Thursday night?
Terminator Dave: Well, the closer you get to the stage we’re going to headbang harder. In the middle of the set we tend to wyle out harder.
You’re going to see headbanging, great guitar playing, great singing, some incredible DJ’ing and scratching, some ill bass playing and a hell of a party before and after this thing goes down.
Brookly to Babylon Shinobi Ninja Attacks game for the iPhone
Any other big plans for what you guys will be doing in 2011?
Terminator Dave: We have a lot of stuff going on. We’re basically a DIY band in terms of the marketing and all the ideas that comes from us. Nobody’s giving us any directives or anything like that.
Beyond that, our manager and I came up with an idea for a video game app last year. While we were at SxSW in 2009, we were just thinking “How are we going to stand out in this crazy crowd and how are we going to further interact with our fans?” And so we decided to make a video game that stars us.
It took us about 10 months to create and its an iPhone app (available here) that is a rewards-based interactive new music product. It’s an old-school side-scrolling video game and each level has one of our songs as the level’s music and if you beat the level you unlock a song and when you beat the game you get an album download. When you come to a show your phone recognizes that you are there and it unlocks stuff.
We really want people to reach out to us and interact with us, past just getting the record there’s a physical interaction of things you can do when you come out to a show.
We had this game and it did really well — sold like 2,500-3,000 copies with about 20,000 total when you count the free version — and that’s a great feat for us because most records don’t sell more than 100 copies, when you’re talking about independent releases.
We got a lot of shine off of that, but we learned our lessons on it and now we’re doing another one that will release in March when we’re at SxSW we have a huge showcase March 15 and we’re putting out four new levels and just trying to be as cutting edge music business as we can be.