Interview: Ninja Gun (The Fest 7)

Our second installment of pre-Fest interviews with J. Coody of Ninja Gun.

Great interview with J. Coody of Ninja Gun.

When did you first hear about the Fest and what bands got you excited about going to it/playing it?

Well, the first two are the only ones we didn’t play. I’ve known Tony for a long time and I probably heard about it by playing with his old band Anchor up here in Valdosta. I don’t remember much from those days, but I do remember being stoked on Vena Cava at one of those first ones because we played with them.

Are there any bands that you’re excited to see this year, either on tour or at The Fest?

I don’t know. I haven’t seen the list of folks that are playing yet. It’s always fun to see your friends’ bands from around the country converge on Gainesville though. The only problem is that you mostly have these drunken memories of passing them on University going to different shows. “I’ll catch up with you later!”. Probably won’t. *L* Not enough one on one time.

What’s your favorite show you’ve played, either on tour or at the Fest?

Hmm, oh we played this really sketchy show at a basement in West Philadelphia in ’06 when we were on tour with Billy Reese Peters and The Cold Ones. There were a couple of locals, our 3 bands, and Joe Jack Talcum from The Dead Milkmen. I didn’t know he was supposed to play until we got there. Now this is a really shitty neighborhood. This woman of sizable girth tried to sell me crack INSIDE the convenience store a few blocks down. I told her I just wanted some chips or whatever. Anyway, I asked the kid who lived there if Joe Jack was really playing. He said that as far as he knew, he was. Sure enough, around the corner comes Joe Jack walking down this shitty street with an acoustic guitar. He had a big sandwich I remember. He along with about 20 other people sat quietly in the living room of this place while he ate his sandwich and watched the Simpsons. He played second. I remember he did Life is Shit and some other milkmen songs, and then he says in that little awesomely nasal voice, “You guys want to hear a Bob Dylan song?” To which we replied, uh, fuck yeah. The he launches into Masters of War with nothing but acoustic and vocals. I sang harmonies with Joe Jack Talcum on a Dylan song in a basement in West Philly. I’ll remember that for a while.

And your favorite show you’ve seen?

Dwight Yoakam at Wild Adventures up here in Valdosta a few years back. It was the tour he did with the really stripped down band. He’s the real deal.

What do you think about the albums that have come out this year?

I’m into The Tim Versions’ new jams. The Takers have some really good new stuff. I don’t know. I mostly just listen to The Kinks these days.

Are you excited about any albums that are still to come this year?

Averikiou from Gainesville are about to drop a fucking pop bomb on unsuspecting listeners pretty soon. I want to hear that really bad.

How much has the cost of gasoline had an effect on touring for you this year?

We just did two months out west and prices are shitty, but if you like rocking you’ll figure it out. Arcata, CA was like $4.65 when we were out there. It was the highest in the county then. I guess they’re trying to immobilize all those dangerous hippies. I did notice that as a general rule, the more liberal the town, the higher gas prices were. Coincidence?

With that in mind, what changes do you see coming to the way people will tour in the future?

Well, in the future bands will just teleport to shows. They will play electric drums and those guitars with no headstocks. Also, skateboards will have no wheels.

Is your band planning on playing house shows while in Gainesville?

Fuck no, those reptiles down there don’t have air conditioning. They open the door in the middle of the summer and think they’ve done something.

How do you get prepared to come to The Fest?

About six sticks of Mexican brick.

How are you preparing for the aftermath of the Fest this year?

I’ll probably just go back to Peanut’s house and watch cartoons while everybody’s all, “Ooh, I’m so drunk, ooh.” I’ll just get some pep rolls from Five Star and party like that…by myself. The last thing I need is for my pie to get party raped. Fuck off!

Any advice for the kids coming to see your set?

DO NOT masturbate while we’re playing. I’m so sick of that shit. We get halfway through the first song and cutoff Dickies hit the floor. Now I’m a pro, but it’s really hard to rock with so much phallic brutalization happening all around you. You too girls, just get a mental picture of me and take it home with you like everybody else.

What changes would you like to see more of in the way venues operate?

I would like to see more shit water on the floor of the Venue on University. Last year there just wasn’t enough. I only had to wade through two feet of it to see Naked Raygun.

On a similar topic, what changes would you like to see in the way albums are recorded and distributed?

There’s this common mentality that if you’re a punk band you’re supposed to go into the studio and play your set and that’s your album. While I can see the validity of that method of making records, I don’t think it should be so dogmatic. Me personally, if I wanted to hear it like that I would just go watch that band live. On record, I want something more. I don’t like records that are so polished that all the character and rough edges have been sanded away either. Seems like people don’t understand that if the song has soul, it’s not going to matter what type of production it has. Look at the Replacements. Perfect example of produced rawness. Westerberg’s voice is so raw and recognizable that Britney Spears’ producer could try to ruin it and it would still come out awesome because it’s his beautifully ragged voice at the core of it all.

We spent a lot of time on Restless Rubes. Almost two years. We got a lot of grief from some of our friends about it too. I’m happy we worked on it that long because that’s what those songs deserved. I wanted to make those songs dynamic and textured and that’s what we did. I could shit out a hit album in 2 hours if I wanted to.

As far as distribution goes, I just hope there is still such a thing as a brick and mortar mom and pop record store in 5 years.

Do you feel like digital releases, an increasing trend in the last few years, will eventually supplant physical mediums like CDs and vinyl?

I think the idea of digital distribution is a really popular exploratory area right now among label owners. It sounds good in theory and I’ll be interested to see how effective it actually is as a business model. I guess what it all comes down to is if people on the ground floor of independent music are willing to pay for something they can get for free.

The cd is a dead format. It has no character and it is hard for me to place any emotional stock in it. Do you ever wonder why major labels pour so much money into formulaic pop country (Toby Keith), shitty mainstream rap/r&b, divorce rock (Nickelback, Disturbed), and Disney style kids’ music (Hannah Montana)? It’s because those are the only demographics who are too poor/technologically deficient to download. They are the only people who go to Wal-Mart and buy CDs. Even the Wal-Martians will be downloading soon and the majors are fucked!

Vinyl is going to be the salvation for a lot of folks who run labels and record stores and distros. It’ll never be the dominant format again in a mainstream sense, but it will always sell to punks and independent music fans. How many people do you see at shows who don’t own a turntable or at the very least collect the vinyl of their favorite bands? People buy vinyl because it is tangible. They can hold that big piece of artwork in their hands and they can understand the experience and physicality of playing a record and watching it spin while their favorite jams blast out at them. One of the only good byproducts of the mainstreaming of punk rock is that more kids are being turned on to vinyl.

So, although digital music is the dominant format right now, I believe that people will always need some tangible physical format to anchor them as music listeners. There has to be something to slap that cover art on. Otherwise you lose a whole dimension of the music listening experience.

If you attended/played the Fest last year, what was the highlight of the weekend for you?

The only thing I can remember is hanging out with Mike G from Glass and Ashes. Just talkin shit or whatever. I remember watching Lemuria because they played the same show as us at Market Street. I thought they were pretty good.

When you’re on the road what’s your favorite city to play in?

Oh there’s a bunch. On this last tour my favorites were San Diego, Riverside, Pomona, Portland, and Denver. It’s always fun to pull into a town and see friends that you might not have seen in several years. It makes you feel good to know that you have friends spread all over the place.

How many stage dives would you like to see at your set this year?

I don’t care as long as they’re not jacking off while they’re stage diving. Gross.

What is your favorite thing about attending/playing at the Fest?

Probably accidentally seeing a cool band when there isn’t anything good on Peanut’s TV.

What would you do differently if you ran the Fest?

I would take all that money that Tony pays the bands and I would fly to a third world country and get a suit made out of poor people.

Stay tuned for another interview tomorrow!

-National Underground

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