Twelve Foot Ninja’s Steve ‘Stevic’ MacKay Gets Uncaged

Steve ‘Stevic’ MacKay, the creative mastermind behind Australian metal pioneers Twelve Foot Ninja, is enjoying life right now.

His band of a hundred-different-styles are currently slaying the Uncaged Festival, they have a new album Vengeance out, there is a comic book linked to the album and Stevic’s own instagram page is updated daily with progress of a random piece of dog faeces. There isn’t anything this man can’t do.

What were the first two Uncaged shows in Sydney and Brisbane like ?
Sydney we had a few technical issues but it came together. It’s always a bit chaotic with a festival and there was a few things we had to navigate but it was cool. Brisbane was the better performance of the two for us.

What really impressed us was the staff. The staff and crew at Uncaged are really good. That always makes a big difference when you get looked after, there was a great positive vibe with the people in the tents and the crew.

The highlight was having the opportunity to check out acts we would never be on a bill with in any other circumstance. That was really cool with Tex Perkins, Tim Rogers and Shihad rocked, they were really cool. Absolutely smashed it.

It is a eclectic bill ranging all the way from Killing Heidi to Psycroptic.
Yeah, I’ve been mates with (Killing Heidi’s) Jesse and Ella for 15 years and we’ve always played completely different music but we’re now on the same stage for once, it’s cool. Surprisingly there was a lot of camaraderie, bands were watching other bands and just enjoying it.

I have an all over the shop taste anyway so I’m really into that. I prefer that than watching a whole line up of what could be the same band. It feels in place that this could be anything if Aussies get behind it. Spreading it across eras certainly made for an interesting experience.

Like family?
Yeah it had a bit of that. Even at the airport I’m bumping into people and you forget about all that stuff because of Covid, you forget that Australian music cohort, I really appreciated that.

I listened to Tex Perkins ‘Cruel Sea’ when I was in high school, so to see him perform! I used to teach songwriting and use some of his lyrics, Black Stick is the particular song, and I’m chatting to him about that. He was what you hope these people who have been around the Australian music zeitgeist, it was really nice to chat to them and confirm that they’re good people. That’s a bonus. It could easily be the other way and all gnarly but not the case at all.’

How did your music go over with other bands fans?
Probably not well!! Haha! Not sure. We saw a lot of Ninja T-shirt’s around so we chatted with a bunch of people. I think the positive about Covid is that people are happy to see shows and music. I think because it’s a diverse bill, people just want to see music and as long as you do what you do well, you can’t really lose. It’s kinda been refreshing in that way you haven’t seen a good friend in some time and your excited to see them.’

This weekends Uncaged festival is in Melbourne, a homecoming for the band. Is it weird playing at home?
It is. I can’t figure out if I love it or hate it. It’s weird. It’s kinda like when you go to the beach and it’s not that hot and you don’t want to go into the water but once you do it’s great. It’s that kinda vibe. Just dive in.

It is cool cause we started here so a lot of fans, supporters and friends are here so that side it good. When you’re not in full on tour mode playing 30 shows in a row, slipping in and out of touring is a bit of a trip. That’s probably the most anxiety inducing transition going from gig mode to not. A string of shows you get right into the zone, all the anxious parts melt away but when you play at home it’s heightened cause you think ‘geez we better be good!

A 16 year old kid shows up at the show, doesn’t know what to expect? What would you say?
I hope they have the same reaction when I first heard Mr Bungle. That would be thrilling to show that you can do all this other stuff with music. There are no rules. There are different ways to carry a song. I think we are trying to show an antithesis to the whole Demigod style that other’s project. You can be serious about music but really at the end of the day… we’re just dog shit on instagram!!

Interview By Iain McCallum

Catch Uncaged Festival in Melbourne on Saturday, tickets from https://uncagedfestival.com/

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