When most people think of ninja, they think of heartless human weapons for hire, door to door deliverers of death, medieval mailmen gone bloody postal for a price. Its true, some people who practiced ninjutsu in feudal Japan did this and profited by it, and gave birth to the modern image of the ninja in all their violent hilarity. But in the beginning the skills for which ninja have become radical and revered arose out of necessity. The ruling samurai class prized honour above all else, even life. The peasant class often reaped the deadly benefit of this disregard for life. But some of them rejected this devaluation of their lives and sought ways to survive in spite of it. They were creative, skilled and deadly in their pursuit of a way of peace. They removed the hindrance of ego and status and instead let a reverence for life shape their approach. Unbound by the protocols of oppression, they invented unprecedented survival methods that have become legend. They unified mind, body and spirit in their art, they used what they had, they broke all the rules.
Ninjaspy takes this approach and applies it to music.
Music and dancing are the means for survival. Without them life is less than it should be, some life is lost. Ninjaspy uses everything they have in their creative arsenal to make music that moves people. Music that is inventive, unfettered by egodriven posturing or attempts at conformity to social or stylistic norms. Music that attacks and recoils combining violence with peace. Music that allows both silly and serious to interweave.
Music that breaks down the imaginary barriers between mind, body and spirit, reuniting people with themselves in moments of pure freedom. Freedom in which one can laugh, cry, dance, puke, scream, unleash, let go, be, live, survive.
It began in 1999 with three brothers. Joel, Adam, and Tim Parent, (the Triad in Blood) at the ages of 15, 13 and 11 respectively, came to the end of the century with distinctly different musical preferences despite a lifetime of proximity. Being so diverse in influence and having a youthful disregard for genre rules, they proceeded to write whatever naturally came to them. Over seven years they experimented with ska, grunge, hardcore, metal, reggae, funk, surf and jazz and eventually became Ninjaspy in 2006.
Ninjaspy picked up momentum, playing relentlessly in their hometown of Vancouver, Canada, and touring several times across their vast country. They indulged heavily in both silliness and seriousness, and often left audiences aghast, reeling in disbelief of what they had just witnessed. Just as the tactics of the ninja were either scorned or revered, Ninjaspy evoked both disgust and admiration, sometimes from a single individual. But in correlation with a commitment to real and reciprocal human connection and zeroego, highenergy, funfilled, freeexpression dance pit parties, support for Ninjaspy grew.
Alongside prolific producers GGGarth Richardson (Rage Against the Machine, RHCP, Mudvayne, Gallows) and Ben Kaplan (Atreyu, Haste the Day, Shakira), Ninjaspy released their debut album πature (Pi Nature) in the fall of 2007. The album let bloody surprise and spontaneity spill and soak the ground beneath one's dancing feet, ground that also held firm the belief and conviction in the music. From start to finish one scarcely knew what to expect. From downbeat to breakdown, reggae, hardcore, and much more were forcibly wed. Tracks like the spastic "Defecating On What's Left Of Our Child", the anthemic "Hit By A Cement Mixer", the haunting "Pure Sketch" and the energetic "Evolution Of The Skid" made Pi Nature feel like a ballistic guided nature tour through ninja infested forests.
The band went on to do many headlining Canadian tours, appear on The Warped Tour and Taste Of Chaos festivals, and share the stage with many bands such as Periphery, Twelve Foot Ninja, Protest the Hero, Coheed & Cambria, Thursday, Cancer Bats, Death By Stereo, 3 Inches of Blood, Today Is The Day, Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, Brutal Truth, Divinity, Bring Me The Horizon, Neuraxis, Pierce The Veil, Powerman 5000, Grimskunk, The Dreadnoughts & more.
In pursuit of further inspiration for life and art, Vocalist/Guitarist Joel began seeking out ninjutsu training to add real life experience to the reading and research that had inspired the ideals of Ninjaspy thus far. He began training in 2008 in Vancouver, and found that even deeper connections existed between the art of Ninjaspy and the art of ninjutsu. The philosophy of the mind, physical skill with the body, and spiritual awareness further informed his creative process. Through training with his Vancouver Dojo, Joel eventually had the chance to travel to Japan in the Spring of 2009 to study with the Japanese Sensei of the nine surviving schools of Budo Taijutsu, the Bujinkan. While on this trip, Joel also met musicians and artists in Japan, resulting in the October 2009 release of Pi Nature in Japan on Zestone Records. Ninjaspy later toured Japan with Death By Stereo and Lost in Summer 2010.
After returning from the Japan tour, full of cultural inspiration and eager to continue putting out new music as swiftly as possible, Ninjaspy recorded a short EP with GGGarth Richardson and Ben Kaplan in early 2011, one that was to be the soundtrack to a graphic novel. This "musical graphic novel" entitled Ninjaspy No Kata (Japanese: translates as "Ninjaspy's Form"), was to be the quintessential embodiment of Ninjaspy both stylistically and ideologically. It infused reggae, hardcore, and drum and bass with lyrics that told a story; a monologue in graphic novel form, meant to be read in real time with the 10 minute piece of music.
The story follows a man, Illujin, on a trip through his own tormented psyche, during which he discovers that only through body movements united with his environment can he overcome his enemies both real and imagined. The final five movements of music represent the "Go Gyo No Kata" (Five Elemental Forms) as utilized by Illujin in the novel. These kata come straight from the Bujinkan, illustrating how the martial art and coinciding philosophy have informed and inspired the music of Ninjaspy. The EP's only single "Skaingkh (The Skank)" was released in May 2011. By combining reggae/ska and "skanking" with hardcore and "throwing down", Ninjaspy championed "throwing the skank down" as their style of dancing (much to the chagrin of miscalculating feminists and their concerned male counterparts who had no idea what skanking or throwing down were). The lyrics in "Skaingkh (The Skank)" characterize "the skank" as the antagonist in the No Kata story. The Skank became the embodiment of one's inner struggles that must be "thrown down" through dancing.
Unfortunately, what was meant to be a quick turnaround project summing up the band's philosophy and style became a two year gap in momentum. The artist, James Loucks, wavered in his commitment to the project, and the band toured with only the single being released in 2011. Over the next year, with little progress being made on the novel,
Ninjaspy stayed primarily in Vancouver, writing and rewriting many of the songs in their repertoire that had yet to be recorded while awaiting the completion of the No Kata graphic novel. The music was finally released sans novel in May 2013, and a short western Canadian tour followed. At long last, October 2013 saw the release of the full musical graphic novel with a multimedia performance at Vancouver's Rickshaw Theatre, where the band performed No Kata in it's entirety in real time with projected images of the animated graphic novel.
Ninjaspy have since been finishing up the composition of a full length album to be recorded in May 2014 with none other than GGGarth Richardson and Ben Kaplan. In April 2014 they embarked on a western Canadian tour and crowdfunding campaign to pay for the album.