Injured Rockets or French Ninjas?

Though they have been around for a while in varying incarnations, experimental noise punks Injured Ninja and psychedelic trance masters French Rockets seem to have cemented their line ups and have been getting a fair amount of attention this last year, and not just locally.

Whilst the two bands differ wildly in sound, they are on the same wave when it comes to their approach to making music, and what they are trying to achieve with their art. It comes as no real surprise then, that the bands have been working on a split 12” nor is it terribly surprising that the project has spiralled wildly out of control, spawning a couple of video clips, limited edition clear vinyl release, a launch party in a church, thousands of dollars worth of video and lightshow, and a directors commentary. Add to this the day-jobs lost in the process of their planning, slightly balanced by the wide acclaim for the Sugar Army clip Tongues in Cheeks co- produced by two of the Ninjas, followed by others demanding their skills, and you might expect some of this turbulence to have ruffled the two gentlemen sitting before me in the Rosemount Beer garden.

Perhaps it has, but Steve Hughes (Injured Ninja) and Carl Properjohn (French Rockets) appear relaxed and collected, except for the times they sidetrack each other into excitedly dreaming up more additions for their launch, t-shirt ideas or new projects for the future. Then it is difficult to even follow their conversation; they slip into a way of communicating where the one need not even finish a sentence before the other picks up the thread and carries it off in a new direction…

Exactly like their music.

I listen for a while as Steve fills Carl in on how the editing is progressing on the French Rockets film clip, how awesome it is looking and the new ETA for delivery of their records. Before they can skip to another topic, I have to ask why vinyl? I mean, does anyone even have record players any more? They look at me with a mixture of amusement, horror and pity and answer together that vinyl is awesome. Carl explains that there is a DVD coming with it and there will be a download available so people can put it on their ipods or whatever, but the record is more than just a recording, it’s something you can keep, it is a work of art. Then they get all excited and sidetracked again talking about how they can’t wait to see how the jacket art will look...

Has it got Side A / Side A?

Carl: There are no sides... There’s a black side and a white side, and there is no front cover or back cover – The spine is on the bottom so when you take it off the shelf either side could be the front.

Which singles will be on the EP?

Carl: 1×1 and IDDQD both seven minute epics... good for video clips.

Speaking of video clips, I ask if they have gone into business making clips for bands, but Steve explains that at the moment it is more of a loose collaboration of the people involved with Radio Dingbat, but demand has been increasing so who knows where it will end up. They have recently been putting out some very high quality video, and the way these two talk about each other’s coming clips, it’s hard to maintain a cool objectivity and reserve judgement until I see them for myself. They won’t give me a preview however, I’m going to have to wait like everyone else.

[Radio Dingbat is a music website that incorporates reviews, interviews, video, art and pretty much any thing audio visual that takes their fancy. -Notice a pattern?]

Carl: It’s good storyboarding with these guys because they let us go as nuts as we like and because so many of our songs are open ended we can really explore our crazy ideas. They’re more like short films.

Steve: The French Rockets’ video [1×1] is more of a visual experiment in combining different types of footage, so we shot some false TV footage with 80s television cameras and the other half is shot in ultra HD using widescreen. Ours [IDDQD] is all shot in HD and it’s just this ridiculously brutal, crazy clip.

Carl: The Ninja’s clip is very dark..

Steve: Yeah, It’s much darker than we originally planned... We’re not really a dark band, but we make metal bands look like pussies with this clip.

Will people get it? I mean Doom was a long time ago, does anyone still remember it?

Steve: Yeah, well I hope so; everyone has played Doom. Lots of people get the reference, and I’ve showed some people the cover art and they recognise it straight away... It’s incredibly geeky...Doom was one of the first games I really played... The sound in that game was awesome.

Carl: Maybe you could write soundtracks for video games next.

Steve: Yeah, that’d be cool, I’d like to engineer a soundtrack to a video game.

Carl: We could do films...

Has there been any interest?

Carl: yeah there’s a guy in the UK who has asked us to score something he’s making – when he gets the finance. I don’t really know too much more about it yet.

They explain that they chose a church for their launch because they wanted to do something different – both bands have played in most of the venues in Perth now and they wanted to do something special for this one. It was important to both bands that they maintain full artistic control over the performance space. This way they won’t be at the mercy of a sound guy trying to make them sound like AC/DC and they can light the place the way they like without arguments about smoke machines or power restrictions.

They admit it has been a lot more work than they expected when they first decided to release a single, and it has been a very long time in the making, what with both bands touring out of the state several times in the past year, but they agree the finished product is better for the experience.

They almost give away just how challenging the whole thing has been for them here, and both musicians start to fidget as things-that-still-need-to-be-done-before-the-launch thoughts intrude on our discussion. I ask if it has been worth it and would they do it the same way next time, they both answer yes without hesitation. In another display of that weird thing they do where they talk simultaneously and between them manage to make a complete sentence, they explain; The best thing is that we have been able to do it all independently, we don’t have management or labels to control us or answer to, so we have been able to just let the whole thing grow where it needed to go.

Once the release is done, Steve says that he’s hoping to focus a bit on Heartless Robot and see if he can’t help them get established in Perth, and then a full length CD for Injured Ninja later in the year, look for distribution, tour some more depending on what comes up. There is also something cool coming up for the Epic of Gilgamesh early in the year, but they aren’t allowed to talk too much about that yet. He is currently devoting a fair bit of time, along with fellow Ninja Dom Pierce, to the video/production/studio place that is morphing out of Radio Dingbat into something that might be a dream come true.

Carl says the French Rockets have less definite plans, but talks about some interest the band has been getting from music publications overseas, and invitations to tour. He lets me know that the FRockets have some ideas floating around about things they’d like to do but at the moment they are happy to be wherever the music takes them without trying to steer for a particular course.

[Epic of Gilgamesh is a drum collaborative led by members of Injured Ninja. At last count there were around 20 drum kits involved]

The launch is presented by Fasterlouder on January 16 at the North Perth Chapel. It is an intimate venue so arrive early to make sure you aren’t listening from the carpark and missing all the pretty lights.

You can listen to Injured Ninja’s IDDQD here

And you can hear a preview of French Rockets’ 1×1 here