Twelve Foot Ninja part ways with vocalist Nik Barker

The founding singer cites creative differences with lead guitarist and songwriter Steve “Stevic” MacKay

Melbourne-based metal outfit Twelve Foot Ninja have announced the departure of vocalist Nik “Kin Etik” Barker, with his performing tenure set to end in 2022.

The news came in a statement shared to the band’s social media today (December 18), with Barker citing “creative tension” between himself and lead guitarist, songwriter and producer Steve “Stevic” MacKay as his primary reason for stepping back.

Barker explained that although he’s ultimately proud of the work that he and MacKay made in their 14-year partnership, the collaboration “has taken its cumulative toll”, and he’s now “creatively fatigued in this particular dynamic”. 

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“It has reached a point of taking more than I feel I can give to it,” Barker continued, “and this would eventually be to the detriment of the music. I’m proud that we were able to make our differences work for so long, and to still come out the other end as good mates. 

“I have so much love, and admiration for Steve, and his work ethic. He has pushed me to grow in a lot of ways, and I thank him for his patience, and persistence. However, as hard as it is to leave, I feel ready to step away from this role.”

Barker was quick to note that he’s still on good terms with the rest of Twelve Foot Ninja, and will be touring with the band throughout 2022. Their live plans for the year include all four dates of the inaugural Uncaged Festival, as well as an as-yet-unannounced headline tour to formally bid farewell to Barker. He’ll also aide the band in sourcing his own replacement, with auditions already live for those keen to throw their hat into the ring.

To be on the band’s radar, prospective vocalists will need to download an instrumental version of the band’s recent single ‘Start The Fire’, then upload a video of themselves performing over it to YouTube. Fans are then encouraged to share that video with Twelve Foot Ninja through a form on their website – more details on that can be found here.

In his own statement on Barker’s exit, MacKay acknowledged that he and his now-former bandmate “are very philosophically different”, noting that while he’s “cultivated a culture prioritising [the] best objective driven outcomes above personal emotion”, Barker, on the other hand, “is primarily driven by emotion”.

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“In summary,” he said, “I’m like a robot programmed to attack tasks until the desired outcome is reached, and Nik is a spiritual earthling who wants to be happy… And in this industry, with the return we get… I can’t blame him for wanting something more. He’s a dad, he’s a talented dude and life is too short to be unhappy. 

“I speak on behalf of everyone in the band when I say we love him, we want the best for him and his family, we support his choice and we look forward to our last upcoming shows with Nik.”

Barker’s departure from Twelve Foot Ninja comes just two months after the band released their third studio album, ‘Vengeance’. The record – which in addition to ‘Start The Fire’, featured standout single ‘Over And Out’ – landed back in October via Volkanik, and was flanked by both graphic and literary novels as part of a larger effort dubbed ‘Project Vengeance’.

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