A Q&A with Johnathan Coody of Ninja Gun, which supports Against Me! on Saturday

It’s all of it, it’s both, you know? Suburban really helped us out a lot, it’s a good thing that that album came out on that label and everything worked really well, we got it out to more people than it would’ve if it was on a much smaller label. I don’t want to say anything bad about [former label] Barracuda Sound … we’ve been a band for almost nine years and we’ve been touring for six, so we’d been on the road for four years before Rubes came out, so that coupled with coming out on a bigger label just kind of helped us get out there a little bit more.

How do you feel about sometimes being lumped into this "new," twangy offshoot of punk rock that's been hot for the last year or so, when you've been doing your thing for considerably longer?

I don’t know, we don’t really pay it much attention, we just do what we do and hopefully the quality of our art will stand on its own. People can categorize us however makes ‘em happy, I don’t care as long as people hear it and get it, and … we’ve come out of the punk scene and operated in a punk context, but hopefully your average kid will be able to listen to our album and get something out of it, get what we’re getting at. Hopefully they won’t have to have listened to Crass to get a Ninja Gun song.

Since you've been at it for a while, have you noticed punk fans becoming more receptive of varied bills? Like, is it easier to play with a faster or more classically "punk rock" lineup now than it was when you first started touring?

It just depends on what context you’re working in. If you’re going to play a hair metal show and you’re Ninja Gun, yeah, you’re gonna stick out like a sore thumb. But if you’re going to play a real punk rock show where there’s three other bands that don’t sound remotely the same, that’s what we want to do. This tour we’re on right now, Tim Barry’s acoustic, we’re pretty much a rock band and Against Me! is Against Me!, playing in front of that crowd last night was interesting because there were kids there who were considerably younger than our fan base and I was curious to see how we’d go over, but people seemed to dig it a lot. It went pretty good. But we’ve always … we’ve played with everybody, because we don’t fit comfortably on any bill, really. We’re not an alt-country band, whatever that is, we just do what we do and if we want to write some type of noise freakout tomorrow and then a country song the next day, we’re gonna do that, and hopefully people can stomach an eclectic output from us.

What's the weirdest or most mismatched bill you've played?

I remember maybe on our fist tour we played Virginia Beach and it was Ninja Gun and I think seven screamo-type bands, one of our buddies booked that show for us and it ended up being screamo and, like, some rednecks from south Georgia. It was after the first album had come out, and I remember distinctly playing “The Smoking Gun” and it was kind of slower, and just looking at these kids’ faces ... but I get off on that, if you give people what they’re not expecting, but it’s good, they’re gonna dig it. They can see the honesty. I think real music fans can smell when something’s bullshit, they can see when it’s contrived. If you present the general public with something that’s real, that’s what makes other people get off.

I really love the tune "Time And A Half" from the split 7" with Fake Problems, it's got a more sort of straight-up rock 'n' roll vibe. Was that from the Restless Rubes sessions or more recent?

That came a little bit later. I used to work at this company that did fire and flood damage, I had to go around and talk to south Georgia insurance adjusters about, like, mud. Fire and water damage and mud. I did that a couple of years and I made decent money and I hated my life … that’s about being at my shitty job and riding around Georgia talking to these horrible people and feeling like I was living somebody else’s life.

Does it indicate what we might be hearing on the new EP?

Probably not. We had to do that song in one day, we generally take a little bit longer, we’re kind of a slow moving machine. I think the EP’s gonna be sonically a lot better production wise, we’re going to spend a lot more time on those four songs than on that one. We’re really excited about it, hope a lot of people hear it, it’s gonna be the best thing we’ve done.

When do you expect the new EP to be out?

We get back from Europe in mid-April, and two days after we get back we start recording. We’re thinking about calling it Black on Blonde. Either that or Asian Ladyboys.

Ninja Gun play St. Pete's State Theatre this Saturday, February 20 with Against Me! and Tim Barry; the show is currently *SOLD OUT*.

For the better part of a decade, the four men of Ninja Gun have been taking their unique mix of punk ethos, bar-rock twang and thoughtful lyrical themes to the basements, clubs and indie record stores of America's D.I.Y. touring circuit. In the year-and-a-half since the release of their most recent album, Restless Rubes, the group's profile has risen steadily, and they're currently taking to the biggest stages yet supporting Gainesville's beloved Against Me!. Ninja Gun singer and guitarist Johnathan Coody recently spoke to Creative Loafing from somewhere on I-95 the morning after a packed show at Jacksonville's infamous Freebird Live.

CL: So, how stoked are you to be on the Against Me! tour?

JC: We’re really excited, man. It’s just a really nice thing for them to do, to take us out, because it’s not like we have a huge draw or anything, you know? We have some fans, it’s nice now that things are starting to come together to a certain degree, but yeah, we’re really stoked, they’re fun to hang out with and they’re a great band, we get to watch ‘em every night, along with [Avail frontman] Tim Barry, too.

Will it be the full lineup this time around, or the trio?

Yeah, it’s all four of us. We have one of our best friends, Taylor Patterson, along, he’s roadie-slash-merch-slash-lights.

Are you still touring in the church van?

Yeah, we’re still in the church van. It’s served its purpose thus far, pretty good camouflage. It’s getting us down the road. We just had to do $1200 worth of brake work, but other than that she’s in good shape.

Things really seem to be happening for you guys since Restless Rubes came out. Do you think that being affiliated with a somewhat higher profile label like Suburban Home has helped, or is it just more of a natural progression, the time you put in before this record paying off?

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