Metal ninja has iron will
12 February 2016
MUSICAL VISION: Ngati Awa musician Richie Allan is through his determination and skill able to enlist the support of international companies and talented kiwi musicians.
FANS of Kawerau guitar virtuoso Richie Allan will be pleased to know he’s not planning to change his winning formula anytime soon.
The Beacon caught up with the Heavy Metal Ninjas creator at his Kawerau home days after he returned from Los Angeles and a brief hangout with band members in Auckland.
“This has been my busiest summer ever,” he said.
“I am just changing some of the drum programming, then we’re off tomorrow.”
The group plays in Sydney on February 19 and in Melbourne the day after that, with the next three consecutive days seeing appearances in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, a five-day flight-and-concert schedule.
Having listened to Iron Maiden since the age of seven, played guitar since the age of 11, Allan is now endorsed by six international music companies – Ibanez guitars, DiMarzio pick-ups, Dunlop strings and picks, Shure microphones, QSC PA systems, Analysis Plus cables, and Fractal Audio.
Allan has just returned to the Eastern Bay following his first time as an exhibitor at NAMM, the world’s largest music technology exhibition, held in California, and Allan said the experience was “overwhelming”.
“It was super massive and I just kept walking in circles,” he said.
“NAMM was more than you could ever expect.”
Allan caught up with representatives from all six endorsing companies when he was at the megafest to promote two of the brands, Ibanez and Dunlop.
“It was great to have fans and people I know come up to me as I was playing.”
Allan has no plans to leave Kawerau for Los Angeles and the life as a session musician.
“Players who want to become studio musicians, they work on their flaws,” he said.
“They then lift their skill-sets up, averaging out and becoming good at everything.
“For me, by ignoring my flaws and working on what I am already good at, I become exceptional.”
Thus, when it comes to his artistic expression, Allan leaves nothing to chance.
The band Heavy Metal Ninjas is his creation, with the fellow musicians appearing to offer a live interpretation of what he has already composed and designed.
“When it comes to the records, I play everything,” he said.
“I programme the drums, play the bass, layer the guitars and add the symphonic instrumentation, then I also create the album covers.”
With many years as a soundman for Kora and other bands behind him, Allan is able to transform his symphonic vision into produced music with comparable ease.
“Some songs take a day to compose, others take years,” he said.
For the five upcoming shows, the composer is planning to pay tribute to one of his inspirational sources, the computer game called Final Fantasy.
“We will do a Final Fantasy medley, this will be our first song,” he said.
Allan said that by using their Fractal Audio amp emulator, the band has access to 300 emulated amplifiers and 500 speaker cabinets, all housed in a two-space rack unit.
“It will sound the same wherever we go, we all have click tracks in our ears so we know when the effects are changing,” he said.
“They just plug our laptop into the front-of-house mixer.”
In other words, there’s no need for roadies carrying heavy Marshall stacks, effects units and exotic tube amps for Allan’s vision of the Heavy Metal Ninja sound to carry on the international stage.
Meanwhile, his Japan-based record company keeps asking how it is going in Kawerau and how the next record is coming along.
“They keep asking me ‘when is it ready?’,” he said.
“We stopped over in Japan on the way to the UK last year.”
For such are the qualities of Allan, he impresses those he meets and he duly got signed up in Japan, a country known for their maniacal fan bases when it comes to anything musical and visionary.
When I meet him, he sits relaxed on his sofa.
He is quietly spoken and his body is the product of countless hours spent lifting weights in the gym, thus the gentle giant cliché comes to mind.
But I have seen him play live and on those occasions the Final Fantasy term seems better fitting, a man possessed and flying with the music.
He said his favourite guitar player is Steve Vai and that he has no plans to add vocals to his music.
“I have been an instrumental guitarist since I started,” he said.
“If I add vocals I might as well start composing pop songs.”
Source: Whakatane Beacon