Melbourne alternative metal outfit Twelve Foot Ninja have announced the departure of founding member and vocalist Nik “Kin Etic” Barker over the weekend.
The band shared a detailed announcement on Facebook on Saturday (18th December), expressing that Barker had chosen to leave the band largely due to creative differences between himself and guitarist and songwriter Steve “Stevic” MacKay.
The band will continue without Barker, though all currently-booked Australian shows will continue with Barker, along with a final Australian tour with the singer that is currently in the works. The band are also looking for a new vocalist and are taking open auditions – throw your hat in the ring here.
“After 14 years, hundreds of beers, a few albums, and a couple of tours, with my favourite knuckleheads, I have made the difficult decision to end my tenure as vocalist of Twelve Foot Ninja,” Barker wrote in his statement.
“Being a member of TFN has allowed me to travel the world, meet, and connect with a multitude of awesome people, and experience things that most would only dream of. To those who have supported me over the years, and have believed in me when I couldn’t, you have my eternal gratitude.”
Addressing his reasons for departing the band, Barker said that while the “creative tension” between himself and MacKay had contributed to some “great music”, it has also “taken its cumulative toll” on the singer. “I feel creatively fatigued in this particular dynamic,” he explained.
“It has reached a point of taking more than I feel I can give to it, 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.”
In his own statement, MacKay added that he and Barker were “very philosophically different”. Going on to elaborate, MacKay explained: “I’ve cultivated a culture prioritising best objective driven outcomes above personal emotion. Nik, like a lot of creative people, is primarily driven by emotion (i.e. what “feels” good).
“I am not like that, and although the resultant collision of these two values has positively influenced our music; it causes a lot of friction in the process, and after 14 years, the cost/benefit ratio for Nik isn’t stacking up. Which I completely get. I subscribe to the idea that nothing great can be achieved without discomfort… However, the operative concept is; what does “great” even look like? How is it measured? And then one has to reconcile with the fact that answers may differ person to person. Cost vs benefit is subjective
“In summary: 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 co-founded Twelve Foot Ninja in 2008 alongside MacKay, drummer Shane “Russ” Russell, guitarist Rohan “Ro” Hayes and former bassist Damon McKinnon, who parted ways with the band in 2019. He has performed on all the band’s recorded output, including most recent album Vengeance, which arrived in October of this year.
See the band’s announcement and Barker and MacKay’s statements in full below.