INTERVIEW: Ninja Sex Party drops string theory for boner rock

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Ninja Sex Party

Courtesy: Fernando Escovar

It’s safe to assume Dan Avidan and Brian Wecht, the duo behind Ninja Sex Party, are the workhorses of comedic songwriting.

Since “Danny Sexbang” and “Ninja Brian” started Ninja Sex Party 10 years ago, they’ve released four traditional records and two albums of covers. They’ve also released two more LPs as Starbomb, a video game-themed hip-hop project with internet personality and voice actor Arin Hanson.

Some bands would be slowing down after that amount of output. Fortunately for NSP’s fans, that’s not going to be happening any time soon. While newer bands are taking longer and longer between albums, Ninja Sex Party hearkens back to the bands of the 1970s, who the duo grew up loving and covers on its Under the Covers records.

“I am a huge fan of all those ’70s bands. I wanted to emulate that,” Avidan said. “Rush put out two albums in 1975, so why can’t we?”

Wecht and Avidan have already completed a new Starbomb album, which they’ll release later this year, and a third album of covers for 2019.

“Right now, we’re basically recording a year in advance of release. If we keep that pace up, we’re in great shape,” Wecht said.

For Avidan, music was always the plan. After getting a degree in advertising to placate his parents, he spent a decade in various bands that didn’t have much success. During a break from music, he took comedy classes at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, the school founded but he acclaimed comedy troupe.

Wecht’s path was, to say the least, different from the average musician. He has a Ph.D. in particle physics from UC San Diego and was doing postdoctoral research on string theory when he met Avidan in that comedy class. For a while, he held a job as a professor and theoretical physicist while playing in the band. No, that’s not an arc from The Big Bang Theory.

Early on Ninja Sex Party thought of themselves as more as a comedy act than a band. While not lucrative, Avidan explained, it was better than the same stage of a traditional musician’s journey, where venues not only don’t pay but require the band to pay them. Eventually, inspired by Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island, they decided to give YouTube a try.

“About four or five months in, we started examining these bands that set the template for comedy bands, and The Lonely Island was one of them,” Avidan said. “They had Saturday Night Live‘s backing so their videos looked insane, but when we watched their earlier stuff it was just three guys with a camera in Los Angeles. We thought, ‘well, we can do that.'”

Music videos quickly became their main focus, and it paid off. The band’s popularity grew and three years ago, Wecht dropped quantum field theory to record songs like “Heart Boner (Part II of the Boner Trilogy)”—like so many musicians before him. This was definitely not an arc from The Big Bang Theory.

“When I had a kid I was like, ‘I can’t do three jobs,'” Wecht said. “I couldn’t get rid of the kid, so I had to choose between physics and Ninja Sex Party. After agonizing about it, it was clear what I wanted to do.”

Avidan, meanwhile, was diversifying. In 2013, he became cohost of the Let’s Play series Game Grumps on YouTube with his future Starbomb collaborator, Hanson. Over time, that expanded to also co-hosting other YouTube shows associated with Game Grumps.

Two weeks ago they released their new album,  Cool Patrol, with which they’ve taken another step. While their earlier albums were mostly self-produced, Cool Patrol has a dedicated producer and audio engineer in Jim Roach, and backing by Canadian band Tupper Ware Remix Party.

“It’s the proudest I’ve ever been of anything we’ve done,” Avidan said. “It sounds like a real band. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but it’s a big deal to us.”

The impending Starbomb album The TryForce will benefit from the same jump in production values, with Roach returning as producer and Tupper Ware Remix Party returning as backing band. The team also reunited for NSP’s Under the Covers, Vol. III. In addition to Rush and Def Leppard, that record will include the Bee Gees, Blue Oyster Cult, Michael Jackson and Peter Gabriel.

“It’s hard to do a cover album without including something from Rush and/or Def Leppard,” Avidan said. “Brian just knows how I feel about that.”

And after that? They wouldn’t say, but it’s safe to assume they at least have an idea what’s coming. It might even be under way. After all, Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II both came out in 1969. Ninja Sex Party has to keep pace.

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.

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