If you were in charge of Earth, could you fix it? Would you make love to Venus? The planet? What if your lover started the whole world on fire? What if Winnie the Poo was gay? Have you ever lived off bottle deposits, or wondered why easy is supposed to be good for you and hard is to be avoided? Or wondered what the hell a peace march is going to accomplish or how a whole band of Wookies would sound?
Have you ever heard an album that was so outlandish you could call it fantasy, so funny you’re sure they were high, and so close to home it put your heart in a knot? All at the same time? Backed by a groove that lightly melts you further into your chair with each listen?
When the three Ginger Ninjas set out to document their songs, they unwittingly began asking and answering these questions themselves. Propelled by the mixture of Hayes’ hardcore bass, Isaac’s outside funk drums and West African percussion, and Kipchoge’s sing-song acoustic guitar, the trio settled into a fusion that they soon named “mind shaking love groove folkfunk roots explosive mountain music for a pleasant revolution.”
The music on Where the Rubber Meets the Road dances behind the words, inviting the listener to enter the mysterious land where revolutions are fought and won with fierce devotion to self exploration and under the careful watch of Yoda.
Kipchoge speaks about the songs:
People always ask me about the “girl on the corner.” What exactly is she selling? Acid? Love? The guitar part and the lyrics just popped up one morning, something about a girl who has something, or is something, that we all need. Certainly, most of us could stand to take a hit or two of LSD. I think the line about the heart/prisoner/mind/jail is one of my all-time favorites.
One day I realized how much energy I waste trying to make up my mind, and this song came. Now it serves as both anthem and reminder. I like song lyrics that come from everyday pieces of language; it makes them “sticky” so every time the saying comes up in a conversation, it reminds everyone around of the song.
This song was originally about a trans-sexual girl squirrel with an automatic button. My then girlfriend hated it but we all loved the groove and a better idea came. I wrote it around the time of the drum-beating for the Iraq invasion, thinking how cool it would be if you could spread peace as easily as atomic radiation.
Love it Up
During a Native American peyote ceremony a few years ago a woman got up to speak and asked “Great Spirit” to love her little boy up, and love her momma up, and love everyone in the teepee up, and love George Bush and his crew up. I dug the feeling of loving something up, beyond just loving it.
I was at my buddy Scott Lindgren’s pad while he and his crew put the final touches on a new whitewater kayaking film. They said they needed a song for the crash and burn sequence and I started singing about that protest you feel when you screw up something you’re good at.
Wow, I don’t know where this came from. I wish I could write songs that were this strange, fantastical and almost true on demand. I wanted it to be hip hop but something else emerged.
Chewbacca meets Freud. This song converts many new listeners into fans. It also makes many fans wonder what everyone sees in it. I like the driving out-thereness of it that wraps you into the story but also makes you ponder what happened to my mind.
My dad tried to teach me how to play the guitar when I was five and this was the song. I still can’t
--read about the rest of the songs at www.gingerninjas.com
I wanted to write a nice song for my girlfriend; instead this came out. "Lyin', cheatin', lonely, leavin', love me. Rub me in the stuff that makes me shine." That's the kind of line I don't make up. It just pops and I go with the theme. She was a tempest of a girl and the chorus popped, too.
I remember sitting on my porch under the wintery but warm full moon, thinking about the wordplay of celestial bodies and how to write a love song to the night sky. The driving beat jumped out next and then the further play of 'turnin' me on' sealed it. I think I played it for 3 hours straight.
I had a song on my first album, Horse Creek, called "Easy". I turned the chords around backwards to make this the companion, to be called "Hard." I got the melody and a bit of chorus quick but didn't finish for a couple of years until I had this epiphany about how "hard" gets a bad rap.
I went to a couple of huge peace rallies in San Francisco around Afghan invasion time. Like everyone else, I wonder "will this really affect anything?" At the same time, I know for certain that our oil needs stem directly from our oily habits, and that IS something we can affect. About that time I heard Ani DiFranco's 9/11 poem and Isaac suggested I write a spoken word. I got this idea for an epic that would bring together every idea I had about how individual actions, i.e., things we control, influence global affairs.
Fiddle Fantastic had been playing with me and Isaac for a couple of years and then got sent home to Scotland by the INS. We missed him while making the album and wrote this play on Peter Tosh's "Legalize It" tune. His wife Amber really does wear the pants in the family.