Gear talk for the GAS-afflicted.

6SS Year One: The Heavy Metal Ninjas – Richie Allan and Brandon Reihana Interviewed!!

6SS Year One: The Heavy Metal Ninjas – Richie Allan and Brandon Reihana Interviewed!!

Apr 28, 2013

Hell yeah. It’s our birthday!

Hey you know what?! I got an email reminder saying that I had to renew my ownership of the Six-String Samurai domain… because it’s officially been ONE YEAR that we’ve been going!! I’m just totally psyched with the way the site’s been growing, and the massive support we’ve had from the online community, and I’m hoping that we can all grow the 6SS community even further in the next year!! I’m actually planning to start a forum for all our Samurai friends… but that’s an idea for another day. This week we have a Mega Upload of articles for you – a review of the Blackstar ID series, an overview of life on the road in the States with BC Rich endorsee Ross McDougall of In Dread Response and Saving Grace, and also…

Heavy Metal. Also, Ninjas.

After seeing them live for the first time a week or two ago (a killer show at Auckland’s Powerstation with Devilskin, opening for Coheed and Cambria – if you haven’t seen the pics check them out right here) I’m a 100% fanatic about these amazing local talents.

If you STILL haven’t heard of them yet, they’re NZ’s most insane rock/metal/shred instrumental band, led by Richie Allan, long-time Ibanez and Dimarzio endorsee. Our awesome monthly columnist Brandon Reihana has recently joined HMN, so what was the right thing to do? Arrange a kick-ass Q&A session with these two amazing axe-slingers just for you!

Let us begin. Obviously “R A” is for Richie’s replies, and “B R” is for Brandon’s.

Q: For the uninitiated, tell us a little about HMN and how it all began.

R A: It all began during a tour with the band Kora while we were in UK/Europe. Me, Stu, Fran and formerly Quasar started jamming and
drinking in the hotel rooms between shows.

Q: Why did you recently decide to add another guitarist to HMN, making it a total of THREE guitar ninjas?

R A: Well we actually had 3 guitarists to begin with, Quasar played guitar and keys, even both at the same time when needed, he left and
then we got Brandon on board.


Q: What’s your favourite guitar, and why?

R A: My Ibanez Jem7RB, it’s a classic and has a lot of character, sweat, tears and years in it, it was also a gift and the owner has now passed away.
B R: My favourite guitar is my Ibanez S8QM. It is an S series Ibanez with 8 strings loaded with two Dimarzio Humbuckers. This thing feels amazing to play and holds tune insanely well.

Q: At the recent Coheed and Cambria support gig, I noticed that HMN are beginning to incorporate extended range 8-string guitars into many songs. Who or what got you started on using 8s, and what advice can you give to players who want to explore the world of the 8?

R A: Yes, both Brandon and Stu use Ibanez 8 string guitars, Stu has an RGA8 and Brandon has an S8QM. I guess who got me into 8 strings would’ve been Meshuggah since I’ve been a fan since way back, though I’m always one to experiment and try different things you know. I’d like to see more people play an 8 string like an 8 string, experiment with all strings, Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders is a prime example, not just play the first 5 frets of the low 4 strings, that can be done on a detuned 6 string.

B R: I had never played an 8 until I was asked to join the Ninjas, although I was going to get one in the future it was a requirement for the band. First person I heard utilize the 8 string was Tosin Abasi from Animals As Leaders. The 8 string really is no mystery once you have mastered the 6 because in standard 8 tuning the patterns repeat themselves in the lower register. Took me a couple of hours to get used to it and now it’s my favourite guitar ever. 

Q: I noticed that Richie is using a Fractal Axe-FX these days. Can you tell us a bit about why you moved to the Axe-FX, and how it compares to previous rigs that you’ve used?

R A: I moved to the Axe FX for many reasons, it has a multitude of amp simulations, perfect for studio recordings, live, I have a consistent tone anywhere I go, all the effects I could want, the routing options are amazing, ease of use and portability. The Axe FX compared to other previous rigs I’ve used, the only difference is I have more amps and effects at my disposal, you can also use a power amp and speaker config with the Axe if you want the feel of the old head and cab thing, whilst still being able to have a direct feed with dedicated cab sim sent to the mixer at FOH, or even better, use powered monitors. This is all I need………at the moment. (thesamurai: Spoken like a true gear enthusiast!)


Q: Another gear question – we know that Richie has been a long-time Dimarzio endorsee – out of the Dimarzio range, which ones do you dig the most, and why?

R A: I’ve tried a few, I like the PAF Pro because they are a medium output pickup, they have a lot of twang and an abundance of presence, I am also a fan of the new Ionizer 8 string pickups, these are a medium output pickup (for an 8 string) that has some single coil characteristics, they are smooth in the top end, lots of clarity and can still go loud when you hit them hard.

B R: I have been using Dimarzio Breed pickups for years and I am heading to a stage where I need a different tone. For my 8 strings I use DActivators and to be honest I absolutely LOVE these pickups! 

Q: What is the songwriting process like in HMN? Where do you draw inspiration from?

R A: I draw inspiration from an amalgamation of thoughts, documentaries, life, the stars, the unknown and people around me. I
hardly listen to music for inspiration, only when I go to the gym, which is gangsta rap, most of my musical inspiration would be embedded in me from when I was growing up, listening to Steve Vai, Jason Becker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Meshuggah etc. But for the most part it comes from within myself and certain moods I am in at a certain time.

Q: If you could choose from anyone, alive or dead, who would you like to collaborate with, or open a show for?

R A: I’d like to be on the G3 tour with a combination of either Joe Satriani, Steve Vai or Paul Gilbert, now that would be awesome and a
B R: No one at this stage.
Q: Desert island disc – if you had to choose ONE record to take with you to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?

R A: Final Fantasy 7 OST…… Nobuo Uematsu, I love his music and the game for that matter.

B R: Ooooo that is a tough question! My instant subconscious thoughts were Not of This Earth by Joe Satriani or Jason Becker’s Perpetual Burn. Will have to start a poll to see which one I take I think hahaha.

Q: What bands, NZ and international, have got you excited at the moment?

R A: To choose, hmmmm… Animals As Leaders most probably, its different, its instrumental, they play 8 strings, they use Dimarzio,
Ibanez and Axe FX, and are real down to earth guys.

B R: I listen to tons of different bands and artists and this changes weekly or monthly for me but I dig New Way Home from NZ (not because I played guitar in the band hahaha) because of their complexity, brutality and beauty all woven into a masterpiece that is Mirrors. Richie’s new tracks (well from what I have heard) are next level and its an album to look out for for any guitarist wanting something that is new and fresh.

Q: What advice have you got for budding guitarists/musicians trying to “make it” in the NZ music scene?
R A: Never give up, you still have to work a normal job, try all sorts of outlets to promote yourself, YouTube is probably the best, you never know who might see you, networking, get in the know, know the right people who know the right people, because most of the time its who you know that will get you noticed or an opportunity.
B R: Get into a band and tour lots. If your band is really tight and has good songs look for opening slots. Go and support local shows

because its who you know and you never know who will be at a show that can help you out in the music industry. Thats my 2 cents. 
Q: Can you give us a bit of a hint as to what epic plans the loyal HMN fans have to look forward to in 2013? 

R A: I am working on the full length album right now, which will be due out this year sometime……, the music is the most complex and
soulful music I have ever written, we will also tour the album and push it internationally which will be our main focus.

B R: Bright lights, Levitation, Aliens, Blackholes and Dark Matter (the glue that holds the universe together)!

Thank you heaps guys – it’s been a pleasure to celebrate Six-String Samurai’s first birthday with some of NZ’s best guitarists!! Here’s to bigger and better things for 6SS and The Heavy Metal Ninjas this year!!


  1. […] if you haven’t seen the rest of the 6SS birthday celebrations, check out our interview with The Heavy Metal Ninjas, as well as a review of the Blackstar ID260TVP combo – and more to come throughout the […]

  2. […] our friend Richie Allan of the Heavy Metal Ninjas doing a few clips with his new Axe FX II – how did he get one? He’s NZ’s FIRST […]

  3. […] back guitar lovers! Hope you all enjoyed the April interview with Richie Allan and myself – The Heavy Metal Ninjas had a great show, and talking about it helped get rid of those first […]

Hit Counter provided by orange county divorce attorney
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Google Plus