The Ginger Ninjas – pedal for the metal
A bicycle-powered Californian band is spearheading what they hope will become a global trend – eco-friendly touring.
The Ginger Ninjas travel between shows on pedalbikes carrying their gear with them, including a full drumkit and two amps. When they arrive at the next show they put the bikes on racks and have volunteer audience members pedal to provide electricity for their performance.
It’s five years since they turned their backs on the usual sources of energy, even though it means they have to refuse the offer of many shows.
Frontman Kipchoge Spencer tells Smithsonian magazine: “I don’t want to be in Chicago tonight, Boston tomorrow and Tokyo the next. It’s too consumptive of resources. Plus there’s a sort of egotism – like, ‘the world needs to see me so much that I’ll use up the Earth’s resources just to make it happen.’
“That doesn’t work for us, so we say no to a lot to gigs.”
The Ninjas travel up to 50 miles a day with their roadies, a cook and a masseur. And while Spencer is delighted many people like their brand of “international mountain music for a pleasant revolution” he also hopes they’ll take his point about resources.
“The bicycle is one of the best, if not the coolest, machines ever invented,” he says. “Part of what we do is show people who capable bikes are. Part of my vision is that this is something almost anyone can do. That’s part of what we want people to see.”
While on occasion the Ninjas are forced to rely on other forms of transport, Spencer believes all-out reliance on planes, trains and automobiles is “a cultural design that will fall in on itself in not too long. It’s doomed – and it’s dooming us.”