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Band: Ninetail

Members: J. William Heitmann, lead vocals; Don Belch, lead guitar; Chris Evan, rhythm guitar and vocals; Josh "Griff" Griffin, bass; Greg Weber, keyboards, samples and vocals; Chris Appenzeller, percussion

Who we talked to: Heitmann

When did the band get together? We've actually been through quite a few members over the last couple of years. The original lineup that you're seeing now started jamming about three years ago. We pretty much all were playing in bands in the area and knew each other from that and thought it would be cool to get together and see what we could do.

Where did the name come from? The name is actually a long-standing name. Our two guitar players . . were in a version of Ninetail before this one. (They) left to do their own thing and started another version of it. (A ninetail) is a whip with nine fingers . . . that has thorns at the end of it. It's pretty brutal stuff.

Describe your sound and style? I don't like comparing us to (other bands). I think we kind of do our own thing. What's different about our band from most metal bands is that we have a keyboard and a sample guy. It adds kind of a spacey weirdness to it. Our music is very heavy at the core, but there is a lot of other stuff going on around us. We all have a blast when we're playing. I think sometimes people might get caught up in the seriousness of it too much. You catch us smiling up on stage more than anything. We have the best fans around here. They're so much fun.

Who are your musical influences? I think all six of us definitely have all different music places we're coming from. As a group, we're all into American Head Charge. DevilDriver is definitely up there. People bring up Slipknot a lot and Pantera.

Is there any music on the radio that you can't stand? Generally, everything on the radio. (Laughs) It is what it is. These big radio stations look at demographics and people in age groups . . . and that's all they care about. They don't keep an ear on the ground, so to speak. (They play) just what's hot and what's here and now. That's why I think metal is so special. It's underground, and you don't really hear it too much on the radio. It's ours, and we try not to let people take it from us and make a big mess out of it.

Do you guys do any covers? We've toyed with the idea of playing a cover or two, but we're so focused on originality, that it just never really got beyond an idea. The venues around here are not very . . . original friendly. Places like (York) Hardware Bar, where people go in flocks on Friday and Saturday nights . . . want their party bands. They want the bands that appeal to everyone. You finally make a niche in whatever scene you've got going on in your area. It wasn't easy.

What are your favorite local places to play? Home is the Wheelie Bar (and Grill) in York. We kind of planted our roots there in the beginning. Every band has their one bar that treats them good and makes them feel like they're part of something special. We do better around here in the little holes in the walls rather than the big clubs.

Like any local groups? There (are) a lot of great local bands in our scene I don't think people know about. All you have to do is come to a place like the WaterWay (Raw Bar & Grill) on Saturday night when they have a metal night and you can see them.

What are your plans for the future? We're currently involved in this thing with Project Independent. One of our songs is currently in the running for a national tour. Basically, you go to projectindependent.net and our song "Westboro" is up there along with . . . nine other band's songs. The band that accrues the most votes through the month of December gets put on the road for 50 shows in 60 days. It's really a big deal. Last week, we were first place in the voting. That's kind of our focus right now.

- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF

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