Long before Ken Jennings made being a nerd cool again, local musician (and mystery man) Dave Ninja (at left in photo) was doing his part. As one of the founding members of Sacramento’s seminal nerd-rock band the Four Eyes—which also features Jay Baker and Joel Goulet (center and right, respectively)—Ninja has spent the past 12 years tackling topics near and dear to any nerd’s heart. The band, which released its debut album, Rock & Role Playing, in 2004 (on Plastic Idol Records), specializes in writing songs about spelling bees, rock ’n’ roll Martians, nerdy girls and—of course—computer gaming. Visit the band’s Web site, at http://thefoureyes.com, for more information on “the smartest band in the world.”
Is Ninja really your last name?
It is not legally my last name. I could get it changed legally to my last name, but I think my daughters would kill me.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a scientist for the government, and that’s about all I can say.
When did the Four Eyes take form?
I think we started in 1993.
Did you set out to create a nerd-rock band, or is it something that occurred naturally?
I think it’s just something that evolved naturally because of all the stuff we were interested in. So, all the songs turned out to be about it, and it worked into the name.
Do you all wear prescription glasses?
Well, two members have vision problems, while the other one is legally obliged to wear safety goggles.
Do you consider yourself to be a nerd?
Did the film Revenge of the Nerds help you come to terms with being a nerd?
I’m a big fan of it, actually. I have copies of Revenge of the Nerds No. 1 through No. 4. No. 3 and No. 4 were only released on television, so they were harder to find.
Anthony Edwards left his nerd image behind when he starred as the aviator stud Goose in Top Gun. Did that give you hope?
Well, we’d just like to promote the thought that nerds are already cool and that they don’t have to change who they are.
On your Web site, you guys call yourselves the smartest band in the world. So, who’s the smartest member of the smartest band?
Well, our smartness is dependent on each other. … It’s kind of like a computer code where each of us only has every third character. So, alone we are a lot less than we are all together. The sum is greater than the parts.
On your last CD, you made mention of the online game World of Warcraft. Are you a gamer?
Yes. I play that game whenever possible. I’ve got one other member hooked, and the other member is waiting for a RAM upgrade before he can get hooked.
What character do you play?
My main character is a human mage, while my alt—I have many alts, but the one I play the most is a dwarf priest. Joel’s main character is a night-elf hunter, while his alt is an orc rogue.
Who writes the song lyrics?
We all write different lyrics to different songs. Joel usually writes the best ones, or the ones people like the most. Jay and I write the best technical songs.
Is there a particular song that you are most proud of?
I guess everyone likes “Hat Nerd,” and that one we kind of all wrote together, so I guess that’s the one we’d probably all be the proudest about.
What’s on the horizon for the band?
We have a new album that is coming out in June. It should be out by the time this SN&R that you’re holding is out. It’s called Sweet Sounds, and people can look at our Web site for information about it. We’ll continue having a show every month or two. We also have another album that we’ll probably just release on CD-R, and we might even have it where people can buy it with online Warcraft gold instead of money, since online Warcraft gold is more valuable than real money—at least to us.