You want to make a big splash with your first song, and there’s not much bigger than the titular leviathan of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The 1851 novel is the inspiration behind “White Whale,” the debut single from Shadow Academy, the new musical venture from Ninja Sex Party’s Dan Avidan, and award-winning producer Jim Roach. Navigating the waters between symphonic metal and progressive rock, “White Whale” is a burst of St. Elmo’s Fire, fueled by surging guitars, pounding drums, and glowing synths. Avidand’s voice channels the heavy metal gods of ol’, grounded to match the gravitas of the lyrics (“Oh! White Whale / Dragging me down under / A sentence with no jail”) but still willing to soar high on the track’s energy. Rounding out this debut is a gorgeously animated music video by Simon Macko.
Shadow Academy is a musical departure for Avidan, best known for Ninja Sex Party, a libido-infused comedy rock twosome with Brian “Ninja Brian” Wecht, and Starbomb, the video-game supergroup composed of NSP and Dan’s Game Grumps cohost, Arin Hanson. “The beginning of 2020 was a pretty harrowing experience for everyone as parts of society shut down, and the desire to stay creative amidst all that slow chaos started to become really intense as 2020 and 2021 went on,” Dan shares with HollywoodLife. “Jim and I were fortunate that we could exchange musical ideas remotely until things were safe enough to get together and record the album. “
“I know for me personally, Shadow Academy helped me feel connected to the rest of the world,” adds Avidan. “We put our hearts and soul into these songs. I’m as excited about this band as anything I’ve ever been a part of.” Plus, as Game Grumps fans would know, Dan did a deep dive of classic literature during the initial pandemic months, with Moby Dick among his reading list.
“For years, I have made records for other people and written songs for other people,” Jim Roach shares with HollywoodLife. The Emmy-award-winning producer has handled the music for various entertainment properties, but with Shadow Academy, it’s his turn in the spotlight. “When Danny and I started talking about making music that ‘we’ wanted to make, with no real goal in mind, it was such a freeing feeling,” he says. “We both have a love for big, sweeping, cinematic music that can transport you somewhere, so that was what naturally came out. I love really heavy music, and I love ethereal music, so we didn’t create any boundaries but made sure there was a thread.”
“The initial feeling from both of us was ‘let’s have fun, and maybe we’ll put it out to show some friends,’ ” continues Roach. “We both been lucky to have established ourselves in music, and we actually felt free to create art without a net! From there, we both really poured ourselves into the songs and the recordings.” Jim says that they brought in Jack and Nate VanDerPol from the band Viperclub to help with drums and contribute ideas (“They are complete prodigies and are still in their early 20’s!”), resulting in this new rock juggernaut.
Fans won’t be searching for new Shadow Academy music for long. Jim shares they have another upcoming single titled “Once and Never More,” and it’s a song they put a lot of effort into. “I think I recorded about 20 different versions of ‘Once and Never More,’” he says, “just trying to find the perfect sentiment and feel; but not once did it feel like work!”