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Shihad - Newsletter Interview: Shihad

25 Nov 2014 // An interview by Kerry MB


Shihad recorded their first album Churn almost 21 years ago and ever since then, they have proven time and time again that they are one of New Zealand's leading Rock bands. They describe their new album FVEY as "total brutality from start to finish". Heavy music is the foundation of Shihad's sound - a sound they came up with in Wellington in the late 80s and early 90s as a band who were just as influenced by Metallica as thye were by New Zealand's own Skeptics. Thanks to Jon for answering these questions:

Jon, What are your top three bands and era of music - why?

Era of music - 

1. Post Punk - 1977-1980. Why? Because it was a great time of experimentation and fearlessness in Rock and Roll - From Britain you had Public Image Ltd, Wire, Joy Division, Gang of Four, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Psychedelic Furs, Killing Joke etc. and in the US, Devo, Talking Heads, Suicide, Television, Bad Brains etc.

2. Alternative - late 80’s-early 90’s. Why? Because it was another period of reinvention and rule breaking. Bands that I like from that time are - Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, Pixies, Big Black, The Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey, Massive Attack, Tricky, The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Spiritualized, Aphex Twin.

3. Rock Late 60’s-Early 70’s. Why? Because these bands were writing the rule book before there were rules. Bands from this era I like are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Bob Dylan.

What is your earliest memory of music and is it what fuelled your passion to become a musician?

Watching records go around on my parents turntable for hours on end when I was 4 or 5. I thought it was magic (I still do). What fuelled my passion to become a musician was seeing my Uncle Charlie play acoustic guitar on a trip to the UK in his living room when I was 7. I couldn’t believe ‘real people’ could make music (I thought musicians were like super heroes!) and I asked my parents for a guitar and lessons which I was lucky enough to get! 

What are Shihad's plans after the FVEY tour and xmas? Do you split your time between here and Melbourne?

I’m off to Sudan for a month to catch up with family and hopefully do some recording with some Sudanese musicians for the start of the next Adults album. Then the plan is to go to UK/Europe around March next year with Shihad which will be festival season. We all live in Melbourne now days but come back every now and then to see family and do other things.

FVEY is a very political offering for you guys, why now and what has influenced this?

What has influenced this album is the current state of affairs, both politically and socially, in NZ and Australia and the West in general where Free Market Capitalism seems to have been decided to be the only way possible to live yet seems to be fostering massive inequality - making a few people extremely wealthy while the majority go poor and hungry, encouraging selfishness over selflessness, the destruction of the public sector (you know, important things like schools, hospitals, the arts etc.) and the destruction of the very environment all of us rely on to live. In our opinion our leaders have sold us out to big business interests over the interests of the people who voted them in and do their bidding whether or not it is in the public interest. Each of us feel passionately that the world should and can be a more equitable, fair and compassionate place for everyone on this planet and that that change is coming whether or not the powers that be try and stop it.

Would Shihad ever consider a double disc acoustic vs live set (much like Foo's In Your Honour, or Mellon Collie, Smashing Pumpkins)?

That’s a very specific question. Nothing like that planned atm but you never know!


About Shihad

Picture this… 1988, Bob Hawke is Prime Minister, Australia dumps $600 million bucks of tax payer cash on Expo 88, Home and Away hits our tellies for the first time, Triple J launch the Hottest 100, Nintendo release the Game Boy, free University education is no longer an option, and over in Wellington NZ, the Southernmost capital city in the world, Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin are busily creating a heavy rock band…. A monstrous band that would end up becoming one of New Zealand’s most loved, respected and successful exports… Kia ora Shihad!

Fast forward to 2020… Jon, Tom, lead guitarist Phil Knight (who they found through a music shop notice board ad in 1989) and bass player Karl Kippenberger, who joined the band in 1993, (from being a fan) have released nine studio albums (five of which went to #1 in NZ). They survived a name change propelled by Jihad becoming a staple negative reference in the global vernacular thanks to 9/11 (Shihad became Pacifier, and returned to Shihad), personal triumphs and tragedies, travelled all over the world with endless tours, selling out headline shows and sharing stages at major local and international festivals, and touring with musical heroes like Motorhead, Metallica, Faith No More and AC/DC to name a few! In 2010 they were inducted into the New Zealand Music’s Hall Of Fame. And just like Neil Finn, Russell Crowe and every other successful person or idea to come out of NZ… Australia quickly adopted them as our own, showering them with ARIA nominations, adoration and ownership of their global success.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Shihad


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