Shihad are one of the hardest working, most prolific rock bands to come out of New Zealand, although they have won and lost fans over the years. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what their last album was called, but when I heard their latest single Think You’re So Freefrom new album FVEY. I was so relieved to hear they had gone full circle, back to the heavier days of their first album Churn and I proceeded to bug the record label for an advance copy of the album.
Unfortunately for me, it seems like everyone else beat me to it, but I did manage to chat to bass player Karl Kippenberger who has spent sleepless nights doing the media rounds in New Zealand where the album had just been released.
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Are you and the band all based in Melbourne? Or have you moved back to New Zealand?
We all live in Melbourne and have done for the past 15 years but I tend to live half my time in NZ and half my time in Melbourne. I do see myself eventually ending up living back in New Zealand as I have an organic business set up over there with my girlfriend, but as long as the band gets to write and rehearse together from time to time, we can actually record anywhere, which is great.
How has the response to your album been in New Zealand so far?
It’s been really positive. We’ve gathered fans and lost fans over the years with our different decisions and records but since people have heard our new single, they’ve come back onboard and we’ve received overwhelming support.
Jaz Coleman seems like the Gordan Ramsay of the music business. Is that what he’s like in real life? How had he changed since you last worked with him on your first LP Churn?
Well he doesn’t drink anymore which is helpful because you can actually talk to him, whereas in the past it was difficult. He’s still gnarly but he was way more back then. He’s kind of like a vibe merchant, he’s not like Garth Richardson who produced some of our other albums (RATM’s first album and AC/DC) where he would make sure the technical sound was perfect. Jaz wasn’t interested in that, he had the four of us in a room recording live and he would make us perform 8 to 9 minute songs repeatedly for like 8 or 9 times takes in a row. It was like boot camp, really hard work getting yelled in your face and really pushing us to get results, which is what counts and you’ll be able to hear that on the record.
Your first single Think Your So Free is killer, how’d the song process work with this album
We came to Jaz with a bunch of riffs, no real songs and played them for him and he basically listened and went yep, no, that’s awful, that’s great but think your so free was just a riff that we all knew was going to be mean and when we recorded Jaz got the intent of what we were trying to do because the song is political and Jaz is a political beast.
I heard your playing the whole album at your Brisbane gig, is this the first time you will be playing it live to an audience?
Pretty much, we have a charity show in Christchurch for the earthquake appeal which is our first NZ one 3 or 4 days afterwards but it will be the first time we play the whole album. When we were doing this record with Jaz he never talked about it being a record, it was an arsenal of songs to play live, his idea was that we were writing a new live set that just happened to be a record. We always knew that when we released it that we would go out that we would play it in it’s entirety, so Brisbane will be the first place in the world we will play it from start to finish.
Your album is spelt FVEY but pronounced Five Eyes, what’s the deal with that?
It’s what the organisation call themselves, Five Eyes, which is Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, America, sharing personal information amongst each other, for example if America wants information from Australia on that person they will pass that information onto that country, for our own good, well at least that’s what they say, but really it’s none of their business. We’ve always felt quite strongly about privacy and making people aware of what’s going on.
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Catch Shihad play FVEY in its entirety, plus some of their greatest hits at The Zoo in Brisbane on 9 September.