Shihad: Hotter Than Hell In The General Electric

With another long, hot summer just around the corner, an even hotter old-skool music festival, in the spirit of the much loved Homebake Festival of yore, will be burning up stages throughout the land in the New Year. We’ll get our turn too, on Sunday, 27 January at the Broadwater Parklands, with a line-up featuring 90’s Triple J high rotation acts Spiderbait, Killing Heidi, Bodyjar, 28 Days and Area-7.

Add to that list hard rocking Kiwi legends Shihad, without doubt one of the most eagerly anticipated bands that will be appearing on the bill. Inducted into the New Zealand Music’s Hall Of Fame in 2010, the band are currently in the throes of celebrating a double anniversary of sorts – 30 years since forming and 20 years since the release of one of their biggest albums, ‘The General Electric’. It spawned a number of their most well-loved numbers, including ‘My Mind’s Sedate’ and the track ‘Pacifier’, a name which the band briefly adopted in the early 2000’s, prior to reverting back to their original moniker. And in another exciting development for the true fans, the album will also be issued on vinyl for the very first time on 12 October.

As well as Hotter Than Hell, the band will also be kicking out the jams on a bunch of their own headlining shows, with local fans able to catch them at The Triffid on Friday, 23 November.

In the lead up we fired off some questions to founding singer, Jon Toogood..

So, it’s been 30 years now since you guys started making a ruckus – congratulations! Did you ever dream you’d be here today when you first started out back in NZ all those years ago?

Absolutely not. The plan was to become the biggest band in the world by the year 2000 then stop! When that didn’t pan out we decided we all kinda loved what we do so we just kept on doing it. And here we are. It’s pretty unbelievable really but it’s something we’re all stoked about as playing a live Shihad show is still as much of a thrill as it ever was. As is making albums like the last one, ‘FVEY’.

Do you guys get on well with the other acts on the Hotter Than Hell bill? And how will it be decided who the hell headlines!?

Love the Spiderbait guys. Can’t wait to catch up with Adalita and the rest of the Magic Dirt crew. Ella’s awesome as are the Bodyjar fellahs. So yeah, It looks like it’ll be a bit of school reunion vibe backstage except without the assholes that used to beat you up. As far as who goes on first or whatever I really don’t care. Give me a stage and this band and we’ll do our very best to tear it up. No matter what time we’re on. Can’t wait!

I’m excited to hear that your classic record, ‘The General Electric’ is getting released on vinyl for the first time! Will you be bringing some of those along for sale on your upcoming tour?

Absolutely! The vinyl sounds incredible and the package looks amazing. We’d be silly not to!

And do you have a favourite era or particular album when it comes to looking back at the history of the band?

I love tracks off pretty much every album but Churn, Killjoy, The General Electric and FVEY are my favourites.

Your most recent album, FVEY, (as well as your first record, Churn), was produced by Jaz Coleman of the legendary Killing Joke. What was it like working with him the second time – was he still as ‘out there’ as I might imagine him to be?

The guy is a musical genius and with that comes a certain amount of ‘madness’. I enjoyed working with him so much more this time around as he was sober, focused and pushed us way harder than he did on Churn – and that’s saying something as he smashed us the first time around. I love that he drilled us so hard on each track that we pretty much recorded everything live in the end which, for me, is why FVEY sound so on fire. It was the perfect way to produce an urgent, heavy political record.

Do you have any new upcoming recording plans? And are there any new numbers that will sneak into the set list for your upcoming tour?

We have done a bunch of music writing which I haven’t put words to yet. It’s even heavier than the last album and sounds huge, which is perfect for the times we seem to be living in but I’m still trying to work out the best way of expressing what I feel without repeating myself from the stuff I did on the FVEY. I was angry about where the world was heading then and it seems to be even crazier now.

You’ve shared stages with some of the most revered rocks acts ever, from AC/DC and Motorhead through to Metallica and Faith No More. Do you have a favourite moment when it comes to playing shows with any of these bands?

Playing in front of 64,000 people before AC/DC at Western Springs in Auckland. It was like being at the centre of the universe for me. Also, having Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler watching us from side of stage every night on the Black Sabbath tour of NZ and Australia was a huge buzz for me. They’re the guys who invented the metal riff.

And are there any other bands that you’d kill to share a tour with?

The Rolling Stones.

Could you ever see a time where you’d be doing anything else besides making sweet music?

Who knows what the future holds, but I definitely love playing music with these four guys and we make one hell of a racket together. It’d be weird to not have it in my life.

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