JON Toogood is going back to basics.
The Shihad frontman has kicked off his first solo tour – just him and his guitar.
Speaking to Mountain Scene after night one he says he was ‘shitting himself’.
“I’ll be honest I was really nervous. I’ve never done anything like this before and I had no idea what to expect – that’s why I am enjoying this.”
He’s been lead singer of Shihad for 25-odd years. This latest tour takes him well out of his comfort zone.
The decision to go solo was accidental. A dive bar in Melbourne asked him to perform on his own after a Shihad gig and he agreed – something he immediately regretted.
The gig was a hit and he phoned his agent as soon as he finished and told him to get a solo tour organised.
Toogood reckons it’s refreshing after playing in a band for so long. He describes Shihad as a wall of sound. Song after song, no breaks just plenty of noise.
“That’s our style – it’s almost like a gym workout. With this, I’m playing the song because I fucking love it and it means something to me. I’m having conversations with people and it’s so refreshing for me to do that.”
There will be a few Shihad songs within the set as well as material from The Adult collection – topped up with tunes he loves including David Bowie and Wilco.
He plays The Sherwood tomorrow night and says it’ll be a relaxed affair. It’s a completely new way of performing for him. He has nowhere to hide – it’s just his guitar and his voice. It’s scary and exciting all in one, he says.
“You can’t think about your problems – or you can’t think about your future or the past you have just got to be there and in doing.”
He says he engages more with the audience when performing on his own. He can actually get to know them, see faces and create an intimate atmosphere.
During his first performance he spied a family in the front row with their 12-year old son. Toogood encouraged him to buy a guitar, join a band and be a rock star.
“I’m not sure the parents were thrilled about that,” he laughs.
“I had people sitting on the stage with me – I loved it. As soon as I came off stage I rang my booking agent – I love this – book me a bunch of shows. I want it to be intimate, I want to see people’s faces and I want to be able to play guitar and sing and that sort of atmosphere.”
It’s definitely not the end of Shihad, he says, but this is what he wants to do right now.
He reckons the FVEY album was their strongest in years – it energised the band and made them think about what the next record is going to sound like.
Beyond the music, last year Toogood married Sudanese woman Dana Salih and they now have a nine-week-old son called Yahia, which is Arabic for John.
“Being a dad is the hardest thing I have ever done – it is more challenging than going on tour and I have a new-found respect for parents. Sleep deprivation is used as torture – it makes you go insane but you get a smile out of the little guy – he’s beautiful.”
The series of events – marriage, his father passing away and having his own son – has had a profound effect on him.
“It will have an effect on how I write, without a doubt.”
Jon Toogood plays The Sherwood tomorrow night, 8pm, R18, general admission $40