By MATTHEW MCKEW
If you’d expected one of New Zealand’s most well-known bands to mellow as the years went by, you’re in for a shock.
All things going well with the trans-Tasman bubble, Shihad will be storming the stage at Coronet Peak later this month.
The thrash metal band’s due to drop their latest and tenth album any day now, with guitarist Phil Knight saying it’s heavier than ever — and probably angrier too.
‘‘It’s very in your face, we listened to a lot of Rage Against the Machine and stuff like that … Jon’s [vocalist Jon Toogood] lyrics are very political again, probably even more than the last album.’’
Their last major release was FVEY, back in 2014, and the new collection’s formed out of frustration at American politics and Toogood experiencing racism first-hand.
The lead singer and lyricist married Dana Salih — a Sudanese Muslim — in 2014 and the couple have since had children.
‘‘We wrote it since Trump came into power and Jon was watching that whole train wreck unfold,’’ Knight explains.
‘‘Jon watched the Black Lives Matter thing and he experienced a bit of racism in Australia … so I think the BLM movement had a big effect on him.’’
The album’s been building since 2016, when they first reconvened to thrash out some melodies, and Knight says their slow progress comes from the responsibilities of later life.
‘‘We’ve got busy lives outside of the band now … and Karl [Kippenberger] lives in New Zealand too … so we have to fly him over.
‘‘There wasn’t too much of a problem writing the music, with all our stuff we would write the instrumental music base and then Jon would go away and work on the lyrics, but around 2016 to 2018 I’d give him a call and ask how he was going … and he’d be folding nappies.’’
The band did find time to work on a cover of Split Enz’s I Got You last year and Knight’s proud of their efforts.
‘‘I sort of took on the Eddy Rayner keyboard part and played it on my guitar instead, and we put the typical Shihad drums and bass to it.’’
Most of Shihad live in Melbourne and have done since they signed for Warner Music Australasia in ’99 — when they shared a band house.
‘‘It was fun for a couple of months, but we had our girlfriends staying there too and there were various fights about who hadn’t done their dishes, so we got our own flats after that,’’ Knight recalls.
Thirty-three years after first coming together, Knight says Shihad still retain a burning passion to play live gigs.
‘‘When we were kids that’s what we dreamed about, as teenage lads, getting out on stage and playing as big a crowd as we could find.
‘‘It’s just the magic of band, that spiritual magic of the four of us playing together and that transmitting out to the crowd and seeing how they respond, yeah, it’s definitely my favourite part.’’
He’s particularly looking forward to the unusual setting of playing to a transient Coronet Peak crowd that switches between rocking out and night skiing.
Wanaka-based The Cloobs will open the free-entry gig on July 31, before Australian outfit Bodyjar warm the crowd ahead of Shihad’s headline performance.
Coronet Peak presents Shihad, Saturday, July 31, 4pm till 9pm. Night ski passes available from shop.coronetpeak.co.nz/night-ski