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  SCOTT ADAMS: TERROR AUSTRALIS

INTERVIEW WITH SHAI HULUD


scott adams

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I meet ShaiHulud guitarist Matt Fox at the Melbourne instalment of 2013's Soundwave festival. After we swap mutually admiring comments on one another's top-half attire (me resplendent in an Angel Witch shirt, he rocking a particularly splendid MDC number) it's time to get down to business.

And, as the affable six stringer settles down at our sundrenched interview bench I remark that I myself can't find anything but good things to say about new album Reach Beyond the Sun, and nor, it would seem, does anyone else – what about you, Matt – you pleased with it?

"Yes, mostly. I mean, it takes me a while to be happy with anything but I'm probably more happy with this one than a lot of the records we've done in a long time. So yes. But it depends how I'm listening to it. If I'm listening to it casually – if someone else has it on – I can appreciate it. But if I decide to listen to it myself…I'll pick out all the flaws and what might be inconsequential to someone else to me sounds like a glaring mistake. So I try not to give too much attention to it, otherwise I focus on what I think are the problems."

Article continues below...

   


The record to me sounds like the quintessential (if that's not too grandiose a word to use here) Shai Hulud album. If somebody came to me and hadn't heard you before I could play them this record and it seems like there's something of everything about you in it. Would you agree with that?

"Yes, I think that's a good way to see it. And that was the goal. We wanted this album to be very varied from the outset. So that's always cool when you have a plan or a mission and you accomplish it. That doesn't happen to us very often! We managed to incorporate a lot of different sounds that we've touched on in the past and get them all on record. So yes, if I had to give somebody the quote-unquote 'quintessential' – not to use that word again- record, it would be this one. To introduce us to somebody else, it would be this one."

How does that come about then, how does Reach Beyond the Sun become that record? What are the circumstances that allow you to reach this point? Is it Chad (Gilbert, the band's long departed vocalist, now of New Found Glory, who returned to sing on this record) coming back?

"You mean the varied nature of the record? That had nothing to do with Chad. It was the goal for a while and I think it had a lot to do with the albums in the past, which I don't think ever fully nailed what we wanted to do. You know, on the first album (1997s 'Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion') we were kids, and a lot of the stuff was worked out the night before... you know we didn't know what the hell we were doing!

"On the second album ('That Within Blood Ill-Tempered' from 2003) we'd learned a lot about music; and we put everything on it, we slaved over every note. Similarly on the third album (the 2008 effort 'Misanthropy Pure') we had a goal to be extremely harsh and pissed; Not only on the songs but in the spaces between the songs!... everything had to be (and at this point Fox starts punching his right fist into his left palm) extremely harsh and pissed sounding.

"So on all the albums we had all these goals... and the goal for each album was coming on the tail of the record before it, it was pre-determined by the record before it. All of that said, when we came to do this album we took a step back and said 'what is it we are trying to do? Our bass player, who wasn't in the studio with us when we did 'Misanthropy Pure'... the guy that produced it (Greg Thomas) and myself, when left to our own devices we'd get out our protractors and start saying 'this isn't harsh enough, it's not tricky enough' so we'd take what would normally be a normal Shai Hulud song and we turned it into what became 'Misanthropy Pure', which was a lot more technical, quite a few shades away from what we really are.

"And so this time – and I hope I'm answering your question with all of this – our bass player Matthew Fletcher said let's just be ourselves. Let's write things and not think they aren't tricky enough, don't worry that it's not smart enough, which is a problem I have with this stuff.

"Because when I write something, you know, I know what a moron I am so when I write a guitar part I think it can't be ready to go, know what I mean? So if I'm writing something I need to spend time on it because I know that there are a lot of people who care about ShaiHulud's music and I want to give them the best. So that's my take on it. When I write I don't just fart something out and say here you go everybody. I tend to want to work on it.

"And I guess if there was any one circumstance it was all of us deciding not to overwork and overwrite everything. Let's pull from all the styles of riffs we write. There were a couple of songs that were going to go on the record that ended up being left off because they were too similar. They'll end up on another record. And that's roughly – if you can understand anything I just said – how we came to decide upon the content and the approach to 'Reach Beyond The Sun'."

Do you find that a painful process?

"I find everything painful. Actually, joking aside, that's not the painful part, that's actually quite fun, sifting through the material, deciding which songs go on the record... almost every other part of recording the album was painful but that part was pretty cool."

Well, the record is out now, however painful it's gestation period was – are you happy with the response to it so far?

"I can't even believe it. I'm not expecting we'll be the biggest band ever, or that things are going to suddenly change for us but I don't think I've seen such anoverwhelmingly positive response for anything we've ever done. I don't know if I should really admit this... but I don't even know how genuine it is. I know how people are, certain bands can fart or shit something out and it gets hailed as genius..."

There's a lot of that going on at this very festival!

"There's a lot of that going on everywhere, all the time! So I'm thinking did that happen to us? Did the right few periodicals hear it ahead of time, really liked it and everyone else kind of fell in line? So, I hope it's all genuine, I hope everyone really did listen to the album and came away thinking this is great! It's always nice to have someone be nice to you and like I said I don't think anything we've ever done has received this many kind comments, flattering comments, but if they are sincere or not I'm extremely grateful!"

When you have those concerns it all boils down to how the people who pay to see you live are enjoying it doesn't it? Presumably the punters are enjoying what they are hearing?

"Oh yes. Live we're terrible though. I'm just kidding. I'm kind of kidding – you see that's the trouble with the music industry, you're not allowed to tell the truth. Everybody yells at me and says 'don't tell the truth!'

You're laughing whilst you say this of course, but it actually touches on a few things that you yourself said in a questionnaire I read that you amswered, 'My 2012'.

"I'm not sure if I remember exactly what I wrote."

Well amongst other things you commented on the insidious nature of 'our industry' and you were effusive in your praise of (Accept guitarist) Wolf Hoffmann and (Testament axe God) Alex Skolnick.

"Oh, now I remember!"

So how does this dissatisfaction with the status quo not just turn you into a jaded old hack, given your concerns? I know you don't want to go overboard about how pleased you are with the reaction to the album, but how do you react to people who've said you were rubbish in the past turning round and saying 'this is great!?

"That's a good question! You do get pretty annoyed. Jaded is a word I try and stay away from simply because it's so prevalent. I think after about the age of twenty eight, whether you're like it or not, whether you are or not, you're considered jaded. So I try not to go with that word, but for years I feel we've been overlooked, I feel like we've been set aside. And it doesn't make me jaded, but it annoys me, and It pisses me off because I know how much the band cares, how much truth, mind, heart and energy we put into every record, so why this one?

"Going back to what we said is this one better than the others? Maybe it is. I hope so because it's my favourite thus far. And there's also the aspect of Chad Gilbert coming back. Next time, will we write our best album yet and the reaction is 'aaahh... I preferred 'Reach Beyond The Sun'?

"I'm not the kind of guy who gets jaded. We've been pretty much overlooked ever since the band began and that will never quell the excitement of a new good riff. A new good riff is always a new good riff, and you still get excited the first time you play it, the first time it's committed to tape. When the purity of the music is there, you can't be jaded. Unless of course you are in music for the wrong reasons which ShaiHulud is not. I hope that answers your question."

It has. Thank you. But I've got one more, and even though I'm reasonably sure I know what part of the answer is I'm going to answer it. It's the ubiquitous festival lineup question – given the chance to programme the top five bands at next year's Soundwave, who would you pick? I'm guessing Accept might be one of them...

"Well, I don't know that I would have thought of it on the fly... I love old Accept, but I hate to say it – sorry Udo fans - but man, new Accept is just FUCKING KILLING! I can't even listen to 'Restless And Wild' anymore because 'Stalingrad' and 'Blood Of The Nations' are incredible."

Even when Mark Tornillo was in TT Quick he had a great voice.

"I'm not familiar with TT Quick."

Ah, well, they were a New York based hard rock band in the eighties. There's a track on their 'Metal Of Honor' album, 'Child Of Sin', where he sounds exactly like Udo. I don't know whether someone slipped that album to Wolf and said 'he's your man'.

"Well I don't know about that but to answer your question, since you brought it up yes! Let's say Accept, let's say Testament, let's say Propagandhi – one of my favourites – let's say MDC – are they still around?"

It doesn't matter. They'll reform for you.

"Will Freddie Mercury come back from the dead?"

Yes.

"Ok, Queen, the Dead Milkmen, Megadeth would be up there – oh, wait, you know who would be great? Candlemass!

A great way to end, I'm sure you'll agree. I did want to talk a little about Fox's beloved New Jersey pizzas, but time as ever was not the friend of this humble interviewer, and it'll have to wait for next time – but it will be talked about, I promise!


15.4.13


More Scott Adams right here.





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"We were all born within a mile or so from the hallowed Boleyn ground and have all stood on the terraces through snow, rain and sunshine from a very early age."

ac/dc AC/DC RELEASE TICKET REFUND DETAILS FOR MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
If you don't want a refund, then we'll see you at The Olympic Stadium in London as we think we're about to witness a major piece of rock history...

deep purple IAN PAICE AND DON AIREY SCHEDULE SOLO EUROPEAN DATES AS 2016 DEEP PURPLE TOUR APPROACHES
Deep Purple are kicking off their 2016 tour next month in Japan, before heading to Israel, Russia and Europe in June and July.

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT TO RELEASE 'THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE LIVE IN LIVERPOOL', HIS ACOLYTE TO 'WOLFLIGHT' WITH GENESIS REVISITED TOUR
"Besides, it's not as if Liverpool is known for having any good music – there's never been a good band from there. Ha!"

lacuna coil LACUNA COIL LAUNCH NEW ALBUM TITLE TRACK 'DELIRIUM'
Lacuna Coil will be making their much-anticipated return to North America as part of the 'Delirium Worldwide' tour starting in San Francisco on May 7th

bibeau YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE BAND BIBEAU OFFER THEIR FIRST SINGLE/VIDEO, 'MARK THIS'
"We were also hoping to convey the look, feel and flow of some of the classic, timeless rock and metal videos from the height of MTV's popularity..."

virginmarys THE VIRGINMARYS ANNOUNCE HEADLINE UK TOUR FOR JUNE 2016
"It's going to be so great to get back in front of our home fans again, and really important to us to play some of the towns we've been wanting to come back to..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK TO HEADLINE THE RETRIBUTION ALIVE ROAD TRIP IN MAY
"They toured with Motörhead in the 80s, including four sold out shows at the Hammersmith Odean and I have to say, we're pretty excited about this!"

headbangers ball ICED EARTH AND ENSIFERUM TO HEADLINE MTV HEADBANGERS BALL TOUR 2016: FULL DATES HERE
"So brace yourselves for the ultimate Metal experience of a lifetime! See you in front row!"

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK ADDS MORE BANDS, DETAILS METAL 2 THE MASSES FINALS AND ANNOUNCES FIRST NEW BLOOD STAGE WINNERS
Bloodstock HQ is readying to send Team M2TM out on the road for the finals, but in the meantime, there's a few more band additions to the August bill

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN DATES FOR JULY/AUGUST IN SUPPORT OF NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'MAKE SOME NOISE'
The Dead Daisies, the biggest new name in Rock, have just recently announced the addition of Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) as their new lead guitar player

wolf hoffmann WOLF HOFFMANN TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'HEADBANGERS SYMPHONY' ON JULY 1st
"I have always incorporated classical music in my song writing with Accept, especially with 'Metal Heart', but I constantly felt there was so much more that I could do..."

jaegermeister JÄGERMEISTER RELEASE FULL DOCUMENTARY OF WORLD'S FIRST MUSIC GIG ON AIR, SEA AND LAND
"We go bigger every year and because of the nature of this world first this gig was not only a test of friendship but one of supporting each other too..."

john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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