Shihad: the more things change, the more they stay the same
It’s been 20 years since Shihad released their breakthrough self-titled album, fondly known as the Fish Album. The world is different now, but how has Shihad changed? Music Insight caught up with guitarist Phil Knight mid-tour to find out.
MI: How’s the FVEY tour going?
PK: Great. It’s the second show tonight in Perth. We’re supposed to be going to soundcheck now, but we’re waiting for our sound man to do his hair.
MI: How much guitar smashing can we expect this time around?
PK: None. We like our nice guitars too much now. Jon [Toogood] used to smash his old brand of guitars years ago, but he’s very happy with his Fender guitars now. He smashes on the inside now.
MI: When you look back at where you were as a band when the Fish Album was recorded 20 years ago, how do you think you’ve changed?
PK: I was skinnier then. Or I’m fatter now. I’m a better player for sure. We did a lot of experimenting on that album and some of it worked and some of it didn’t. That process then set us up for knowing exactly what we really wanted out of the next album, The General Electric.
MI: With your ninth album recorded just last year, can fans expect a tenth?
PK: Yep. We’ve just started writing some more very heavy music. We jammed out and recorded 21 instrumental ideas the week before we left for this tour. We still love making beautiful sweet music together. With our clothes on.
MI: What’s your favourite Shihad song?
PK: Who is my favourite child, you ask? So many. I’m really enjoying playing Think You’re So Free and Living Dead off FVEY at the moment. But it’s been fun to bring back the lesser played songs off the Fish Album, like Yr’ Head Is A Rock, Ghost from the Past and La La Land. I really enjoyed playing Pacifier last night.
MI: Why did you decide to start writing your blog What’s Phil worried about today?
PK: I guess, like most people who think they have a unique perspective to offer, I thought it world be of interest to some people to share my experiences of navigating my up and down journey as a professional musician who deals with mental illness. And to also be part of the movement to de-stigmatise living with anxiety, panic disorder and depression.
MI: Do you think you’d be more or less creative if you worried less?
PK: It’s hard to say. I think I am more creative when my anxiety is better maintained and kept at bay. Worrying and catastrophising about irrational threats is such a waste of my time and energy that is better spent creating music, videos or spending quality time with my family. But I think my sometimes skewed interpretation of reality is because my mind functions in a different way to the other guys in my band. And thereby, when we create music together, I am able to hear parts that they would never think of, and vice versa.
MI: When you changed your name temporarily to Pacifier all those years ago, did you think the world would still be struggling with the same issues more than a decade later?
PK: Yeah, I never thought so-called terrorism was going to go away overnight. But if you have big powers bombing, killing and destroying people’s lives for decades, of course some of the disenfranchised people on the fringes are going to react in violent ways. This world needs love. And there is love out there. There’s just no motive for the mainstream media to report it.
MI: What’s something not many people know about Shihad?
PK: We’re still very silly teenaged boys on the inside. It seems to be the dynamic that we fall back into every time we get back together in a studio or on the road. The banter is all about farts and silly things, who’s being a knob and whatever stupid thing Phil is worried and obsessing about at the time. Those three guys have a great knack of seeing the funny side in my catastrophic anxieties. It helps, mostly. Sometimes they make me feel like an idiot. And sometimes they’re right. Ha.