the AU interview: Karl Kippenberger of Shihad (NZ)

Shihad, Karl Klippenberger, nz, The AU Review

Aside from Karl from Shihad’s jealousy of Australia having morning cartoons, he is extremely into our supportive music scene and has great insight into it from his 20 years in the band. Buckle up and enjoy.

NL: Hi Karl, are you in Australia at the moment?

Karl (bass): Yeah we’re back at home in Melbourne.

How was your show on Wednesday with KoRn and Guns ‘n’ Roses?

We had a good one; it was so hot up there. The crowd was really good but yeah, it was fun. KoRn got a new drummer who is bloody awesome, it was good to see them play and god, Guns ‘n’ Roses (laughs) they eventually got on stage and all I wanted to hear was Night Train and they played it so I was happy.

What do you expect from the rest of your shows with KoRn and Guns ‘n’ Roses?

They should be good. The crowds are going to be big, we think we’re getting along with the crew which always helps. We actually know one of the crew guys for KoRn, he used to be with Faith No More and we toured with them in 1995 in Europe. It’s not so much about getting the band to like the support act; it’s more like making the crew like the support because they’re the ones who are going to throw your gear on. It’s been good so far, so I think the rest should be the same. Were also looking forward to the sideshows we’re doing with KoRn as well, that’s this week as well.

This tour follows your tour of your albums Killjoy and General Electric. Why did you decide to play these two albums?

Well, looking back at our previous eight records I suppose those two records in particular stand out. Killjoy was when we went to Europe and we supported Faith No More, we played heaps of those songs on the first tour we did with the Big Day Out. It was kind of a record that was liked by a lot of the international artists. General Electric was definitely Australia’s Shihad record, around that time we were one of the few bands who did the Big Day Out two years on a row. It was built for live that record. If you talk to a lot of hardcore Shihad fans, they’ll pick one of those two records as their favorite records.

I see this year at Big Day Out Shihad is playing General Electric. Why aren’t you guys playing your newest album Ignite?

I suppose because we did that tour earlier in the year and when we were talking to the Big Day Out organizers about what we wanted to do, Big Day Out is always looking for something different and since we’ve done the Big Day Out so often it was just something that they thought was a good idea coming off the tour that we did earlier in the year. I do regard General Electric as having a significant part to do with the Big Day Out. I still remember the Channel V footage of the 2000 Big Day Out, when I think Chilli Peppers played, there was some footage of a couple of our songs and the crowd was just gynormous. So I think it makes sense to play that album. Every band obviously wants to play their newest album when they’ve released it, but at the same time it will keep it a bit of fun for us (playing General Electric) and a trip down memory lane for others.

What do you think of the Australian music scene at the moment and over the past 20 years?

One thing that Australia has had over New Zealand since I’ve been touring over here (Australia) is youth support and things like Triple J and Rage, living in Australia we take those things for granted. I don’t listen to too much Triple J these days and at the same time there’s a whole bunch of young kids growing up listening to it. The big thing that Triple J has is the regional kids, the kids that bands don’t go to their towns to play and not much is happening out there and to have some type of music channel to channel that stuff. If you talk to a lot of Aussie bands they’ll tell the same story, coming to Australia and listening to Triple J and it all opening up. Having those things in place are really supportive and important in this country.

I haven’t really realized how lucky we’ve got it over here.

Yeah totally, it makes sense that you haven’t because it has always been there. I remember coming over to Oz when I was about ten and stuff and I remember Rage being on, but I was more interested in the fact that you got cartoons on TV from about six in the morning which we didn’t have in New Zealand either which pissed me off. These things have really helped give Australia this vibe of local music and given people out in the country a chance to hear bands that are coming out of Australia, which is really good for development. There are a lot of shit bands here but there are also a lot of good bands and all the good stuff will always come to the surface. It’s completely normal for any industry to have a plethora of average bands and big gaps between the good ones, but now there is Idol everywhere in the world.

Fuck Idol! Let’s talk about your new album Ignite and how it reached number one in New Zealand.

Yeah well that made us happy, pity it only lasted a week though. We went and wrote another record and we didn’t really have any pre-requisite of what it was going to be like. I mean, you’ve got to get your head down, record, run out of time, get it out there and it’s great that it debuted at number one in New Zealand. It’s been an interesting year, we got nominated into the New Zealand Hall Of Fame this year as well which is quite bizarre, but at the same time it is great.

I was reading an interview where you said that it is weird being inducted into the Hall Of Fame now when you really envision that as something that will happen at the end of your career.

Well yeah, you do don’t you. Totally. I always imagined that if we were going to get into the hall of fame it would have been one of those things where the band get back together, we’ve been split up for a few years, we haven’t seen each other for years, we’d have a party and a kind of reminisce. But this way it kind of happened when we released a new record, and then we tour for the next six months. So in that way it was strange but at the same time we are extremely thankful. It really is an honor to be acknowledged like that. Now I know how Jimmy Barnes felt when I was at the ARIAs when he got his.

(Both in hysterics)

You recorded your new album Ignite on your own. How long did this process take and was it more difficult than doing it with someone else?

I was surprised that we finished it on time really. Usually you’d have an outside producer and it would be their responsibility for it to be finished in time you know. We’re not the best time managers in the world. We were running it pretty fine, but that’s the thing, you never want to release a rushed album because in the end you live with that recording for the rest of your life. We worked really hard. Tom was at the production because it was his studio (that’s our drummer) there wasn’t much sleep going on, lets put it that way. I was doing all the album artwork as well as the bass. So we were all very busy. But we did it, we finished it off. It sounds great and it’s the second album that we’ve done in Tom’s studio now.

Do you think that it is more fulfilling that you did it yourself?

I think so man. It’s a logical progression as well I mean we sort of dabbled in doing a lot of our own stuff in the past, but this was our first fully realized Shihad record by Shihad. It really helped having Tom’s studio as well. It was just a natural progression to do it ourselves.

After 20 years of constant touring, where do you find the motivation to keep going?

We all really get along, as much as we fight, we get along. It all comes down to relationships just like any job. Like, if you don’t get on with your boss………well, that’s quite common isn’t it (laughs).

So you’re all good mates?

Yeah yeah we are. We’re pretty honest with each other. If anyone’s ego starts cutting loose, there’s always three other guys to tell them how shit they are or whatever. We kind of help each other on the ground and keep thing a bit more real I guess which has kind of helped over the years. We manage our time better now so that when we’re not doing Shihad stuff we’re off doing stuff by ourselves so that when we come back to Shihad we’re like ‘Oh, good to see you.’ We really enjoy being in each other’s company.
Why did you change your name from Shihad to Pacifier?

Well we were living in LA at the time, that’s an answer in itself really, and September 11 just happened the day before we started pre-production on the record, which we stopped, seems the whole world stopped. Back in New Zealand and Australia thing were different. In America 9/11 we’d go down to rent some movies out and the guy would say (in an American accent) ‘you guys look like you’re in a band, what’s the name?’ and we’d go ‘Shihad’ and they’d say ‘whaaaat that’s a weird name.’ After 9/11 they would kind of question it like ‘like Jihad?’ As far as Americans were concerned our name was related to Jihad you know, a holy war. Things like radio stations were saying ‘I don’t care how good this band is, we’re not going to play that,’ because they weren’t going to say that name on air.

Did that affect your following at all?

In America we were still quite young in the 90s and we were virtually unknown over there so as far as they were concerned they didn’t know any better but, in New Zealand and Australia obviously we weren’t as sensitive to the whole situation. We were already an entity in Australia and New Zealand where in America it looked like we were jumping on the Holy War bandwagon. We also met a guy who was in a band called Sonic Jihad who was getting death threats who was getting death threats through email. I think one of Rob Zombie’s managers wanted to get us an opening band for a Rob Zombie tour, in the end it all came down to the fact that they didn’t want to put our name on the poster. So, when these things were happening when we were a new band, we either changed our name or we were on a plane home and we had to re-think where we were going to record our new record. So, after 12 years of trying to get to America and trying to make stuff happen over there, we got to a strange situation and we decided that we didn’t want to go back home, we wanted to stay in America so we had to change our name. It hurt the whole time and still continues to. People will say it was a bas move, but at the time we had to, it wasn’t lightly thought of, we argued a lot about it we thought that there was no other option.

Up soon you have a DVD Documentary being released, after this what’s next for Shihad?

Yeah so that comes out next year some time, it’s a cinema release doco actually, which might be scary.

It is being released in every cinema?

Well I know it’s being released as a complete cinema release in New Zealand, so there might be official screenings in Australia because it was made for the big screen.

Well, we have some touring to do, we’ll probably be touring right up to sort of middle next year and take a few months off before the movie comes out. We’ve already started talking about maybe at the beginning of 2012 we’ll get together and start writing a new record. So, things are still happening in the Shihad camp.

Thanks Karl. Have a good day mate.


Shihad kick off their new run of tour dates later this week.

Click HERE for all the details....