Shihad

Through-out the mid to late 90s there was no debying that a skinny 4-piece from Wellington called Shihad was new zealand’s most popular band. Big guitars, short solos and simple drumming the order of the day, Shihad was built around Jon Toogood’s minute frame, and supported by Phil Knight, Tom Larkin and Karl Kippenberger (one of the few New Zealand bands to retain their original line-up through-out a long career).

A change did come though when Shihad became Pacifier – as their original moniker was thought to be a little too close to comfort for the boys to attack the United States (who were reeling in the wake of September 11th, and ‘Jihad’ was being thrown around a little too regularly). Unfortunately their name wasn’t all that was changing – over the years Shihad’s sound has been streamlined, condensed into an on/off faucet of a-typical ‘rock’, losing much of the raw, punky edge they once possessed (the Derail EP being a stand-out for me) – one might say ‘Pacified’ by their ambition to break american audiences.

In September 2004 Pacifier reverted to their original moniker, finally seeing the error in their ways while preparing their latest album.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Devolve Ep [1991 Pagan Pag1073]
  • Churn [1993 Wildside 30968]
  • Derail Ep [1994 Wildside 11687]
  • You Again Ep [1995 Wildside 11]
  • Kiljoy [1995 Wildside D31340]
  • Gimme Gimme Ep [1995 Wildside 11983]
  • Happy Families Ep [With The Sml And Head Like A Hole 1995 Noise 0258-3]
  • Shihad [1996 Wildside]
  • B-Side Ep [1996 Wildside]
  • ‘Flaming Soul’/’Gates Of Steel’ 7″ Single [1996 9ir] Rn
  • Blue Light Disco Ep [1998 Wildside]
  • The General Electric [1999 Wildside]
  • Pacifier [As Pacifier 2002 Wildside]
  • Live Compilation Double-Lp [As Pacifier 2004 Warners 2564611272]

See-Also

The SML

The SML was the combined forces of Shihad (later to become Pacifier) members Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin, with Head Like A Hole vocalist Nigel Regan – a combo that released an album, EP and split a release with their parents band, and made appearances on both bands european tours in the mid 90s.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Mixdown’ Cd Single [1995 Wildside D693]
  • Is That It? [1995 Wildside D31374]

See-Also

Throw

Biography

The strange and confusing career of Throw has spawned some of the more successful and impressive releases for the Failsafe label. The band sprung from Failsafe boss Rob Mayes desire to create a studio based song writing ensemble which would have a transitional line-up as the song required.

In late 91 Mayes enlisted drummer Steve Birss again, the pair having patched things up (once again) after Birss’s split from Dolphin in early 1990. Birss had been playing in British influenced four piece Elevation (with David Hunt – guitar, Dylan – bass and Jeremy Talyor – guitar and vocals).

Taylor was enlisted for Throw to add vocals and guitar and in mid 91 Throw did their first ‘rehearsal’ , nutting out a few ideas which were to spawn the tracks ‘Honeyblonde’, ‘Time untied’ and ‘Blinder’. The next week the band recorded their practice and sent away the three songs to the QEII Arts Council for grant consideration.

At the end of that week Throw performed their first gig in support of Naked Lunch at a private party, followed the next week by supports for The Bats and Breathing Cage. Throw quickly built up a strong set of material and in the space of a few weeks had penned the 17 songs which became their stable set.

A month later Throw were headlining their own show at the Dux de Lux followed by a trip to Wellington with co-Christchurch bands Naked Lunch and Loves Ugly Children, playing a gig at the new Carpark to average attendance, and an Upper Hutt show to 6 locals and a bunch of locals who hung out in the other bar, who didn’t like anything you couldn’t ride your motor bike to. Throw also picked up one extra show at hip and happening venue Bar Bodega with ex-Christchurch man Nigel Mitchell’s new outfit, now Wellington based.

This proved to be a luck move for Throw, impressing the local crowd and particularly bar owner Fraser McInnes who took a strong liking to the band and immediately booked them to perform again. McInnes championing of Throw would spill over to Taylor’s post Throw project Cinematic, resulting in Bodega releasing the bands first album.

The Throw project in effect snowballed away from the original intention of keeping the line-up fluid and studio based and the Mayes/Birss/Taylor line-up found themselves heavily occupied with recording and performing over the next 12 months. After the initial rush had died down the band hit some internal political problems with singer Taylor wanting to claim full song writing credit for all material.

Mayes objected to this on the grounds that at least half of the bands music was written or originated from Mayes ideas, and all the material the band performed was worked on and contributed to by all members. Taylor being somewhat of a jukebox for modern pop songs, if he has heard a song he can most times play a version of it.

Taylor later conceded sometimes he couldn’t remember which stuff he’d written and which stuff he’d memorized from music he’d heard. This proves to be somewhat of a problem for the band during writing stages for the group as tunes initiated by Taylor sometimes bore strong resemblance’s to music Taylor had recently heard, and in some cases to Mayes own material he had presented at previous rehearsals.

After a few months of heated contemplation the songs were eventually registered with 1/3 credit to taylor/Mayes/Birss, but the situation had led Birssto limit his commitment to the project and Birsswould now only perform in Christchurch, and for recordings. Mayes enlisted Caroline Easther to drum for the bands North Island shows, Mayes being a fan of Easther’s drumming since her days in Beat Rhythm Fashion, through to The Chills, Verlaines, and Easther’s own band.

Relations with Taylor continued to strain, perhaps due to Throws instant success, something both Mayes and Birss had been used to with their work in Dolphin, but the young Taylor (20) had difficulty with, falling foul of the rock and roll ego syndrome.

Taylor, Mayes and Birss shoot a video for the lead track ‘Wishes from her heart’ on the forthcoming ‘All different things’ EP at the picturesque Castle Hill, the band perched precariously on rock top, during intermittent snow and sunshine. Throw continued to perform around the country working to ward their Arts Council Fund debut EP release. Throw’s work with Taylor culminated in a series of concerts building up to the release of the ‘All different things’ EP.

Taylor and Mayes played shows in Hamilton and Auckland (Powerstation with Semi Lemon Kola and The Nixons) with Easther drumming. These shows were followed by a Wellington date with Easther and a Palmerston North show as two piece with drums on backing tape, at the Feast of Stevens own EP release party. Throw were joined by Feasties drummer Glen Fletcher for the last song of their set away, a tense controlled number.

Fletcher had that day committed himself to a psychiatric hospital for mental stress, leaving the Feast of Stevens to spring him for their gig. Throw started ok with “away” but by the end of it the song was racing out of control, leaving everyone present much amused.

Taylor and Mayes drive back to Wellington straight after their Palmerston North set and find themselves at Bar Bodega with a small crowd of people and so play their two piece line-up set to excellent response. Mayes and Taylor return to Christchurch to prepare for their EP release concerts which entail a release party at Mainstreet Cafe where the band were to perform in a stripped back fashion as opposed to their normally full on power gigs, and a concert at the Dux de Lux.

Tension between Mayes and Taylor had been brewing progressively over the previous few gigs and the situation came to a head on the day of their Mainstreet Cafe release party, resulting in Taylor refusing to attend. Throw played their last performance in the original line up at the Dux at the end of September with the band not saying a word to each other throughout the gig. Mayes takes the next few months to work on the album, finishing off the songs the band had laid the basic tracks down for at the time of recording the EP.

The album is finished in mid 1994 with initial singles being released to New Zealand on Air for inclusion on the ‘Kiwi Hit Disc’ series. Taylor’s desire to pursue his solo song writing leads him to form Cinematic and he recruits bassist James Gutherie, guitarist – and drummer Steve Birss. Cinematic go on to record and release a debut album with that line-up, followed by a further two albums in the mid to late 90s. ‘Falling inside me’ is released as a single backed with ‘Freefall’ and receives a video grant from New Zealand on Air.

The video is directed by Jonathon King and features Auckland actress Rebecca wandering round Auckland rooftops looking pouty and plaintive. The finished video is some way away from the brief given to King. A still from the video is used for the ‘Rememory’ album cover. In march 95 the ‘Rememory’ album is released. ‘Nowhere near’ is released as a single backed with ‘Time untied’, a track with it’s origins in Taylor and Birss’s previous band Elevation. The track also receives an NZ on Air video grant, the video being directed by film maker David Reid.

Mayes is again unimpressed with the directors interpretation of the bands music, the finished video result being some sort of a yuppy pool room love story. In June 95 Throw get another video grant this time for the track ‘Honeyblonde’. Mayes decides to work with camera man Brett Nicols and director and animator Gregg Page who had worked on the springloader video. Mayes also attends the film shoot and assists page on the video which is an animated claymation performance based video, showing the band performing as clay figures.

The video was nominated for a New Zealand music award as best music video, along with videos from Supergroove and Shihad. In August 95 ‘All different things’ receives a video grant and Page and Nicols again make a video for this track, based on the story of a scientist who creates a three piece band to perform a love song to impress a girl.

Mayes shifts to London in November 95 and continues to work on material for the follow-up album, ‘Dream baby good-bye’, which features unreleased re-worked material from the original 1992 sessions as well as recently recorded material.
– Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records

Members

  • Rob Mayes
  • Jeremy Taylor (Guitar/Vocals)
  • Steve Birss (Drums)
  • Caroline Easther (Drums)

Discography

  • Falling Inside You Single (Failsafe Records)
  • All Different Things EP (1992 Failsafe Records)
  • Rememory (1995, Failsafe Records)
  • Nowhere Near Single (1995, Failsafe Records)
  • Dream Baby Goodbye (1995, Failsafe Records)

Links

Wildside

Former Rip It Pp editor Murray Cammick formed Wildside in 1991, releasing material from Wellington acts Freak Power, Second Child and Rumblefish, but didn’t really become the icon of Wellington hard rock it was in the mid 90s until both Head Like A Hole and Shihad (who later changed their name to Pacifier then reverted back again) released their Wildside debuts.

With 2 of the biggest names in New Zealand rock under their belts (not to mention the likes of the Dead Flowers, and Christchurch act Pumpkinhead), Wildside cruised through the 90s, with album after album of high-quality hard rock.

Compilation Discography
Picks In Bold

  • Raw 1 [1995]
  • The Best Of Wildside [2002]

Contact Details

  • Wildside Email [Contact Email]
  • Wildside Records
  • Po Box 7012
  • Wellesley St
  • Auckland
  • New Zealand [Postal Address]

147 Swordfish

One of the crop of great bands to surface for 1992’s Operation Music Storm competition 147 Swordfish made the finals coming second and impressing judges and audience with their well crafted sound and strongly melodic undercurrent. Songs like ‘love’ are upliftingly pop while other tracks such as ‘Hang’ drive solidly with it’s distorted bass backbone and deep ringing guitars. 147 Swordfish are melodic and smooth or poundingly tough depending on where in the song you catch them – definitely dynamic. The band consisted of David Wernham (Guitar/Vocals), Mark Tyler (Bass), Dave Deacons (Drums).

The band cut an unusual shape live with the wiry frame of Tyler standing motionless to the right, Deacons animatedly enjoying playing drums, and the hulking figure of Wernham looming over his guitar, usually extruding rivers of sweat. The band recorded 7 songs with Rob Mayes and Failsafe records for the Avalanche and Good Things project. 2 songs were left unfinished and one track remains unreleased. The band were recorded live which included a version of sublime new song ‘Freeze’, also unreleased.

Dave Wernham was at times a difficult character to deal with, but there was no denying his deft hang with a cool melody and driving song. The band were performing a number of excellent songs before they gave up 147 Swordfish for other projects, Tyler and Deacon to Salmonella Dub and Wernham to his sound engineering, eventually touring with bands like Shihad. As good a live engineer as Dave Wernham is it’s a loss to the pop world that he hasn’t pursued his song writing any further. the bands last performances were in 1994.
-Rob Mayes (Failsafe)

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also