Sunday, September 29, 2013

SHAI HULUD interview

by marcs77

Pompano Beach, Florida's SHAI HULUD toured Europe by large last Spring joining Canada's skate-punkers Propagandhi on the UK/European leg of their Failed States tour 2013. This tour came definitely as a really good juicy chance for Shai Hulud to take the new record “Reach Beyond The Sun” on the European stages (they've got lot of full-house shows according to the people involved on this tour).
GOTANERVE-ZINE got the chance to seat down with guitarist Matt Fox -the only founder member still in the band since 1995- before the Milan show and have like an hour chat about their latest effort, the tour they were currently into, people misunderstanding some misanthropic, hatred and negative themes in their lyrics and T-Shirts arts, Chad Gilbert being back to collaborate with the band as singer and producer, today hardcore music, the movie they took inspiration from to name their band and some interesting down to earth stories about the band and who Matt is up and off stage. There's really lotta stuff really worth reading here so I'm not gonna keep this opening longer.

gan: Hi Matt, how're things? You guys are on tour right now...

ho...everything is goin very well. This is the first time we have the chance to tour with one of our favorite bands, you know, this time being Propagandhi. We toured with some of our favourite before. A couple of years ago we toured with Sick Off It All but Propagandhi was a band we never thought we'd have the chance to tour with and I'm really pleasantly surprised on this tour that people who love Propagandhi and don't know who we are seem to be very receptive with Shai Hulud so that's just an added bonus. I wasn't sure what to expect. Just coming on this tour and being able to tour with one of our favourite bands was good enough and the fact the we're doing well and people like our music makes things perfect. So the tour has been going extremely well and much better than I could have imagined.

gan: What about being in Italy? How's the kid reaction to your band over here?

It's always kinda dream coming to Italy. And I still now fifteen years later love coming here and fortunately we have friends in many different cities here and the shows are great. We think Italian people are extremely passionate and we see at the shows some of the most emotional and intense moments we have on tour had been in Italy so it's always a pleasure to come back. I wish we could spend more than just a night in Italy. I've really never had the chance to see Italy, you know, I see the neighborhoods of the venue but I don't think I really had real Italian food yet. That's a shame right?
I know it's always been food of the venue. So one day I wanna have like a day off in Italy so I can really experience it. But even with the little I experienced I still love.

gan: It seems like it takes the same time span to get a new album from you guys...

Yes, it's about five years

gan: I'm sure you put out new stuff when you have something you feel proud of and not just because you have to fit in the schedule writing/recording/touring but have the numerous line-up changes influenced the time in between albums?

No, I would say the member changes only seem to affect as a tour band. It never affects the time in between albums. For example last year we was supposed to come back to Europe in Summer and we didn't have a singer and we called up everyone we knew asking to fill in and no one was available. That was probably the first time in many many years we had to cancel a tour. But as far as music goes I write most of the music, you know, a good portion if not all of the lyrics so even there would be nobody else in the band I would still keep writing and when we recorded “That Within Blood Ill-Tempered" we didn't have a drummer we still recorded the know, I think when we were recording "Misanthropy Pure" we also didn't have a drummer or a guitar player and we recorded the album. This time we didn't have the singer and we still recorded the album. So I don't think the members changing has an affect on that. It doesn't affect the writing because myself and the bass player have been in the band for a long time. And like you said, and that's the true, we only put out music when we have something we think it's worth showing.
I wish we could stick to the routine you mentioned because it would make our life so much easier but the last thing we wanna do is put out an album that we think know, I don't want selling an album knowing that it sucks just to take their money and run. I'm proud of every album we've done so far. And every album we have out has some validity to it. So will not wanna break that chain. Who knows, maybe in two years we may have another album after this one but it depends on how naturally and how quickly everything comes but every five years seems to be that it's been going so far so...

gan: Being yourself in the band since day one, do you think you're the guy who has the vision how Shai Hulud should sound like?

I mean I have my how idea of what Shai Hulud would sound like but really I would say it's pretty much in an open form for anyone and not just people that are in the band...but even are friends, you know I mean, there's been times when one of us has been playing something and a friend of ours would say you should use that for Shai Hulud. So I don't know whether I myself or Matt Fletcher have this grand vision...I'm always asking to somebody that sorrounds the room, anyone that I think we could use this? I think so, no I don't think so...
So there's no specific vision that we wanna stick to. I think at least for us it's more fun to change the things on every album. But I think the core of the band is the same. We all come from the same places.

gan: What Shai Hulud means to you on a personal level?

I was talking about this the other day. Somebody asked me if I thought Shai Hulud would ever really end and at this point I don't think that it will because you asked what it means to me. I think that I've learned and I think that is for Matt as well that if we put our hearts and our souls into it that is really an extension of our personality, you know the some they write lyrics and they don't really mean anything and you can't really learn about the person reading the lyrics but I think people can learn alot about Shai Hulud by reading the lyrics. I've met people who have read the lyrics they feel like they know me and then we talk and we get a lot of this.
Shai Hulud is the things that I love, the things that I hate, the things that inspire me positively or negatively all go in Shai Hulud. You know some people when they're happy they go on facebook...they're sad...anything happens they go over facebook. Me I go to my guitar and I go to Shai Hulud so that's my facebook. Everybody needs something, I mean, an outlet to let it out so that's my facebook and it's been for 17 years. That's what I mean it really is my outlet for frustrations and not just for frustrations...and the happiness to share to whoever is interest in.

gan: Skipping on the lyrics theme. Have you sometimes being afraid some kids may not fully understand your lyrics? Shai Hulud has been dealing with themes like misanthropy and other darker and negative feelings and titled a record “Misanthropy Pure”. What about the risk of kids taking only the negative part missing the point behind your lyrics and views?

Yeah, I thought about it. I definitely thought about it.
It doesn't stop me from going my course because I think...the lyrics yeah there's some negativity to it but as you know there's just a depth of the words and optimism underneath everything and a well meaning in a lot of art. The lyrics turn more frustrating than they are misanthropic. They deal more with frustration than they do with hatred. So I don't worry too much about somebody only taking the negative things. I mean it happened before. I've seen it, you know, somebody I met...somebody way back just right after we put out our first 7” which was called “A Profound Hatred Of Man” and the guy shown me the tattoo that he had of that cover and he had me being a racist, you know, so “A Profound Hatred Of Man” is, you know, everybody else that wasn't know, and I just...hey okay! and I ran away...that it's not what I intended at all. So I think that's gonna happen with everything I sure somebody can watch the children show Sesame Street in America and come away with ideas of murder, you know what I mean? If you have a darker mind that goes into evil'll take what you want from anything and you'll make it your twisted, you know, people do that with the Bible...they do that with everything. There was another story I friend of mine was wearing our t-shirt and it said on the sleeves “Guild Of Misanthropy” and she was walking through the mall and some older guy, you know, probably in his 70's or so stopped her and said...I know what that word mean. Do you know what that word mean? And she said ya, guild of misanthropy, I mean it's like a group of hatred and the guy said that's very sad, that's very shameful that's not how the world should be. And when she told me the story I felt really horrible because obviously this guy who I don't blame at all, he doesn't know who Shai Hulud it is. All he saw was some girl running around with hatred on her sleeves and it hurt his feelings as a human being and when she told me the story it hurt my feelings too because I think if I went to a mall and I find some Shai Hulud Guild Of Misanthropy I say yeah because I know. But if I saw another band that had maybe something similar, you know, something to do with hatred, I might looking sad...that's so sad, what a shame... you know what I mean? So the hatred thing is touchy because you feel okay with it when you feel it. It's almost like when you're driving a're running and you trust yourself because you're in control but if I'm with you and you're driving I'm like...shit! I don't trust you. I trust me with hatred and I don't trust him with hatred and that's how I think I lot of people feel. So the idea of hatred is very interesting and very touchy from person to person.

gan: Let's talk about album sound production. I read an old interview dated 2008 and supposedly taken after the release of “Misanthropy Pure” and you were pointing out how happy you were with the more clean and let me say slick sound of the new record. What about Reaching Beyond The Sun? This time you had your old buddy Chad (Gilbert of New Found Glory) behind the board...

“Misanthropy Pure”, I think people listening to Shai Hulud didn't really care for that sound. I liked it a lot and still do because you can hear every guitar part and that was the of the goals on that record. The guy who produced it (Andy Sneap)...he knew how much was buried within the music on “That With in Blood Ill-Tempered”, the album before that, and he said...I know it's all there but you can't hear it nobody in the world can here it so he said with this album let's make sure everybody can hear everything. So he made sure to make it very clean. I love that fact I think it sounds great like a modern slick-produced metal record. And I love metal so...but being in a band rooted in hardcore punk this is not the sound people wanted to hear and I can understand it and I also do understand that Shai Hulud more emotion comes across in Shai Hulud when things are more organic. And after “Misanthropy Pure” Matt Flatcher said to me I don't the new album to sound like “Misanthropy Pure”. Let's make sure that things are more organic, natural...let the songs breath and give them like natural food. And when we started working with Chad he said the same things without having talked to Matt Flatcher and I agreed with both with them. We all wanted to do a great record and the best for Shai Hulud and I think we did as best a job as we could. I listened to the album and I think it's pretty salad I like it quite a bit. And everybody that hears it seems to be pretty into it too.

gan: And was it like to be back in studio with Chad after so many years?

It was fine. I mean, in the studio it was...I don't know...fifteen the last time I saw him he was a kid and now he's an adult. He's a grown up man with his own thoughts his own opinions so that was interesting because we still reacted to each other the way we did way back but now we are both different people so, you know, what it was time to work it was time to work when it was time to play it was time to play. It was fun he had to switch from producer role to vocal role and he was doing vocals basically I was the producer. I took me to Disney Land...I had my birthday there. It's nice to be working with people that you know instead of just making it like a business. And I was in California the weather was beautiful everyday the recording experience could have been a lot worse so I'm thankful that it did happen that way.

gan: Was it Metal Blade pushing you guys to involve Chad and work with him again?

No, no, they said as long as it sounds good do what you wanna do. I think Metal Blade at the end of the day trust us...they know that no matter who we work with, producers or otherwise they're gonna get a good Shai Hulud album. They loved “Misantropy Pure” and they love “Reaching Beyond The Sun” so I don't think they care but of course when I told them you know Chad from New Found Glory is gonna produce our album...great, great!!! You know because that's a big team but actually they didn't push us on that.

gan: I wanna move on the topic of the new album artwork which superb to me...

Ah, thanks, cool!!!

gan: How did you guys come up with that artwork and what's the meaning behind it? This hand reaching out toward this black sun...

Yah...our artwork it all derives from the lyrics. You know we had a lot of lyrics written before we gave the artist Dave Quiggle any ideas. I sent to him all the lyrics and I highlighted certain things. He took the lyrics and some of my ideas and put it through his artistic brain, you know, the artist have that kind of ability...I haven't that kind of ability when it comes to visual arts. So he was able to take the ideas and do that. Now, interestingly enough the back of the album he wanted that to be the front of the album. That was the front of the album until pretty much last minute. I was never certain about that...I thought the reaching beyond the sun image had to be the front, you know, the album is titled like kinda makes sense and it's a strong image that but he didn't want...he thought it was too predictable, you know, the album is called “Reach Beyond The Sun” and then you have got a hand reaching for the sun. So, do you know about bands like Strong Arm, Further Seems Forever? I was hanging out with them in Florida and I have shown them the artwork and to their main visual artist guy, my friend Nick, who actually drew the first Shai Hulud cover. He drew “Profound Hatred Of Man” so I was showing him the artwork and when he saw the hand reaching for that sun he said “that should be the front!”. So we switched last minute and I'm very very happy about that. It is so predictable but it works so well that was impossible not to go with it.
All of the images of the record come from different parts of the lyrics. The gloominess of the entire cover skim comes from the song “I, Saturnine” (the second song on the album” because its about people behaved in misery and being sad, hopeless and rejected. And then obviously the image of reaching beyond the sun comes from the title track. Specifically the lyrics...the core, where it says “Our days are as bleak as we permit. Reach beyond the sun. Where hopelessness has yet to spread”. So the artwork is implying the same things which the lyrics are. Which is know, if it's dark, dejected and miserable under the sun “reach beyond it!”. If you're working a job you hate and it makes you miserable “reach beyond it!”. Move around it. If you're in a relationship with somebody abusive who makes you unhappy get out of it “Reach beyond it!”. Reach beyond the sun, the sun being a metaphor for anything that's giving you bad feelings...puts you in a place you don't wanna be...reach beyond.

gan: I know your band name comes from those gigantic sandworms in the '84 classic science fiction movie “Dune” by David Lynch and I was wondering how did you get into science fiction in the first place...

I think it's like an interesting story I think people think that everybody in Shai Hulud only read and watch science fiction... I like science fiction when it's done well and there's also lot of science fiction I'm not just interested in. So it seems most kids when you are young, you know, if there's a space-ship a laser earliest memories is about the first movie I ever saw in the theater was 1970s version of “King Kong”, you know so I'm in the theater whoooo!!!! So now to these days, I'll be forty in a couple of days, I love King Kong and the next I saw probably was “Star Wars”. That was my childhood everything was so new I got impressed by everything and of course this genre is pushed to kids. When I was at high school I got to be into theater and plays but I friend of mine introduced me to the book “Dune” and I watched the movie with him and I was totally blown away. I felt in love with it. So when Shai Hulud has started, the original bass player I actually started the band with, neither of us wanted to have a hardcore band name that sounded like a hardcore band name, you know, we didn't wanna have...we used to joke around and like say xtouchdownx, xtackleboxx...a generic hardcore band name we knew that...we didn't know that we could but we did want to be different and we wanted the band to be like a head turner, you know, hardcore band, hardcore band, hardcore band, Shai Hulud...what's that? We didn't know it was gonna be Shai Hulud but I said ya I really want to pick something from Dune without having written anything. We didn't know what the band was gonna be about. We knew it was gonna have something to do with hate but we even didn't know what. We wanted a name that meant something even if it was just from a book. He watched the movie and I watched it again and we decided on Shai Hulud. And first record label we signed with said “we love the band we wanna sign you but we wanna change the name” hehehe...we said NO!!! We fought about it because we were really young kids. Revelation records holy shit!!!...Burn, Judge, Youth Of Today...all our favourite bands and they don't want us to keep the name, maybe we should change it...and then we decided “No!”, we called them and said “We think we wanna keep the name...” because, you know, we were scared and I was afraid they were gonna say, “Okay never mind then we are not gonna sign you thank you” but they said “Okay we'll keep the name”...and we were ufff...“thank God!”. And I think it was a great choice because if you go to the internet among all hardcore band names Shai Hulud stands out. And then as it happens our music and our lyrics happen to be different from our people too.

gan: At the time of “Misanthropy Pure” you did shoot a video for the title track. Are you guys gonna shoot another video off “Reach Beyond The Sun”?

Metal Blade when “Misanthropy Pure” came out they were doing videos for all of the bands. Now they have a harder time giving money for videos because know, they are in the business of being a business so they said that it doesn't make sense financially to do a video...that it's better for the label to spend money elsewhere to make album sell. You know MTV is pretty much gone and videos don't have the impact once did. You know, when I was thirteen watching Headbangers was the best thing that was all I waited the all week for. But that said I think there's still something really cool about the video and if the video is done well, the song sounds gets out and people see it. So we have some friends that do videos and it seems they love the band and they're willing to work cheap or for free. So we're gonna try do a video sometime this year.

gan: Kinda DIY thing...

Ya, it will look good. We simply want release it if it looks bullshit. But it will be hard because it will be all on us. We are to figure out the finances because if it's really more than 200 bucks we cannot effort it we're gonna try and make sure that we can get a high quality from paying very little. Mostly because we are working with our friends who are gonna doing it on their equipments and their time because they just want to do something with us. If do the video it will be for the song “A Human Failing”, the forth song on the record so let us keep our fingers crossed for that.

gan: Who's Matt Fox outside Shai Hulud?

Exxxactly the same. There's really no difference. I am the most boring unexciting person. I don't like to do much. I like to eat, I like to sleep. I take little walks here and there. I like to go swimming know? I like nerdy Star Trek and The Muppets and the happy fun things if get to see me on tour and home it's really the same person haha...I think, you know...
I can talk about the band because the band is interesting. Talking about me here's something funny that...when the band first started, I think after we released “Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion”, it was our first album and people didn't really know who the individual members were I worked at a record store so somebody came in and found out that I was in Shai Hulud and I had written some of the lyrics and we became friends just from him coming in again. One day we went out to get something to eat...we talked, we had fun and we ended up just going back to my house, hanging out with a bunch of people. When he saw my room he said “this is your room?” and I said “Why of course it is” and he said “I just wouldn't expect this” and I said “What would you expect?” I thought it would be like all horror movies, black curtains...dark things, gory...death and, you know, indeed it's King Kong, Superman, Kermit The Frog...Star Trek...all kind of like bright shiny and happy things. And I said “why would you expect that? Have you read our lyrics? That's the impression that it gives off, and I said NO! this is me! and I did realize then that somebody can take the lyrics and if you don't know the person and just say FUCK!!! This must be a miserable, horrible...
I get in bad moods of course but generally I'm a pretty happy healthy guy. I don't like horror movies, I don't like when people die, I don't like angry people. I like kind, sweat, gentle people. I like good food I like happy movies. So just a normal goofy really goofy guy hehe... That's been me at fifth-teen and that's me at forty and that would probably be me at 70 too.

gan: You were pointing at your t-shirt and I actually didn't know that image was from a movie...

Yeah, that's a great movie...

gan: I know Slapshot, the band, and I've never never thought that moniker came from a movie...

They got it from the movie. Because, you know, they have a release called “All Time Hardcore”. In the movie there's this guy saying “all time hockey, all time hockey” so the band Slapshot definitely took their name from this movie. If you've never seen it, it's great. It's one of my favourite movies. It's a funny's about violence in hockey actually. Propagandhi also loves this movie, cause their from Canada and they love hockey.

gan: We were just mentioning an oldie hardcore band like Slapshot but what about new bands? What are your feeling on hardcore today and its scene?

It's definitely not the hardcore that I got in to, you know, or maybe it is...maybe I was younger and I just saw it in different way know the band Outspoken?

gan: Yes, I do

Outspoken has that tag like line they said “we come from a place where the hardcore is beautiful”. I really relate to that. That's how I see it. I don't think today hardcore is beautiful. I think it's angry for the wrong reasons, I think it's ignorant, I think it's sexist, homophobic. When I got in the hardcore it was beautiful it was everybody screaming and yelling but for a reason and everybody was relating with each other instead of trying to hurt other people. You know, bands who inspired me were angry band...Sick Of It All, Killing Time, Youth Of Today, Uniform Choice, Chain Of Strength, Burn then later on Earth Crisis and most of it comes from the similar places they were angry but for a reason. Angry because this is wrong. I'm not seeing that anymore. I'm not saying that any band is not like that but I think modern hardcore right now is more about being tough and being cool...and excluding, not including, denigrating and putting down and that's just not where I come from. A band I really like right now is Counterparts. They play melodic hardcore which is something that I love. A lot of bands today don't think that melodic hardcore has a a place in hardcore but those people a fucking wrong because, you know, Turning Point...we all love's melodic hardcore. We all love Burn and they are melodic hardcore. Bands that even came before like JFA, people don't know about this band's a melodic hardcore punk band. Bad Brains... Counterparts musically come from a great place and lyrically they come from a great place too because they have strong minds, good hearts and they are good people. They're more interested in being real people. There are really a few bands today that I can really get behind and support. Another one, even if it's not melodic, is Reign Supreme.
But lastly I don't think Shai Hulud has as much of a place in modern hardcore. I think we fit more with Propagandhi than we do on any other hardcore tour.

gan: Thank you Matt. It's been a pleasure to interview you. Wanna add something more?

The only thing I want to say is Italy is always been awesome to us and I can't wait to play tonight. I think it's gonna be great and I hope one day to get the chance to really experience Italy.

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