SHIHAD

A very un-rock’n’roll week

I know it’s got nothing to do with the world of rock, but that’s life at present.

5pm Tuesday, Wellington NZ
I’ve been on holiday in Wellington with my wife and 20 month old son, visiting family and friends. Today we went to visit Jon’s mum, where she fed us with yummy custard squares that she had bought from the Kilbirnie Pak’n’Save. Yum.

3pm Wednesday, Wellington NZ
I’m currently walking along the main road, past my old primary school in Ngaio, New Zealand. All the mums are parked along the road in their SUVs picking up their kiddies. We all used to walk home by ourselves when I was a student there in the late seventies. My parents house is up the top of a steep hill (past the Ngaio cotton fields), and I remember our next door neighbours used to refuse to pick me in there car, as they drove up the hill past me. It’s funny the things you remember.

3pm Friday, Wellington NZ
Just felt a bunch of earthquakes. I was changing my son’s nappy when the 6.6 one hit. Then I had to change my own.

We found out yesterday that there has been a problem with the plumbing in our house back in Melbourne, and raw sewage has come up through both our bathrooms and flooded our carpets and floor. Stink. We’re gonna have to stay at my wife’s parents when we get back. I foresee weeks of battling with insurance companies and builders. New job next Monday. Bum.

Phil

BLACK SABBATH TOUR DIARY PART 6

9 May, 2013

6pm: Sitting backstage at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. We just finished our soundcheck, which started off well, with me playing eighties metal riffs quietly. But then it just ended up being annoying, like a lot of soundchecks. I’m feeling really sad about this being the last show of the tour. Tonight I really want to see Sabbath play War Pigs, the first song of their set. But I don’t want to miss dinner from catering. They usually close it at about 8.30. But I’ve only seen them play War Pigs once, because usually I’m stuffing my face with free food in catering. And on that note, I’ve probably put on 5kg over the course of this tour. Ozzy walked past Tom before their sound check today and said, “I’m getting fucking fat from all this Australian food”. He’s actually looking pretty good, compared to my gut. I have no self control when I’m on the road. Years ago, it used to be alcohol and falling asleep in bars, but now it’s chocolate, yogurt, and all the free food backstage. 

 That’s a whole lotta bass….

8.50pm: Now I’m having a full on come down. A, “sad about it being the last show” come down, combined with a full on sugar rush come down from that huge desert plate I just had. I’ve been giving Dave, our sound guy, a hard time. He likes to keep us abreast of all the interesting internet news. Mostly science, health, politics and general life comedy. I said he should have TV channel called DNN, and a news ticker that goes around his head like a headband, with all his headlines on it. He’s likes a good old wag of the chin. I hate talking.


11.20pm: Just found out that we’re going to reconvene at the end of this mouth to continue jamming and writing for our next record. So I’m not sad now. Just a lucky little bogan.

Phil Knight.

As a Sabbath fan, Tuesday afternoon in Adelaide is everything I wish it to be and more. I’d been trying to pluck up the courage to ask Geezer for a photograph since day 1 of the tour and as it was the last show I just had to do it. As we arrived I saw him chilling out backstage in his dressing room and thought fuck it, might as well give it a go. So after 30 minutes of procrastinating I went over, explained who I was, to which he replied ‘I know who you are and of course you can have a photo’. Turns out he’s absolutely lovely, from a similar background from my parents and instantly reminds me of one of my uncles (which puts me right at ease).

Jon mustered up the courage to take a snap with his idols…

We talk about rock’n’roll, getting older (he’s 63 and looks in great shape which gives me heart!) and the fact that his nephew was quite jealous of the fact he was on tour with Shihad as he had all our albums. Karl, Shihad’s bass player, joins in and I can tell he’s buzzing out just as much as I am! While this is going on Ozzy’s tottering around, looking for something to do and listening to Frank Sinatra’s version of My Way really loud. Then, just as I think things couldn’t get any cooler, Tony Iommi comes over, introduces himself and tell’s me how much he’s enjoyed watching our band. I don’t care if he was just being polite - that fucking ruled! This guy wrote the riffs toParanoid, War Pigs, Electric Funeral, Black Sabbath, Symptom of the Universe, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and on and on and on….

Like a fanboy, I ask him about his guitars, his amp set up, and tell him how awesome it is to be on tour with them. He was great. Very cool, laid back and engaging. Then it was time for them to do soundcheck so we said thanks and ran back to our backstage room and jumped up and down like 2 kids getting everything they wanted for christmas. It was magic.

Jon Toogood.

Dear Black Sabbath,

Thanks for having us on tour. You and you’re crew fricken ruled!

If you end up with shit support bands on your travels, we’d be happy to fill in. Thank you Ozzy, Tony and Geezer.

Keep Rockin’!

Karl

Karl Kippenberger.

 Now it’s Karl’s turn with Geezer and Tony…

Touring with Sabbath was one of the absolute highlights of my life - not only because the band has been so pivotal to our musical genetic makeup but also because we were treated so well by Sabbath and their team. 

Funnily enough we have notched up quite a few of these support tours over the years and in every instance who the band are, and the people they surround themselves with is reflected in every aspect of how the show runs. Like some people claim a society can be judged by how it chooses to treat its weakest members - I believe a large successful touring act can be judged by how it treats its opening act. 

Tom’s family ain’t scared of Ozzy - ok, the baby looks a little worried!

To that end Sabbath are an advanced people - friendly, helpful and warm - no matter how much a band means to me musically - it’s that kind of interaction that really shows the true humanity of the band and stays as the memory I’ll take forward.

With any act that is so prolific it’s easy to get a sense of who we think they are from the band’s past or general media silliness but when it comes down to it - Ozzy, Tony and Geezer and their entire crew and team are straight up good cunts, and that leaks into how easygoing and enjoyable an average day on tour with them is for us.

I am going to miss this for a long long time to come.

Tom Larkin

Thanks for the memories!

BLACK SABBATH TOUR DIARY PART 5

Danny Green wouldn’t want to cause any trouble with this mean crew!

6 May, 2013

Saturday 4 May was the fifth show on the Black Sabbath tour with Shihad in support, and for me, it is in my home town Perth.  It never seems like you are on tour when doing a gig in Perth until you wake up in your own bed. I got up early went for a fish and got to the Perth Arena about two. Sabbath’s crew has been great in making sure we have enough time each day for a thorough soundcheck.

As always it doesn’t matter what sort of crowd you put in front of this band, they always deliver and I’m sure each night they have gained a few fans. I got a call from a Danny Green asking if I could sort him a meet and greet [and beer] with the band, I told him it would be fine but if he makes any trouble back stage I would have to sort him out…He turns out to be a great fella and a massive Shihad fan. The boys got some photos with the champ and my son Jesse…he was stoked! Great night had by all. Looking forward to Adelaide on Tuesday.

Written by Richard Netes (Stage Production for Shihad).

BLACK SABBATH TOUR DIARY PART 4

He thinks we’re “fookin’ crazy” - rad!

3 May, 2013

For me, it’s Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album that has stuck with me all my life. My mum told me that she used to play the record to me while I was in her belly. So, technically I’ve been listening to them longer than I’ve been walking on this planet. Thanks mum!

 Get ‘em started on Sabbath while they’re young!

I also remember being about twelve years-old and staying at my friend’s house - his parents were out so we decided to make ‘rocket fuel’ from their liquor cabinet (who in their right mind mixes sherry with vodka, gin, port and whatever else). We jumped up and down on his trampoline with acoustic guitars while listening to his older sister’s vinyl of Born Again until we fell over cracking up. Ahhh the memories…

THE DAY WE MET OZZY

It’s good to be back home, hang out with the cat, finally get to listen to my copy of Churn on vinyl and do a bunch of washing (rocking is a dirty job). But best of all we get to play two nights at Rod laver Arena with Black Sabbath.

Monday’s show is Tui’s baptism of fire (Tom and Sarah’s baby girl who’s only a couple months old). Probably too young to remember but she’ll be the coolest kid in the playground in years to come. My ‘baptism of fire’ was Genesis, probably the first time I thought that playing in a band would be cool, though I wish it was Sabbath or AC/DC I saw first.

Soundcheck - just prior to the ‘lord of darkness’ appearance.

Well there’s a first time for everything and today we got to meet Ozzy. In fact, we were in the middle of sound check when we got the word that the ‘lord of darkness’ had a spare moment. We ran off the stage and waited in the green room like excited teenagers. Our poor crew were probably wondering what was happening.

When we were introduced as the support band Shihad, he retorted,”Shihad? You guys must be fookin’ crazy calling yourselves that! I mean, New York? Iraq?”

Yes that’s right, Ozzy called us crazy!? A big compliment coming from him.

We were all fired up and had a great show, maybe even the best of the tour so far, though the second Auckland show was pretty damn good. Thank you Melbourne!!!

Check out Shihad doing a Sabbath cover back in the 80’s, before I even joined the band.

Written by Karl Kippenberger.

BLACK SABBATH TOUR DIARY PART 3

imageRocking out before Sabbath

imageAt first I was like…

imageThen I was like…

There’s been a lot of things happen between these 2 pictures being taken - finish school, join a band, tour the world, move to another country, work hard, become cool, become completely uncool, get good, go bad, forget why it was you joined a band in the first place, remember again, succeed, fail, change your name, change it back again, love, hate, forgive, stagnate, grow again - then to finally realise what an amazing ride it’s been and how fortunate you are to have had a dream once as a little inner-city metalhead bogan, a dream you were fortunate enough to share with a bunch of like-minded inner-city metal head bogans, and to have been able to follow it through despite all the people telling you that you were living in a fantasy world and nothing was gonna come of it. get a real job. 

I suppose I would have been about 15 in the first photo. I am now 41 and on tour with Black Sabbath through Australia and NZ, still a massive Sabbath fan (in fact Massive Sabbath was the working title of Final Year of the Universe, the first song on Shihad’s last album Ignite) and still completely in love with what I do for a living, which is playing in a rock band.

Watching Black Sabbath play over the last 4 shows I’ve seen that same love for what they do in every performance. Ozzy’s still a little kid, energising the crowd, his enthusiasm totally infectious and still singing like a man half his age. Tony Iommi’s guitar playing is tight as fuck, the riffs sounding just as huge and good as ever - his dressing room backstage is next to ours and he warms up for a good 2 or 3 hours before the show - let’s face it, he wrote the book of riffs for fuck sake! and there he is right there… awesome! 

imageOur band name’s in bigger font. Winning!

In Sydney I finally plucked up the courage to say hi to Geezer Butler, Sabbath’s bass player and, as I found out recently, the man who wrote most of the lyrics to their big songs like War Pigs, Electric Funeral, Paranoid, Fairies Wear Boots etc. (I’ve been singing these words at the top of lungs for the last 4 nights along with arenas full of other Sabbath fans!) He was a total gentleman and let me stumble my way through telling him how awesome he was and how much his music meant to me. According to Nick, our stage tech who was watching all this going on, he said he saw me turn from a fully grown man into a 15 year old fanboy in an instant. Fuck it. I don’t care. Later that evening I got to shake Geezer’s hand and wish him luck as he was about to go on. Tour highlight? Yep.

imagewere on tour with Black Sabbath, you’d be doing this all the time too.

For the tour we’ve put together a set that includes 2 songs off our first album Churn (which just got re-released on vinyl for Record Store Day). These songs were written 20+ years ago but are probably my favourites in our show. They are brutal and make me feel extremely well armed for the battle that is being the support act to a band as huge as Black Sabbath. Music’s weird like that. When it’s good, time doesn’t enter into it. Watching Black Sabbath is a testament to that theory. Some of the most potent and effective tracks they play live are 40+ years old. I’ve been in Shihad for over 25 years now and it’s truly an inspiration.

Sydney was great. We nail our show then, as per usual, Sabbath go on and tear it up. 

Allphones is a huge arena and on Saturday it is packed to the rafters with hyped up inner-city metal-head bogans who are loving every second. I was lucky enough to be one of them. 

Metal!!!

Written by Jon Toogood.

BLACK SABBATH TOUR DIARY PART 2

26 April, 2013

WEDNESDAY 24 APRIL - TRAVEL DAY, AUCKLAND TO BRISBANE

10.00am: Breakfast time in front of The Ellen Show.

10.05am: Time for an obsessive news check on my smart phone and a puff of my asthma inhaler.

10.35am: I’m doing my hair in the mirror after having a shower and Jonny starts shouting “Gunsty, Gunsty, pat your hair down Gunsty”. Gunsty is a reference to Norman Gunston, the Gary McDonald character, and the way he does his hairstyle. I’ve had curly hair all my life, and even though it looks a bit strange when it’s wet, and I put product in it, I know that when it dry’s half an hour later, it’s gonna look completely different. And not like Gunsty.

10.45am: I meet Tom in the lift and he says, “Jesus. You’re not going out with your hair like that are you Phil? It looks like someone dumped a bowl of pasta on your head.”

11.00am: Photo shoot for Motorhead Phones. More than happy to help promote anything Motorhead. A band that’s had a massive influence on us all throughout our career. And Lemmy’s got to be one of the wittiest guys in rock. I played the riff to Metropolis at soundcheck on Friday. It must be said that I also played the riffs for Unchained by Van Halen, and Harder Than A Rock by ACDC. It’s all about the classics, in me advancing years.

Shameless Motorhead plug…


12.20pm: Obsessive news check on my phone.

1.30pm: Waiting for the other guys to get in the car so I can drive us to Auckland International airport for a 3.30pm flight. Traffic is heavy and it’s pissing down with rain. Cutting it a bit to fine for my liking

2.25pm: Made it with a bit of time to spare. In the Qantas Club now. Life’s tough. Internet’s shit here.

2.50pm: One more obsessive news check before I have to get on the plane.

5.30pm: Landed in Brisbane. Time for an obsessive news check. Better let the wife know that I’ve landed ok.

6.10pm: Had an argument with Tom in the car driving from Brisbane airport. I took the long way from the airport to the hotel, and that’s just not good enough apparently.

6.50pm: At the hotel now, and I’m sharing an apartment with Jon. We get through the door and discover that my bedroom door is locked. Weird. Did someone die in there, I wonder. Had to be my room, of course. Life’s tough.

7.25pm: Sushi Train in the valley, for dinner. The food comes around on a little train. If you don’t decide well in advance what you want to eat, and grab it, then it passes you by. Sort of like life. But not really. Because then it comes round again.

8.10pm: Had another argument with Tom about directions on the way back from dinner.

THURSDAY 25 APRIL - SHOW DAY, BRISBANE

10.00am: Got woken up by an F18 flying over Brisbane city for ANZAC day. Me in my safe little bed that’s never had to go to war and fight for anything. Thank you to my two grandads for fighting for these two prosperous, beautifully multicultural and democratic countries. Going back to sleep now.

12pm: Up for good now.

1.25pm: First coffee time. It’s my last remaining vice. Oh, apart from my massive sex addiction. I hope my mother in law isn’t reading this. Is she reading this?

1.40pm: I get back in the door and Jon says, “What’s happening Cheesey Wenal Meat!”

This can’t be the stage, can it?


6pm: Soundcheck time. Us and our crew are freaking out because we only have twenty minutes left to get everything checked. And it seems to be taking twice as long as usual.

6.08pm: Twelve minutes left of our soundcheck and it doesn’t look like we’re gonna get a chance to play an actual song.
 
6.30pm: The awesome Black Sabbath production and stage managers have let us have more time to finish our soundcheck and get everything sounding great. 

6.50pm: Time for my second coffee.

7.30pm: Showtime.

8.00pm: Offstage. That was awesome. Now I want some food.  
 
8.15pm: Off to catering to eat dinner before they pack everything up.

8.25pm: Time for my third coffee. Now I’ve got the shakes. What a dick. I never know when to stop. 

8.50pm: Time to watch some Sabbath. I’m sitting on a road case to the side of the stage. All I see is Geezer Butlers head and the drummer, obscured by four rack toms. I’ll go out into the crowd and get a better view when I can be bothered getting off my fat tired arse.

11.00pm: Driving back to our hotel in Brisbane city now. Our tour manager’s been drinking so I’m driving again. Tom, Dan our manager and Richie our stage tech, are all taking care of directions, so we should be sweet.

11.10pm: I take a wrong turn onto the Gateway Bridge and now we’re heading for the Gold Coast…

Ozzy, slaying ‘em!

Written by Phil Knight.

BLACK SABBATH TOUR DIARY PART 1

image

In the early hours of July 13th, 1985, I was lying down on the floor taking in the wonder that was Live-Aid beaming into my parents living room from across the globe by virtue of our wonderful Pye colour TV. At thirteen years-old I was excited at being allowed to stay up to watch the Live Feed and eagerly anticipated the performances by The Who, Queen and to witness the magic trick Phil Collins performed when he played in London and then by virtue of, Concorde turned up in Philadelphia manning the drums behind the remainder of Led Zeppelin.  

I was armed with a Mono cassette recorder and a large collection of blank cassettes - whenever anything of note came on I would dutifully press record and catalogue the performance for future playback and review.

There were many surprises that day - Mainstream radio and television provided a pitifully small window into what was going on musically in other countries and although I had digested and loved punk rock staples The Sex Pistols and The Clash and had had also been introduced to AC/DC, I had yet to come face to face with the burgeoning heavy metal that was now a staple of the American festival circuit in the Mid 1980’s

Two bands came up out of nowhere that day for me. Firstly, Judas Priest. Leather bound, gleaming with studs and bleached hair, Rob Halford screaming like a deranged parrot 'You've got another thing coming' compelled me to add it to my rapidly growing tape stack of bands to pursue and discover after the show was over.

But it was Black Sabbath - re-united with Ozzy Osbourne for the occasion - who opened withChildren of the Grave and opened up a musical path for me that changed the course of my life forever.

It was dark, uncompromising and spoke of worlds and moods I had not yet conceived of. Ozzy crossing the stage and inciting the audience with the enthusiasm of a 4 year old on Christmas morning. Tony Iommi smoothly gunning his black SG and channelling a satanic Burt Reynolds. Geezer Butler furiously plucking and sweeping across his Bass and finally Bill Ward’s monolithic war drums.

This was not just angry like the Pistols or tough like ‘Dacca, it was the musical equivalent of the colour black and I… fucking….loved it. 

Fast forward twenty-eight years and I have found myself sharing the stage, accommodation, food and toilets with those very same characters and will continue to do so for the next 2 weeks.

image

That can’t be your best Ozzy impersonation, surely?

So what’s it like?

Well for us starting on home turf is good - Vector Arena in Auckland is a familiar stomping ground and NZ audiences are warm and very supportive. You take the stage to many familiar faces and a shared bond that what we are all here to be part of something fucking important.

To that end - all of us are massive fans. Sabbath has been pivotal to our career and a real soundtrack to our lives from our early teens (For Karl, his mum was serving up Sabbath listening sessions since he was in the womb) and the fact that Ozzy is blasting the soundtrack to Monty Python’s Life Of Brian'through the walls of our dressing room and Iommi can be heard warming up for three hours before showtime makes the experience both familiar, normal and yet surreal.

The extent to which Sabbath are a phenomenon is well documented but to see them in full flight is something else - age has reduced little in terms of their impact.

Osbourne is slower but in his enthusiasm he is as much of the candy-store kid frontman as ever. Geezer wrestles his bass like it’s a live eel and new drummer Tommy Clufetos swings around the groove far more than your average American schooled metal drummer. Of course Tony Iommi just quietly fucking kills it through sheer metallic weight and a relentless collection of some the greatest riffs written. 

From here there’s much more to go, but to just witness one night of this is a circle completed - continuing to do so for another two weeks? Well that’s a little bit beyond what one expects in their lifetime really.

image

Gearin’ the kids up for Sabbath…

Written by Tom Larkin.