Shai Hulud

23 July 2008 | 5:16 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

I’m lucky enough to have interviewed Matt Fox before, but for those of you who aren’t already in complete awe of Shai Hulud (and shame on you if you’re not) you should read on and see what the ring- leader of one of modern music’s most innovative bands had to say!

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I’m lucky enough to have interviewed Matt Fox before, but for those of you who aren’t already in complete awe of Shai Hulud (and shame on you if you’re not) you should read on and see what the ring- leader of one of modern music’s most innovative bands had to say!

Interview w/ Matt Fox (Guitar)

of Shai Hulud on Wednesday May 21st

By Cameron Chambers

Hey Matt, how are you doing


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I’m good man, how are you?  

Very well thank you. Where

are you guys at the moment? 

Just hanging out at home man. 

It’s been a few years since

the world last heard from Shai Hulud, what’s been keeping you busy? 

Well, you know… I would say

the same thing that keeps most other bands busy, especially ones that

have had the same problems as us, ha ha.  

Since the release of our last

record we parted ways with our singer Geert that we had in 2003 and

you know, replacing a singer is always a tough time because you need

someone that suits the sound that you get along with and someone who

is in it for the long haul.  

That was the main issue up until

recently so we focused on our side band a lot. Even though we had parted

with Geert we ended up doing some US shows and two Japanese tours with

him, as well as going to Australia, as you know. So we were still pretty

active with that line up even though we had technically broken up. It

definitely took up some time. 

Between that and real life and

looking for new members and the side band and obviously writing new

material… that pretty much took up all our time! There wasn’t a

sabbatical from music or a Hawaiian vacation or anything like that,

we just tried to keeping active and to keep the ball rolling.  

Your Australian tour was supposed

to be something of a last hoorah for you guys but that obviously didn’t

eventuate - or we wouldn’t be talking. What happened to changing the

band name? 

I was just talking about this

with someone else. We did our best to make sure the tours we were doing

were our last but at the same time, if we saw anything that said “Shai

Hulud’s last tour” then we would get upset, because that’s not

the case! Until you’re dead then nothing is your last. I mean, the

new Indiana Jones movie just came out and I can remember reading interviews

with Harrison Ford saying that there wouldn’t be another Indiana Jones

movie and look where we are now, ha ha.  

Just because you’re sick of

something at one point in time doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Human

beings are resilient and you don’t ever want to give something up,

especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into it.  

As far as why we didn’t actually

change the name, well, at the time we thought we would. We were certain

enough as uncertain people can be… in fact, we even posted on our

site that we were changing the name to “The Warmth Of Red Blood”.

Then we recorded a three-song demo and sent it to Metal Blade, because

the whole purpose of the demo was to sign to Metal Blade as they were

the label we wanted to be a part of.  

Anyway, during the writing and

recording we played the demo to our friends and they were like, it’s

cool but it sounds like a massive Shai Hulud rip off. I’m like, “what

does that even mean”? They said we should just keep our name because

we’d get attacked for sounding like our old band and you know what,

we write what we write. If I’m still writing this kind of music in

thirty-five years it’ll still sound like Shai Hulud.  

Hearing that comment from so many

of our close friends made it evident that keeping our name was the best

way to label the music. Whether or not it’s good for sales, well,

probably not, ha ha, but that wasn’t the focus. It was about keeping


Like I said before, we don’t

claim to know all the answers, we don’t know what the fuck to do half

the time or if there is even a correct answer… that’s the ultimate

answer! At the time we took the path of least resistance… to quote

the band! Ha ha 

I think it goes without saying

that you made a lot of people very happy by keeping the Shai Hulud moniker! 

Can you fill us in on who’s

actually in the band now, what they do, how you found them etc… 

Sure. Right now we’ve got myself

and our bass player Matt Fletcher. I’ve been here since day one and

I play guitar and Matt’s been here for ten years… he’s still around,

ha ha.  

We had a few options for a singer.

There’s a local guy who lives close and his name is Matt Mazzali and

he sang on the new Shai Hulud record. The album was written and recorded

by four people. We have the previously mentioned “Three Matt’s”

and our good friend Andrew on drums… he was actually the drummer on

the Australian tour we did. He really helped out with song structures

and arranging on the newest record too! 

He’s a long time friend of the

band and a very clever guy… he just has such great drum ideas and

he’s such a good friend. Since we didn’t have a drummer at the time

he was clearly the best option to record. He’s not in the band now

though because he’s being a family man in Seattle, but his presence

and personality and drum work is a very big part of the new album.  

Now, it’s not released yet

(at the time of this interview anyway), but I’m one of the lucky few

that’s been given a copy of “Misanthropy Pure”… can you walk

us through the record? The writing, the recording, the concept behind

it etc… 

You mean a brief little dissipation

about it?  

Yep, that’d be great.  

Sure! Every record is a process

for us… we’re never as prepared as we should be and we pay too much

attention to detail, ha ha. It’s never a two or three-week thing for

us, which part of me loves but part of me hates it too. It’s always

a pain in the arse, and it’s back breaking and its frustrating and

emotionally taxing but I love it! I know the end product is always very

unique and it sounds different from other bands. One thing I’m proud

of with this record is that it doesn’t sound like anyone out there.  

This isn’t part of the question

but I’ll say it anyone. There’s a song by NOFX called “Mediocore”,

and I’m paraphrasing here but it says something like “can’t you

write music no one’s heard before”. It’s easier said than done

for most bands because most bands take a formula that works for their

friends so they try it to see if they’ll get big.  

Our natural instincts as a band

combined with having that NOFX lyric always in the back of my brain

always make me want to push the boundaries and not do what people expect.

That’s pretty important to us. At the end of the day there are going

to be similarities to a certain degree because when you’ve guitars,

drums, bass and screamed vocals then you’re always going to a little

similar to a lot of other bands, but outside of those fundamentals the

band is entirely different.  

As far as the theme for the record,

we knew that after having a five-year lapse we had to come out swinging.

“That Within Blood Ill Tempered” was a very emotional sounding record…

it was very pretty sounding and inherently Shai Hulud is a pissed off,

angry band. So as proud as I am of “That Within Blood Ill Tempered”

it didn’t showcase our anger, so we had to make sure it was fucking

clear on this album! 

It’s emotional, not emo! We’re

a hardcore band, we’re a metal band, and we’re a punk band. We are

all of those things combined! We don’t have pretty hair or right jeans

and this is an album that showcased the true nature of the band, which

is that we’re fierce and emotional! All of the songs on the record

discussed the different levels of hatred that we have, whether they

are valid or invalid… and that was our overall intention!  

Shai Hulud’s lyrics are one

of the defining points of the band, with a change in vocal personnel

were you ever concerned that the lyrical focus might not be as strong

as it once was, or do you guys still approach your lyrics as a collective?  

You know, our very first singer

was a guy named Damien Moyal, who sang for As Friends Rust, Culture

and Morning Again, and he’s a great vocalist and a really talented


Anyway, he was the kind of guy

that sings for a band and writes all the lyrics because he has so many

great ideas, so he wrote all our earlier stuff. When we parted ways

with Damien there was no one person interested in writing the lyrics,

there were a couple of us! I had a focus that I wanted to be conveyed

through the lyrics and that was the profound hatred theme and I wanted

to get that out there when we started recording. So yeah, when he left

we didn’t have anyone writing the lyrics and since I had some sort

of vision for what I wanted the band to stand for I opted to write the

lyrics… so since then I’ve been the guy that has predominantly written

the lyrics.  

Changing singers has never really

had much of an affect on Shai Hulud because no matter what has happened

it’s always been a collective effort. Any time I have an idea for

a song I’m like “hey guys, here’s a title and this is what it’s

about… write me some bullshit and then we’ll pick through it and

make a song”, ha ha.  

Everyone is always welcome to

contribute but fortunately we’ve never had to rely on getting another

singer and worrying about whether or not his lyrics will be any good,

because I predominantly handle that… we do it in house! Some bands

replace a singer or a guitarist and you’re like, “holy shit, he

wrote the last record that I love”, but that doesn’t happen with


That Matt’s are always directing

the output of the band. No matter whom we get it goes through the Shai

Hulud filter and it’s been like that since day one… we’ve always

maintained sounding and writing like Shai Hulud so no one is going to

define us!  

In saying that, was the song

writing a group effort amongst old and new band members, cause I know

that you have handled the lion’s in the past? 

There were lots of bits and pieces

from a lot of different people. It’s funny, whenever there’s one

guy in a band who’s been there for a long time and has written a few

songs then everyone assumes he’s a Nazi. That’s what James Hetfield

and Dave Mustaine gets accused of… not that I’m comparing myself

to those musical geniuses coz they’re on a higher level than me!  

I think Shai Hulud and I get accused

of keeping this fortress around the material, which isn’t the truth

at all. We’ve had so many people in this band, I mean, we’ve had

three or four fill in drummers and other people helping out at various

times and their ideas made it onto the album! When Geert was in the

band he’d offer up suggestions and Matt Fletcher writes music as well….

He’s a huge part of the song writing! When our new vocalist Matt and

our co – producer Greg Thomas heard the title track from the new record

they both thought it was too long… although I thought it was perfect.

Anyway, it was ninety seconds longer than it is now and I listened to

their ideas and said, yep, I can see what you mean, so we cut it down!  

It’s a collective effort…

sometimes we’re recording and I’ll always be open to ideas but sometimes

I do get a hard time because if I’m certain of an idea then I’ll

want to keep it, ha ha. New members, old members, close friends of the

band and anyone else who heard the record all had input that we took

into consideration. We wanted a really cool, effective album that could

relate to as many people as possible. I’m not saying we’re masterminds

like James Hetfield or Dave Mustaine though, coz they are real masterminds!  

Do you think this is the strongest

line up to date? 

I was actually thinking about

this today and all I can say is “who knows”! As far as sound goes

and our personalities and sticking together and our live performances…

it’s hard to say. Throughout the years we’ve always had line ups

that have had their strengths and weaknesses. It’s definitely a strong

line up though! 

I was thinking earlier today that

people always like the first album better but this is a really strong

record. I don’t really listen to anything that we did… I mean, why

would I listen to Shai Hulud when Metallica and Megadeth are out there,

ha ha? But when I do hear our album I think this is a really strong

album. I mean, it definitely has its flaws and there are things that

I’d change a million times but I think it’s a much better record

than “Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion”.  

If you think that this album is

better than “Hearts Once Nourished…” then you’re wrong. If you

like it better or it impacts you the most then that’s another story

but comparing the two – and I’m not talking about the strength of

the line up – but the song writing and the strength of the record

then I think it’s clear that Misanthropy Pure is a much better record!

You can’t change someone’s opinion though.  

In my opinion

“Misanthropy Pure” is your heaviest record. Do you feel this is

due to the member changes or is it a natural progression from

“That Within Blood Ill Tempered”? 

I would say it’s a bit of both.

It’s a natural progression in song writing and as you do with anything

you learn from your mistakes. If you’re a footballer and you break

your left arm you learn to tackle with your right arm. As far as our

song writing goes you just get smarter and don’t make the same mistakes


A natural progression comes through

our member’s changes because our music definitely isn’t influenced

by this current sound that’s out. Fletcher and I have been planning

this album for a long time, going as far back to when we were recording

“That Within Blood Ill Tempered”, and we’ve been able to maintain

the ideas that we had for this album all the way back in 2003. Now we

finally brought it to the point of completion! 

When we were doing “That Within

Blood Ill Tempered” we realised it was really pretty and melodic so

we knew our next record had to be insanely pissed and heavy.  

Were there any prominent influences

on the latest record, either musical or otherwise? 

Definitely. I’ll tell you what…

anyone that knows anything about our band will know that we’ve had

a lot of member changes and problems, so we were dealing with all that

shit and I’d just sit at home and go to bed and think “fuck, what’s

going on around here”! Everyone is always so angry with us… our

friends, or other bands or whoever, but it just seems like we’re always

under attack and that’s what inspired the song “The Brunt Of Many


It’s not a stab you in the back

song, it’s about friends who’d snub us and not talk to us and then

all these people on the internet would violently hate us for some reason.

How are two nerdy guys that don’t leave the house inspiring such hatred

in these people? We don’t talk to people, we sit at home and watch

Startrek. So that was one thing that really defined the album. It rekindled

the profound hatred that we have. We are fun loving and decent people

that were getting attacked and we’re not fighters, we don’t confront

people about talking shit, but we will take our guitars and write something

extreme on this album. It illustrates the hate we have for the negative

and poor characteristics of people.  

Musically there weren’t any

influences that we haven’t had before. Tragedy got really popular

over the last few years so I guess we fell into the whole Tragedy thing

too. I’ve been listening to His Hero Is Gone for a long time but when

Tragedy put out Vengeance. It made a huge impact! Propagandhi put out

some cool music too so I think we bled that into our sound too.  

Given the band’s tenure are

you still influenced by the same music you were ten years ago or can

you find inspiration from newer acts as well? 

I don’t know. There are a lot

of cool, newer bands so maybe some of them were an influence. I got

heavily influenced by Propagandhi and I’ve always loved them, but

there was something about “Today’s Empires” that really hit me.

The same goes for Tragedy’s “Vengeance”.  

Actually, bands like With Honour

were a big influence on us. We played with them after “That Within

Blood Ill Tempered” and I’ve never seen them live or met them before

that but they were incredible. I got all their CD’s and fell in love

with that band. I don’t know if they impacted our music because we

don’t sound like With Honour but we were inspired by their aesthetic,

their demeanour and their stage presence. You’re not going to listen

to the new Shai Hulud and hear a With Honour song but them existing

was a big inspiration.  

The guy who engineered our record

at his home studio – which is called Silver Bullet Studios – his

band The Risk Taken have been friends of ours for ages and he said that

the thing he liked the most about Shai Hulud were the darker, unexpected

notes we played… and that stayed in my head. So I’d say that Greg

and The Risk Taken were a big influence. I’m sure there have been

others but they are a couple of examples.  

It’s here that we get

the hurry on from the operator… 

When are you going to get your

much anticipated side project Traumatic Chicken going? 

Ha ha ha. Our debut album will

be released in two thousand and never. Traumatic Chicken is the best

band name of all time by the way and if I’m lucky enough then I’ll

get to record an album one day, ha ha.  

That’s all we’ve got time

for Matt, is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Check out the new record and thanks

for the interview! 

Thanks for your time man! 


For all things Shai Hulud head to the bands Myspace page.