Shihad “La La Land”

It is the future. A lone cyber warrior roams the barren wastelands. She puts on her virtual reality helmet. Text flashed up on her cyber screen, “Serial port: SHIHAD”. She has accessed La La Land.

Hey, do you know what a serial port is? It’s a kind of plug on a computer. But obviously in this dystopian cyber future, a serial port is a virtual reality state where Shihad rock out.

Once the sci-fi intro is out of the way, most of the video is based around a live Shihad performance, featuring Jon’s new rock bob hair cut. The cyber warrior enjoys her virtual reality experience, losing her metal armour and blending in with the audience.

There’s also some dodgy goings on in the toilets, making the powerful statement that drugs = la la land = not kewl. Hollywood is also shown to be a la la land.

I know that the concept of virtual reality was quite cool in the ’90s, so this video probably seemed quite edgy (although the Dribbling Darts did it four years earlier). But now it’s just seems a bit silly and naive. It turns out that in the future people didn’t seen complex cyber helmets to experience Shihad live; they could do it on the bus using their phones.

Best bit: the brief glimpse of an Air New Zealand plane in Los Angeles. Go New Zealand!

Director: Kevin Spring
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… something strange in the toilets.

Shihad “Deb’s Night Out”

1995-shihad-debs-night-outAnd what a night out it is. Jon Shihad starts out sitting in the back of a car with a middle-aged couple. Those two are having a jolly old time, laughing and getting pissed on wine, while Jon sulks like a teen who’s being forced to attend his dumb uncle’s dumb 50th birthday. He doesn’t want to go; there’ll only be old people there.

The car drives around the streets of what I think is Wellington. It’s dark and I can’t quite pick any familiar landmarks, but it feels like Wellington. And if it is the capital, there was a lot more neon and less street lighting back in the ’90s.

Finally the car arrives at a hall in the suburbs where a party is in progress. “And I pray for a rain to wash you far away,” Jon sings. Steady on, Jon! It’s just some oldies having a knees-up.

At the hall, everyone is having a good time. The oldies are enjoying tasty wedges, and young ‘uns are rock-and-roll dancing. Finally old misery guts gets up on the dance floor and has a good old kanikani, with the rest of Shihad enjoying themselves.

This is the first Shihad video that features Shihad not playing as a band. It suits the mellower, more atmospheric song. I’m sure the suburban shindig setting was used to be edgy and ironic, but 16 years on, it’s a lot easier to believe Shihad enjoying themselves at such an event.

Best bit: the platecam capturing the look of glee as the oldies grab the wedges.

Director: Chris Mauger
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Shihad “Bitter”

1995-shihad-bitterThe Big Day Out is a gift to bands. It lets them record a live video showing the band performing in front of a packed stadium. Shihad are always a massive crowd-pleaser at the Big Day Out, so it makes sense that they’d capture their 1995 performance in a music video.

The video looks like it’s been shot in such a way to avoid showing any Big Day Out branding. We never see a wide shot of the stage, and footage around the stadium is giving a choppy, black and white treatment to help draw attention away from the teens in jester hats (and indeed there’s no chance of me spotting myself aged 20).

At times there’s little sense that the performance in taking place in a stadium. They might as well be playing at the Powerstation (and, actually, that would have probably been a better location to shoot a music video).

But there is still heaps of live action. The video uses rapid cuts to disguise the live performance not matching exactly with the recorded version, but that pace matches the energy of the song.

We also see moshpit action – crowd surfing, stage diving, and a guy being pulled from the front by security. It’s like a perfect checklist of a mid-’90s music festival. Dudes, how’s the pit?

Best bit: the grungy brown filter making the sweaty teen audience at Mt Smart Stadium looking edgy and cool.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a more low key day out.

Shihad “You Again”

1994-shihad-you-againThis video reminds me of how much of a skinny-arse Jon Toogood used to be. The Fix street press had a cartoon about Jon disappearing when he took behind his microphone. But he had big hair which more than compensated.

“You Again” is a really fat, grunty metal pie. The video is shot in black and white, but with subtle washes of colour. That’s notable – it’s not the sepia rainbow that was in vogue only months earlier.

It’s such a strong, masculine video that’s it’s almost possible to forget this is still part of the world of showbiz. It’s a world where whiteboy dreads look really cool, especially when they’re tossed about in slow motion.

Shihad videos seem better when they’re focusing on the band playing the song, and less on video tricks. Here the four are just playing the song, showing how they work together – even when it’s kind of pretend for the music video.

Best bit: drummer Tom’s staunch-as sunglasses.

Director: Darryl Ward
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next: the forecast is for fog.

Shihad “Gimme Gimme”

1994-shihad-gimme-gimmegimmKeeping on with a general run of surreal themes in this funding round, Shihad go for a partially animated video with all sorts of crazy digital effects. Despite this, it’s a much simpler video – there are no goats or goth brides, just the band.

Jon’s mouth appears in strange places – usually taking the place of his bandmate’s eyes, but also replacing his own nipples. Yep, there’s shirtlessness in this video too. But mainly it’s a world of static, bubbling acetate, and Len Lye-like scratches.

But with the visuals based around just the band giving the camera smouldering looks (that is, when they have eyes to do that), the video allows the song to stand out, rather than be swamped by strong visuals. Those Shihad boys, they know how to write a good chorus.

Best bit: Nipplevision.

Director: Glenn Standring
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… shift left for Lady J.

Shihad “Derail”

In the mid ’90s, I remember video maker Greg Page saying he’d made his own version of a video for “Derail”, which the band had declined in favour of this one with roller coasters in it that was not cut to the beat.

The “Derail” video is fairly arty. It’s black and white and features footage of: a horse racetrack and punters, cathedrals, a cow in a field, a man playing golf, amusements at Rainbow’s End, and various sights along State Highway One, particularly around Huntly.

It’s a bleak vision of Kiwiana, the sort of thing that would end up in an exhibition at the Dowse Art Museum. Is this video better than Mr Page’s more traditional video based on live footage? Maybe, but I while the visuals are great, I can’t help feeling there’s a disconnect between that and the song.

Best bit: the Rainbow’s End bird mascot shakes its tailfeather.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… flip of the coin, flick of the hair.

Shihad “I Only Said”

Another music video that has a creative debt to the videos of bands like Nine Inch Nails and Tool.

“I Only Said” is a messed up world of strange medical contraptions, blood flowing through tubes, mice, and housewives wearing paperbags on their head.

It probably seemed really cutting edge at the time, but looking back at it now, it all seems pretty dated, and just a little naive. It’s all a bit, “Look! We’re being alternative and subverting the mass media.”

Or was the fact that this was being done by a New Zealand band worth celebrating?

Best bit: the adventures of the lab rat.

Director: Nigel Streeter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Shona gets symbolic.

Shihad “Stations”

What are the Shihads doing? It’s rock star 101 – the crucifixion of Christ. Yeah, that’ll offend the hardcore Christians and wake up the atheists and make people have a good think about the message of the music. You know what else did that? “Jesus Christ Superstar” is what.

So I guess the ‘stations’ the title is referring to are the Stations of the Cross, and that in turn is depicted in the video. A Jesus lookalike gets a crown of thorns and schleps around a cross, while Shihad walk around in slow-motion.

It’s fairly elaborate for a New Zealand music video, and obviously someone had enough faith in them to ensure the video would have good production values. But it seems like they were going for a really niche bogan metal audience, which Shihad then spent their long career trying to get out of.

Best bit: the Jesus actor’s anguish face.

Director: Josh Frizzell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Mr Knox don’t need no funding.