Known for incorporating progressive and metallic influences, hardcore punk band Shai Hulud are about to unleash a new album and descend upon an unsuspecting Australian public at Soundwave.
The United States of America is a very big country. Even mainland US, without even counting Alaska and Hawaii, is slightly larger than Australia in square kilometres. So when you play in a band whose members are scattered widely across such a broad area, it makes it a little more difficult to operate.
Matt Fox from US hardcore/punk band Shai Hulud knows all about this. But the band seem to be able to make it work, having recently completed work on their new album, Reach Beyond the Sun.
Shai Hulud have negotiated many challenges, including a revolving door of singers (ex-singer Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory’s fame both produced and stepped in on vocals for Reach Beyond the Sun). But despite being used to overcoming difficulties, the very chatty, affable Fox still feels that the distance between them is a real pain.
“I live in New Jersey now,” Fox informs us, “Our long-time bass player lives in Oklahoma. Our drummer lives in Connecticut. The guy that I think is going to be singing lives in Atlanta and we’ve got a guitar player from New York. So we’re all very spread out. It’s a major pain in the ass!”
It makes writing on the road and via email necessary for the band, as opposed to all its members jamming on new material in the one room.
“When we get together for tours the two primary writers – myself and the bass player ¬– show each other some stuff. Then I demo out either a half or a whole song, record every few weeks and email music over to [the other members]. Plus, the drummer lives in Connecticut, which is only a few hours drive for me, so once a month or so I take the trek out there and go over material. We make it work.”
Reach Beyond the Sun is the band’s fourth album and their first in five years. Despite being his own worst critic, Fox is very happy with the finished product, even if he says so in a very roundabout manner.
“I’ve just finished watching a movie called Redbelt by a writer/director by the name of David Mamot,” he says, “In the special features, there’s a Q&A and he’s asked if he likes watching his own movies. He says no, because as a director all he does is see all the mistakes he’s made. That’s exactly how I feel about everything I’ve ever recorded – from the very first thing all the way to here. I feel good about the album – in fact I did listen to it today. What I do is I listen to it and I know there are mistakes here and here, but I ask myself, can I live with them? Now that it’s done and it’s coming out, can I live with them? I do find myself listening to the album, waiting for the parts that I think we didn’t capture perfectly, to see if I can live with them, and I’ve found that I can live with them. I do think that if I had the chance to go back and change a couple of things I would. I don’t know that anyone listening would hear a difference but to me, it would improve the record. But, that said, to answer your question directly, I feel pretty f**king good about it,” Fox laughs.
The band are heading to Australia very shortly for Soundwave festival and in a musical and personal sense Fox has multiple different reasons for wanting to return Down Under.
“The whole world loves Australia, to my knowledge,” he says, “I think my first favourite band because of the music – I mean, my first favourite band was KISS but that’s only because they spit blood and breathed fire – my first favourite band based on the music was Men At Work. I fell in love with Men At Work and equally with Colin Hay. I love going to Australia, just for that reason. I’m still yet to have a Colin Hay sighting, but hopefully soon. And playing an Australian tour is just awesome, because it’s another world but it’s still so familiar to us,” Fox continues, “And then being on the Soundwave tour… with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax – holy shit, that’s my childhood right there.”