InterviewsOctober 9, 20089,952 views

Shai Hulud interview

By Drew Ailes
I wanted to ask you first, how is the album doing right now?

As far as "units moving?" I never check that stuff because I don't want to know. I always think anything we release is going to sell one copy - to my mother or something. Not even my mother. Some lady my mother works with. But I never check. According to Metal Blade, they are "exceptionally happy" with how it's been selling. I don't have a number. If a hardcore album sells well, you'll see that little blurb on Lambgoat stating "xhardcorebandx has sold 30 million copies." We didn't make that, so apparently it's not selling too well, but Metal Blade is pleased. If we're pleasing Metal Blade, I'm pleased. So far, so good. We haven't been dropped yet.

You've made a remark in an older interview about how you're typically unable to appreciate your older material until a number of years after it's been out. Is this still the case? Do you listen to the new record with a real critical mind or are you able to sit back and feel positive about it?

It's weird. I'm a music guy. What I mean by that is, not that I have any real music knowledge or know any theory, but I've always been drawn to it. If I'm not playing it or writing it, I'm singing it, or tapping it, or looking it up on Ebay. Music has always consumed my life. When working on Hulud stuff, when I'm not on Ebay looking up old hardcore or metal records - if I'm showering, I'll spend an hour and a half in the shower thinking or tapping out the songs that we're about to record. If I'm taking a walk, I'm humming the songs. Before I go to bed I'm thinking about the songs, how to fix this part or that part, and going over everything constantly. So by the time we record, I have such a vision for the songs that's really clear in my head. Not once - and literally out of all the songs we've recorded; not once have I been able to replicate what's in my head on tape. For better or for worse. Maybe what's in my head sucks. There's a good chance that it does. But whatever is in my head is what I want to hear, and I never hear that. The difference is what kind of puts me off. When I hear it back, I just think, "fuck, man." It's never what I thought it would be. Not one song. As corny as it may sound, when I'm thinking of a song, I'll go over it in my head and think, "that's awesome, if I heard a band play exactly what I'm thinking right now, hairs would stand up on my neck." Then I'll get excited, "this is cool, I'm creating good music!" After I record it and hear it back I think "eh, it's alright. It's okay."

Have you ever come close?

We've probably come close. Speaking for the new album, I think with the first song "Venomspreader," we came really close. But that one's easy. It's just fast, pissed, and mean. So, when I hear the song and it's fast, pissed, and mean, I'm satisfied. Purpose served. But when it comes to more melodic stuff, like if we want to get across a more "emotional" part, or drive some musical theme into somebody - it never translates the way I intended. I just wish for once, and I don't know what it would take, that I could take what's in my head, put it on tape, and say, "fuck yeah, I nailed it." I haven't been able to do that yet.

I realize this is a question that you're getting a lot lately now in a lot of interviews...

Metalcore or line-up changes?

No, no.

[laughing] Neither?

Well, line-up changes.

Those are always the two questions!

It wasn't line-up changes, necessarily. There's one later, but it's not, "wuh duh everybody go through Shai Hulud," or something like that. But, you have such long delays between full-lengths. Everyone seems to still pick-up on and everyone has their favorite record. People are still interested. Do you ever worry that because of the long delay between things, that you're losing momentum?

[laughing] Fuck yeah! We've lost everything! Momentum...whatever we've ever had, we've lost! Clearly. The way we've operated as a band is stupid. No one can deny that. The delay between albums...we didn't want it to be that way. After "Hearts," we went through a lot of lineup changes. Then we got a guy from Holland so we spent at least a year and a half just trying to get him legal in the States. Then there was writing songs with no drummer, you know, and teaching this guy the material, all the while that guy doesn't work out, so now we've got to teach this new guy now. There was always a million things to attend to. Also, being pressured to go on the road - which is not really a pressure because we like to tour, but we'd do our best to be on tour for six months a year. So then when the hell are we supposed to write an album? There's a myriad of issues that keep delaying things. I guess the most common delays are trying to be active - touring consistently without having a real solid line-up. Borrowing this guy, taking three months to teach him some music to go on tour for three weeks, and then find some other guy to replace him.

So what is the solution to all of this? What have you learned?

I haven't learned a fucking thing. Hah, no. All joking aside, I've learned that a solid touring line-up is necessary. We've always tried to have a solid line-up. That's what has hindered us the most. Like I said, by not having a solid line-up, that means we've got to train and teach so many people, and we know on the outset that this guy's only going to do a month and a half of touring. So then we have to postpone our next tour to teach the next guy. There's always this constant influx. I think for the past ten years or so, we've been slowly and surely picking the best people we can find to build a strong unit so we can be the band that everybody else has been for years now. I'm hoping we can record the next full-length within the next two years. The other thing that I've learned is that the higher your standards are, especially regarding people you're going to be in close quarters with, the more you're going to be disappointed.

Expectations lead to disappointments. Do you worry at this point...

Do I worry? Yes.

At this point, people are used to Shai Hulud losing members. But you have a lot of people who stay with you, and that's what I want to focus on. There are a lot of people that say, "they lost this guy, they lost that guy," but when the new album was talked about, people were saying, "Matt Fox is still writing for Shai Hulud, so I'm still going to check it out." How do you feel about that?

The fact that people listen? No one should listen to me. [laughing]

There are people who will listen just because you're writing.

That's flattering. For me, Metallica, if not my favorite band of all time, is the band that changed my life. I credit James Hetfield as being the driving force behind the band. As much as everyone hates Metallica in current days, if James Hetfield puts his mind and heart in Metallica's music, I'll always be interested. He changed my life back in 1986 with Master of Puppets, so I follow him. I have authors and writers and directors and such, who I appreciate the work of, and I follow them as well. That's cool if somebody heard something I wrote, and they want to listen further. That's awesome. As far as the heart of Shai Hulud, we always try to incorporate a little bit of everybody. I've heard our band referred to as "The Matt Fox Experience," and that sucks. That's not what it's supposed to be, and that's not what I want it to be. I'm not enough of an experience to deliver myself to the masses. The last thing that I want in my life is a Matt Fox Experience, and I wouldn't do that to anybody else. What we're supposed to be is a collective who are on the same page. The mainstays in the band for the last ten years are Matt Fletcher, our bass player, and myself. If you want to know the heart of Shai Hulud, I guess it's us. We've been writing and tweaking and releasing the output, it's all been going through us since 1999. Other people who have been involved have made their impact on our style as well, Steve Kleisath for example, our drummer on the earlier releases, really helped shape the way Shai Hulud sounds today. Friends, engineers, producers, transient members are always welcome to leave their mark, but myself and Matt Fletcher are mainly responsible for defining the whole of the band. If people recognize that, that's cool, and if they've appreciated it in the past, they should continue to appreciate the band because it's still the same minds and hearts that are creating the material. It's not supposed to be just one guy running the show.

This is definitely a given, but do you guys feel out of place? Do you get the, "oh, I used to love you guys," from everyone you tour with?

Oh, sure. We get that. Of course. And I always feel awkward and out of place. I mean, with the band, and I feel awkward just in life, you know what I mean? It's funny, we just played in Europe. I think it was Hellfest, in France, some kid from England came up to me and he wanted to buy an Opeth shirt or something. I was bringing our merch back - I think we sold three things that whole day. I said "Opeth's gone for the day, but you know, we've got some Hulud stuff," and he says, "oh, I used to listen to Hulud when I was 14. I don't like these guys anymore." Thanks, man! That was just three weeks ago. What you said is exactly what he said - he was probably 20 at this point.

That's one thing I've always heard about Europeans, how they'll come up to you and say, "I used to like you, but now you suck." Do you get that a lot over there?

We have. It's funny. Anyone who knows our band knows we love NOFX, we covered "Linoleum" and all. They have a 7" called Insulted By Germans Again. It's so funny. It's a good song, but the lyrics are what make it great. They're so accurate it's hilarious. In Germany they're just so brutally honest. "Thees ees not so much what I look for in Shai Hulud. Uhh, eet was maybe better last time I saw?" Forgive my horrible impression. I take it all with a grain of salt. At least somebody's being honest. That's probably the best criticism any band is ever going to get, from a German. They will tell you what they genuinely think and they're not trying to be cool, they're not trying to impress anyone, and they don't care what anyone else thinks. If I take any criticism from anyone it's going to be from my friends in Germany who say, "Maybe eet not so good thees time." I love Germany.

Right, right. So when is the DVD coming out?

The idea for the DVD materialized at a very weird time. It was when we didn't know what the hell we were doing. We didn't know if we were going to call ourselves Warmth of Red Blood or continue with Shai Hulud. We really didn't know. We made the decision to change our name, and we wanted to nail the coffin shut with a Shai Hulud DVD, featuring interviews and a really good live show at The Chance with Geert singing. We ended up keeping the name because all our friends who heard our new demos told us, "this sounds like Shai Hulud and if you change your name, everyone's going to crucify you." Because we kept the name, the original idea of the DVD is just...fucking...irrelevant. Now we're going to add to the DVD. We'll make it relevant to 2008, or with us, 2015 or whenever it comes out. I need to update the website and let people know.

I wanted to touch on Zombie Apocalypse as well, because I love Zombie Apocalypse and I'm wondering what's going on with that.

Zombie Apocalypse is a lot of fun, and we all love it. Everyone who is involved is just so busy with other things. When Hulud was in its uncertain stage, we wanted to focus on Zombie Apocalypse for a while and tour for a bit. The main singer, a guy named Ronen Kauffman - awesome guy, great singer, great friend; he told us at the outset, back when we asked him to sing for Zombie, he couldn't tour. Ronen's so busy with his life. He's a teacher, he's married, he runs the Issue Oriented podcast, he's involved in a whole bunch of things. He wants to do Zombie Apocalypse, but he can't tour extensively. We understand the situation completely. Once we got things moving with Shai Hulud again, that became our main focus, speaking for Fletcher and myself, of course. Everybody involved with Zombie Apocalypse very much wants to do a full-length. I'm sure we will, but as to when, it's just hard to say.

So long as there's something that's being thought about.

We've got the title and even some songs written. It's just a matter of getting everyone together and making our schedules in order to make it happen.

How is it that you've been in a band that has inspired so many people, and there are so many people that love your band...

I only know about the people who hate us. I'm glad you think a lot of people love us.

For the way I work, if I've done something that twenty-five people like, and a thousand people hate, I'm happy. I'm excited and grateful that that many people enjoy it. And who knows, maybe there are way more people who hate Shai Hulud than like them...

[laughing] I think there are!

I think there's enough people to where it makes it a worthwhile thing. But I've noticed you have this deprecating opinion of the things that you do, and everything always comes with an exception. You just seem like you're pretty hard on yourself.

Truth is, I don't know that we're really that hard on ourselves as much as I just like to be realistic. I know there are a few people who feel really strongly about our band, and I'm appreciative of that. I don't want to downplay that and tell people who really care, "aw, no, we're just a bunch of dummies," because they don't want to hear that. Our band means something to them. That's awesome and I would never belittle that. But the truth is, it's only a few people. Anybody can start a band, gain a following, and get people to be passionate about it.

I disagree.

Oh yeah? Really?

I don't think everyone has the necessary skill - and this is coming from someone who is not a Shai Hulud fan. It's not because I don't like you guys, it's because I grew up going to death metal shows in hollowed out apartment buildings. I never got around to hearing it until recently. I decided that I like you guys. So just listening to you guys now, in 2008, way the fuck after I should have, I like it. I'll go out and pick up the old shit, and I'm not the kind of guy that does that at random. So to say anyone can do this, that's the downplaying that I'm talking of.

Here's more self-deprecation for you: if some idiot who used to fucking take a spoon and eat peanut-butter of the jar, pick his nose, flick it on his floor?if that guy; that guy being me, the idiot I am; if that guy can write a song and someone can be passionate about it, then fuck, anybody can do it. That's the way I feel about it. And as far as all the self-deprecation? I take the band very seriously. I feel really strongly and when I'm writing music or lyrics, speaking for myself, I want to get a point across. Not that my thoughts and feelings are so important to anyone else, but you know, if I'm going to be in a band I want it to have some sense of purpose, even if only to share thoughts and emotions, or attempt invoke thought and emotion in others. I do my best with the band, but at the end of the day, I don't take myself seriously. I'm a silly looking guy who likes heavy metal and The Muppets. I'd never fit in a normal place. I don't think I'm smarter or more enlightened than anyone else. I only know what I feel. I don't think I'm any kind of musical genius. All I know is that I try really hard.

I had read that you were considering teaching theatre and literature.

Theatre, maybe. Never literature, because I can barely get through a book, but yeah. I was always very interested in theatric arts.

Is that still something that comes across your mind?

Oh yeah, all the time. It's funny because being on tour, I mainly talk about punk, metal, and hardcore with people. But every once and a while there's someone that loves Little Shop of Horrors, or Grease, or A Chorus Line. Or fuck, even The Little Mermaid. And I'm right there, singing it with them. I love theatre, and I think about it all the time. I have been talking to some of my old high school friends recently and we all miss it. So if we ever bow out of hardcore or whatever the hell it is, the only other things I'd be really interested in are theatre and human behavior - because I don't understand why the fuck people act the way that they do. Those are the only two things that I would possibly entertain. But yeah, I love theatre.

Winding down to some bullshit questions, can you name three newer bands that you have your support behind?

New bands?

I'll give you last five years.

That makes it easier. Misery Signals. I can get behind them 100%. Cool guys, smart band. I really like them. When did Comeback Kid come out?

We'll give it to you.

[laughing] I can really get behind Comeback Kid. Not that they're self-deprecating, but talk about guys who underplay their impact. Better that than being too big for your britches. Any band or any person that overstates their importance, not even just in the music scene but in life, sucks. That's not me or anybody that I'd be in a band with. I guess that's why I appreciate self-deprecation. You have to be able to take the piss, as the English would say. So Comeback Kid, I can get behind them 100%. Third one?I know there's somebody. Tragedy's been around a little longer than five years.

I'm not giving you that one. I actually saw them real recently around here. It was awesome.

I don't think anyone would disagree with that. Fuck, do I like anyone else?


[laughing] There's got to be someone. Oh, I've got it. The Carrier, from Massachusetts. They're a cool new band. Young kids too. I met them when they toured with Dead Hearts. Dead Hearts is another one I can name, too. The Carrier is a really cool band. Fast, melodic hardcore with no fruity hair. No offense to anyone with fruity hair, of course. Anyway, no hair, no nothing but intensity and passion, and really cool music that's different from the current state of hardcore.

Now name your three favorite Stone Temple Pilot songs.

[groans] The, "I am, I am, I am" one. I don't care what anyone says, that's in the top five worst songs I've ever heard in my life.

Now three reasons that Municipal Waste are better than Nuclear Assault.

I think Municipal Waste is a fucking cool band, but I think they would respect my answer when I say that no one is topping Nuclear Assault. I don't know if you know but...

No, I know.

I don't know why I love Nuclear Assault as much as I do. The first time I heard Game Over when that came out in 1986.?fuck, man. I was blown away. Nuclear Assault. All the way up to Handle With Care, Nuclear Assault, to me, is one of best old-school thrash bands, and one of my all time favorites. I just bought a Nuclear Assault shirt. I'm very excited.

Tell me the plot of Westworld.

Is it the Cygnus Corporation?

Well, the fact that you're almost able to name the fictional corporation.

Well, sure. Oh, I can tell you about Westworld, no question.

I have a big Swiss poster that's big and green for that movie.

It's not Cygnus, is it? It's the company that provides the worlds, like Medievalworld, Westworld, and then...


Oh, that's right, that was the sequel. I never saw it.

It wasn't that good.

It's funny, I remember when Jurassic Park came out and I saw that Michael Crichton wrote it, I couldn't stop thinking that this guy must've gone on Space Mountain when he was five and was scared to death. He's been writing about the potential deaths in theme parks motif for twenty years now.

That's a good point. Have you ever seen a movie called A Boy And His Dog?

Don Johnson, right? I've seen it but I don't remember it. The dog is a computer dog?

No, he has a telepathic link with the guy.

Yeah. I haven't seen it in probably ten years.

I've been trying for the longest time to find someone other than my uncle who has seen it.

I've definitely seen it, but I couldn't have a conversation about it. I can, however, have a conversation about Westworld even though I named the spaceship in The Black Hole instead of the company that made Westworld.

Last question, do you ever sit around and think, "wow, I've done so much and made my band pretty well-known in the genre, but none of this is going to matter because I need to learn how to effectively grow my own radiation resistant vegetables?"

I think about that so often.

Me too. I was wondering why I'm doing this interview when I should be learning how to use a bow and arrow.

It's funny, because Matt Fletcher, who likes to call himself Mad Matt Fletcher - his favorite movie is The Road Warrior. If you talk to him long enough, you'll hear him say something to the extent of, "you know, when the apocalypse happens," and then he'll tell you exactly what he's going to do and how he's prepared for it.

Is he prepared?

He'll tell you he's prepared. I don't think he's fucking prepared because this guy can't even eat a slice pizza unless it's piping hot. Me, I'll eat any shitty?well, I'm pretty particular with pizza actually. It's got to be a nice thin crust, Brooklyn slice. But, it can be at any temperature. Fletcher has these particular things when it comes to pizza, so I always retort to him, "what are you going to do in the apocalypse when you have to eat dog food like Mad Max did in The Road Warrior? What are you going to do then?" He thinks he's a little more prepared for the apocalypse than he is. I'll tell you what, though, if the apocalypse happens, he's the guy that I want to be next to.

Alright, fair enough. Anything you want to add?

Van-flip, no care ever, and uh... plane-flip and die...

[a homeless man shows up, saying, "how's it going, boss"]

Oh boy, this guy has something he wants to add.

[after a rambling story where he explains he needs a dollar, we each give him a dollar.]

So, all the Lambgoatisms, and hopefully that guy is going to eat instead of smoke crack or do anything stupid. There you have it, my friend.


Post Comment
anonymous 10/9/2008 3:29:27 PM

First shitheads.

promotedmartyr_ 10/9/2008 3:46:38 PM

weird, weird, dude

xddx_ 10/9/2008 3:51:33 PM

matt fox is better than any of yous

Mike_ 10/9/2008 3:54:42 PM

Matt Fox is one of the most interesting people in hardcore. Always loved the guy.

john_ 10/9/2008 4:03:37 PM

Shai Hulud is Sweet

feces_ 10/9/2008 4:10:24 PM

no care. ever. matt fox is god

Devin_ 10/9/2008 4:24:46 PM

Haha, great read.

shit_spasm_ 10/9/2008 4:24:48 PM

Still one of my favorite bands of all time, first harcore album I ever bought was the shai hulud indicision split

Hardware_ 10/9/2008 5:11:17 PM

This band is f*cking ridiculous. Nuff Said!

james_ 10/9/2008 6:42:32 PM

good interview, hulud is the SHIT

barrit_ 10/9/2008 9:48:00 PM

Shai Hulud and Matt Fox are amazing and nobody can take this away from them. Simply mindblowing song writing and overall awesomeness!

xote_ 10/9/2008 10:44:51 PM

cool interview

bensy_ 10/9/2008 10:56:53 PM


neighbordave_ 10/10/2008 1:44:19 AM

most influential band in my life

doom hand_ 10/10/2008 12:01:47 PM

I love Shai Hulud and A boy and his dog is Awesome

Justin_ 10/10/2008 7:16:44 PM

most positive comments I've ever seen. I expected hate like usual. or c-ck and beat comments.

Huludicidal_ 10/11/2008 12:18:15 AM

I really love my glow-in-the-dark font "I have Huludicidal Tendencies" t-shirt.

no_innocent_shit_poster_ 10/11/2008 10:12:06 AM

everyone needs to haev respect for this bastard for keeping this awesome band together. any normal hardcore gay would've hung it up after the first member change.

metal_bob_ 10/13/2008 5:00:33 PM

good interview

sickly_man_ 10/19/2008 9:14:44 PM

"I don't think anyone would disagree with that. f*ck, do I like anyone else? No." lol.