Shihad, 2000. Left to right: Karl Kippenberger, Jon Toogood, Tom Larkin, Phil Knight.

In this interview for 2003 television series Give It a Whirl, Shihad’s Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin discuss their musical influences and life on the road in one of New Zealand’s hardest-working rock bands. They reflect on the challenges of being a New Zealand band trying to make it in overseas markets such as Europe, Australia and the USA – and discuss the good and not so good sides of living here, from having enough life balance to enjoy creative and artistic freedom, to cultural cringe.


Watch below: Full-length interview with Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin from Give It a Whirl (2003) via NZ On Screen (2022).


Watch below: Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin discuss the lack of heavy metal bands in John Dix’s Stranded in Paradise history of New Zealand rock music. “We wanted to prove John Dix wrong ... We wanted to make big rock, but big New Zealand rock.” – Jon Toogood


Watch below: Jon Toogood talks about the greatness of Th’ Dudes. “So You Wanna Be a Rock’n’Roll Star ... I know it’s a compilation but it’s just a great collection of songs. And the closest I think, that New Zealand had to the Rolling Stones ... [Dave] Dobbyn’s a great songwriter and continues to be so ... I could never understand why they weren’t bigger around the world, or at least in Australia.”


Watch below: Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin discuss the evolution of Shihad, and how their overseas touring experience improved the band as a live act. “We did six months in Europe, came back for a tour, then went straight to the United States and spent four months there. By the time we came back, out of those experiences our live show was just on it. Because we’d been touring endlessly. You just don’t get to do that here.” – Tom Larkin. “You can’t do that in New Zealand because you run out of land.” – Jon Toogood


Watch below: Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin talk about other New Zealand bands that attempted to crack the United States. “A few of the New Zealand bands have come unstuck from the punishing schedules of touring in a country the size of the US. That’s always been our forté, we’re good at touring. We do it well.” – Tom Larkin 


Watch below: Jon Toogood talks about the compromise between hard work and artistry when trying to enter a new market. “Making music is all about being a human being. If you live in the rock world the whole time, you’re not a human being, you’re just a machine ... business kills creativity.”


Watch below: Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin discuss the name change to Pacifier following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on US soil (“It’s a little like changing the name of your son or your daughter at the age of 12.” – Jon Toogood), and writing the perennial favourite, ‘Home Again’. “It was one of those songs where the words just came straight away.” – Jon Toogood. “It’s a good groove, a great sentiment.” – Tom Larkin



This interview was recorded for the 2003 season of TV series Give it a Whirl. All audiovisual content is copyright to Visionary Film & TV, and may not be reproduced.


Further reading: Nick Bollinger on Give It a Whirl

Link: The Give It a Whirl Collection, NZ On Screen