Life turned up

Jon Toogood about to head back to Gisborne.

Jon Toogood about to head back to Gisborne.

EVOLUTION: From starting off with a speed metal act that “developed into something more serious” and became hard rock band Shihad, to forming collaborative band The Adults to performing solo with acoustic guitar, Jon Toogood’s journey is about to bring him back to Gisborne. Picture supplied

He’s unplugged the Marshall stacks, dusted off the acoustic guitar and hit the road for the Wild East.

Hard rock act Shihad’s frontman Jon Toogood is slouching towards Gisborne next month to be borne onstage at Smash Palace where he will perform unplugged, unaccompanied and unmasked.

Performing solo is a different, exciting skill, says Toogood.

“It makes you conversational and get in the moment.

“It’s different in Shihad. I have a big wall of noise behind me. I’ve done that for 30 years so I’m aiming for a more exposed show. I play some Shihad songs but they are way different.”

Also on Toogood’s playlist are songs by artists he grew up with — the Dance Exponents, The Dudes, Australian Crawl and Aldous Harding.

“I even do a people-who-died slot — Bowie, Tom Petty, Pete Shelley — anyone I love; any songs that have been important to me growing up. Performing solo, I can talk about that.”

Toogood brings something of the raconteur to his solo show.

“I talk stupid stuff between songs. I can react in real time. Shihad is more like a Broadway show. Everything is rehearsed.”

The one-man-and-his-guitar shows come off the back of a busy 2018 that included a 30th anniversary tour with Shihad, and the release of Haja, an album performed by Toogood’s band of collaborators, The Adults. Haja came about while Toogood was searching for inspiration for The Adults’ second project. He found it at his wedding in the Sudan when traditional music known as Aghani-Al-Banat was performed during the ceremony.

Aghani-Al-Banat translates to “girls music”. The album’s title, Haja, is a respectful Sudanese term that identifies an older, more experienced woman.

Toogood met his wife-to-be Dana at an event at Auckland Museum, visited her northern Sudan homeland and converted to Islam. He also fell in love with what he describes as the country’s “organic dance music”.

“I’m a professional musician,” he says.

“When I heard it for the first time I thought it was almost like music I listened to. I thought it sounded like a cool track by MIA.

Toogood used The Adults’ album as his thesis towards his Masters that included study of the cultural significance and music of the Northern Sudanese people.

“I had to write a 15,000 word document to go with it called ‘Incorporating Aghani-Al-Banat in a contemporary pop and rock project’.”

The New Zealand-born musician says that as the offspring of English immigrants he has a bit of an outsider’s perspective which has been to his advantage. But the catalyst for change that included forming The Adults, marriage and the intimacy of solo performance, was the loss of his father.

“I spent three months with him. He made me think ‘life does go fast’. My parachute opened and I took a leap.”

That leap included giving up liquor and drugs, getting off “the factory line” and exploring new musical roads.

“I formed The Adults, got married, got involved with a radio show. Life turned up.”

He’s unplugged the Marshall stacks, dusted off the acoustic guitar and hit the road for the Wild East.

Hard rock act Shihad’s frontman Jon Toogood is slouching towards Gisborne next month to be borne onstage at Smash Palace where he will perform unplugged, unaccompanied and unmasked.

Performing solo is a different, exciting skill, says Toogood.

“It makes you conversational and get in the moment.

“It’s different in Shihad. I have a big wall of noise behind me. I’ve done that for 30 years so I’m aiming for a more exposed show. I play some Shihad songs but they are way different.”

Also on Toogood’s playlist are songs by artists he grew up with — the Dance Exponents, The Dudes, Australian Crawl and Aldous Harding.

“I even do a people-who-died slot — Bowie, Tom Petty, Pete Shelley — anyone I love; any songs that have been important to me growing up. Performing solo, I can talk about that.”

Toogood brings something of the raconteur to his solo show.

“I talk stupid stuff between songs. I can react in real time. Shihad is more like a Broadway show. Everything is rehearsed.”

The one-man-and-his-guitar shows come off the back of a busy 2018 that included a 30th anniversary tour with Shihad, and the release of Haja, an album performed by Toogood’s band of collaborators, The Adults. Haja came about while Toogood was searching for inspiration for The Adults’ second project. He found it at his wedding in the Sudan when traditional music known as Aghani-Al-Banat was performed during the ceremony.

Aghani-Al-Banat translates to “girls music”. The album’s title, Haja, is a respectful Sudanese term that identifies an older, more experienced woman.

Toogood met his wife-to-be Dana at an event at Auckland Museum, visited her northern Sudan homeland and converted to Islam. He also fell in love with what he describes as the country’s “organic dance music”.

“I’m a professional musician,” he says.

“When I heard it for the first time I thought it was almost like music I listened to. I thought it sounded like a cool track by MIA.

Toogood used The Adults’ album as his thesis towards his Masters that included study of the cultural significance and music of the Northern Sudanese people.

“I had to write a 15,000 word document to go with it called ‘Incorporating Aghani-Al-Banat in a contemporary pop and rock project’.”

The New Zealand-born musician says that as the offspring of English immigrants he has a bit of an outsider’s perspective which has been to his advantage. But the catalyst for change that included forming The Adults, marriage and the intimacy of solo performance, was the loss of his father.

“I spent three months with him. He made me think ‘life does go fast’. My parachute opened and I took a leap.”

That leap included giving up liquor and drugs, getting off “the factory line” and exploring new musical roads.

“I formed The Adults, got married, got involved with a radio show. Life turned up.”

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