A tweet from NZ On Air reminded me of a great Shihad interview from C4's Homegrown Profiles (2005). I remember celebrating at the time the return to form that Love is the New Hate represented. For Toogood and the band, the journey to that record was as fraught and self-actualising as the album itself. The interview features moments of vulnerability (see: clip 3 at 09:06) that are perhaps even more revealing than the Shihad: Beautiful Machine documentary.
Re-watching, I was struck by the multiple references to Killjoy in the blueprint for Domes' record. As we prepare to release Bonfire of the Vanities, I now recognise the musical intent and production aesthetic conveyed by this track make for something of a love letter to Kippenberger, Knight, Larkin and Toogood's oeuvre.
While I can't adequately describe that band's impact on New Zealand musicians here, I'd like to share a personal story briefly. I had the opportunity to meet Toogood over coffee and admittedly kind of overwhelmed him. His warmth, professionalism and openness was authentic. Honestly, I talked too much and he was incredibly gracious with his time. Some of the best advice he imparted was how to disrupt your own songwriting.
Back then, I felt I had drained the well from which 11811 came. In my view, the project effort was complete; we presented all but one song from the shortlisted demos. However, our label required more content. The segue tracks fulfilled that need but I recognised internally that the energy needed to start the next writing process—in the way with which I was familiar—was just absent.
Toogood understood and shared how he confronted similar feelings. He went on to describe a successful approach to changing contexts (specifically, instruments) then transposing to guitar later to buck filters, expectations and constraints as a writer. It was an empowering insight. In my experience, this works especially well when you pick up an instrument that you are not good at. The frustration focuses you; the in-the-moment learning experience is potent.
My Fallout 4-themed synth-scapes remain mercifully unreleased. However, our Domes record certainly benefited from dismantling and discarding trusted songwriting processes and thought patterns in order to rediscover the creative wellspring.