Alternative video for 'The general electric' from the 1999 album of the same name.

What’s in a name?

Breaking into the lucrative United States market is seen as the key to commercial success for many musicians. It’s a tough nut to crack, but after the success of their fourth album, The general electric (1999), the New Zealand rockers of Shihad were optimistic they could go where few New Zealand bands had been before and gain success stateside.

The band arrived in Los Angeles in early September 2001 with a new record deal. A week later Shihad found itself caught up in the fallout from the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The word Shihad sounded too much like jihad (Arabic for holy war) for American tastes. The band was told that no matter how good the music was, no one was going to say Shihad on the radio.

Shihad responded in January 2002 by changing its name to Pacifier, the title of a single from The general electric. The band had a strong level of support at home on the back of its reputation as a live act, and some fans were anything but pacified with the decision to change the name. They accused the band of selling out in order to make it in the United States.

Guitarist Phil Knight pointed out that it had always been the dream to ‘give America a good crack, to make the big record in America’, but ‘for the most part we should have just done it [our way], we should have stuck with our name’. The band reverted to Shihad in 2004.

Shihad never made the big American record, but its album Love is the new hate (2005) was described as ‘a stonking hard-rock album’ when reviewed by Nick Bollinger.

In 2008 and 2010 Shihad released their seventh and eight albums, Beautiful machine and Ignite.

At the 2010 New Zealand Music Awards Shihad won the Legacy Award, and were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. A documentary film about the band, Shihad: Beautiful Machine, was released in May 2012. See a trailer for this below:

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Posted: 03 Jan 2014

"Shihad sounded too much like jihad (Arabic for holy war) for American tastes." This needs clarification, 'jihad' actually translates as 'struggle' and is used in a religious context to mean the struggle a Muslim has each day to remain faithful to his/her faith!