Shihad is revving up for a birthday celebration to put others to shame.

The hard rock band, formed by frontman Jon Toogood and drummer Tom Larkin as Wellington schoolboys in 1988, is planning a week-long party to celebrate its 21st birthday.

Toogood had promised his band mates he wouldn't give away the party's details, aside from saying it would take place in Wellington in November, but he's so excited about the idea he just can't keep it to himself.

"It sort of involves performing each of the albums in its entirety. An album per night, like each individual record as a concert, and actually see if we can actually pull it off...

"For the band, it's a massive undertaking - 90 songs that we have to re-learn (and) there'll be songs there that we've never performed live, ever, even when those records were out, and songs that we haven't played since that album tour."

Before their own birthday party, Shihad will play a seven-date nationwide tour to celebrate The Rock radio station's 18th birthday, alongside compatriots Luger Boa and Aussie rockers Airbourne and The Living End.

Toogood says the line-up and the venues, including the Wellington and Christchurch Town Halls, will make for the ultimate rock n roll show.

"The production's gonna be massive so it's gonna sound like a f***ing machine, and it's in fantastic venues. When the Wellington Town Hall is full and rocking, it's just a real pleasure to be involved."

But before they can party, there's still plenty of hard work to go on Shihad's upcoming album, scheduled for release in March.

With seven records behind them, the band - which includes Phil Knight on guitar and synth and Karl Kippenberger on bass - is laying down tracks a completely different way this time around, Toogood says.

"We're not writing and writing until we have an album and then going and recording the album; we're writing it in three separate parts, we're approaching each recording session like an EP."

Not only had they never done that before, but it meant they could "keep on moving with all the extra-curricular stuff as well".

That "extra-curricular stuff" includes Toogood travelling around New Zealand with a hard-drive and meeting up with artists including Ladi 6, Tiki Taane, Shayne Carter (dimmer), Julia Deans (Fur Patrol) and Kody and Ruban Nielson of the Mint Chicks.

Toogood says that music is set to become a collaboration record, and hopes to release a single before the year's end.

Working with such varied and talented artists has been "a massive learning curve", he says.

"It's really reinvigorating in the fact that you're falling in love again with an art form you sort of thought you knew intimately for the last 21 years, but all of a sudden it's like 'wow, I didn't know you could do that with this' ... and it makes you go to sleep at night feeling a lot better about yourself, it's great."

He's also taken a new perspective back to Shihad, whose new material sounds "really exciting and really fresh".

"We have been really lucky that all the members of Shihad have always been into reinvention, even during hard times, it's always like we don't have to stay where we are, we can always move and change.

"I think that's the biggest reason we're still together after 21 years, so it does keep it fresh, it keeps you guessing and there's new challenges every time to make a record and also, as a fan of the band myself, it's like 'I wonder what we're going to come up with next'."

* Shihad play seven shows around New Zealand for the Legal Tender Tour, starting October 1

- NZPA