Jon Toogood is ditching his band mates and touring on his own for the first time - as long as he can escape the demands of a newborn baby. The Shihad frontman talks to Chris Schulz.

Jon Toogood is exhausted. Washing is piling up, dirty nappies are filling the bins and, to make matters worse, sleep deprivation is kicking in.

He's usually a bundle of energy, but when TimeOut calls the Shihad front man at his home in Melbourne, Toogood doesn't sound like his normal self. And there's a very good reason why.

"My wife just gave birth to our first son four weeks ago," he says. "It's madness. I'm f***ing exhausted. I thought touring was hard but I reckon touring would be a holiday to this."

He'll find out soon enough. After 27 years fronting New Zealand's biggest rock act, Toogood is heading out on tour - without his band mates.


The new dad - his first son with wife Dana Salih is called "Yahia", which is Arabic for "Jon" - will perform an eight-date acoustic tour of New Zealand in October, before returning to Australia to do the same thing.

The show mimics those done by other front men of big-name rock acts like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, with Toogood performing on a stage with just a guitar, a microphone and a stool for company. He admits the show's stripped-back approach is a little scary.

"I've always felt comfortable with an acoustic guitar - I've just never played it live. It's the thing I do at home really," he says. "I've always had amps and three other guys making a wall of noise (to hide behind).

"Because it's not something I'm comfortable with, it feels totally rock 'n' roll."

The idea came after a solo showcase at a small Melbourne bar. As soon as he walked off stage, Toogood called his booking agent and asked for "as many shows like this as possible".

"I love it - I just want to do it. I've never had to sit in front of people with me and an acoustic guitar and talk between songs. It was so liberating - it was exciting and fresh to me because I'd never done it."

The setlist will be split between Shihad material, songs from Toogood's collaboration album The Adults, and covers of songs Toogood's been playing on his new Radio Hauraki show, Planet of Sound.

And rest assured: Shihad fans. Toogood's not breaking up the band to do this. It's simply a side project.


"They're all cool about it - it's something I can't do in Shihad," he says. "There's no point getting those guys up on stage and saying, 'Don't play for an hour'. I'm just getting it out of my system."

Toogood's only concern is missing out on spending time with his growing family. The upside? He can escape all that washing for a bit.

"It's like washing just appears, and it keeps appearing, and it never ends," he laughs.

"It's a lot of fun ... but this is harder than touring. Way harder."

Who: Jon Toogood, flying solo
Where and when: October 8, The Tuning Fork, Auckland; October 11, Leigh Sawmill, Leigh; October 15, The Playhouse Cafe, Nelson; October 16, The Sherwood, Queenstown; October 17, Allen Street Live, Christchurch; October 22, The Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin; October 23, King Street Live, Masterton; October 24, Meow, Wellington.

- TimeOut