I went to see a preview of the Shihad film Beautiful Machine on Monday night - and who knew their story was a real deal sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll yarn?

Yes, the rock has always been at the forefront of the band's story, so much so you sometimes forget these guys do have a life off stage. And drugs (and booze, something guitarist Phil Knight has battled with over the years, as the film reveals) also played a small yet tragic part in the band's history.

Though drugs never got Shihad like they did their manager Gerald Dwyer.

But the sex? Crikey. Now, I'm not talking sex in the debauched and lurid Motley Crue, Dirt-style shenanigans.


No, the Shihad sex-meets-love story - in particular Jon Toogood's relationship with former long-time love Ronise - is one about making out, intense and turbulent bonds, break-ups, make-ups and moving on.

This unique insight - many songs, such as Killjoy's bitter and angry anthem You Again were inspired by Toogood's tumultuous relationship - and the fact the film goes right back to when they were kids, makes Beautiful Machine a poignant portrayal of the band and its members.

I'm not going to give too much away and spoil the film for fans who will see the movie when it opens on May 17, their ears still ringing after the national tour the band starts today. But just in case, like me, you thought you knew most of what there is to know about Shihad, then you probably don't.

Even though I have interviewed Toogood a number of times, and once wrote a blow-by-blow mini novel on the band when they won the New Zealand Herald Legacy Award in 2010, there are some brilliantly juicy and often hilarious revelations here.

For example, did you know Knight is addicted to yoghurt? Also, the Toogoods went on family holidays to Hells Gate in Rotorua, just like my family did. I may have seen them there. In fact, I do seem to remember a skinny, jumped-up kid wearing a Metallica T-shirt throwing stones into the bubbling mud pools as he laughed maniacally.

And another thing, I also knew there had been much butting of heads among the band members over the years - but I didn't realise how deep-seated it was. The many battles have included Toogood against the band, the band vs "the world of Phil", bassist Karl Kippenberger vs Toogood, and, most personal of all, drummer Tom Larkin and Toogood vs their partners.

It's revealing and brutally honest. Or, to borrow a showbiz cliche, warts and all.

By the way, my favourite line from the film is Knight reflecting on playing guitar in his teens: "I used to sit in front of the heater - because it was cold at the time - and practice my shredding."

Shihad, as I have banged on about endlessly over the years, are my most formative Kiwi band - because I grew up, jumped around, drank, and sweated to songs such as Screwtop and You Again in the early 90s in Wellington.

Their debut, Churn, remains my favourite album which is why I got a little excited last week when I interviewed the producer of that record, Jaz Coleman (the frontman of Killing Joke, classical composer, and proud New Zealand resident). He told me he will - "God willing" - be working with the band again on their next album.

Which might not sound that amazing, but given the band and Coleman had a fraught relationship in the wake of the intense and visceral Churn sessions, it will be a mighty fine, and possibly fiery, reunion (if it happens).

If it does, that's fine by me because it's about time there was another truly wild and punishing Shihad record. Bring it on.

* Shihad play Altitude, Hamilton, tonight; Brewers Field, Mt Maunganui, tomorrow; Coroglen Tavern, Saturday; and the Powerstation, Auckland, on Sunday. The movie Shihad: Beautiful Machine hits cinemas on May 17. For more information visit www.shihadmovie.com.

- TimeOut