Shai Hulud
United States
Music group
The year was 1995. The location was the state of Florida. Here, Matt Fox and Dave Silber created Shai Hulud. Matt and Dave, armed with their guitars, had given birth to a band which would create some of the most brutal and beautiful music ever. "They just kind of decided that they wanted to play in a hardcore band", says former bassist Jared Allen. "Matt was playing in several other kinds of bands like rock bands and they just wanted to play some hardcore. They got everyone else they needed to complete the band, and just went from there." Those other people included Damien Moyal on vocals (As Friends Rust, Morning Again), Jason Lederman on drums (Where Fear And Weapons Meet) , and Oliver Chapoy on guitar. Dave would move to bass when Oliver joined the band. However, things with Jason didn't work out and the band began to look for a new drummer. This, unfortunately, would be something the band would become accustomed to.

It didn't take long, however, to find that replacement. Enter Steve Kleisath. "...they knew I played in Strongarm, and I knew Matt as a friend", says Steve. "At first I was just gonna fill in until they found someone, cause I was full time in Strongarm. They asked, "Why don't you fill in for us until we find somebody?", and they really didn't find anybody, and we started really getting together as far as the chemistry of the band. And I was given a lot of freedom to write stuff as well. Basically everything after the three song CD either me or Matt have written as far as musically."

So with a complete lineup intact the band recorded a six-song demo in 1996 and was soon signed to Revelation Records. "I worked at a music store in Pompano Beach, and we did orders with Revelation every other day", says Matt Fox. "So I like to talk, and I got to know the lady Jeanie, who does mail order, and we became friends. So one day she was asking what I was doing that night, and I told her I was going into the studio to record with my band. She was like wow, send me a copy. I sent her a copy, she passed it along to the right people and they signed us. It was pretty easy, they thought we were talented, and I had an in with Revelation."

Of course, inline with their shaky history, things were about to change again. Damien Moyal wasn't meshing with the group. Steve affirms, "...our old singer we sort of kicked out just cause he was very difficult to work with". Moyal adds, "When Revelation Records said that they wanted to sign us, I quit Shai Hulud. I couldn't imagine touring with them, because we didn't get along so well. So I left the band. They do still use certain lyrics of mine (Hardly, This Wake, etc.) but I don't mind at all. I felt bad for quitting at a time where a great label was ready to sign them, so when I left, I told them that they could use whatever lyrics they wanted."

With the exit of Damien, Shai Hulud would recruit a teenager named Chad Gilbert. " was Matt and Dave who discovered him", says Steve. "At this one show this other band from Florida called Tension played and basically this kid, Chad, came up to the microphone and knew some of the words and he was just belting them out, and they were like "Man, that kid's got a voice on him." And we were looking for a singer and we really didn't find anyone for a while. We wound up trying him out and it worked out really good, except for the fact that we are obviously not available to tour at any time because he is still in high school." Chad's age did become a problem for the band. Chad remembers, "Actually in the beginning, on our first tour, I was only in the 8th grade. We were asked to go on tour with Strongarm, and my Mom was like no way, absolutely not. I had to go it was the biggest opportunity, I can see the country for free, touring having fun with my band. In order for me to go on tour I had to invite everyone from my band and from Strongarm to my house. We had this big meeting with my parents. If it wasn't for the rest of the guys in the bands I wouldn't have gotten to go. But because everyone is responsible, my Mom saw that and was cool with it." However, Chad's vocal ability made up for these shortcomings.

Shai Hulud had a record deal with Revelation Records' subsidiary, Crisis Records. In September 1996, they recorded a three song EP called "A Profound Hatred Of Man" which was released in February of '97. This EP started the legacy of Shai Hulud. As Shai Hulud began its journey, another Florida band was being born. Chad Gilbert joined the pop-punk band named A New Found Glory in 1997. This would pose problems for Shai Hulud in the future. However, the Hulud were moving fast and started recording their first full-length, "Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion", in August of 1997. They would finish the album in September and release it in November. Just like their EP, hardcore and metal kids alike embraced "Hearts Once". It is almost impossible to find a bad review for either of these releases.

In May of 1998 the band continued recording. Three tracks were recorded for a split with New York's own Indecision entitled "The Fall Of Every Man". Once again the split, which was released in November of '98, was well received. As Shai Hulud's popularity grew some of the band's member's interest began to waver. In 1998, Oliver Chapoy decided to leave the band. He was no longer interested in playing aggressive music. The band found a replacement in one Matt Fletcher. "Matt Fletcher, who is also from Oklahoma, and I flew from Oklahoma to Seattle to see Shai Hulud in the summer/fall of 1998", Jared Allen remembers. "We kept in touch with Matt Fox and we went to see the band at a hardcore fest in Gainesville later that year. They were auditioning for a new rhythm guitar player, so Fletcher tried out and made the cut. He moved to Florida to join the band in January of 1999." The band pushed on and, in June of '99, released a cover of "Fearless Vampire Killers" for the Bad Brains tribute compilation called "Never Give In".

With their popularity growing in the U.S. underground scene, the band decided to travel abroad and dispense their special brand of hardcore across the European continent. However, two members would not be going. Unfortunately, Steve Kleisath and the band were having personal issues. In order to save the friendships that once existed, everyone agreed it would be best to part ways. Steve went on to continue his work on the debut LP for his other band Further Seems Forever. However, this would not be the last time the band and Steve would work together. Chad Gilbert decided to leave his mic with Shai Hulud and become a full-time guitar player for the band A New Found Glory. "They only had 2 weeks before leaving for Europe", says current vocalist Geert van der Velde. "Canceling at that point was out of the question for a number of reasons." So, the band forged ahead and recruited Andrew Gormley(Rorschach, Kiss it Goodbye) to fill as drummer on the tour. Because the band no longer had a singer, Matt Fletcher stepped up to the mic with his guitar and gave it a shot. However, he would not be singing for long.

Geert remembers his entrance into the band, "Matt Fletcher who had joined the band just earlier that year then decided to take up vocal duties for lack of a singer and did an awesome job on the first few shows. They met me at their second show in Arnhem (Holland)..." "After the show in Holland me and Matt Fox talked for a bit because I was playing and writing all the music and lyrics for a band called "Through a Glass Darkly" at the time. I was hoping that Matt could help me out with his label, Ides of March, somehow. He actually jokingly asked me if I wanted to sing for Shai Hulud. We both kind of laughed about it and then continued talking about other stuff until his attention shifted towards a very attractive Dutch female. I then said my goodbyes and left because one of my best friend's birthday was that day and I told him I was going to come so I did."

"That night Matt's joke sort of stuck with me and I called him the next day at this club in Ieper(Belgium) where I knew Shai Hulud would play their next show. I asked him if they would mind me tagging along on tour with them and he said it wouldn't be as long as I had my own form of transportation. My parents were on vacation in France at the time and my mom's car was just sitting there in the driveway so I called my mom on her cell phone to see if she would let me borrow her car for a month. She said "No", of course, after which I called Matt again and told him "Thanks, but my mom won't let me borrow the car." Right after that my dad called back and told me I had the car providing I'd take care of it and have it checked out before I left. The next day would be my last day in college for that semester and final day to hand in my final paper. So I stayed up all night, typed my paper, had the car checked out real early in the morning and took off to meet them at a club in Germany of which I only had the name and town and no address. I found a gas station in the town, asked for directions, found the club and waited for them to show up, which they did eventually. I hung out with Matt Fletcher and Matt Fox pretty much the whole night and things were friendly."

"The next day Matt Fox and Andrew rode with me in my mom's car to the next show. When we got there they decided to sound check. As I watched them set up Fox came up to me and asked me if I wanted to do back-ups. "You know the words, right?" "Yeah I know the words!", I replied and they sound checked with "For the World." After the sound check, which I did together with Fletcher, my back facing the band because I felt too embarrassed, Fox tapped me on the shoulder and took me outside to talk. "You sound brutal sir! You wanna sing tonight?" I couldn't believe it. "If you want and it works out, would you like to sing the rest of the tour?" That night me and Fletcher both sang the show and we did that for another 2 more shows. We finished the rest of the tour with me on vocals and Fletcher back on 2nd guitar."

Fox, Fletcher, and van der Velde returned from Europe to Florida determined to continue Shai Hulud. However, Dave Silber had been ready to quit and did so upon their return. Therefore, the band had no rhythm section. So a search began for a new bass player and drummer. In January of 2000, Jared Allen, Matt Fletcher's buddy from Oklahoma, would fill in the bass player position and quickly join the band in the studio. Three tracks would be recorded for a split with the band Another Victim named "A Whole New Level Of Sickness". This and another split, honoring Metallica, were both released in March of 2000. Shai Hulud shared the Metallica tribute split, named "Crush Em' All Vol. 1", with Boy Sets Fire. Although Spikey Goldbach would step behind the drum kit for the "A Whole New Level Of Sickness" split and Steve Kleisath would return for the sole track on the "Crush Em' All" split, the band still was in need of a drummer.

The band was desperate for a drummer and it was becoming painfully clear that being located in southern Florida was not helping them. "It hinders us because we're so South East, because it's not like the Mid-West or the North East", Matt Fox explains. "We can't just drive a couple of hours to play a festival or something. Us on the other hand, we're so concentrated in South Florida that we have a hard time driving up for one show. When we do something, any excursion it has to be a two or three day thing at least. So we miss out on a lot of festivals, and shows. So that's a hindrance." The drummer search finally ceased when the band found a capable person in New York. However, the band would not be waiting for him to arrive in Florida. "Finding a drummer in FL, or that would move to FL was proving to be impossible", said Matt Fox. "When we found the drummer that could cut it, we moved. Aside from that, this area has so much to offer. So many shows, so many cities." The area Matt Fox was referring to was Poughkeepsie, NY. However, starting over with a new member in an unfamiliar place would not be easy.

The band would proceed to book and play shows with their new drummer. Unfortunately, the drummer, whom the band traveled through several states just to play with, was not working out. Luckily for the band they would be able to find another drummer from the area. "...a friend of ours recommended a local drummer, Chris Cardinal, who used to play for Inner Dam", Jared Allen explains. "Chris came out to some of the shows and we got to know him pretty well. He came over to try out and we knew right away that he was the one we were looking for." The band soon became accustomed to their new home and continued to play shows with Chris. However, the relationship with Chris would be on and off. He is no longer the full-time drummer for the band. Yet, he is still very friendly with the band and still plays shows whenever they need a fill-in.

The band's next big endeavor was to record and release a second full-length. An undertaking five years in the making. The album was called "That Within Blood Ill-Tempered" and was released on May 20, 2003. "Musically, and lyrically, we are giving as much as we possibly can," says Matt Fox. "We whole-heartedly believe in what we have titled, That Within Blood Ill-Tempered. Without tooting our own horn here, it is truly an epic, if ever a Metalcore album has been." Throughout the creation of the new album the band continued to search for a permanent drummer. Tony Tintari (Rise Against) joined the band in the studio while recording the new album and is still playing behind the kit today. "We tried out a whole bunch of drummers throughout most of 2001. Chris was still sort of lingering around, helping us out by practicing and playing shows with us every once in a while he could take off from work, during that time", says Geert. "For the past 3 months however, we've been practicing and playing out/touring with Tony, even though he still lives in Chicago. Which is amazing to us because we had the hardest time finding someone talented and dedicated enough at the same time to be in the band." However, whenever it looks like the band might have a permanent lineup, something happens to the contrary. Jared Allen decided to leave Shai Hulud in 2002. "Jared and I had some difficulties on our last tour", Matt Fox explains. "He clashed with other members of the band and it worked fine. Then he and I had surmounting tensions and disagreements on the way things should be done. It came to a head and we didn't agree enough on the way things should be done, and he took his leave."

This time looking for a replacement would not be hard. "When Jared left, I said I think we could probably find a stronger guitar player", says Matt Fletcher. "We got this guy filling in on us right now who is better than I am, and he lives with us and he's a good friend. When he came into my room one day and was just like, "I'd like to try out to rock bass with you guys." I said, "That's kind of stupid...You should just play the guitar, and I'll do the bass." And that is how it ended up. Matt Fletcher would play bass, however, ironically the spot Matt left at guitar would quickly become vacant.

With the release of their critically acclaimed full-length the band appeared to finally have a stable lineup. They toured, conducted interviews, and even found time to record an EP for their side project called Zombie Apocalypse. However, appearances can be deceiving. During the summer of 2003, Shai Hulud played five shows on the Take Action Tour. During the last show at Irving Plaza in New York City, Geert van der Velde announced he would be leaving the band due to personal differences with the band. To the fans, Geert's departure seemed extremely sudden. However, like most "band break-ups" the problems were most likely festering for sometime. According to Matt Fox, "This has been a long time coming, and it was necessary for even longer than it was thought of as an option."

Matt Fox and Matt Fletcher decided to start over by renaming the band "The Warmth Of Red Blood". The new band would have the same message and sound, however, they had decided to move on to something new. Despite the decision to end the band, Shai Hulud continued to play shows. Matt Fox, Matt Fletcher, and Geert were joined by friends Andrew Gormley and Matt Canning for shows in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, and at Hellfest 2004 and Rhythmden Fest 2005. Chad Gilbert even fronted the band for four dates in January 2004. The band also released a retrospective compilation entitled, "A Comprehensive Retrospective Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Release Bad And Useless Recordings" containing rare demos and live tracks in January 2005. With all of this and a DVD scheduled to be released in mid 2006, the band and fans received a satisfying send-off.

However, before any hardcore kids had a chance to tattoo their backs with "The Warmth Of Red Blood", in April of 2006 the Matts announced they would not be retiring the name "Shai Hulud". After giving it some thought they decided to press on. With that, they recruited friend, Eric Dellon (Shallow Water Grave, Zombie Apocalypse) to replace Geert as vocalist and signed with Metal Blade Records. The band had been shopping around for a new label for some time and decided on the legendary Metal Blade in July of 2006.

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