Shihad's documentary Beautiful Machine will premiere at Splendour in the Grass this Sunday.
Shihad's documentary Beautiful Machine will premiere at Splendour in the Grass this Sunday. Kane Hibberd

Beautiful world turns

REGRET weighs heavily for Shihad guitarist Phil Knight.

The biggest - the ill-conceived and now infamous post-9/11 name change from Shihad to Pacifier to appease US audiences.

"Obviously we all regret that," Knight said with a small sigh.

"But I don't know we would have done it any other way. We're all from suburban backgrounds and never had any real struggles growing up and you only have your experiences to go on.

"We did what we thought was best at the time."

The notorious name change is just one of the topics explored in the rockumentary Beautiful Machine which takes a look at the band's history and their success and failings.

The film is part homage to the band's late manager Gerald Dwyer, who died of a drug overdose in 1997, part fly-on-the wall rockumentary charting the band's journey from angry, almost primal, beginnings in Wellington to their crash and burn in the US and their life today.

It's a raw and personal look at the band members' lives where nothing is off limits.

It is both a celebration of the music of Shihad and a cautionary tale of how easily a band, full of talent and ambition and opportunity can become derailed.

While he is used to performing in front of thousands, it was a surreal experience for Knight to be in the audience watching himself on screen at the film's premiere.

"Every time I was talking on screen, I found myself sinking lower into my seat. It was really weird," he said.

The film explores Knight's unblinking admission of how his drinking problem nearly got himself kicked out of the band and old backstage footage was the hardest for Knight to watch.

"I stopped drinking eight years ago as I'd turned into an alcoholic mess as a lot of guys in rock bands do but it was weird seeing me drunk and smashing up the band room. It was eerie."

To coincide with the release of the Beautiful Machine last year, the band put out a best of album, The Meanest Hits, a mammoth career retrospective double disc spanning 38 tracks.

The accompanying tour is a sprawling show chronicling their career starting out with their early stuff and working up until the present day.

Despite the turmoil and tough times, one thing has remained for Knight; his love of music and respect for his fellow band mates.

"We have a huge level of respect for each other on a creative level," he said.

"We do like each other a lot. We have been through so much together. We're like brothers in a strange way. We still love playing live and delivering live, it's always been such a big part of it for us. The live show is still sacred for us - in the end that's what it's all about."

Beautiful Machine will premiere at Splendour in the Grass on Sunday followed by a cinematic release in September.

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