Beastwars Profile

Gareth Shute
Published: 2 Jul 2018
Updated: 1 May 2020

It caught many by surprise when Beastwars hit No.15 on the charts with their self-titled debut. Their sludgy stoner rock was too heavy for the commercial rock stations in New Zealand, but they proved they could survive without their support, racking up two further top five albums. This trilogy of albums was a definitive catalogue of the band’s themes of mortality, apocalypse, and the elemental structures of the world.

The story of Beastwars reaches back to 1986, when singer Matt Hyde started his first band, Microwave Babies, while still at Saint Bernard's College in Lower Hutt (the band imploded in early 1988). Following this, Hyde moved to Australia and was hit by the first stirrings of grunge, especially Soundgarden.

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Beastwars - Tower Of Skulls (from Blood Becomes Fire, 2013)
Beastwars - Dune (from Blood Becomes Fire, 2013)
Beastwars in rehearsal for the APRA Silver Scroll Awards.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Matt Hyde, Beastwars. Cherry Festival, Australia, 2015.
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Beastwars - Empire (from the self-titled debut, 2011)
Beastwars and Red Fang show, Cherry Rock, Melbourne, 2015
James Woods, Beastwars, Melbourne, 2016
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Matt Hyde of Beastwars addresses the front row at the Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne, 2016.
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Matt Hyde, Beastwars, Melbourne, 2016.
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Beastwars - Some Sell Their Souls (The Death Of All Things, 2016)
Beastwars - Dunedin gig poster, 2012
Photo credit: Promotional image
Poster for a gig at the legendary Esplanade Hotel at St Kilda, Melbourne - 2013. 
Beastwars - Matt Hyde, James Woods, Nathan Hickey, Clayton Anderson.
Photo credit: Promotional image
Beastwars on the cover of NZ Musician magazine, April/May 2016.
Photo credit: NZ Musician
Matt Hyde from Beastwars rehearsing for a performance at the APRA SIlver Scroll awards.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Clayton Anderson obeying the riff in Beastwars, Melbourne, 2016.
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Beastwars - San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, 2012
Beastwars band painting by Nik Keller, a Wellington artist who now works for Weta Digital. It was created when Auckland beer company Hallertau approached the band wanting to create a limited edition brew using their name.
Photo credit: Nik Keller
Nathan 'Nato' Hickey, Beastwars - San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, 2016. 
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Beastwars, L to R: Clayton Anderson, James Woods, Matt Hyde, Nathan 'Nato' Hickey.
Photo credit: Jay Hynes, Melbourne
Beastwars interview on The Void with Christina, 2016
James Woods, Beastwars, Melbourne, 2016.
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Matt Hyde of Beastwars, at the Rolling Thunder Festival; Collingwood Town Hall, Melbourne, February 2016
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Beastwars, on stage at the San Francisco Bathhouse, Wellington, 2016. 
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Beastwars.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Beastwars' debut album tour poster, 2011.
Photo credit: Promotional image
James Woods of Beastwars, rehearsing in a room at the Auckland Town Hall for their appearance at the Apra Silver Scroll (playing a song by The Eastern). Mayor Len Brown came down to complain that the noise was annoying.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Matt Hyde recording vocals for their 2011 debut album outside on the deck, Dale Cotton's studio, Dunedin.
Photo credit: Clayton Anderson and Nathan Hickey
Matt Hyde of Beastwars, during The Death of All Things tour - San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, 2016.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Matt Hyde of Beastwars, on stage at Chicks Hotel, Port Chalmers, 2014. They were double-billed with US band Windhand.
Photo credit: Dani Michelucci
Matt Hyde of Beastwars, at Real Groovy Records on Record Store Day, 20 April 2013
Photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Ganley
A Beastwars set list.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Beastwars - Witches (The Death Of All Things, 2016)
Beastwars at Cherry Festival, Australia, 2015
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Matt Hyde fronting Beastwars in Australia.
Poster for Beastwars and Windhand gig, 2014. 
Photo credit: Promotional image
Beastwars - Christchurch, 2015.
James Woods, Beastwars.
Photo credit: Jay Hynes, Melbourne
Nathan 'Nato' Hickey, Beastwars, Melbourne, 2016.
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Beastwars, Homegrown, 2016. L to R: Clayton Anderson, Matt Hyde, James Woods, Nathan Hickey.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Beastwars, The Death of All Things tour - San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, 2016.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Nik Keller's cover art for Beastwars' self-titled 2011 debut album.
A graphic by prominent Australian artist, Ben Brown, used for a tour poster and t-shirt, 2015. Brown also designed posters for tours of Australia by the Pixies and Nirvana. 
Photo credit: Ben Brown
Clayton Anderson, Beastwars, Melbourne, 2016.
Photo credit: Stephen Boxhill
Matt Hyde performing in Beastwars at York Street Recording Studios, Auckland, for 95bFM Sundae Sessions.
Photo credit: Hugh Sundae
James Woods, Beastwars.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Beastwars in Australia, c. 2014. From left: James Woods, Matt Hyde, Nathan Hickey, Clayton Anderson. 
Photo credit: Anthony Pinder
Matt Hyde, Beastwars.
Photo credit: Alexander Hallag
Members:

Matt Hyde - vocals

Clayton Anderson - guitar

James Woods - bass

Nathan ‘Nato’ Hickey - drums

Labels:

Universal

Trivia:

While living in the UK, Hickey joined the metal group, Elephant Tree.

Beastwars often cited their credo as being "obey the riff" – partly reflected in the fact that they pass over guitar solos and showy elements in favour of creating atmosphere and focusing on the overall sonics of the song.