When Pumpkinhead appeared at the 95bFM Private Function concert, at the old Turners & Growers Market site, near Viaduct Basin in Auckland, the band were offered a recording deal with indie label Wildside Records.
The band's 1995 album Sloth was recorded at Phil (AC/DC) Rudd’s rural Mountain Studio, near Tauranga with the band's live engineer David Wernham co-producing with the band. Wernham was also the guitarist/vocalist in the band 147Swordfish.
“Dave Wernham had a huge effect on the sound,” said vocalist Brent Milligan. “At the time he put in a lot of effort. David and me put in such long hours.” Wernham would eventually follow Shihad to Australia to mix their live sound.
After playing on the Sloth recording sessions, guitarist Jason Harmon left the band in December 1994. When the band played Strawberry Fields Festival in Raglan, February 1995, Dave Hunt proved to be a more than capable replacement on guitar. Pumpkinhead set out to blow Shihad off the stage. They might have done so, but due to the grounding of part of the Air New Zealand fleet, Shihad were five hours late leaving Wellington and after a delay, Knightshade agreed to play prior the still-in-a-van-somewhere-in-the-Waikato Shihad.
Pumpkinhead were on the cover of the March 1995 Rip It Up magazine, where John Russell wrote of their Strawberry Fields performance, “Every element gelled, all stops were pulled, and the result was the most supreme live performance. Just when you think they are peaking, Brent begins swigging kerosene and blows a series of enormous fireballs that tips the performance over the edge into the realm of something other worldly.”
By the end of 1995 rumours abounded as to the well-being of Pumpkinhead and their vocalist Brent Milligan. The band's label Wildside went on the defensive with their press release for the February 1996 single 'Nark'. Aaron Hogg wrote the song and although he loathed the song, it was chosen as a single.
The press release read, “After many a malicious rumour and a dose of tall-poppy syndrome, Pumpkinhead defied the cynics and returned to the North Island for their main stage performance at the January Big Day Out … And for all the dweebs that have nothing better to do than speculate on Pumpkinhead’s wellbeing – get a life!”
Drummer Jason Peters recalls the 1995 Big Day Out in Auckland. "We almost missed this show due a traffic light issue in Auckland, arriving at the venue with 20 minutes until showtime after completing a nationwide tour in Dunedin the night before with Supergroove.
"The following year 1996 we played the mainstage BDO. We supported Faith No More May 16 1993, on their Angel Dust tour, we also played two shows with FNM in Auckland and Wellington in 1995 on their King For a Day world tour."
Along the way Pumpkinhead also supported Fugazi, Primus and The Hard Ons.
After taking part a lounge version of 'I'd Like to Teach The World To Sing" (along with Grace, Bic Runga, The Exponents and Rikki Morris) for a Coca Cola campaign, a rift started to develop between members. While it wasn't the main cause for breaking up, Pumpkinhead played their final show on 8 November, 1996 at the Caledonian Hall in Christchurch.
Pumpkinhead were one of the many 1990s rock and alternative bands that benefitted from the adventurous provision of video grants by NZ On Air and the significant play of these videos achieved on free-to-air music video channels Max TV in Auckland (1993-1997) and Cry TV in Christchurch (1993 to 1997).
After Pumpkinhead, Aaron Hogg formed the band Gluefist, who changed their moniker to the more radio-friendly name of Slim, to gain a recording deal. Dave Hunt reappeared in Stereobus as Francis Hunt.
The band reunited a couple of times: at Southern Amp 2 in 2007 and for an unplugged show at the Civic, Christchurch, in 2008.
Francis Hunt - guitar
Jason Harmon - guitar
Aaron Hogg - guitar
Brent Milligan - vocals
Jason Peters - drums
Vaughan Watson - bass