8 Foot Sativa

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8 Foot Sativa
Origin Auckland, Auckland Region, New Zealand
Genres Death metal
Thrash metal
Melodic death metal
Years active 1998 – present
Labels 8 Foot saliva ltd
Intergalactic Records
Roadrunner Records
Black Mark Records
Associated acts Sinate
Website www.8footsativa.co.nz
Members Justin Niessen
Nik Davies
Corey Friedlander
Paul Lawrence

8 Foot Sativa is a New Zealand-based extreme metal band formed in 1998. Their most famous single is their self-titled song, "8 Foot Sativa", which was number one on M2, a late night New Zealand music show's top 12 list for 12 weeks, and stayed on the chart for seven months.[1] (M2 was a New Zealand late night Music Show.) The band has toured and released albums internationally, and have played alongside artists such as Fear Factory, Soulfly, Korn, Slipknot, System of a Down, Children of Bodom, Disturbed, Motörhead, Pungent Stench, Shihad and Corrosion of Conformity.[2] 8 Foot Sativa have become a household name in New Zealand and are known as the biggest and most successful metal band to come out of the country to date.


Early days (1998-2002)[edit]

8 Foot Sativa formed when members Brent Fox and Gary Smith met at Massey High School in Auckland, New Zealand.[3] They both enjoyed metal music and played music together. Peter 'Speed' Young from Kelston Boys' High School joined the band as the band's drummer. 'Fat' Dave was on the bass guitar. In their early days, they were a cover band, who would play music from Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Sepultura, Metallica and Slayer.

'Fat' Dave would often not turn up to practices, so Brent Fox moved from guitar to bass guitar. The band would meet their next vocalist, Ari, at a music school, where they formally learned at where he was doing drums. Ari was the first vocalist to do original songs, writing lyrics to the songs 'Fuel Set' , 'Kick it all Away' and 'Engine' , all of which later appears on their debut album.

During this time, the band met Justin 'Jackhammer' Niessen at a mall. According to Gary Smith: "He used to sneak into the gigs and we'd sneak him beers".[4] After Ari disappearance from the band, not to be seen by the band for a few years, Niessen became the new vocalist.

Niessen is famed by many 8 Foot Sativa fans, for occasionally performing his vocals to the point of collapsing. This had happened once on New Zealand music show Space while performing 'Destined to be Dead'. NZMusician.com claims that these collapses were due to, "shortage of breath attributed to a lack of vocal training".[5]

Hate Made Me (2002)[edit]

In 2002, 8 Foot Sativa released their debut album, Hate Made Me, with the album later receiving gold status within New Zealand for selling more than 7,500 copies[2] Shortly after the release of Hate Made Me, Young left the band, reportedly citing 'musical differences'. He was replaced with Sinate drummer, Sam Sheppard.

This album features what is probably 8 Foot Sativa's most well-known song, the eponymous "8 Foot Sativa", which is a staple at their live shows. It also appeared in an episode of Monster Garage.

Season For Assault (2003)[edit]

In 2003, 8 Foot Sativa released their second album Season for Assault, with it nearing gold status within New Zealand. The album features well- known songs "Chelsea Smile" and "Season For Assault".

Season For Assault sees 'Sativa lift their game to a whole new level with far more complex riffs and more insightful lyrics than on "Hate Made Me".

Niessen resigned from the band two weeks before they were set to fly to Sweden to record their third album. The singer position was vacant for two days, with Sam Sheppard's brother, and fellow Sinate member, Matt Sheppard, became 8 Foot Sativa's new vocalist.

Breed The Pain (2005)[edit]

With a new vocalist, 8 Foot Sativa released their third album Breed the Pain in 2005. It was recorded at Studio Underground in Sweden. Matt Sheppard wrote or co-wrote six of the songs on the album, and his girlfriend provided the artwork.

Matt and Sam Sheppard left 8 Foot Sativa after the Breed the Pain tour. They later reformed their previous band, Sinate. They joined forces with 8 Foot Sativa's guitar technician Sean Parkinson and Antony "Colonel" Folwell from the band Reprobate.

Justin 'Jackhammer' Niessen toured with the band temporarily from 9 September until 17 September, playing a four concert tour around New Zealand. This tour also saw new-comers William Cleverdon and Corey Friedlander, joining the band. For the concert tour, Niessen and the band plays songs mainly from Hate Made Me and Season for Assault, the albums which Niessen sang in.

Poison Of Ages (2007)[edit]

Ben Read, from New Zealand death metal band Ulcerate and formerly of premiere hardcore band Kill Me Quickly, joined the band as the new vocalist. 8 Foot Sativa, went over to Studio Underground in Sweden again to record their fourth album, titled Poison of Ages. However, Corey Friedlander did not end up recording the drums. Instead, Steven Westerberg, the drummer from Carnal Forge, did the session work for this album. William Cleverdon left the band shortly after the album was recorded.

In mid-2006, William Cleverdon rejoined the band on second guitar, with Corey Friedlander left due to personal reasons around that time, and decided to primarily focus on his other band "Final Eve". Jamie Saint Merat, also from Ulcerate, joined to replace Friedlander.

In October 2006, original member Brent Fox decided to leave the band, leaving Gary Smith as the only original member. Fox was replaced by Rommily Smith.

In January 2007, guitarist William Cleverdon went to a specialist, complaining about a pain in his left wrist. The result was that one of his bones in his forearm was significantly shorter than the other one, requiring numerous surgeries and rehabilitation sessions, resulting in his departure from the band. Christian Humphreys, a member of Rommily's other band, New Way Home, replaced Cleverdon[6]

The album was originally meant to be released on 8 May 2006, however it was postponed due to a breached contract. Ben Read stated on the official forums's that the album would not be released until the band could put together NZ$20,000.[7] The album was finally released on 21 May 2007.

The album features much heavier vocals than on previous albums, with all or most of the lyrics written by Ben Read and Gary Smith. As well as this, the music takes on a heavier note, sliding into the realms of blackened death metal at some points.


Gary Smith returned from injury to rejoin the band. Jamie Saint Merat left the band to relocate with his other band, Ulcerate.

8 Foot Sativa, still working on a new unnamed album, released a new single called Sleepwalkers. The video to this single is controversial, as it follows a calf from the farm, to the freezing works showing it being killed, then chopped up by butchers, before being sold to a family in a supermarket. It does this in graphical disturbing way. It also shows pigs and chickens being held in cages. A message at the end of the video states "Thousands of animals were harmed in the making of this video."

In July 2009, bassist Romilly Smith left the band, with Steve Boag, of In Dread Response, taking his spot. Before heading to the studio to record the new still unnamed album, 8 Foot Sativa are to travel New Zealand, performing final shows, with In Dread Response, New Way Home, Bloodletting, The Rest Is Silence.., and other various local acts across New Zealand


In January 2010, 8 Foot Sativa went into hiatus due to the continued effects of Smith's injury. The remaining members formed a new band project, The Mark of Man, while Smith continued his recovery.[8]


In 2011, Justin 'Jackhammer' Niessen has reunited with the band.

Gary has now recovered from his injury, 8 Foot Sativa set out to write and record the long-awaited 5th album, with new guitarist Nik Davies, from the Auckland-based death metal band, Perditionist and Corey Friedlander returning on drums and Brent Fox returning to bass.

The band is set to release a greatest hits "10 Years of Sativa",

The Shadow Masters (2013)[edit]

8 Foot Sativa entered Quicksand Studio in Christchurch, New Zealand in early 2013 to record their 5th studio album 'The Shadow Masters'. The line up for this album is:

Vocals - Justin "Jackhammer" Niessen Drums - Corey Friedlander Guitar - Gary Smith Guitar - Nik Davies Bass - Brent Fox

8 Foot Sativa have Clint Murphy from Modern World Studio in the UK producing this album. The Shadow Masters was released on 30 August 2013.

Band Personnel[edit]


  • Justin "Jackhammer" Niessen - vocals (2002-2003, 2005, 2011–present)
  • Corey Friedlander - drums (2005-2006, 2009–present)
  • Nik Davies - guitars (2011–present)
  • Paul Jason Lawrence - Bass (2017-present)


  • Peter "Speed" Young - drums (1998-2001)
  • Sam Sheppard - drums (2001-2004)
  • Matt Sheppard - vocals (2003-2004)
  • Brent Fox - bass (1998-2006, 2012-2014, 2014–2015)
  • Ben Read - vocals (2006-2009)
  • Gary Smith - guitar (1998-2014, 2015-2016)


Studio albums[edit]

Tracks on various compilations[edit]

Date Title Label Track(s) Featured
2003 Red Surf: Godzone Surfer's Soundtrack Fuel Set from Hate Made Me
9 October 2003 The Locals Soundtrack Locals Films Believer from Hate Made Me
3 February 2005 The Axe Attack Volume 1 Intergalactic Records Chelsea Smile from Season for Assault
2 May 2005 Crusty Demons X: A Decade of Dirt Collision Records I Live My Death from Breed the Pain
2013 10 Years of Sativa Independent


  1. ^ "8 Foot Sativa Biography" Muzic.Net.Nz. URL Accessed 23 July 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Artist Biography: 8 Foot Sativa" Muzic.net.nz. URL Accessed 28 November 2006.
  3. ^ "Artist Biography: 8 Foot Sativa" Amplifier.co.nz. URL Accessed 28 November 2006.
  4. ^ "SoundsNZ talks to 8 Foot Sativa" soundsnz.com. URL Accessed 23 November 2006.
  5. ^ "8 Foot Sativa: Switched on to Heavy metal" NZMusician.com. URL Accessed 16 July 2006.
  6. ^ "Post by Ben Read on Official Forums" IntergalacticRecords.com. Message Board Post from Vocalist Ben Read Accessed 7 April 2007.
  7. ^ Official 8 Foot Sativa's Forums Intergalacticrecords.com
  8. ^ Ben Read, band's MySpace page, January 2010

External links[edit]