Latest release: No Gods
Band site: www.facebook.com/sharksuk
English punk/post-hardcore/rock crew Sharks are circling as they prepare to make their first trek to Australia. Since releasing their debut full-length No Gods in March, the band was due to tour our shores for the first time alongside Pennywise earlier this year before its last minute postponement. Instead, they will head our way as part of the mammoth Soundwave 2013 bill. Drummer Sam Lister took time out from writing new material to talk to Loud about the often harsh nature of the British music press, second album syndrome, touring and more.
Q: You’re off the road at the moment, but the band has a reputation for having a strong work ethic in that respect. Are you happiest when touring?
A: Oh yeah. We’re from a really small town right in the middle of England; it’s not a hugely exciting place to be. So being on tour is kind of a nice relief from the monotony of the small town life. There’s more to do and exciting things to see on the road. I’d rather take a trip to Australia than sit at home, you know?
Q: You’re headed here for the first time as part of Soundwave. What are your expectations for the festival?
A: Well, I know it’s a huge pretty huge festival, right? So I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m very excited, whatever the outcome is. I’m so excited; we were supposed to go to Australia earlier this year, but it got cancelled, so I never thought we’d get to go. Then we got the offer to do this huge, crazy festival with blink-182 and Metallica. So it turned out pretty well in the end. I’ve never been to Australia before and I’ve heard a lot about it; I’m really, really excited.
Q: Who are interested to see at the festival?
A: There’s loads of great bands playing; especially Gallows, a band called Lucero, I imagine it might be their first time in Australia. The Wonder Years, Madball, Cancer Bats, Fucked Up; I’m really, really excited to see Fucked Up. Honestly, like the huge ones; Cypress Hill, blink-182, A Perfect Circle, just a lot of stuff. I’m excited to see a lot of it.
Q: You sound like a typical Soundwave punter there; you ask most who they want to see and they proceed to reel off about a dozen bands they’re interested in.
A: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah, you look at the lineup and there’s just so many people playing, aren’t there? It’s crazy. There’s a lot of good stuff to see there, that’s for sure.
Q: Indeed. Now, the band is writing new material at the moment. The well-worn cliché is that a band has a lifetime to write their first album and six months to create their second one. How’s the writing coming along?
A: (Laughs) Yeah, it’s actually worked out a lot more like that than I thought. So we’re actually pretty rushed to write it, but I think sometimes it’s good to have a little pressure, isn’t it? We’ve had a pretty busy last year, so it’s been kind of way more toned down (recently). We’ve just been trying to put our heads down and get the record finished and we’re trying to get it turned over as quickly as possible with it. So yeah, it’s been really fun. But I’m not the main songwriter in the band, so it actually means quite a bit of waiting around while the other guys do their thing. But yeah, it’s been a really fun process.
Q: Where do you fit into the writing process then?
A: Well, usually James (Mattock, vocals/guitars) and Andy (Bayliss, guitars) will have an idea. I think Andy writes most of the music and James puts vocal melodies and stuff to it. Usually Andy will have the bones of an idea and he’ll bring it into the practice room. We’ll finish the song as a song and James will go off and write his vocals and stuff. That’s usually the way it goes.
Q: Where do you envision this record going compared to the first one?
A: Well, we definitely are looking to make it a little more low-key than the last one. The last one was quite lavish; we went to America to do it with a really big name producer (Brian McTernan) in a really nice studio. This time we’re doing it in England in a town called Southampton with a guy called Lewis Johns, who I’m really excited to be working with. Just a little more low-key I guess, a bit more back to our roots.
Q: Were you at all surprised at some of the reviews of the first album?
A: I was quite pleasantly surprised actually. In the English press the reception was actually pretty good for it. It was really great, it was a really nice thing to read, you know? It was cool, especially in places like the NME and stuff like that; it was really great to get that reception.
Q: It seems like the British rock press can be rather difficult to navigate sometimes. Has that been your experience?
A: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s definitely true, it’s definitely a fickle world in the British press. I think it’s pretty brutal to be honest, especially on the bands, I think they’re really harsh and bands are really disposable to the press nowadays. With so many bands blowing up and stuff, it’s pretty ruthless. Especially from a band’s perspective; because they can love you one minute and just really hate you the next.
Q: A few music journalists and bands I’ve spoken to have suggested that the British press often champions their home-grown bands before they’re ready for it too, talking them up as being the next big thing when they’re still very young and developing musically.
A: Yeah, I’m really glad you said that, I think that’s massively true, and that happens all the time in England. Like where bands get a lot of press, especially by the NME and they’ll be on the cover before they’ve even had a record out. Then the record will come out and they’ll slate it, they’ll give it like four or five out of ten and it’s just crazy. It’s just career-changing, it’s crazy. Because this is just a young band, they’ve probably not really been ready for it and they get… I definitely agree with that, bands get championed before they’re really ready, and that can lead a bit of a cannonball-ing down afterwards.
Q: I’m not sure what you call it in Britain, but in Australia it’s referred to as the tall poppy syndrome.
A: Oh that’s great, I like that a lot; I’ve never heard that before. I’ll definitely use that from now on (laughs). That’s pretty cool.
Q: Although your initial reviews over there have been positive, do you fear a press backlash at some point?
A: I mean, it’s not something you can really spend your time worrying about, or else you’d never sleep, you know? Especially in this day and age, with all the technology that happens and stuff, there are so many reviews of everything (laughs). So you’re going to get some bad ones. You’ll get some people who really aren’t into it and you just have to hope that less people will see it than the good reviews.
Q: As you suggested, the internet has given a voice to anyone who wants to start a blogspot and criticise music.
A: Yeah, definitely. How many people have like online blogs and review stuff? I think that’s great, but you’re definitely going to have some bad ones in there amongst all the reviews. It’s just one of those things I guess.
Q: That’s true. Changing topics, 2012 is rapidly drawing to a close – what have been some of your favourite albums of this year thus far?
A: The new Title Fight record, Floral Green is one of my favourites. The Menzingers record which came out this year called On the Impossible Past. What else? Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem. The new Joyce Manor is really cool. And I really like The Maccabees’ last record too. That’s about all I can think of, I’m really struggling right now (laughs).
Q: When you’re on the road for extended periods, are you exposed to much new music? Obviously there are the bands you tour with, but it must make it difficult to keep up sometimes.
A: I think it’s actually really difficult when you’re on tour. I remember last year we were in America on tour for like eight months and when I got home there was a tonne of stuff that I hadn’t listened to, because I was so out of the loop with it really. So yeah, it can be hard to keep up when you’re on tour, but this year we’ve been home a bit more so we’ve had more time to check out stuff.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: I wish I had something witty to say, but I don’t know (laughs). That’s really shit isn’t it? I should come up with something better than that. We’re just really excited for Soundwave.
Sharks perform at Soundwave 2013 on the following dates:
Saturday 23rd February – Brisbane- SOLD OUT
Sunday 24th February – Sydney- SOLD OUT
Friday 1st March – Melbourne- SOLD OUT
Saturday 2nd March – Adelaide- SOLD OUT
Monday 4th March – Perth- SOLD OUT