Chances are you’ll have heard a little about Sharks over the past few months. If you haven’t; we’ve been lapping up their authentic Brit-punk for a while now. Their The Joys Of Living 2008-2010 compilation wasn’t far short of being bloody brilliant and debut album No Gods follows in much the same vein. I caught up with the band before their second ever UK headline show at Manchester’s Star & Garter.
It was the first night of your first ever UK headline run last night. Did it live up to expectation?
Sam: It was good, yeah. It’s definitely been a long time coming and I’m definitely glad it was in Wrexham.
Andy: The first show of any tour’s always a bit ropey but it was alright, considering it was Carl’s first show and it was the first time we’ve ever done a set that long – we played 13 songs!
You’ve been in the US for what seems like forever. Is it good to be back playing shows on British soil?
Sam: It’s really, really good. The drives are really short so it’s way easier. I guess we’ll see when we get further into the tour but it’s nice to be home for a bit.
No Gods came out a week ago. How would you say it differs from everything else you’ve done?
James: We spent a lot more money and time on production, had a big name producing it so we gave him a bit of rope to put his own twist onto the sound of it so what we came out with was a collaboration of sounds whereas before it was just strictly our ideas. We were very limited before so we’ve tried to push the boat out a little bit.
The album was recorded with Brian McTernan. How did that come about?
James: He just really wanted to do it so he got in touch. We talked about the record and it just felt really right so we went with our guts and went with him.
Sam: Our label had a connection with him anyway so he got put in touch with James and he really wanted to do it. He’s followed us for a long time.
Does it feel strange that you’ve been a band for so long but have only just got around to releasing your debut full-length?
James: I think people that are in bands do a lot of different stuff until they get to where we are now. People are in loads of different bands before they form the one that they push but we’ve always been in the same band since we were 16 and not many 16-year-olds put records out that early. Rightly so; if we had put a record out it probably would’ve been terrible so we’ve just been working on Sharks for five years.
Andy: Rather than keep reforming under a different name, which a lot of bands do.
So it definitely feels like a debut even though you’ve put out so much material in the past?
Sam: Yeah, we’ve never recorded an album before – we only ever recorded five songs at most at a time – so it definitely feels like a debut to us. I can see why people are getting confused but this is definitely our debut; it’s the first time we’ve recorded anything as a whole.
James: We just picked the 11 best songs that we had at the time – we had about 20 at the time. We scrapped five.
Sam: We played a couple and Brian was just like “nah, I don’t know what to do with that” so we just left it!
Andy: We’ve got three which we’re going to use for something but we just didn’t bother recording the rest.
Over the past couple of years you’ve shared the stage with people like The Gaslight Anthem, Social Distortion and Frank Turner. What did you learn from touring with those guys?
Sam: They taught us a lot about how to put on a good stage show. Those bands don’t just play, they put on a show. You realise the importance of linking songs and having a sense of structure. Watching those bands was big for us in terms of winding in our sound and making it work well.
You did every date of Warped last summer too. A different experience?
Sam: It’s either a breaker or a maker. We benefitted massively from it. Just playing that many shows makes you a better band. No matter how much fun you have. It was tough at times but it wasn’t that bad but like I was saying it makes you so tight as a band; you’re playing 46 shows in a row so there’s no escaping it but it’s really cool.
Over a year has passed since you signed to Rise Records. How’re they treating you?
James: They’re treating us well! It’s the only label we’ve ever been on but we’ve got no complaints!
Sam: We’ve got a good relationship with them, for sure. It’s only three guys who run that label so while it’s a big operation for three people to take on it’s really intimate and if we had a problem we could go straight to them and it’d get sorted so it’s really nice to have that intimacy.
Carl – you’re new around here. How’re you fitting in?
Carl: Pretty well, yeah! Last night was my first show. We’ve been practicing quite a lot so it did feel quite tight but in a way it feels natural because I’ve toured with these boys a lot so it felt the same, in a way.
Sam: Instead of Carl watching right on the side of the stage it’s just like he’s moved a couple of metres to the right. It’s not really that different.
So you’re here to stay?
Recently there’s been a bit of animosity between the band and your old bassist Christian for one reason or another. Is it frustrating that a little bit of focus is being taken away from the album?
Sam: It’s so frustrating. I’d like to think that it’s not all on him but we’re just getting sick of it. I feel like we’ve been amicable about the whole thing and he just hasn’t. It’s hard to swallow, to be honest and we felt like we needed to stand up and say something that reflected what we actually think rather than burying our heads. I don’t want people to think we’re ashamed or embarrassed about anything we’ve done because we feel totally justified in everything we’ve ever done as a band. The implications that he’s made about us as a band are just lies so it is annoying but I feel like we’ve done our best to get on with it, draw a line in the sand and move on. We’ve said everything that we’ve got to say about it.
UK music as a whole seems to be thriving right now. Why do you think this is?
Sam: Because Radio 1 planned it that way.
Andy: I think it just comes in waves. It’s always been like that. You get a big wave of guitar bands, then a bit of a down period and then it just comes back again.
Sam: When people like Klaxons were big we got told that guitars would be big again in two years. It just comes around.
What are you all listening to at the moment?
James: Crowns are really good. It was the first time I saw them live last night. I like the records but it’s a much better experience live.
Carl: They have a really, really fun vibe when they play live. It’s really easy to get involved.
James: The new Apologies, I Have None album is really, really great.
Andy: The Menzingers’ and Ceremony albums are good!
Sam: We did a bit of Warped Tour with The Menzingers and they’re the nicest dudes ever and they just wrote this killer record. It’s wicked! Really good to see them doing so well. I think being in America opened my eyes to a scene that I wasn’t really aware of before.
Bands like Title Fight and Hostage Calm and that Run For Cover thing which is awesome; we’re really into that.
James: Tiger’s Jaw, too. All that stuff is just great.
What’s next for the rest of 2012?
James: There’s not that much on right now but there will be, for sure. We’ve got another UK tour with Tribes and another couple of moderately popular festivals. Nothing too major, we’re probably just going to leave it for the big names this year.
Sam: We’re probably going to go back to the States as well, maybe at the end of the summer. The record’s just come out there as well so if we can find something that’s right we’ll go over there and play some new songs and stuff.
James: After the Tribes tour we’ll have done two UK tours within a short space of time. Bands don’t really do much more than that in the space of a year. Maybe a UK run at the end of the year, who knows.
Andy: We’re planning on turning around the second record pretty quickly as well so if we have some downtime it’ll just be devoted to writing.
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