Sharks Talk "Selfhood"
Mon, 17 Jun 2013 07:39:37
"I like putting my headphones on and escaping into the music," says Sharks frontman James Mattock. "That's what we try to do with our records."
Well, that's exactly what Mattock and co. accomplished on Sharks' latest offering, Selfhood. The group came into its own with a defiantly catchy exposé on love, life, and growing up. Melodies simmer above sharp riffs with true poignancy as Mattock's poetic ruminations evoke some unforgettable stories. Selfhood is one of the finest examples of 21st century alternative, and it's a milestone for Sharks.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, James Mattock of Sharks opens up about Selfhood and so much more.
What were you listening to around writing Selfhood?
We decided to write a record when The Cribs came out with In the Belly of the Brazen Bull. It's really live and raw. When we heard that, we were like, "This is what we're going for this time around". They were a big influence. The Lemonheads were another big influence. There's an eighties undertone. We were using pedals you'd imagine The Cure or The Smiths using. We love those romantic eighties sounds. Morrissey's solo records were big for the croon-y vocal style. There was a big Morrissey influence.
What's the story behind the song "Selfhood"?
A few of the songs are about relationships. I've never written about them. The last song is a big ballad. The first song sounds like a breakup song, but it's not. It's more hypothetical and sarcastic. It's tongue-in-cheek about what I'd be like if I was alone. It's about self-destruction and selfhood. I tried to be more direct with the lyrics this time around..
Where did "Wild One" come from?
That's the first love song I've ever written. I wrote it when I got engaged. I'm really happy with the way that came out. We were going for a croon-y fifties-style ballad, and I think we achieved that.
How about "Bloody Wings"?
That was an observation on modern day music. It's more complex and difficult to explain. It's one of the angrier songs. I'm getting out my frustration about what it's like to be in a band like ours. We just want to be honest and real. You can't really be true to your aesthetic because everything is digital. Our band is out-of-step with that sort of thing. That's what the song is about. You know what writers are like, dodging the explanation [Laughs].
You're making a Morrissey reference with the title "The More You Ask, The Less I'm Sure"...
[Laughs] I'm glad you caught that. The phrase just popped into my head mid-conversation with someone. I wrote it down in my phone, and I wrote a song based around the title, which is about secrecy. It's definitely the most ambiguous track.
What else were you reading outside Billy Childish?
I usually go through phases. As far as what I watch, listen to, or read, it's usually one thing at a time. I was obsessed with Billy Childish at the time. I'm noting him as one of the influences because I was solely into him.
What's the best Billy Childish book to start with?
Well, so much of his poetry is great. His first novel is called My Fault. I think that's a good place to start. It's a lot like Charles Bukowski's Ham on Rye where it's semi-autobiographical. It's written in first-person as a character, but everything is true. Some of it is really unbelievable. He's very clever and funny though.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
David Lynch is my favorite director. Subconsciously, that's what I would've gone for. I'd say Wild at Heart by Lynch. That's one of my favorite movies.
What do you dig about the movies?
Nicolas Cage [Laughs]. I love David Lynch's style. It's really bizarre and out-of-this-world, but it's a love story at the end of the day. Willem Dafoe's character is one of the best ever. The movie has everything great about David Lynch in it.
What about Blue Velvet and Lost Highway?
They're a little darker for sure. They probably define him a lot more. Blue Velvet is the definitive David Lynch movie, but Wild At Heart is my personal favorite.
Have you heard Selfhood?