Exclusive Interview with Sharks Lead Singer James Mattock

A few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to do an interview with Sharks, a UK band dropping their debut full-length next week. Time went by and I had other things to get to that took precedent. Finally, I got some time to listen to No Gods (which is quite good) and come up with some questions. I like doing these email interviews because a lot of times there are multiple ways to read an answer. I did one with Paul Sprangers of Free Energy, and I’m pretty sure he thought I was an idiot. Lead singer and songwriter of Sharks, James Mattocks does not come off that way, but that could be due to my reading his answers in my English accent. I was happy to read that he felt some nervousness about the album coming out. Any time a band that’s being buzzed about can be humble and self-deprecating I appreciate them all the more. Let’s get to it then:

How did Sharks come together as a band?

Just from school, bonding over music. We live in a small town and we were the only people of our
age group wanting to do this, so we did.

Many people refer to you as a punk band, or post-punk. That style has probably evolved the most over the past couple decades. What does “punk” mean to you guys?

“Punk” is just a term thrown loosely around by people to categorize
themselves and one another. We’re above that and refuse to be labeled. No
one really quite knows what our band is about or what our motive is,
including us. We’re just right here, right now.

While you offer up plenty of loud guitars and driving percussion, there’s a real pop sensibility behind all the songs. Is that a dynamic that the band has always been interested in?

Yes. We’re all about the songs. Songs you can enjoy on many levels. Call
us a pop group if you like, we practically are. A pop group with brains
and guitars.

As a band, do you all write together or is there one person responsible for all the writing?

It’s more of a partnership thing between myself and Andy (Bayliss). He has a
really good ear for coming up with the bones of a track, the vibe of it
and the guitars. I do the lyrics and melody, then we all figure it out as
a band.

What was the process like putting No Gods together? Were the songs already in place, or was there more writing in the studio?

Since forming, it had been 5 years before going in the studio. We’d been
pretty consistent with the odd E.P and single, and we had about 20 songs
left in us for the album. Those were cut to 14 in the studio, we
concentrated on those and recorded them. Now we’ve a clean slate.

Now that it’s finished and coming to the world, do you feel like No
Gods ended up as you envisioned it? Is there anything you would have done differently?

I honestly couldn’t say that this was how I envisioned it. I actually
just flew to Baltimore with my fingers crossed, half hoping that the songs
were good enough and half knowing that everything would just turn out

I’ve heard the album and I think it’s very good. Is there any fear that success will change you?

Thank you. I very much doubt that. We have quite a twisted sense of
humor when it comes to this music stuff. Success is being able to keep
doing what we’re doing, but I can’t say we won’t change. Everyone changes
and eventually I would have contradicted everything I’ve ever said.

The song “Able Moving Hearts” really, I feel, captures what Sharks is
all about. Can you tell us a bit about where that song came from and how
you have developed your sound?

I’d like to think it captures what we’re about too. It’s actually an old
song we revisited for the album. I was surprised with how it came out,
too. I think it was worth saving it until we could really get some good
sounds on it. I guess it just screams ‘GUITAR BAND’, which is what we want
to be known for.

You ‘ve already toured with some great artists like Gallows, Frank
Turner, Gaslight Anthem. How has that experience helped you as a band,
and what have you learned from those older artists who have been touring
for a long time?

It just gave us faith that it’s possible to be successful on your own
terms, and that anyone else’s opinions just don’t matter in the end. These
are really good bands that took a shot doing whatever they thought was
right and it just worked. That however obviously doesn’t happen in any
case, but we’re taking that shot.

Noel Gallagher recently said that Oasis never “broke” in the US
because they didn’t have a guy like Bono or Chris Martin. Is breaking in
the US as important today as it was in the 90’s? Is it something that the
band thinks about?

I don’t know how important it was in the 90’s, but I do think there’s
more chance for a band to maintain a career in the US. I don’t think we’d
ever have thought about it though if it wasn’t for signing with an
American label. Of the back of that, we’ve toured and put records out over
there. So it is what it is and we’ll see what happens.

To learn more about Sharks, be sure to check out their Facebook page. No Gods is released March 20th.

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