The Sharks Swimming For the U.S. Shore

The UK band The Sharks have yet to release a proper debut, and they have already snagged one of the opening spots on Social Distortion’s latest tour, as well as committed to play every date of this summer’s Warped Tour. Not bad for a band that has yet to play a single show in the U.S. before this year.

Rise Records, fans of the bands earlier EPs, talked the band into signing and has just put out The Joys of Living, a compilation of the band’s earlier music – mostly recorded when they were still in their teens.

Playing rock in the vein of Gaslight Anthem and, appropriately enough, Social D, this four-piece band of punk rockers is clearly off to a solid start.

Singer/guitarist James Mattock spoke recently about the band, landing a dream gig right out of that gate and the warnings they’ve already received about life on the Warped Tour.

Innocent Words: How did the band first get together?

James Mattock: Andy (Bayliss, guitar) and I formed the band at school out of a bond over the same music. We wrote a few songs as a two-piece and invited Sam (Lister, drums) to join to his acceptance. Christian (O’Reilly, bass) joined a year later, replacing our then bass player. We’re basically the only people we know with the unspoken understanding for each other and the dynamics are perfect. The aim has always been to create to a 100 percent standard of personal satisfaction, and we’ll do all we can to preserve that notion.

IW: The Joys of Living is a compilation of your earlier songs. Have you started working on a new record yet?

Mattock: We have around 16 songs good to go. We’re just in the process of demoing and really thinking about how we want our debut to sound. We’re going to continue writing because we don’t see any reason to stop, but the songs are sounding great. Just last week, we were demoing at the Lodge in Northampton, where we recorded our first EP, Shallow Waters. It’s great to be back in there and the writing process has been very organic and progressive, musically and lyrically. We’re just trying things out and seeing what feels good, and we’re doing our best to not think to hard about any preconceived expectations for this album. When the songs are ready, we’ll know it.

IW: How did you first connect with Rise Records, your label in the U.S.?

Mattock: The guys at the label had been fans of the band and already owned all our previous releases. So being a record label, they naturally wanted to work with us on something. They just got in touch and really expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for it. It’s great to work with those who really get the drive of our band and want to help steer it.

IW: You scored a major coup getting the opening slot for Social Distortion and Chuck Ragan. How did that happen?

Mattock: We just pushed our very all for it. If there was three dream bands we’d like to tour with, Social Distortion would be in there. They’re a huge influence on all of us and luckily everything just came together. Our manager and agent pushed from the very start, and I owe them all the thanks. I also suspect that making friends with Gaslight (Anthem) and Chuck Ragan alike helped out because they’re all in the same kind of ilk and friends. We’ve also recently been jamming a song of theirs, “Lude Boy,” which we recorded at Maida Vale for the BBC. They’re just amazing, and to be put on the same bill says a lot about our band, and I’m especially proud of that.

IW: Have you played in the U.S. before this year?

Mattock: That we haven’t. We only played overseas for the first time in October last year when went to Europe with the Gaslight Anthem. We’re really excited to come over. The whole idea actually really blows my mind because it seems America has come to us early on in our career, and it was really unexpected. A lot of our contemporaries haven’t been to the U.S. yet, so obviously we’re feeling very pleased with ourselves.

IW: What are your impressions of the audiences here?

Mattock: I reckon it’ll be awesome. There actually seems to be more enthusiasm for our band out there than over here, and certainly a broader understanding of the music we’re playing. The UK has been really tough to work, so I’m hoping the U.S. gives us a bit more of a break. The music scene can sometimes feel a bit stuck-up here, but that’s not to say we’ll ever give up.

IW: Your also playing a bunch of Warped dates this summer – have you been warned yet about what you’re in for?

Mattock: Yeah all we really get is warnings and stories of hard times. But we’re really sticking our chests out for this one. We want it to beat and batter us. We’re going to come of that tour the best punk band in Britain. We’re looking at it as a massive opportunity because usually smaller bands like ours rarely get to play a festival so big and popular. So we’re honored to be given the chance and we intend to completely fulfill it.

IW: So, what’s next for the band?

Mattock: We’re back in August, so hopefully hit some of the last UK festivals. Then we really want to get stuck in with our album and hopefully get it recorded by the end of the year. It really has been a long time coming, but the timing definitely feels right. We started this band at a very young age, so I’m glad we didn’t rush into a full length record. The Joys Of Living is a celebration of our teenage years, and the material we recorded at that time, and the new record is beginning to feel like a real step up. We’ve been demoing a lot recently like I said, it’s really taking shape now and we’re confident and happy with it. We can’t wait to unleash it onto the world.