Unsigned Band of the Month: Shark Speed

SharkSpeedAlthough it sounds a bit counterintuitive, the guys from progressive indie rock outfit Shark Speed closed up shop in Vegas and put down stakes in Provo, Utah, as home base for their band.

Forgoing demos and record labels, they opened their wallets and made their debut Sea Sick Music on their own. After self-releasing the record, they hired a PR firm and hit the road to let the world know about it.

Frontman Joseph Christensen spoke with Innocent Words about their DIY experience and playing in a band alongside his brother.

Innocent Words: How hard is it being in a band with your brother? Any Kinks/Black Crows type brawls yet?

Joseph Christensen: Well, there is no hiding that we are brothers. We get along really well, and most of the time, we collaborate really smoothly. But there are times we go for blood, and everyone just steps aside. I think when we first started, the other guys thought we were always on the verge of breaking up because of the fights, but no matter how personal the fights get, neither one of us would throw it all away.

IW: So why did you decide to release the new record on your own, without a label?

Christensen: We have been in bands before and have dealt with the labels and the demos and whatnot. This time, we just wanted to get things going fast and our way. After things progressed, we started to realize the opportunity of the Internet and releasing an album ourselves. In reality, it has been a hard road because it’s your money, your credit, and it gets harder to socially network out of your circle. Sometimes the stigma of not being a signed band gets nauseating; some people think if you’re not signed you’re not worth listening to. Luckily, more and more bands are starting to do the same, and I feel people are realizing that just having a label doesn’t make you above a certain realm.

IW: So what is the music scene in Provo like?

Christensen: In reality, the Provo music scene is one of the best I have seen. (Three of us) grew up in Las Vegas and were there up until our early 20s. The music scene was a constant rollercoaster there. Venues never lasted, and dedication to bands or local music was always wavering. It is amazing how many bands have popped out of Vegas when the scene there never really existed. Provo has several amazing venues downtown and so many people and outlets that support local music. Unlike Vegas, Utah isn’t swarming with different kinds of entertainment, which leaves a good spot for the arts to fill. The student population in Provo is over 60,000 students, so I feel that alone creates a great melting pot for music. Also Salt Lake City, which is only 45 minutes away, has its own scene, which is thriving more than ever. Most of the bands that play regularly in Provo also are heavily involved in the Salt Lake scene as well.  I kind of feel Utah is a hidden gem for music, and it will only be time until we see more artists emerging from the beehive state.

IW: Any advice you can offer to bands looking to release a record on their own?

Christensen: First off, I would say do it! You will learn so much more doing it yourself, and I feel it will prepare you if you ever decide to transfer over to a label. Releasing it on your own is not easy, but I feel it is more rewarding and that you are in more control of where you want to take your project. I would scope out the right PR companies and possible booking agency to work with. Without a label PR, touring is everything – it is one of the only ways you are going to get your music out there. One last thing: money put into the band is an investment. Do not look for immediate return; it will come in its own time.

SharkSpeed-logoIW: How are you getting word out about the band?

Christensen: Luckily, we have an amazing PR company, Beartrap (PR – run by Chuck Daley), who has helped bring our music to several blogs, magazines and music lovers. We have also personally contacted several media outlets to get our album reviewed or featured. Contacting alt weeklies in the cities you are touring in is a great way to help get the word out. Then there is the saturated world of the Internet, which is a great way to promote yourself, but I would never only use this one outlet. We often print several posters and flyers and make an attempt to personally flyer the day of shows in the cities we play in. I think handing out flyers and making posters has somewhat died since the rise of the Internet, but a personal invitation from a flyer can never be replaced by an email or Facebook invite.