Around two months ago I wrote a review of Sharks (as it turned out) final LP, “Selfhood”, titled ironically enough “the more you ignore them the closer they get”. With this title what I was trying to pinpoint was that, despite relatively little mainstream press interest, under the radar, Sharks had managed to come through and produce an album worthy of complete adulation. Sun drenched chords and subtle song writing combined in this record to produce what is unfortunately, a beautiful epitaph to a much under rated band. And now sadly, they’re gone.
I first met an early incarnation of Sharks on January 2nd, 2009, at Cox’s Yard in Stratford upon Avon (I’m not a stalker by the way – I think the second day of the year is pretty easy to remember). There, along with fellow locals Death Ohh Eff, they played ever passionately to a half empty room. I was blown away. Watching the drum kit literally fall apart during set closer “Museums” I knew this was, excuse the cliché, a band I had been waiting for. At the time, and probably currently to be honest, the midlands was invariably devoid of music worth caring about – endless Maccabees rip offs gave way to Bring Me The Horizon style worship and the cycle continued. In the midst of this, Sharks’ debut release Shallow Waters seemed devastatingly fresh. Despite the comparisons with their nearest influences, the fact that this band had appeared in my home town placed them close to my heart. The second time I saw them play, I interviewed them for the first time at the Leamington Spa Assembly rooms. Looking back, I can remember this venue seeming impossibly large – barriers and a full blown PA system towered above the crowd. Despite the weirdness of such a set-up, I was once more engrossed in the music. This is the material a semi-okay coming of age film would be made of. Maybe I should write that? Throughout 2009, I watched my now friends play some great shows – basements of pubs, seedy Coventry clubs, finally beginning to gain some momentum. Just before departing for University I put on a show at Robbins Well, now living in some ill repute, where the also sadly missed THROATS played alongside Sharks, Pariso, Manuscripts and Fuck Your Haircut. The ill repute came about when we all got kicked out the venue for failing to ID some members of the crowd, which meant the entire line up was speedily relocated to a house, where a few short sets were played at lightning speed before the feds arrived. I walked away from that night feeling complete joy at the spectacle. A fitting end to a final school year spent amongst a few punks.
2010 – 2013 is similarly tied up with various encounters with the band – ending up backstage when they played with the Lostprophets (the less said of that band the better) at the CIA, their headlining slot at Cardiff Barfly and a particular favourite – their appearance at Le Pub with Crime in Stereo and Crossbreaker. I don’t need to go into too much detail to get my point across – this is a band tied in my mind with growing up under the influence of good friends and even better music. The last time I saw the band perform that will stand out in my mind was last summer in our shared home of Leamington Spa. Playing back on the floor, to a gathered huddle of teenagers (and a couple of middle aged punks) filled with piss and vinegar, it finally felt that the band had locked into a steady momentum – an album out with solid praise, press attention in the US and at home, and more importantly; the music and live show to justify both. Really such memories only make the breakup of the band more bitter to take to. I’m loathe to martyr one band, but to me, Sharks were important. Whilst this should be clear from the above, I think the point I’m trying to build to/most important thing to take away from one man’s tale of youth gone (not very) wild, is that music is damn important when you’re growing up, and for good reason. Listening back to these records, I feel the same hopeful optimism I did that first night in Stratford. For me, Sharks were that band – for you, it’s probably someone else, but isn’t it cool that we have the capability to feel such emotion as a result of sound alone? Final conclusion I’m coming to – all bands must end, I mean one day, even Bruce Springsteen will pass from this mortal coil. But even if you’re bummed your favourite band broke up, you’re presented with an interesting (to me at least) new opportunity – to look back and remember those incredible musical moments, with no need for a rose tinted lens. When much of the rest of your life often requires a positive spin, isn’t it something to be able to look back, completely sure of the pure emotion you felt as the result of something so positive? Perhaps then, rock and roll does in fact need tragedy to remain truly great.
Having said that, I won’t take this to be the end – Sharks, one last Leamington Spa homecoming? Below I’ve put together a playlist of some of my favourites by the band (it’s missing Mirrors Within Mirrors and Love & Fear due to spotify limitations just FYI), in case you didn’t hear em on the first run.