When I had only been in Austin for 2 months I was introduced to the Austin band Sharks in the Deep End through the website Ovrld, asking if I wanted to review their debut album ‘Killing Machine’. I loved it and I had it playing regularly wherever I went during the hot summer. So I was stoked as anything to be able to chat with them and talk about their new song ‘Tears Run Dry’, as well as the new songs that they’ll be periodically releasing in the coming months. I joined band members Tucker Jameson [vocals, guitar], Sam Thompson [Guitar], Matt Shearon [Drums], and Chris Konte [Keys] in the courtyard of COLLiDE ATX bar on East 6th Street. It was during our introductory drinks that I heard a couple talking to Tucker and thought I heard an NZ twang. When I asked where they were from, they replied Australia before saying goodbye to us all.
Kiwi Cowboy: For the first time, a New Zealander who mistook an Australian for another New Zealander.
Tucker: So… NZ and Australia, do they have some beef with one another?
Tucker: A little bit?
KC: Perhaps sport, but on the whole we get along. They’re kind of like our cousins.
Tucker: When did you come out here to Austin?
KC: Just over a year ago now.
Tucker: You like it?
Chris: We’re interviewing you now…
KC: That’s fine!
Tucker: Because you have the more interesting story.
KC: Well I must ask you; how long have y’all been together now?
Sam: A year and a half… February of last year
KC: First time I saw you play was at Geraldine’s in July…
Tucker: Yeah, that was hot off the album tour.
Matt: Geraldine’s was a swanky place to play I’ll tell ya.
KC: And I’m not kidding, Killing Machine was my ‘soundtrack to the summer’ last year. It was my first summer in the US and I remember listening to your album a lot, and whenever I do it makes me remember the good times that I had.
[Band collectively make the sound officially known as ‘feeling stoked’]
KC: So, you played your first gig in February 2016?
Tucker: Yeah, our first show was at a photographer’s studio we rented out, and we invited all sorts of people over and it’s where we did the ‘Cherry Blossom’ video. It was a free show, we organized some BBQ, and we invited along everybody we knew. It was fun. We actually went back there for a Halloween Show.
Matt: Which was crazy. We expected like 120 people there, and earlier on before the show I was out kickin’ it, thought “we’ve got time” and then he [Tucker] calls me and says “Get your ass down here! There’s nearly 400 people in here.”
Tucker: There might have been about 1,300 people there! That’s ridiculous.
Sam: A thousand people??
Tucker: There had to be about a million there. It was nuts for that space. Spilling out into the street. It was crazy.
Matt: It was a lot bigger than we thought, it was great.
KC: Now I’ll get into your newly released track ‘Tears Run Dry’. What’s the song about exactly? It doesn’t sound like a simple ‘break up song’. One’s tears running dry…
Tucker: There’s definitely something more to it. It’s umm…
Matt: It’s ‘Get over your shit’
Tucker: When we wrote those lyrics; I certainly was, and a lot of people were, in a place that I felt a little down, a little defeated, not so great about the world and what was going on.
KC: Last year did have an interesting end to it…
Tucker: I needed to hear it. The lyrics are almost directed towards encouraging myself, and maybe others will relate and be inspired by them; to keep trying, don’t let yourself be defeated by your fears before you even give it a shot. ‘Tears Run Dry’ is all about giving it a shot. Letting it fly. See what happens. Cos what’s the worst that can happen?
KC: It’s saying…
Tucker: Nuclear holocaust?
KC: Haha. More like ‘get it out of the way’. Have a cry, but then let’s move on.
Tucker: Cry it out and then find your constitution. Get back up on that horse. It’s interesting looking back because it relates to the band name, Sharks in the Deep End, as that’s about a childhood fear. The idea of taking that on as the band name is owning your fears, facing them, and overcoming them.
KC: Musically; I’m liking how it’s almost 3 songs in one, keeps you listening. I enjoy the intro with the Muse keyboard arpeggio going on…
Tucker: [Chris], that was amazing!
Chris: They made me do it…
Tucker: You came up with that. He started playing that out of the blue, and we cried “Ohhhhhh!!!” when we heard it. The way that song was recorded was done a little piece meal. We had the music done before any lyrics.
Sam: We started recording the song before it was even finished.
Tucker: We recorded the drums and bass, then guitar, keyboards, and then vocals.
Matt: And triangle.
Tucker: This guy [Sam] went to South America for a month and a half.
Sam: I was in the studio, finished all the guitar [that night], and in the morning I was in Ecuador. We were working on mixes while I was gone, and I was reading emails days later because there’s no wi-fi. I jump in on a conversation to contribute my thoughts and things had already changed. I think “wait… what happened?” It was difficult but when I got back the song was sorted out, and we were all good.
Tucker: It was an interesting process. I actually went to LA for a couple of weeks, so we were all traveling and figuring out how to mix this song over email. When we all got back we solidified it and it’s a lot easier to talk about it in person.
Sam: I was camped in the desert for 3 days, I couldn’t even charge my phone.
Tucker: He has this fantastic photo of him at the salt flats, jumping up with an acoustic guitar that he purchased in South America dirt cheap. You should check it out.
KC: [Matt finds it and holds up his phone to me] Oh wow, that is flippn’ cool! It would be a rad desktop background photo.
Sam: That guitar was $40.
KC: With this new ‘album’, would you call it that? Do you know what songs you’ll be recording?
Tucker: What we want to do is release a new song every month, for say 6 months. All leading up to one entire release.
Sam: Why don’t we just do it indefinitely?
Tucker: We could do it indefinitely, you never know. Certainly the way I’ve consumed music, and the way I’ve seen other artists release music, unless you’re Beyoncé or Drake, releasing a whole album at once; it doesn’t get listened to.
Matt: I would love to be Lorde and go up to a cabin the woods for 3 days in New Zealand. And write some amazing songs. I would love that, but we got jobs man!
Sam: It takes time to get those ideas out.
Tucker: As a listener when was the last time you sat down and listened to an entire album all the way through without any distraction?
KC: I did actually! Last week I bought Lorde’s new album; lay on my bed in the dark and listened from start to finish. But yeah, apart from that one rare moment I’m mostly listening to snatches of music while I’m driving.
Matt: I have a 45-minute commute to Cedar Park every day. So that’s a couple of albums each day!
Tucker: For me it’s hard to find the time to actually sit down and listen to a whole album. Unless it’s somebody massive. If it’s really permeating the popular zeitgeist. It’s a commitment to listen to a whole album. So we thought maybe ‘hey let’s try this single a month a thing’. You might get more attention over time.
Chris: It makes for more conversation.
KC: It’s like every month you’ve got some news to share.
Tucker: Something fresh, and we have to make sure every song is fuckin’ good. It’s an interesting challenge. We have a handful of songs that we’ve prepared, so we got a few songs ready to go, but that will only take us through the first 3 or 4 months. We’ve got to scramble and write some more songs and figure out which ones we want and where we want to take it. And what’s interesting about it is if you do an entire album all in one block then it’s a subsection of time. A slice of that moment.
What’s cool about doing a song a month and not having them all ready to go, is that you get to evolve, react to the world; hearing and listening to it. And what you’re listening to at one time is going to change, you’re going to be influenced by different things. People will get to see evolution of our sound over the course of a year. And how we’ll be influenced by what we’re listening to at the time. Certainly, interesting for me. You have to come up with an innovative way to do things.
KC: I’m definitely interested too. To hear how your songs change and sound over time.
Tucker: One month we’re going to release a song that we’ll record entirely on our iPhones. Sam and I wrote the music together and he’s actually singing lead on it. And I’m singing some harmonies. A quick little piano ballad. So you have to find new ways to distribute music and reach people the best we can.
KC: I interviewed an artist named Andy Davis, and he spoke about how he was gifted money from fans through Kickstarter to record an album; but felt it’s harder now because every artist is trying it and people get tired of trends very quickly. So he started a project where if you sign up he will be writing, recording, and giving you a song every week. I’m sure he’d agree that as a solo artist, recording a song a week on an acoustic or keys is perhaps less intensive for a band like yours.
Tucker: Yeah, part of our sound is this layered production. And we try to put a lot of time and energy into creating that ear candy. That little thing where on the 20th listen you’ll say “Oh man! I never heard that before.” For an album or song to last, just like The Beatle’s or The Beach Boys, the great bands; you can go back and listen to all that stuff and [it’s like] you’re hearing it fresh for the first time. There’s always something new you can take away from it. I’m not saying we’re on the same plane as those guys! I’m just saying that’s what we’re aiming for. We want to have that kind of longevity. Listenability.
KC: How would you describe this song a month project? A gradual release?
Tucker: Yeah. A slow trickle. Almost a song of the month club. I’ll get up on my soapbox here: Whatever you might think about Kanye West; an asshole…
Tucker: Genius, crazy man…
Sam: Alright, what’s your point?
Tucker: He did something very interesting with his last album; he put it up online before it was done. You could it stream it and he’d make changes to each song over time. Because of the internet you can do these things. What I find interesting about it is you get a certain insight into the artist’s progress. There’s something interesting about how you could react to how people are reacting to your song.
KC: Insightful question time: Have any of you actually seen a shark?
Tucker: Yeah man! In aquariums.
Matt: I was once in Florida on a boat and I saw sharks everywhere.
Sam: I went fishing one time and caught a hammerhead. Down in Galveston.
Tucker: No way!
Sam: Dude, baby tiger sharks and hammerhead sharks.
KC: If you saw one now you’d definitely put it up on the band Instagram? “Woah a shark!”
Tucker: I’ve seen a bunch of lawyers.
Matt: When we were taking our first pictures for the band we came across this van that was covered in painted sharks. Inside was shark upholstery too. It was incredible.
Chris: I saw his shark boogie board for sale on tour all the time.
Tucker: We stopped at a store to get t-shirts for spraying our logo on, which was a homemade, DIY style fabric spray; and we saw this badass shark boogie board. We thought “let’s buy a whole bunch of them!” We were in California and thought “they’ll sell out on the beach over there!” But [Chris] convinced me to just get one instead of a whole bunch.
Chris: You wanted at least a dozen.
Tucker: So, we got one and it turned out that when we spray painted the logo on it, the boogie board just sucked up all the paint and disappeared immediately. We sprayed it like 20 times and it looked like shit. It bled terribly. So this blotchy Sharks in the Deep End boogie board? We have it in the studio! Up on the shelf. We’re going to auction it off 20 years from now when we’re famous.
Matt: Vintage boogie board. When you can’t find a boogie board anywhere.
KC: Has there ever been a band dress code?
Tucker: No shorts for sure. There’s been some encouragement towards dressing toward a certain way, but nothing too specific.
Chris: He banned one of my shirts. It was my favorite shirt.
Tucker: It was terrible dude! Elijah [Ford] banned it too!
KC: I fully support the no shorts on stage rule.
Tucker: Unless you’re AC/DC, you’re not going to pull off shorts.
Matt: Jeans, and if you can get weird with something, get weird as hell.
KC: How about a favorite Mexican food venue in Austin?
Matt: Manuel’s Mexican on Congress if you want to bring a date. It’s good Mexican food. Matt’s El Rancho’s is great for breakfast. But Manuel’s is definitely the one.
KC: What is always my final question: when you hear the term ‘kiwi’ what first comes to mind?
Sam: The fruit, and local New Zealand people.
Tucker: There is this Maroon 5 song on their second album called kiwi. With some sort of suggestive overtone. Back when Maroon 5 played instruments.
Matt: A bird honestly. But also, if you were in the tropics, I’d get a kiwi smoothie.
KC: You’re one of the few that had the bird come to mind.
Matt: It’s a great question. The next would be “what would you do if there was an elephant in your backyard?”
KC: Hmmm… try ride it? I’m not sure. What about you?
Matt: I’d let the elephant be my circus animal, in a nice way. My circus could have an Irish man/elephant duo.
KC: Hahaha. Wow. If you’ve got a safely trained elephant you might as well take it to Zilker.
Matt: That’s what I’m talking about. We’ll stroll through and someone will say “hey that’s my cellphone!” and I’ll reply “We’re just chillin! He washes my dishes.”
KC: I think that’s the best ending I’ve ever had to an interview.
Also they recently played live and had a short interview on Austin’s KUTX, which can be enjoyed at this link here – KUTX Sharks in the Deep End session and interview