Sound Bite

Sharks’ lead singer chats about being influenced by and opening for Social Distortion

The band Sharks is England’s answer to The Gaslight Anthem. In fact, the hot British punk rockers opened for their American counterparts during a 2010 European tour. This time around, Sharks are opening for an even bigger band, Social Distortion. It’s their second tour with the punk legends. Despite only forming in 2007, the quartet has also already released an acclaimed compilation album, The Joy of Living 2008–2010, and played Las Vegas for the 2011 Warped Tour. Now that they’ve released their first full album, No Gods, there’s no limit to what Sharks can do. We recently spoke with 21-year-old lead singer James Mattock about his influences, his new album and the Clash.

You guys and Social Distortion are kind of copacetic. Do you find them to be an influence?

They’ve been such a big influence on us. This is our second time out [with them], which is incredible to us because it just shows that they liked us the first time around. And that’s a really, really big pat on the back for us personally. You know you’re doing something good when your favorite band is taking you on tour. They are such a big and great band, and … we’re just happy to be there.

What are your other influences?

The First Wave in Britain … classic guitar bands that have always kept that kind of traditional setup and lineup in a band, and just consistently churned out good music. In England, I’m talking about the Smiths and Oasis and Joy Division. Also Bruce Springsteen, Rancid, bands like that.

A lot of people compare you to early Clash.

I can totally see why. It’s like we play the same—with a certain sort of attitude and cerebral garage band kind of short, slappy stuff like that. It’s very-first-album Clash. [But] it’s not completely our agenda, especially now with this new album, people will see that there’s a lot more to us than just that reference. We put out a single already and people are saying, “It sounds like you guys now.” And I feel that, too, you know?

What should people know about the No Gods album?

That record is like our No. 1 sole achievement in life so far. It’s the one thing I’m most proud of I’ve ever done. We love it to death, like every song. We’re just so proud of the sound. I’m totally open to criticism, but I think people are going to like it. And I like it, so that’s kind of all that matters to us right now in this early stage of our careers.

Suggested Next Read

Smokey Robinson


Smokey Robinson

By Jarret Keene

Always a poet, a punner, a master of metaphors and clever references, the Motown legend took the stage inside a giant Baby Boomer-stuffed ballroom and opened with “Going to a Go-Go.” Second song? “I Second That Emotion.” At 71, he dances like a fool, cracks jokes and tells stories about the salad days—when he used to compose tunes for another act (the Temptations) in his head while driving his own touring band the Miracles cross-country. Robinson told of when he attended a record-company Christmas party so Stevie Wonder could hand him a tape of music, asking Robinson to write lyrics.