Andrew Bayliss (Sharks)

Despite having an average age of just twenty years old, England's Sharks have already clocked up an impressive array of achievements. Their debut EP, the five track Shallow Waters won them widespread critical acclaim in 2009, and earned the band a single deal with Atticus Black as well as tours with the likes of Gallows, The Ghost of a Thousand and Crime In Stereo. Currently adding the finishing touches to their highly anticipated new EP Show of Hands, the four-piece are set to hit the road for some of their biggest shows to date alongside New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem. Sharks guitarist Andrew Bayliss took time out to tell Punknews writer Ryan Gallagher about recording the EP, his respect for Tom Jones and why artists are really just glorified vagabonds.

For the benefit of readers unfamiliar with you: who are Sharks? Introduce yourselves please!
Two guitars, bass, drums & three vocals - centre, stage left and one on the kit. Everything up in the monitors.

Things seem to have been gaining pace for Sharks recently. You've been busy recording a new 5 track EP and are set to head out with The Gaslight Anthem later this month on their UK tour. When is the EP coming out and what else has been happening?
It's been a struggle to get through the final stages of completion with Show of Hands, which we are still in the midst of. But through the stress of it all, it will be an extremely rewarding feeling for us when it is finally available to the public. We care a great deal about the music on this record. I would say that if you can just sit back and not agonize over the songs, the art, the production, the release and all the other fundamentals involved. Then you've unmistakably made an emotionless record, with which its well-being you couldn't give two shits about. The nature of getting this together through D.I.Y causes, ultimately brings its own pressure with it. So to experience any trepidation towards the record should be expected, and welcomed with open arms. We hope for it to be released in the next few months, we are all incredibly excited.

You recorded the upcoming EP, Show of Hands, at Fortress Studios in London. The Scissor Sisters, Tom Jones and Nickelback have also recorded there - can you please reassure Punknews readers that your new songs will not sound like Nickleback and Tom Jones in a loving embrace with the Scissor Sisters?
I'd like to firmly reassure Punknews readers that if you are in any doubt about whether Tom Jones is a sincere and wonderful artist, then you are simply misguided and uneducated with your opinion. The same cannot be said for the other acts mentioned. On top of this, we were completely unaware, so it would have had absolutely no effect on us whatsoever.

You have said of the Show of Hands recording sessions that you, "spent many nights wondering into disgusting hours of the morning, capturing screams through pickups, guitars being fucked with pedal prototypes and the many 'by any means' experiences of getting those once in a lifetime moments you lust after onto the record." This sounds interesting, can you please elaborate?
We didn't have the luxury of time on our hands to make this record, so we were hard pushed to get it all down and captured in a state we were all happy with. This meant the days were long, often still tracking through the night until the sun came up the next morning. It was really a case of just getting the songs finished by any means necessary, there was no structure, which I prefer. Obscene hours can make way for obscene things.

Is it true that Spencer Pollard of Trash Talk recorded a spoken word track for the new EP completely stark naked?
Oh baby, yes.

In terms of influences, you seem clearly influenced by two distinct generations of bands. There's the classic British acts (The Smiths, Manic Street Preachers, The Clash) and also the American punk rock bands both old and new (Dead Kennedys, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Social Distortion, Rancid, Green Day). Would you say this is true? And in terms of recent music, what has been inspiring you?
It shouldn't come as any great revelation that we are influenced by both old and new bands, from both sides of the Atlantic. But we are also enthused by the very old, the very new, the very British and occasionally the rest of the world. But never the 'very' American. Authentic music is always a blessing for the ears, regardless of its form. Wet noses & hard dicks are poised firmly in the direction of the new Arcade Fire record.

In other interviews you've often referred to the mediocrity of modern (mainstream) music; it seems as a band you are influenced as much by the things you hate as by the things you love. Is this something you are conscious of?
I'm certainly aware of what I hate and love about music, and what is meaningful in a world which celebrates meaninglessness. If I had no moral compass, I'm sure I would be another clapping seal in the audience of a music reality TV show. Hate can be just as positive as love, it can give you the standard by which to better yourself, where love can give you the desire to do so. Voicing your contempt for the ordinary can inspire remarkable things in people.

Your lyrics are often laced with metaphor, and have a strongly poetic slant. Are there any authors or poets that influence you, or do you just write straight from your heart?
There's a lot of authors and artists that inspire us, but I think ultimately James' lyrics come from the heart.

James told one interviewer last year that your goal as a band is to, "destroy and rebuild music." Given the state of the music industry, are you hopeful this is possible?
If we can inspire to create, then that's all we're needed for. We only wish to inspire people to do the same, and if we're doing that then that's fine. The state of the music industry doesn't affect the listener or even the music, it only decides whether the artist will eat today or tomorrow. But an artist will find a way to get by, to get his music heard, regardless of the situation, because that's what artists do. Artists are just glorified vagabonds. Only after years of blind inexorability and sheer determination does one see any kind of income from this.

You've already achieved a great deal for a band still so young - national radio play, festival appearances, large tours with established acts, endorsements - so where next? What does the future hold for Sharks?
If we can consistently continue to play shows and make records, then that will do for the future. We'll take everything else as it comes.