Those of you in attendance at last month's Northside Festival may have noticed an oddly punctuated band that seemed to be playing every single show. Local quartet Shark?, led by singer/guitarist Kevin Diamond, played seven times during the festival's four days, and it seems likely that, in the process, they won themselves a new slew of fans on the merit of their playful, surprisingly elegant indie-pop. We caught up with Diamond and asked him a few questions about what he'd just been through and, of course, what's up next.
The L: You officially played more than any other band at Northside, which I think may call for, I dunno, a Heineken, probably. Do you feel as tired as everyone in the L Magazine office right now?
Kevin Diamond: I'm sorry, I was sleeping. Did you say something? I've spent the last two days watching episodes of True Blood and trying to regain my strength. Vampire Bill is the man. Anna Paquin is a horrible actress.
The L: Did you manage to see any fellow Brooklyn bands that impressed you?
KD: Best show of the week was without a doubt I'm Turning Into at the Charleston, Thursday night. We were playing Spike Hill, and we all booked it over there between sets just in time to see the three-headed-Hydra of a band that they are decimate that basement. I don't think there's another band in Brooklyn writing more hits than I'm Turning Into. It boggles our mind that they're not the biggest band in the world right now. "Michael Jackson Is Dead" is my current jam, but "Chin" and "I'm Going" are both golden classics.
The L: I know you're raising money on Kickstarter to pay for the recording expenses of your first full-length. As of today, you've raised $970, which has to feel good—it can't be easy getting people to fork over money. Whose idea was it to go that route?
KD: Mine. It's worked reasonably well. Although one guy donated a hefty sum that then got denied because he didn't tell his wife what it was, and she saw it on their joint account and canceled the payment. Always run those big expenses by your wives, dudes.
The L: What happens if you don't make your goal by the July 11 deadline? Will you wait it out until some more money comes in or follow in the path of your EPs and self-record it?
KD: Well with Kickstarter, if you don't reach the goal you set for yourself, you don't get any of the money—it all goes back to those who donated. What we'll probably do is just put in the remainder ourselves so we can get at that loot. In terms of self-recording, I'm always recording stuff on my own—it's how I write the songs. But I think we all recognize that we're not gonna progress as a band unless we have something we can be really proud of to tour behind and charge people money for. And the most logical thing to do is record a full-length in a studio.
The L: Do you have an ideal studio in mind, assuming everything works out money-wise?
KD: It's not so much the studio we're worried about as much as who will be behind the board. We need to find a like-minded person who will let us be as messy as we want to be while still sounding like a cohesive band. That's a big deal for us.
The L: About a year ago, I started seeing your name pop up on a ton of bills with bands we were writing about a lot at the time—Darlings, Dinosaur Feathers, The Sundelles, etc. Is that when Shark? formed, or was the timing a more coincidental thing, like you just met a lot of other bands around then and things started clicking as far as getting more and more gigs?
KD: Don't tell Sam from the Sundelles this, �ƒ¢â�€š¬�‹�“cause it'll go to his head, but honestly it wasn't until he and I became friends that I really felt like I could do this. I'd been recording music on my own since I was a teenager, and when I saw The Sundelles play their first bunch of shows in Brooklyn, I realized, "Hey, I can do this too." Other than that, we were lucky to play our first show with Sundelles, Darlings and Pow Wow!, and our second show was the Cake Shop 4th Year Anniversary show with Dinosaur Feathers and a ton more bands. That got us noticed a bit, even though we sounded like a band playing its first shows—which is to say not very good. I think we've gotten a little better since then.
The L: In reading what others have to say about your sound, lots of indie-rock heavy hitters are mentioned: Ted Leo, The Strokes, Pavement, Modern Lovers, etc. Is there one comparison you've come across that you particularly agree or disagree with?
KD: Every band that's thrown out is usually a band that I've had a love affair with in the past. The best is when someone throws out a band that I've never heard of, and then I listen to them, and I'm totally into it. The worst was someone said we sounded like Cake. I don't really like Cake, but I can't say if the comparison is a good one or not. I wanna sound like The Misfits but with less zombies.
The L: There seems to be an underlying fun, unpretentious attitude in both your recordings and your live show which is nice and refreshing in today's scene. I don't really have a question here. Just wanted to pass that along.
KD: Oh damn, thanks. Yeah, when I formed the band I had one goal which was to have fun and make fun music. I mean, if it's not fun, then what's the point, right?
The L: Have to ask. The question mark in your name: Just for kicks or is there a story behind it?
KD: Do we ever really know for certain who or what we are?