Rhian Daly 06/04/2010
Goldsmiths College in New Cross is much renowned for being a hotbed of creativity in art, music and otherwise. Sonically, its most famous alumni Blur were the bastions of the quintessentially English sound of Britpop, whilst in more recent years Klaxons spearheaded the shortlived and much derided new rave phenomenon. La Shark, part of the new breed of Goldsmiths bands, sound nothing like either of the aforementioned. Opting for circus melodies and an underlying sense of the macabre, theirs is a classic alt pop sound with an added dark twist. GIITTV's Rhian Daly battled against the wailing sirens of South East London to talk freaking out 14 year olds and starting cults with three fifths of the group.
So you're all Goldsmiths graduates, right? Is that essentially how you met - through the university?
Samuel Deschamps: We've had some adventures. It would be a boring story if we all met in a classroom. We met on our travels, going from place to place.
Why did you decide to start a band together? Was it simply a case of a mutual appreciation of the same bands or music?
SD: I don't think necessarily we knew were starting a band. You just meet people and it's like “You're doing something that could help me out” and it turns into a group. Then you realise you're a band...
Lewis 'Love' Maynard: I think we started gigging before we realised we were a band. We kind of just played with [Samuel].
SD: It's been a long, rocky road and now it looks more like a band than it ever has, probably. But it's still a long, rocky road of experimentation.
You supported the likes of the Maccabees and Good Shoes on tour last year - did you learn anything from those bands that you can take into shaping La Shark's future?
SD: The way people hold themselves is impressive. I mean, we're completely different musicians. The way they rev up their crowds is very different from the way we get our crowds going. We're just completely different bands really. It was so good getting to know those guys... Our first tour, though, we weren't even ready for it. In a way, I hate opening for other bands but you have to do it to get to a good place. It's always a tricky thing when you're playing to people who are desiring for something else, and you've got to be a kind of throwaway act who comes on before them. Sometimes you can steal them but I don't know. It has been fun, actually. I don't know why I'm putting it down. And we have learnt a lot about touring, and having fun when you're on the road. We haven't really learnt about developing our show that much, that's something that comes naturally. Through your own shows, that comes a bit more I think.
It's been a while since I last saw you live but from what I remember it was quite theatrical, sort of more than just a band playing music, in a way. Do you take influence from theatre and performance art in terms of your live shows?
Sami El-Enany: I'd say our sound has changed a lot since whenever you saw us last.
SD: I was torn between being a superstar who's famous for being an actor or for doing music... no, when I went to uni I was torn between doing acting or music so it's really flattering when people say there's theatre in it because I think when you do a performance you shouldn't waste it all away being like “I'm a musician, I'm going to stand here and play my instrument” - you should go off and try as many angles as you can, be an artist in as many ways as possible.
You've got your debut single coming out at the beginning of April, what label is it being released on?
LM: It's a label in Brighton called So Darn So. What more can we say about them, they're good guys.
Why did you choose to release A Weapon?
SD: It's one of those tracks that always felt really good to play. It built itself in about an hour and we were just like “Shit, this is good”.
SE: It was the beginning of a really exciting turn, and it was time to put out a single so it felt like a really good choice.
SD: Some songs are slow burners and some songs are just like “bang!”
LM: I think it captures our energy live on record...
So, you're going on tour with Paloma Faith in a few days... did she ask you to do the tour herself?
SD: Yeah. It's been really nice so far because all of our tours have been personal requests. We have a booking agent and he's got us some shows but overall, our actual good shows and tours have been through personal friends of friends. The same thing's happened with Paloma and she wants us to go round Great Britain with her so fair enough. That's an opportunity.
Are you excited about how her crowd's going to react to you because, I guess performance-wise you might share some similarities but musically you're quite different.
SE: I guess I'm more interested than excited...
SD: It's not fear, it's like going up in assembly when you're 9 years old. It's exciting going up in front of that many people and knowing you could make such a big impression. It's like saying a swear word in front of your assembly when you're 9. That's what I want to do, I want to do the equivalent of that. But times 10. And everyone will be like “Oh my god, that 9 year old just said a swear word. He's a badass. I'm not going to mess with him in the playground.”
LM: It's why she chose us to do the tour, as well. Not only because she's a fan but also because she knows we're going to cause some kind of reaction.
SD: We definitely get the love/hate thing. I do hope some people fall in love with it... what's the opposite of fall in love?! Fall to death?
LM: I hope some people really hate it.
SE: There was a definite satisfaction on the Good Shoes tour, just freaking out 14 year olds. You look out and you either see people really getting into it...
LM: We were interrogating the indie disco.
SE: Yeah, they didn't know what was going on. That was satisfying.
SD: Clearing rooms is funny. As long as there's one person left, then it's like “That guy's awesome!”, giving him the party of a lifetime. That's what we want to happen at Shepherd's Bush. We want everyone to leave except one person, and then they'll buy a thousand records so it won't even matter.
What are you hoping to happen for La Shark in the coming months? I noticed you're booked to play 1-2-3-4 festival in the summer...
SD: What is that, is that the Offset one? No? Well, a festival in Shoreditch Park - we've got higher hopes than that. I can definitely say that. Over the next few months is a tricky one because the next few months is going to be about solidifying what we've got and spreading our name around. But there's a lot of things I want to do in the future, like play in certain places and travel the world and stuff, which may not happen within a few months but I hope it will one day. We are actually playing in Paris in a few months, which is a huge thing because Paris is beautiful. I've never played in France and I've got a lot of heritage there so that'll be good. It's all about the people and the places, that's what we look forward to.
SE: Yeah, definitely. Just being a band and just travelling.
SD: The people and the places... and the cash! (laughs) But for me it's not about playing this festival or doing this because this might be good for us or whatever, you might bump into someone at a show anywhere. It's just about location. I don't ever want to seem like we want to do things in the obvious pattern, you know? Like, we're looking forward to putting our next single or our album out, we're looking forward to maybe getting a Glastonbury slot... a lot of bands follow this typical ladder and it's easy to follow because you look at those things as the right things - you want to be in NME and Q magazine and you just keep climbing that ladder. But at the end of the day you actually realise that ladder's full of shit and it's best to look forward to your own little highlights.
LM: Yeah, I was going to say I'm most looking forward to being able to play the same as we do in New Cross in different parts of the country and around the world.
SD: We want to spread a little buzz... I was going to say spread a little infection but that sounds awful. The obvious thing to do when you've got a successful club night [the band run a monthly night Deptford Darling at the Bunker on Deptford Broadway]... our club night's growing and it's just this party where everyone completely loses themselves. It's got a really nice, intimate thing about it. I can imagine people walking into it late and being like “This is a weird and wonderful thing”. And rather than moving it on to the next sized venue until it's at Fabric and it's lost all it's fucking soul, we want to do loads more little things like that and have all these things that we're in control of and we can see a change in people. We're moving it to Brighton...
SE: So basically starting a new religion. It's like a cult.
SD: We saw a stylist today so we're going to have our own outfits. That'll be part of the cult as well. We're going to have beige jumpsuits with huge shoulder pads. I don't even get one though. I've got some other shit going on.
La Shark release their debut single A Weapon on April 5th