Sharks in the Deep End are a six-piece band from Austin, Texas. Their debut LP, “Killin’ Machine” was released at the end of April and they’ve been on the road touring since.
Music Existence had the chance to catch up with Sharks in the Deep End at their tour stop in Chicago. Check out photos from their Chicago show here.
ME: Could I have you guys introduce yourselves and what you do in the band?
Tucker: I’m Tucker Jameson. I sing in the band, play a little synth, and some guitar as well.
Sam: I’m Sam Thompson. I play guitar and do a little singing.
Clayton: I’m Clay. I do lights, and all the other stuff core band members don’t do at any given time. The three other guys that are eating dinner next door are Matt Shearon, Chris Konte, and Henry Schuler.
Tucker: Henry plays bass, Matt plays drums, and Chris plays keys.
ME: How’d you all meet?
Tucker: Chris and I were the first to meet, years ago we played in a different project together. We were about to hit the road and I had asked a friend of mine if he new any keyboardists and he said actually I got the perfect guy, he’s my uncle and he’s moving into town like next week. So he learned all the songs in a week…He’s a super talented guy. He learned all the stuff, he hadn’t unpacked yet and all he had was his guitar. So he learned all the songs on guitar, then showed up at the first rehearsal and sat down on piano and played the songs on the piano for the first time and killed it. We’ve been playing together ever since.
Clayton: The rest of us have been in the music scene in Austin for a handful of years. Sam and Henry were born and raised there.
ME: Did you guys always plan on doing music in your life?
Clayton: Most of us are all pretty much music centric.
Sam: I was an engineer for a short amount of time, but I’ve always done music since high school.
Clayton: I’ve done a lot of other like, art production things. I produce a lot of shows and have done a lot of design stuff for those types of things, but mostly music. Through us all being in Austin playing music for the past handful of years, when Tucker was trying to put this band together we all were acquainted in one way or another.
ME: You guys just released your debut album “Killin’ Machine,” which is a great album by the way! How did you formulate your sound? There are a lot of different allusions to pop and rock—how did you decide on that sound?
Tucker: There were a lot of influences going around at the time. The guys that worked on it—Henry, Chris, and I—we all had a lot of different influences that we pulled in. Bowie was a huge thing. We definitely wanted to tap into The Smiths and a lot of the new-wave sounds like The Talking Heads—things like that and sort of update it and bring it to the sensibilities of what it would sound like now with everything that’s happened since the 80s. The guy that mixed it is actually a guy named Mark Needham, who is Grammy nominated and worked on The Killers, Imagine Dragons, and a bunch of other cool artists. It was a real pleasure getting to work with him and seeing him do his thing.
ME: So you mentioned Bowie—I saw that you guys did a Bowie tribute, which I loved. What kind of inspiration has he had on your lives and music?
Tucker: He’s somebody that we all really respect.
Chris: I’ll tell you about Bowie. I went about six years without seeing my cousin, who’s my age, and when we reconnected our parents let us go record shopping and we spent way too much money on CDs at Best Buy. And “Hunky Dory,” the Bowie record, is one of the ones we got. And it just stayed in my car for the last six years. So that’s a personal inspiration of mine. And as a piano player, David Bowie is pretty good at what he does I would say. He’s got all that quirkiness to him too, which I think Tucker likes. He’s got melody and sound, two really deep aspects.
Tucker: And production. He’s just a wizard with the ways he has sort of innovated how to do the sort of lo-fi do-it yourself production thing and he was just able to transition when he got his record deal and he had just pristine pop songs.
ME: Back to the album—“Killin’ Machine” is a very bold title for a debut I would have to say, what made you guys pick that song to be the title as opposed to any of the other songs on the album?
Matt: Hot lady man—killin’ machine.
Tucker: The song kind of chronicles somebody that’s hurting you to the core, you know—twisting the knife a little bit. The album as a whole I think is an extension of that to a large degree. About finding love, dealing with love, dealing with how time affects decisions you make in a relationship, you know that kind of stuff. I think [“Killin’ Machine”] pretty much wrapped up overall what the album was about.
ME: Would you say this album is a concept album?
Chris: Well you’re telling a story through reverse in time, starting where you’re at in your life, in your love life, in your relationships…Time is a concept throughout the whole album so I think that qualifies it as a concept album.
Tucker: Yeah, it definitely has some overarching themes that tie it together.
Sam: And sounds.
Tucker: What’s cool about it is that we sort of all went for three to four weeks and wrote the whole thing. We didn’t know what we were gonna come up with, we didn’t have any ideas coming into it, and I had never done anything like that before. We just sort of locked ourselves in a room and worked on the music and did nothing else and came out with that. So that in and of itself was a bold leap and concept from which we built the album.
ME: You guys also worked with George Salisbury who did lots of Flaming Lips videos for your video of “Shadows in the Sunset.” What was that experience like?
Tucker: It was badass! You guys want to take it?
Clayton: It was a lot of fun! He came down and hung out with us for a few days in Austin and set up a green screen in our rehearsal space.
Sam: He put green tape all our faces.
Chris: It was all sorts of fun. We didn’t really know what to expect. He kept trying to let us know what he was conceptualizing but it was really hard to verbalize.
Matt: He also wanted us to take it too. He wanted us to be natural and do our own thing.
Clayton: He kinda wanted to watch us individually perform. We stood in front of this green screen and what was really cool about it was that the way he was doing it, he sped it up so he was shooting it at 30 frames per second or something like that…We had to speed the song up to like one and half times as fast. So we had to play it and record it like that, and so when he was editing the video he dropped it down to normal speed so it has this cool sort or warpy, wavy effect to it.
Tucker: You should’ve seen this guy…
Matt: 11 takes oh my god.
Tucker: …playing that over and over again. Playing it super fast on the drums and it’s a fast song to begin with.
Matt: Nothing a little Red Bull can’t fix!
ME: Are you guys working on any other music videos?
Clayton: We have some live videos that we’re currently editing from some previous shows that we’re working on. Just developing concepts for other music videos for songs on the album right now.
Tucker: We’d like to have a new video out by the fall.
ME: Awesome! One of my favorite songs on the album is “How Many Reasons.”
Tucker: That’s one of our favorites to play live!
ME: What was the inspiration behind that?
Tucker: One of the instruments we were recording a lot with and we use on the road is an old analog synthesizer called the Juno 60. It has this really distinct sound that comes with it. One day we were sort of messing with that and that’s what came out.
ME: To me, that song is the climax of the album. I thought it worked very well. And so kind of going off of that, “Your Heart’s Changing” as the conclusion I thought wrapped up the album perfectly.
Chris: That was the first song we recorded.
ME: Interesting! How do you pick the order of the album then?
Tucker: It’s so tough. It’s so tough picking an order because as a listening experience you want people to keep listening. And so when you have so many different types of songs on there it’s not the same. You really gotta figure out what the best journey is.
Chris: We got a different order every night we play too.
ME: So you’re on tour right now—how has it been going? Have you been having fun at the shows, have the crowds been reacting well?
Clayton: It’s been great, it’s been a lot of fun.
Tucker: We just played New York last week and that was awesome. We had a packed room. The kick off show in Austin was great. This guy [Clayton] likes to make all sorts of production stuff. Set pieces and things like that.
Clayton: Yeah we did a lot of set design for the home show.
Tucker: Neon trees. It looked like we were underwater.
Clayton: It was like a neon, coral reef forest. It was pretty fun.
ME: How do you guys like the Austin music scene? Do you find yourselves fitting in there?
Clayton: We’re still there.
Sam: Always been there.
Tucker: We’re looking forward to going home and playing a show July 8th. Hometown show. Homecoming!
Clayton: Yeah our tour return!
ME: What’s up next for you guys after you finish the tour?
Tucker: Writing some more. Hit the studio.
Matt: Can’t stop wont stop.
Clayton: Keep taking gigs in Austin. Work on releasing a new single.
Tucker: We want to tour again in the fall so we got to have a couple new songs to put out.
ME: If you guys could tour with any band what would it be?
Henry: Ooh Ty Segall.
Chris: I’m not gonna say my favorite band but I’m gonna say a band I like a lot that I think we’d be a great with—MGMT.
Tucker: I’m also not gonna say my favorite band. A band that would be a good fit I think is Bleachers—that would be really cool.
Sam: I’m gonna go ahead and say my favorite band—The Rolling Stones.[Laughs]
Clayton: Ah man, I’m gonna say Portugal. The Man.
Matt: [Tucker] showed me Broncho and I’m in love with them.
ME: Well hopefully one day you guys will get to tour with them! And last but not least, do you guys have any message you’d like to give to your fans? Anything you’re trying to get across with your music?
Matt: Shoot the gap.
ME: Can you explain that?
Clayton: No. There’s no explanation.
Matt: It means go for whatever you think you should go for. Don’t ever have any regrets. That’s why I’m here.
Sam: It’s a book he’s been writing.
Tucker: It’s advice for everybody…it just means live life you know.
Matt: 236 chapters, 5 pages. Yeah it’s gonna be great.
Tucker: Live life. Enjoy yourself. Take chances.
Clayton: It’s wisdom from a drummer.
Tucker: But we also want to thank all the fans for tuning in, listening, supporting, coming out to the shows.
Chris: Thank you to all the people who have taken care of us. We stayed at a lot of friend’s houses. Friends, family, you know, people that have our records in their house, that like our stuff on Facebook, everything man.
Clayton: Thank you for coming out and taking the time to talk to us!