“Honestly, nothing has really changed except my songwriting prowess,” says John Sharkey III about the difference between his brilliant noise rock band Clockcleaner and his brand new outfit, Dark Blue.
“I was pretty good before,” Sharkey says, “but now I’m much better. I do the same thing as always — I write it all in my head, every part. I don’t sit down with a guitar and contemplate the stars, pining for inspiration. That’s nonsense.”
From 2003-08, Clockcleaner provided scabrous relief from the rising tide of folk-informed American indie strum. Driven by Sharkey’s throat-ruining screams, Clockcleaner marked a return to the boisterous bygone days of bands like Big Black, Dazzling Killmen and Rapeman.
And then, after a handful of singles and two excellent albums (including the brilliantly-titled Nevermind), Clockcleaner fell to pieces following a particularly disastrous trip home from South By Southwest in 2008.
To hear Sharkey tell it, the demise was inevitable. “I was rapidly outgrowing the people Clockcleaner was attracting,” he says. “Getting emails from people I’d never met that started with “Hey, [homophobic expletive]!” was starting to wear on my patience.” Tellingly, the slow-roast, mind-cramp sludge on the final EP Auf Wiedersehen (Load, 2009) was a far cry from the band’s original noise punk urges, and paved the way for Sharkey’s next project, Dark Blue.
“I started singing in a lower register near the end and [Clockcleaner bassist] Karen [Horner] was like, ‘That sounds kind of like Peter Murphy’ which lent itself to writing slower and lower.”
After spending time in Australia on and off from 2009-13 (his wife, whom he met during that ill-fated SXSW, is Australian) and knocking out a few records with a new outfit called Puerto Rico Flowers, Sharkey put together Dark Blue with bassist Andrew Mackie Nelson (also of hardcore band Ceremony) and drummer Mike Sneeringer (of Purling Hiss) in early 2013. Pure Reality, the group’s full-length debut, is a knowing throwback to the mid-tempo Oi! records Sharkey obsessed over as a lad in Philly.
Read more on Sharkey’s interview here!