Yeah baby! It’s about the time to bring in some crazy ass punk’n’rollin’! Altercation Records‘ recent signee THE SHARP LADS were so kind to spend some time with me and answer a bunch of questions about Brooklyn, New York, their new album and running a punk rock band. Check them out and scroll down to see the band’s very own Dave Tierney revealing a whole lot more about your new favourite rock’n’rollers than you can actually get from reading Rolling Stone.
P.S. My apologies go out to all the residents of Bronx and Brooklyn, who might feel I see their neighborhoods as scary as fuck! I do realize that lots of spots that were dangerous in the past are completely fine areas these days. Here at IDIOTEQ we do not judge people by what they look like or what you see on TV and in the media :)
Hey David! How are you? What’s up in Brooklyn?
Hey Karol, I’m doing great, thanks. How are you? I think Winter is finally over in Brooklyn and we can enjoy some nice weather, so that’s cool.
Nice! It’s one hell of a legendary place, isn’t it? A lot of people dream about living, or at least going there. How is Brooklyn actually when living there?
I love living in Brooklyn. I think most people don’t realize how big it actually is; you can have a totally different experience depending one what part you live in or go to visit. I’m in the most northern part of the borough, which is about 15 miles away from Coney Island down in the southern part.
Here in Poland we often associate it with a Polish enclave. Are there many visible accents of the Poles? Feel free to speak your mind, even if you have more negative perceptions :)
3 of us actually live in Greenpoint, which is a very Polish neighborhood. So yes, there are lots of Polish restaurants and stores, and you can hear Polish spoken on the street every day. The best part is that Żywiec beer is available all over the place, which is definitely something that I take advantage of.
Haha, nice one. I wouldn’t like to bother you, but there are tons of better beverages, I’m sure you know it. Local beers are definitely growing in popularity now and there are literally hundreds of amazing brands I could recommend here. Are you a beer enthusiast?
I love beer. I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer I didn’t enjoy. If you offered me one right now, I would drink it very enthusiastically. As the old saying goes, I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.
Haha! Alright Dave, following our Brooklyn intro, what was it like growing up there?
I actually didn’t grow up in Brooklyn. I’m originally from the Bronx, but my parents moved us to the Boston area when I was a kid. I moved to Brooklyn about 5 years ago.
Wow. Even better ;) How dangerous is the Bronx compared to Brooklyn?
I think they’re both great places. Just like most cities, they’ve got some rought parts.
Ok Dave, let’s discuss your musical background. Did members of your family have a career or some adventures in music? Would you say that some of them had any influence on your personal style?
No one in my family had a career in music or really any influence on my personal style. I would say that I was introduced to the music world by watching THE MONKEES television show as a small child. That’s what I pictured my adult life would be like.
Can you tell me about the chronology of how all of these musical interests developed?
Well, THE MONKEES were probably the first music I heard that wasn’t children’s music, so I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. That lead to my discovery of Rock n Roll in general which totally blew my mind. I still remember hearing the song La Bama for the first time at a family member’s wedding when the band played it. I think I was 4 years old. That was my favorite song for a little while after that. Then eventually I discovered Punk music when I was in midddle school, and that blew my mind all over again. I got my first RAMONES record when I was 12. That was a real game changer.
How important is classic punk rock and understanding of it? In order to fully understand the basics, do you believe young kids should have an interest in old tunes first?
Well, I love that stuff so it’s really important to me. But I think kids should listen to whatever speaks to them or inspires them, basically just whatever they like. I always liked finding out who the bands I liked were into and then listening to that. You get a good history of music in reverse that way. More important than listening to the old shit though is listening to new and local music, going out to their shows and buying their records. There’s all sorts of stuff goin on right now that will be classic one day. So you might as well go out and be part of it, so in 20 years you can tell a bunch of stupid kids that they don’t know what it was like back in the old days.
Haha, that’s right! And become a legend ;) How did you become involved in releasing your own music? What made you decide to run your own band and how much success have you had with THE SHARP LADS?
It’s not really a conscious decision I ever made. I’ve always had my own band. When I was a little kid, my best friend and I had a “band” and we would write songs and record them on cassette. Then by the time we were 13 or 14 it turned into a real band and we started playing gigs. I’ve pretty much always had a band since then, I just hope that I’ve gotten better and better at it as time has gone by. THE SHARP LADS are doing great. We just put out our second album, “Death by Misadventure”, this time on Altercation Records. In March we released the album, put out a music video, went on tour and played at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. So far the response to the new material has been great.
Why Altercation Records? How did you team up with Travis?
I love the other bands that are on Altercation, so musically I think it is a really god fit for us. We went on tour with NEW RED SCARE and THE SVETLANAS, and it was very inspiring to play with those guys every night. Both of those bands put everything they have out there in their live performances and that’s something that we try to do as well. I love bands who just play their fucking hearts out on stage. The audience can tell when it’s real and when it’s just an act. I met Travis last year when he put one of THE SHARP LADS songs on an Altercation Records comp called “Blood Sweat & Punk Volume 2.” Getting to know him a bit after that, I quickly realized that he was someone we should be working with.
Alright. So, all I can see on your bandcamp is your 2011 release called „Something To Scream About”. Any pland to put the new stuff for the people out there?
For sure, the new album is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, Interpunk, and all sorts of other places online. We have some songs from the new album streaming on ReverbNation and on our Facebook page. And our music video for the song, “Inventing the Future” is on the BlankTV channel on Youtube.
Why not give free downloads of the whole album and join the new flow in the digital music era? Are you a digital music kind of guy or rather old school vinyl boy with a library of LPs?
The whole album is available on Spotify, so if people want they can stream it for free. Playing and recording music costs money, and we couldn’t afford to just give everything away for free. Right now, you can stream our album for free, buy a digital copy online, or order a CD. We also have vinyl copies of the new album on sale at our shows and those will available online soon too. I download and stream lots of music online. I also have a big collection of vinyl records that I have been adding to since I was a kid. I believe in supporting independent music, and when I can, I buy albums from new bands in both digital and physical formats.
Ok Dave, back to “Death By Misadventure”. Can you tell us more about the title? Why did you pick that one and did you have other ideas for the title?
The whole time that we were recording we were planning on calling it “Inventing the Future,” which is the name of the first song. Eventually, we all basically decided that it wasn’t really a great name for the album. I think “Death by Misadventure” conveys the general vibe of the album better, that reckless feeling that comes from a confidence that you’re going to live forever. It’s a great feeling to have, but also it can fucking kill you.
You must be so excited to see this come to fruition. Right after the recording process you wrote: “Our long national nightmare is over”. Was it such a struggle?
Haha, I forgot I wrote that. We recorded the album at Big Blue Meanie over in Jersey City and working with Tim Gilles and his whole crew over there was an amazing experience. They did a great job of turning our vision into a reality; those guys are the best. When I wrote that, I was referring to the fact that it was a real life nightmare living in a world where this album didn’t exist, but we remedied that by recording it. I guess that might not have been too clear. But it was a lot of work and it felt good to have gotten through the recording process with a finished product that we all felt so good about. I am very excited that the album is out there now and we can share it with people.
Are you still working on songs for future releases? Is it a continual process?
It is a continual process. We have some new songs and we’re working on writing even more. We’re aiming to get back into the studio this fall to record another full length album. An album a year seems like a pretty good pace. I’d like to put out a couple more good ones before starting to get really weird and experimental and alienating all our fans.
Speaking about your fans, how was the March 27th record release show?
It was an amazing night. All the bands who played with us were great and the crowd had so much energy. It was wild. We had just come back from a great tour, and played to so many good crowds, but that night was a perfect homecoming. It really reminded me why New York is the greatest city in the world.
Tell us :)
The city is full of great people, there’s always interesting things going on, and people are always ready for a good time. Every night in New York is like Friday night in other cities.
Now you made me jealous, haha! Alright, Dave. Watching your videos and following you via your social media channels you can tell that you all party quite hard, huh? Is it all about having a good time? Would you want a band as a serious, artistic, and creative project only?
We definitely enjoy having a good time, but we work hard as well. We want to make music that people can let loose and have a good time listening to. There’s enough bands out there these days that make “serious” music that you have to sit down while you listen to them.
Alright Sir, so what’s up next? What are your plans for the next… 5 years? Haha :)
We want to write a lot more music, record, hopefully put out an album a year, tour America more, tour Europe, tour everywhere else we can, become massively famous and wealthy, let the fame go to our heads, change fundamentally as people, forget why we got into playing music in the first place, become spiritually and emotionally dead on the inside through drug and sex addiction, and then find some sort of new meaning in life through eastern religion. Then I think I’ll take over hosting duties on the Tonight Show.
Looks like a good plan.
Ok, as always, I am seeking more inspirations. Where do YOU look for music and what stuff have you been digging lately?
I look for music wherever I can get it. I always want to hear new things I haven’t heard before. I read blogs, check out youtube videos, get recommendations from friends, and go out to lots of live shows. I was just listening to THE STOOGES earlier, that never get old for me. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of obscure late 60’s psychedelic music and some lesser known early 70’s British glam stuff. I’ve also been really into a lot of the bands we’ve played shows with recently like THE DEAD TRICKS who played at our record release show, or the THE JETBRIDS who we played with in Chicago. Also, NEW RED SCARE, THE SVETLANAS, and THE OBVIOUS who we played a bunch of shows with out in Texas.
Ha! So you’re a punk’n’roller, aren’t ya? :)
Alright Dave, I will need to learn more about cool venues and spots in your neighborhood, as I really want to finally visit NYC sometime later this decade. Can you recommend some decent places for an adventure-hungry young couple?
In Greenpoint you might want to check out Saint Vitus, that’s a really cool venue. I also really like The Bowery Electric which is just up the street from where CBGB used to be. They still get a lot of cool punk shows including some from bands and performers that have been around since the beginnings of punk. We did our record release show there and have played with lots of good new and old bands there. One highlight was playing with Walter Lure from THE HEARTBREAKERS.
The ex-CBGB spot
Thanks so much for your time, man. Is there anything else you’d like to mention here?
We’re gonna live forever!
Cheers for your time! Take care man!
Live pic by John Mourlas