INTERVIEW: Desert Sharks

Hi folks, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We are excellent! Busy, and excellent. How are you?

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Dating”?

“Dating?” is the second single from our upcoming LP, “Baby’s Gold Death Stadium.” We chose this song as a single because we love the sludginess to it and tempo. We were listening to a lot of Toadies at the time when we wrote it, and we think some of that influenced the vibe. We wrote this song shortly after Sunny broke up with her ex, so we kinda decided early on that the theme of the song was going to be about that situation. They had dated off and on before and the whole thing was quite toxic, so the lyrics are essentially me (Stephanie) telling Sunny not to go back to her.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

When we write songs, we typically start with the music first and then figure out the lyrics and theme later. After their breakup, we changed it up and said to Sunny, “write a riff that expresses the end of all that bullshit.” From that idea, this darker, gritty riff was born. The song is titled “Dating?” because that was a text Sunny got from her ex as soon it was clear Sunny had moved on.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

We got the idea for the “Dating?” video after I’d sent a dear friend a secret link to our new album. She responded by sending back a video of her dancing to it and it was so raw and amazing and I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if we could get all of our friends to do this?” Everyone has a smartphone these days so they can easily film themselves – so we decided to publicly reach out to friends, family, and fans to submit videos of themselves singing and dancing to the song. The end result is this super fun mashup of those submissions along with our own videos.

The single comes off your new album Baby’s Gold Death Stadium – what’s the story behind the title?

We were on tour and were discussing all the DIY and indie venues in Brooklyn that we had played. We started playing with putting their names together and from that Baby’s Gold Death Stadium came to be. “Baby’s” for Baby’s All Right; “Gold” for Gold Sounds and Rose Gold; “Death” for Death By Audio (RIP); and “Stadium” for Shea Stadium (RIP).

How was the recording and writing process?

This is our first full length, and I think we were really eager to get a new album out there – especially since it had been a while since our last recording and we really wanted people to hear the new stuff we were playing. We went into the studio a little eager and recorded 3 or 4 songs in 2 days. We realized we still had a lot of writing to do and so it took almost a year before we went back and finished everything. We recorded with Jordan Lovelace (from Pampers and Tournament) at his studio, Spiceworld. It’s in the basement of an apartment building in Brooklyn. The first sessions we did, there must have been a dead rat or something in the wall because we had to burn incense the whole time. We had to be careful of rainy days too because the basement could potentially flood. It was gritty as hell and that seemed to contribute positively to the vibe we wanted to create. We recorded live to tape and did vocals and overdubs separately. We love our old recordings, but they almost sound a little too clean for our liking. Jordan really understood that we wanted to capture the energy of our live shows and was able to help us translate that to record. Jonathan Schenke mixed and mastered it. He truly has a magic touch and we were thrilled with the end result.

What role does Brooklyn play in your music?

Half of us live in Brooklyn and we mostly play shows in Brooklyn. It’s our home. It’s where we played our first show. It has lifted us up and kicked our ass and helped us get to where we are now.

What is it about the 90s that you find so fascinating?

We grew up in the 90s, so it’s pretty surreal to witness it “coming back in style.” A lot of the bands that shaped our musical tastes were from that decade and helped us to realize that we wanted to be musicians. Most of those bands were guitar driven, which is something we’ve focused on with writing from the start.

What aspect of this decade did you get to explore on this record?

I think mostly it would be what we were listening to from that decade while we were writing, like Veruca Salt, Sleater Kinney, L7, Toadies, and more. Bands we “discovered” in our youth that we still listen to.

You got to explore some dark themes on this album – was it easy for you to tackle these topics?

We live in a crazy time where there’s a lot of political upheaval and darkness. “I Don’t Know How to Dress For the Apocalypse” definitely touches on some of the heavy aspects of that. Addressing shadowy stuff head on openly and honestly feels deeply therapeutic, so maybe that’s why I lean into it. When I’m writing songs, I’m reflecting on my thoughts at the time: some rational, some totally irrational and anxiety-driven. But I think a lot of the sentiment expressed is universal, or I hope, somewhat relatable. There’s a spectrum between dark and light. Yeah, there’s a song about my old roommate who was a total energy vampire (“Trust”) and a song about misogyny (“Sick Sad World”), but there’s also songs about meeting a new love (“Seasick”) and owning personal power, too (“Sorceress”).

How did you get to balance the darkness with the much uplifting tone?

I think we always keep an element of playfulness with our writing, and we as people try not to take ourselves too seriously. It’s a balance. Like, writing about the end of the world, that has the potential to get real serious and real depressing pretty quick. Injecting a little playfulness saying “It’s ok, no one knows what they’re doing anyway” – it’s a cheeky way to be like, well at least we’re all in this mess together.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I tried to be really open to various sources of inspiration on this record – personal experiences, archetypes, other people’s perspectives, etc. For example, I wrote the lyrics to “Sorceress” after we’d had a discussion at practice about letting our grey hair grow in. I’d said, “I want my hair to be long and grey so I can look like a sorceress,” and we laughed and decided to play with that theme. I looked to the archetype of the wise and magical old woman and thought about how aging women are typically dismissed by modern society. Aging brings wisdom and independence and self-awareness and provides such a better grip on your happiness. I wanted to express that value and explore owning personal power through a witchy lens.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! We are touring at the end of September to support the album release and are hoping to tour more now that we have a new LP to share.

What else is happening next in Desert Sharks’ world?

We have another video coming out soon so stay tuned! We’ve already started writing new stuff too. 🙂

LISTEN/WATCH: Desert Sharks – “Dating?”

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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