by Danielle Holian
How and when did the band form?
Steve: Tom (bass) and I (guitar/vocals) originally played in a band together in college called The Reaganauts. He moved off to NYC to join the television industry and we didn’t see each other for about 5 years. Near the end of that, my subsequent band in Boston failed to take off, so I started sending him demos of new songs I was working on. He was into them, and successfully lobbied me to come down to NYC to start The Sharp Shadows.
Zac: These guys found me last summer, I was actually homeless and living on a boat docked on the East River in NYC(long story) but I went out to California for a month, after my return I did a couple practices with them, it clicked, like flipping on a light switch, and here I am!
Where did your name “The Sharp Shadows” originate from?
Steve: I picked it off a list Tom found of Stanley Kubrick fake film ideas. It sounded the most like a New Wave band.
Tom: For decades Stanley Kubrick and his assistant kept a list of “titles in search of a script” that was published after his death. Most were just larks, some I’d pay to see. I sent Steve the best ones and we liked “Sharp Shadow on the Wall – an arty noir movie set in the 1940’s with not a lot happening.” (A version of the list can be found here.) We’ve been keeping the spirit alive with a list of “band names in search of a band”. Someday I’ll publish that myself.
Who are your influences?
Steve: I’m especially obsessed with a lot of English bands from the late 70s/early 80s. The Jam, The Pretenders, The Ruts, The Police. Any of those punk-influenced bands that still could add a lot of pop sheen and construction to what they do. Lately I’ve been digging on a lot of bands from the same era from Ireland, like the Undertones and the Good Vibrations bands like Rudi and Protex.
Zac: I grew up listening to Mowtown, that era of music always stuck with me, maybe it’s the pocket 4/4 beat that I enjoyed. Punk music was a big part of my influence as well, Green Day, The Vandals, Goldfinger, etc. Lately I’ve had 90s alternative like Hum and Blind Melon shuffling in my playlists along with folk punk bands, Days and Daze, Ramshackle Glory, Wingnut Dishwashers Union…I’m kind of all over the place.
Why did you choose Rock n Roll as your genre?
Steve: The music that tends to move me the most has been delivered with loud guitars matched to a more sensitive songwriting aesthetic. Since Grunge happened in the US, it’s a genre that’s either moved thoroughly underground or splintered into a million micro genres to the point that people don’t even recognize its power anymore. When we started the band, I knew I wanted to make music that appealed to as many people as possible, and this is the form that seems to make the most sense for me.
Tom: Because I can’t rap.
Zac: There’s something about playing together with people, it’s organic, a strange alchemy occurs when the people you play with sync up and it’s quite beautiful. We are storytellers, each of us has a piece to contribute, Rock and Roll just happens to be the vessel.
How has your music evolved since the band began?
Steve: Definitely. We’ve had three completely different drummers since we started, and that always shifts things up. We went from being a more nervous sounding band to one that’s a bit more confident. The record that just came out is a totally different animal from the earlier EP we’d done, and I imagine the one to follow will continue in that trend. Keeps it from getting boring!
Tom: After a few years, hopefully you stop trying to sound like someone else and sound like yourself. I think we’re getting to that point where every new song sounds like a natural extension of our personalities.
Where can someone access your music?
Steve: As of this week, “Small Victories” will be on all the streaming services/online platforms (i.e. Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc.). That being said, we recommend the curious to check us out on bandcamp. It’s free to stream there and on the app, and all proceeds from the sales go directly to us! http://thesharpshadows.com/
What are your hopes for the future?
Steve: Touring. Especially internationally. If you know anyone in Ireland who’d like to have us over, get us in touch, we’d love to come! Tom and I both have Irish blood in us, so visiting the “mother country” would be a worthwhile pilgrimage.
Zac: Touring for sure, but being the new guy, I would like to get in the studio with these guys.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to join the music scene?
Steve: The more you can learn how to do on your own, the more likely you are to see things start to happen. We didn’t start to get booked at better venues until we started booking the shows ourselves, i.e. contacting the bands, approaching the venues with a full lineup, and handling the promo. If you can get your hands dirty in building a community early on, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. And don’t be afraid! It seems daunting with so many other bands out there, but eventually you find the people who will understand and love you.
Tom: If there’s a ‘music scene’ we probably aren’t part of it. It’s just playing around until you make the kind of friends that you want to play every show with – like us and bands like Cat Has Claws, Ian Cat & The Crimsons etc. Play around and you’ll eventually make your own scene.
Any last words?
Go raibh maith agat! We hope we get to visit you guys soon!