"The Best Baritone Since Ian Curtis"
John Sharkey III is no longer the fuckhead in Clockcleaner, writing songs with titles like "Gentle Swastika," crafting cold noisy punk that was both biting and mesmerizing. The band was great, and then simmered out, synth-pop Puerto Rico Flowers born in its 2008 wake. That band too proved to have an expiration date. A natural one, an unforced death. For fans, that meant the end of the best baritone since Ian Curtis.
Dark Blue's 7", out in February.
But Sharkey never stopped. Now married with children, he's settled, but not complacent. His latest project, Dark Blue, sees him alongside Ceremony's Andy Nelson and Purling Hiss' Mike Sneeringer. The voice has returned. And it comes to NYC tonight at Home Sweet Home as part of Nothing Changes with Interval. We asked it some questions.
Let's talk about where you've been. I understand you were in Australia for the last couple years? You're in Philly now?
Since 2008 I have been traveling between Philadelphia and the capital of Australia, Canberra. My wife is an Australian citizen. I have two children now. When we got pregnant we decided to go back to Australia. My wife was scared to death of raising children here in this country and I don't blame her. That's what I've been doing--going back and forth. It's an expensive hobby.
But it sounds like a fun one.
I love Australia, it's a great place. It's basically a Twilight Zone version of the United States. People there are considered British rednecks and that's basically what Americans are, we just don't have the bad food and the nice accents. My wife is working on getting her citizenship so that's why we're here now. I'm sure the music listening world is really happy we're staying put, haha!
Let's backtrack a little: it is 2003 and you start Clockcleaner.
I lived in Cleveland for a few years and then moved home and the original idea was the drummer, Richie Charles, and I hadn't really gotten along in the past so it was shocking when he stopped me on the street and asked me to start a band with him. Once we got together with the bass player who was only in the band for a very short time it quickly dawned on me that I'd have to do everything to keep Clockcleaner afloat.
You can be in my band but you have to do everything.
It was born out of necessity. Let's be honest, no one wants to be in a band where the drummer tells you what to do. That lasted until 2009 when we broke up.
What was the reason for that?
We just did everything we wanted to do as a band. My wife got pregnant, I decided it was the best to just end it. With Clockcleaner we kind of expended all of our creative ideas and I'd already started Puerto Rico Flowers in 2008 in Australia and I wanted to expend upon that lackadaisical idea. We weren't playing shows at the time, and it never seemed like something I could build upon or commit to full time. We did a record... Puerto Rico Flowers was a metamorphoses from my time as a drunk idiot into full-time working dad.