Today our West Coast Spotlight – Fake Shark. From the Myspace days to being big in Japan, Fake Shark have grown from playing punk venues in Vancouver to being internationally recognized names. We sit down with Kevvy Mental, Louis Wu, and Tony Dallas to talk Apple, Quarantine, and their new album “House of Mirrors”.
Kevvy and Louis, I know you 2 started the band back in October of 2005, and there have been multiple changes in roster. Tell us a bit more of your origin story?
Well, Fake Shark Real Zombie and Fake Shark to me, Kevvy, are really two different bands. When we first started the first band it was very much a local hard-core band. The final album by Fake Shark Real Zombie was called Liar and it really was a transition into doing what we’re doing now which is more in the indie pop realm and more accessible. I’m proud of both projects.
Taking it back to your debut album, Zebra Zebra!, back in ‘07. How crazy was it going from relative obscurity in the Canadian scene, to having life-sized cardboard cut-outs of you in Japan?
Was it strange coming back to Canada, not knowing what the reception would be like?
Yeah that was absolutely wild! I don’t think anyone gets used to that kind of stuff, but everyone in Japan was incredibly kind to us and we can’t wait to go back. It wasn’t that strange coming back to Canada because we kind of knew where we were in that world. But going to Japan and playing sold out shows was not what we expected.
Kevvy you even scored the short film Last Flowers back in 2009, what was it like working on something so radically different from the punk and live show scene you had become synonymous with?
I think people assume people in heavy bands only like heavy music but that’s really not the case I think. So for me growing up on movie soundtracks and scores, listening to the magnolia soundtrack and punch drunk love and everything that Jon Brion had done, I was excited to emulate that kind of stuff for that film.
Tony, you joined around this time, in between the albums Meeting People is Terrible and Liar. How did you join the family, and was it daunting to come in after 2 such beloved albums?
I was just a fan of the band before I even met them. I fell in love with the music and energy Fake Shark delivered because nobody was doing it like that at the time. The versatility and attitude of the group really drew me in, so once we actually became friends and asked to join, I’m honored. I had supreme confidence coming in. I learned and knew every song like the back of my hand. To finally be offered the opportunity to contribute to a group I looked up to coming up was a dream come true.
Over the years you have toured with some incredibly interesting folks, from MSI (Mindless Self Indulgence) to Marianas Trench, what are some of the more memorable or outrageous tour stories from back then? What was your favorite performance or the one that sticks out the most to you still?
Growing up Mindless Self Indulgence was my very favourite band and the reason that I wanted to start playing in a band in the first place so those tours meant a lot to me. The first time we ever opened for them was at the Croatian cultural centre in Vancouver and I couldn’t believe it. It meant so much to me to be part of their history considering I collected magazine clippings and singles from them. The funnest, most powerful show Lou and I probably ever played was part of Test Icicles for their final show in London England at the Astoria. Dev Hynes also known as Blood Orange was in that band, as was the late great Sam Mehran who we missed deeply. It was an incredibly special show.
You also worked with the Dave Ogilvie, who worked with Skinny Puppy, Marilyn Manson, and Jakalope/Katie B. I interviewed Katie B quite recently on her new project Nice Horse. Do you find it fascinating that both your sounds have shifted into nearly the opposite styles you were initially known for? Was it difficult navigating from one subculture and the subsequent fans to the other?
I suppose for Katie, she’s more synonymous with the industrial world so there must be some pressure on her to make all her projects within that genre. All the music I and we have made has been really genre bending so I don’t really feel the pressure from it.
2017, was a big year- your track “Cheap Thrills”. It was in the apple Watch commercial, and the music video. I mean, where to begin? I get MGMT meets Passion Pit meets Gorillaz aesthetic, and then the iconic Eric Andre shirt; it is simply amazing. Tell me more about the conceptualization of the video, the album Faux Real. What is was like finding out that Apple was going to feature you?
Thank you for noticing the Eric Andre shirt! Nobody has ever mentioned that! A friend of mine who works for a big comedy festival got in touch with his publicist to send her a Hi-Rez photo to have that made for me as a joke because I love him so much and I wore it in the damn video!
Steve Bays produced that song and directed the video, he did an amazing job. We shot it in about four or five hours which was the shortest video shoot at the soundstage at 604 Records and then he took the footage and edited it on tour with his band Mounties through Europe. We wanted to do something very early 90s as a tribute to all of our appreciation for Damon Albarn.
Riding that high, you release Walking Through a Fantasy in 2018. “Feel Alive” becomes one of the standout singles off the album, but equally as intriguing is the track you feature with Fionn. How did you all meet? Her sound is not something I would think goes well with your sound, but it really highlights your voice well.
Fionn are actually twins! Two amazing ladies! They are in the same label as us and have the same management. I produced their new album which is coming out in a week called Everyone’s a Critic and they are incredible musicians and singers. Most things with them are one take. I originally wanted the vocal on Wake Up to sound like a gang vocal and so I asked them to come in and the concept was to do a gang vocal of twins!
Throughout your last few years of discography, I just cannot place my finger on the pulse of your music. I can however say that it feels like something I would see in a movie or tv scene. Like I can picture the tableau, with your music playing throughout. Thematically how do you identify yourselves?
Yeah that’s part of it I have to feel something in order to finish the song. If I’m making a song and it doesn’t make me feel an emotion then it’s probably not a very good song and I think that’s the prime target for film for TV and movies.
Having been in the scene for as long as you have and watching music go from the highly interactive and personally connected Myspace to the rise of basic streaming platforms like Spotify and arguably Youtube, do you feel that artists are reaching more audiences but less connected to the fans? No?
I think you can be more connected to your fans than ever now. Some bands go on trips with their fans! Because of social media you can reach almost anybody in the world with a message or a tweet, and that’s good and bad. We embrace it and enjoy talking to anybody who likes our stuff.
Your latest album, House of Mirrors, drops July 10th. You already released the hugely popular track, “Superstitious Thing” back in the spring, and it is a certifiable banger. Was it weird releasing such a fun dance track just as the world was coming to a halt?
Thank you very much! That song has been scheduled to come out on that day for months so I didn’t have any certain kind of feeling about it but in retrospect it is strange. We are going through something globally that doesn’t have a name yet but will one day, in the same way that the great depression did. So we all have dynamic emotions today and it seems there isn’t any right or wrong way to feel.
I’ve listened to the album, and there are some really strong tracks on there. “Something’s Gotta Give”, is a highlight for myself personally, as well as L-Ectric Touch. Rumor has it you might even have a music video on the way for?
You have been reading the right parts of the Internet! This may happen!
You are all, like the rest of the world, trapped indoors during Covid. Have you been working on anything crazy? I know you are fans of Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) can we expect a Fake Shark at home experimental album anytime soon? What have you been doing to keep sane during Covid?
I’ve been writing like crazy and working on tons of stuff and just bettering myself as a producer and singer and musician. Once this album comes out don’t expect us to slow down!
With touring out of the question for the foreseeable future, can we expect any virtual tours or something equally out of the box from you gentlemen?
We are definitely going to do something like that, we had a lot of things cancelled unfortunately due to Covid. It’s hard to not get lost in the sea of virtual concerts, and some of the ones I’ve seen haven’t been very intriguing, so I wouldn’t want to release something where we are half stepping. It would need to be special.
Thank you for your time, I think this will be a great spotlight. Last question: any local artists, restaurants, that you want to highlight or are excited to get back to? Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Some friends of ours opened a bar called Side Hustle Sandwiches in Vancouver and I help curate the playlist that we listen to so it’s mostly great local music. We had our private album listening party there!
This West Coast Spotlight – Fake Shark has come to an end and I just want to say thank you to Kevvy, Louis, and Tony for spending some time with us.
Make sure to check out their new album
“House of Mirrors”
out now on all platforms.
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