Hello Grant, how are you?
Enthusiastic for the future.
Got quite a few questions here, mainly about your music but also more topical, important issues if you don’t mind?
Not at all. But that wasn’t a question.
Why is Michael Gove such a massive c*nt?
That is a question but I won’t answer it here. I’ll be dealing with that cretin on 3/40, out in May 2014.
It has been quite a year for you and looking to the future, quite a few years ahead! Can you tell us more about what you’ve been up to and the twenty-year plan?
The project is to simply formalise what I’d probably be doing anyway. I write songs, I play gigs. The music industry is making itself feel very important by talking about itself so much that I’ve decided to ignore all of it (corporate fiddling in music; the trend to drag people into the internet, where all of our voices are diluted, distorted and derided etc.) and to simply put out music/books/art on my terms and with such and intensity that the train has to keep moving. I’m interested in living a life I’ll be proud of at the end. So, I’m releasing an album every 6 months until 2033 and then seeing where we end up.
2/40: Binge Thinker is the title of the new record. Is thinking too much a bad thing or just thinking too much about the wrong things a bad thing? Or am I thinking about it too much? Just tell us about the new album!
On this record I’ve tried to squeeze the entire thought process that led me to the conclusion that I shouldn’t play a part in the banalities the government, the popular media and the society that plays a part in both, tells me to participate in. It goes from FEED THE KIDS – a disco version of Orwell’s 1984 through some chants about TVs, Social Media and the irony of people paying for expensive headphones whilst never paying for music, the helium crisis, through a punk song about a headline I saw after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby that made me sick, and then the realisation that I’m a collision of atoms from a long dead cluster of stars and that’s a pretty unique thing to throw away in front of a screen for most of it’s existence.
Why has M.Night Shyamalan not made a decent movie since, err, actually has he ever really made a decent movie?
I kinda just f*cked this answer, with my last one.
The latest live shows seem like a complete middle ground between your stand up comedy and your musical endeavors. I know you have often spoken about how your stand-up routine could be hit and miss depending on both the audience and possibly your own state of mind! Does having the double bass and the songs give you something to channel your focus?
I simply prefer music crowds. In comedy crowds you always get some bell-end who thinks what they’ve seen on television is the pinnacle of comedic endeavour.
You’re a prolific live performer, certainly in the South of England and your regular trips to the Channel Islands but you don’t seem to venture into the rest of the UK much. Why is this as I have always felt your music could reach many thousands more fans if you travelled around more?
It's simply a matter of money. I’ve played in the US a couple of times on my own dollar because it’s usually more cost effective than schlepping up to Berwick-on-Tweed and back in a weekend. I still work full time, I have other responsibilities too. But the net is ever widening.
Why does Russia hate gays or worse, members of Greenpeace? My God, do you think if you were a gay Greenpeace activist, they’d shoot you!?
What makes you think I’m not and they haven’t?
And is there any future for Toupe, you only got as far as D!?
We said it in the first album, Toupé will never stop. It’s just waiting to Karl to get back from Australia and stop messing about.
You recently re-published your novella Hands. Any plans to write another book?
Yes! I love writing short stories and I’d like to get a collection of them out next year.
You’ve sustained a healthy musical career whilst many of your peers gave up and became accountants. What advice would you give to young bands to help them forge ahead and not go insane because Jonathan King won’t sign them?
Be original, don’t aim for a record deal and stop farming ‘likes’ on Facebook – it’s a hollow goal that means nothing the moment the next cat video comes out. Play rocking shows, engage people to their faces and own the fucking stage.
Ben Affleck as the new Batman?
I loved Chin Music. I wish they would come back.
SouthSCENE likes to shout about new music. What new bands have been on your radar lately?
I’ve seen so much great music. From Southampton, These Septic Stars have honest music that turns them on as much as their audience – they have a really infectious energy that I totally get. I’ve been really enjoying doing a few gigs this year with a band called Oui Legionnaires. They’re from Cheltenham, they seem like the most uncool, dysfunctional kids when they first turn up and then they play with their hearts and blow heads off.
Finally, when can we see you playing live next?
The best thing is to join the mailing list. Just pop me an email at email@example.com and I’ll add you in or check my website.
2/40: BINGE THINKER – out November 5th.
BOOK/ALBUM LAUNCH: November 9th at The Art House.
It has been a pleasure as always Grant, lend us a tenner and I’ll try and get to your next show!
Unsubscribe from your TV provider and then take that money and support live music.
INTERVIEWER: MIKE SPALL
PHOTO: Guy Smallman www.guysmallman.com
I intend to fill my Januarys playing as many house shows as I can.
Why? Because people usually want to stay in after the big commercial thrust of Christmas has faded. Most folk have no money and it's supposed to be cold in Winter so you see less people at venues.
But, I still love playing gigs - so I'd like to come to you instead.
There's NO FEE to be paid. No risk to your stuff that has to be taken. It's a civilised, intimate way to perform for people that may not normally see live music for whatever reason.
Just book a night, set a time and invite some friends over to enjoy the strange vibrations that live music in a house can bring.
I LOVE playing house shows, they're funnier, they're sadder, they're more interactive and free than the regular venue type show. It's nice to meet acoustic acts that I'd not normally see. it's nice to meet the families of the people that like what I do. There's no massive PA being brought, a small amp for the bass and a mouth to sing the words.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
1. GET IN TOUCH via email info[at]grantsharkey[dot]com and suggest a date in January that you're free.
(It's all first come, first served. Obviously if there's a lot of miles between my house and yours, we may need to dicuss a way of making that work. I quite like to set out my merch box too, if you fancy it.)
2. TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT - invite as many people as you feel comfy with. Book any friends that may wish to play.
3. LAY ON SOME NIBBLES (thanks :))
4. ENJOY THE FEELING THAT YOU SUPPORTED LIVE MUSIC BY NOT HAVING TO DO TOO MUCH.
Releasing a new album fuels me with enough material to write the next one almost instantly. Knowing the things I have to do to get the word out about it – get the link to buy the album or listen or share, especially with the moral viewpoint that I want to respect my fans by not bombarding them with information in a world already bombarding them with information as it is. But I suppose I can bullet point.
To get the message across, I have to be quick.
To be quick, I consider myself to be rude.
To be rude is a No-No.
To take too much time means you may risk boring people these days.
To ask for money when everything can be free feels like begging.
Everyone is on kickstarter = diluted market.
Everyone is on Facebook...where the songs we’ve laboured over are sandwiched between a post about the walk to work in the morning and a plea for phone a charger lead. (we’ll discuss the plea at a later date)
Everyone is on twitter...where things go so fast you can’t take time.
My music is about the fact that we’ve opened ourselves up to so much information that we don’t truly process it anymore.
But does it ever move on?
Why are musicians scared to reject social media?
I stay on it because I’ve been led to believe it’s necessary.
It doesn’t seem to do anyone any good.
Our heads our spinning.
We live in a world where our headphones cost more than the outlay on music per year.
Sometimes you feel like you’re just a cog in the machine.
But have you considered you might be the grease?
TODAY’S ACT OF REBELLION: Stick up for the little people.I even feel like Bill Hicks has tried to do me over on this one.
Next time, we'll hear from the Bangladeshi child who made the Onesie.
Please share this video. We have to be pragmatic in the fact it won't be going on the TV.
...TO RELEASE AN ALBUM EVERY 6 MONTHS FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS.
On the first Monday of May and Novemeber, there will be a release - they will usually contain music, they may be a book, they can be lots of things...I just don't know yet.
THEY WON'T BE: patronising, manipulative, dishonest or SQUAZZ*.
The mission started in a traffic jam in London. Traffic jams always make me a little more philosophical than usual, I was dehydrated, I was being sold something everywhere I looked by companies that didn't give a shit about the fact I needed a drink of water, my fellow drivers could barely find the courage to look at me and recognise our reality.a
In my delirium, I ended up asking myself FOUR QUESTIONS:
1) Is the world I live in working?
I answered, NO.
2) How old will I be in the year 2033?
I answered, 55. Still viable.
3) Is life in 2033 going to be better than it is in 2013 for the regular people in the world?
I answered, No...I don't think so.
4) Would you like to be stuck in a traffic jam with a teenager in 2033?
I initially answered, NO WAY! But then I realised this was a trick question. I should be answering, YES! Because I'd like to think I'd be able to make a difference with songs and philosophy and jokes to make a better society for them to grow up in.
So, I set myself the mission. 1 man. 20 years. 40 albums.
This first one comes out on Monday May 6th 2013.
This is about all I could do that I'd be good at to help stop people being treated like shit for the sake of a profit or a click or a like or a prayer. There's a lot of white noise...I'm hoping to put a filter on it.
To do this I CANNOT be affiliated with any big buisness, press organisations or government bodies...so, I have to do it with what we used to call FANS.
(FANS are what the audience used to be called before they were farmed out by bands in the name of 'Likes' or votes or just people to show adverts to whilst their hard crafted music was played in the background whilst no one was watching.)
It's the FANS who will be paying (as little as I can make it) my way to the shows and back again. So, they also get a say in what happens with the music.
To be a FAN you have to be on the MAILING LIST - JOIN NOW! I plan to ditch Facebook and most social media in the next year or so so that it will be YOU, ME and EMAIL.
THE REWARD: A BIG PARTY!
Where? That's up to you. If I don't do too well, then it will be three of us in a Coffee Shop in Totton. If it's going alright, I'll throw the biggest, bestest party for the people on my Mailing List on April 30th 2033.
Too long to wait? What the hell else are you going to be doing?
*SQUAZZ - a generic term for almost anything, but mainly as a noun, it's negative.