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With their latest single, ‘Paranoid,’ Fake Shark fully embrace their rock influences with an immensely hooky earworm that takes on the day-to-day doubts that, if left to fester, can seriously damage your state of mind. It’s a rare tune. One that manages to be personally revealing and universally relatable; a song anyone who’s felt beaten down by the past two years and change can slip into easily and find their own frustrations and doubts reflected in.
Featuring Chili Peppers-esque guitars, a relentless pop-punk vibe, and substantial depth, sonically and lyrically, ‘Paranoid,’ like all of Fake Shark’s music, finds the band blending the styles of a diverse array of artists and refusing to adhere to a paint-by-numbers, approach.
That’s been a hallmark of the band’s music since they started in 2015 – something that’s reflected in their ability to fearlessly, fluently, and seemingly effortlessly incorporate elements of dance music, pop punk, industrial, funk, EDM, and straight-up pop and rock to create a sound that’s impossible to pigeonhole but uniquely their own. “With each album cycle, what inspires me to make a song changes,”explains lead singer Kevvy Mental.
Fake Shark’s upcoming record, Smaze (their fifth in roughly six years), is no exception. That’s crystal clear on ‘Paranoid,’ a compact rocker that picks up on a thread the band teased out to great effect on their 2021 hit, ‘Loser,’ lyrically and in terms of production. “Ryan Worsley produced that, and when it started doing its thing and charting in North America, we decided to get back in the studio with him to see what would happen.”
Like all of Fake Shark’s past music, the result is a track that’s ‘immediately sticky, but teeming with substance.’ With ‘Paranoid,’ you hear it, get it, rock out to it, and it immediately becomes a part of a soundtrack that will inevitably come to mind when you, someone you know, or some random human you run across, looks like they’re right on the edge of a meltdown.
It’s the first time the band – Kevvy – vocals/production, drummer Alex Glassford, bassist Tony Dallas, guitarist Louis Hearn, and Jake Fox (keyboards/guitar) – have written as a band. “Usually, I’ll bring stuff to the guys, and there are still elements of that, but now everyone’s more involved. Which means less pressure on me, and it’s more fun.”
That was critical, Kevvy continues: “A few months ago, I was going through a breakup, had some business things fall apart, and the pressure just kept building. But still, it’s weird that I burnt out so bad I even considered not doing music anymore.”
In addition to working with Fake Shark, Kevvy regularly writes for and with other artists – including Canadian superstar Carly Rae Jepsen, Kat Von D, and others. Given his relentless work ethic as a musician, producer, film composer, and remix artist, it’s not surprising he’d eventually hit a wall. So, in summer 2022, feeling as if too much was falling on his shoulders – generally and in terms of the band – Kevvy took a beat, hit the road on his own, backpacked across Southeast Asia, and began working on the songs for Smaze.
Overall, Smaze (a euphemism for Smoke & Mirrors) is a reaction to “constantly trying to be what other people wanted me to be for too long,” Kevvy says. “It’s funny because some of the newer songs are vulnerable enough that it’s actually uncomfortable for me to be in the same room with somebody when they’re listening. We’ve all had a rough couple of years in varying ways. I think we all felt this weakness in ourselves. But I love these guys. I didn’t want to leave. It’s uncomfortable to write about, but I think that’s how art should be, and it’s authentic, so I know the band appreciates and respects that.”
Ultimately, choosing to write about that so candidly helped the band put the boots to any doubts about the future. “Since I expressed that I needed help, everybody’s stepped up in a big way.”
Granted, those types of challenges just come with the territory for anyone who’s been in the music industry for more than a minute. Perhaps all the more so for a band like this, whose prolific output and genre-fluid efforts find them constantly upping their game with every new release.
When it comes to the band and their audience, the way Kevvy sees it, they’re in this together. “We’re always thinking, ‘what would a Fake Shark fan want to hear next?” That inspires the band to propel themselves forward – capturing the honest, authentic sentiments that have always informed their lyrics while simultaneously taking chances and making music that’s as fresh and compelling for the band as it is for their growing audience. “We’re always told that each record sounds very different. I guess that’s true, but it’s always about just trying to challenge ourselves and the listener in a way that’s exciting.”
That process is ongoing as Fake Shark continues to work on more tracks for Smaze. “We’ve already finished over half the record, but I wrote a new song last night that I’m really excited about, so I think we’re just going to keep writing – It’s hard to stop.”