I've gushed a fair bit over Clockcleaner in the pages of this website during the past year or so since I first saw and met them. One of the few live bands today worth leaving the house for these days, for sure. I can say a lot of good things about them. They hold their liquor fairly well. Great conversationalists. Very hygenic. Baseball fans. They can do a mean "Scavenger of Death" cover. And the records, well the records are certainly worth your time as well, especially if you dig bass-driven scuzz rock. A many faceted band, Clockcleaner phoned TB HQ earlier this year and shared with us their interests, their aspirations, their innermost secrets as we enjoyed drinks over a few hundred miles of telephone line...
TB: So, give us your name and what position you hold in the band...
Karen: Karen, bass.
Sharkey: John Sharkey, I play guitar and vocals.
Richie: Richie Penetrator-from-behind, drums.
TB: What were all of you doing pre-Clockcleaner?
Sharkey: Karen was in Green Apple Quickstep for a while. What label were you on? Arista?
Sharkey: Karen doesn't really like to talk about it...she's older than us.
Karen: I'm sick right now.
TB: I had no idea about the Green Apple Quickstep thing...
Sharkey: They where what, a fourth tier grunge band?
Karen: Third tier.
Sharkey: You guys were better than Nudeswirl.
Richie: Oh yeah.
Sharkey: Or The Sugarcubes.
Sharkey: Sugarcubes were like a second tier grunge band, because they had that big hit on 'Beavis & Butthead'..."Sold My Fortune"?
Richie: But Quickstep was on 120 Minutes, not just Alternative Nation.
Sharkey: Headbanger's Ball and Alternative Nation. Those were bigger shows than 120 Minutes.
TB: I gotta agree with that...
Sharkey: How much more Alternative can you get than Alternative Nation?
Richie: With Lewis Largent.
Sharkey: Yeah, Lewis Largent and that other guy...
Richie: Dave Pin...? That other guy.
Sharkey: Matt Pinfield.
Richie: That British guy.
Sharkey: Yeah, Matt Pinfield.
Sharkey: Matt Pinfield's the British guy.
Richie: No, he's from Jersey.
Sharkey: Same thing.
Sharkey: Okay, about me. I was in a band called Nine Shocks Terror previously, in Cleveland, where I lived for most of my musical career. I was in another band called Bombuilder, who were the most pathetic band I've been in. When I hear that band it actually makes my skin crawl. It was with Wedge and Sean from Gordon Solie Motherfuckers. It was really bad. We recorded 13 songs in about four hours. That's it. And like three records came out of it.
TB: There were three Bombuilder seven inches?
Sharkey: Two or three, I'm not sure...
Richie: I was in...
Sharkey: Don't even worry about Richie...
Richie: I was just chillin'.
Sharkey: We don't want to get into Richie's past. Besides Karen, we haven't done anything at all worthwhile until this band. If you can call it that.
Richie: I was just going to work and shit.
TB: So how did you end up becoming Clockcleaner?
Sharkey: Well, Richie tried getting me a job. He's a male model, but not like what you'd think, he models for circulars...like sneakers, Fila shoes...
Richie: Some department store stuff, for Sunday paper inserts...
Sharkey: Like when burnout dads get jobs on the side to deliver circulars on Sundays but then just go burn them on the tracks. Those things.
TB: Like JC Penny's?
Richie: Nah, I tried out for that though.
Sharkey: It's really like bottom rung modeling.
TB: Bottom of the barrel stuff?
Richie: No, no, no, it's a real job. It's just low profile.
Sharkey: Semi-amateur, but respectful.
TB: Tastefully done?
Richie: Yes. I get a paycheck, and I keep my sweatpants on.
Sharkey: And free batting gloves. So Richard and I met that way when I came back from Cleveland.
Richie: He was looking for a job, I was looking for a band, and we only found one of them.
Sharkey: Richie and I have been the core of the band for the last three years, with a string of bass players that have...
Karen:...paled in comparison.
Sharkey: Yes, paled in comparison to the diver we have playing bass now.
TB: So, in three years you've put out a 12" EP, a full length CD, and a seven inch? Is the seven inch officially out now?
Richie: We have some. You have one. No covers yet.
(Editor's note: The "Missing Dick' 7" is now readily available through Hit Dat Records)
Sharkey: You can have them all.
Richie: Yeah, we don't want them.
Sharkey: The Crucifucks' cover sounds really good, but that version of "Missing Dick" is terrible. Most of what we've recorded so far makes my flesh crawl. But I'm still proud of it.
TB: You've neglected to tell me how Karen came into the Clockcleaner fold...
Sharkey: Karen's only been with us since October, so she's not on any recordings yet. The first show she played with us was with The Melvins and Jello Biafra.
TB: Yikes. That's a hell of a first show.
Richie: You would think so.
Sharkey: Melvins were awesome, they were on top of their game.
Richie: Jello's cool, The Melvins are cool...
Sharkey: But not together. I'm gonna go on record here. Jello Biafra is a cunt. He is the biggest asshole.
TB: What did he think of your set? Did he watch you guys?
Sharkey: He didn't watch us.
Richie: We played in a church.
Sharkey: Yeah, he was up in the rectory getting his hair parted the whole time.
Richie: He kept waving his little hands around.
Sharkey: He wasn't very cordial. With anyone.
TB: I'm shocked.
Sharkey: He's like fifty years old. Not really that shocking.
TB: So anyway, who is playing bass on the records?
Richie: This metalhead guy plays bass on the first one.
Sharkey: He had sissy arms and a cashew for a penis.
TB: Is that why he's no longer in the band?
Richie: He was let go. John-John here plays bass on Nevermind.
Sharkey: Yeah, I picked up the slack on that one. Richie just sat back and played drums.
Richie: I just chilled.
Sharkey: And it was also my sax debut.
Richie: It was my saxophone though.
Sharkey: It was your girlfriend's sax. So now were like related.
TB: Spit swapping. So let's talk about your hometown of Philadelphia. Where do you guys fit in the Philly scene?
Richie: It's a town that we live and work in. They really don't dig our tunes.
Sharkey: We're basically not allowed to play in Philly, we're just not welcome, so we don't like to affiliate ourselves with it...there are some bands, not really that many...
Richie: There's one band in Philly and it's called Clockcleaner.
TB: I'm having trouble thinking of any notable bands from Philly lately...
Sharkey: Hey, I live here and I can't think of any. Pure Hell were from Philly though. The first all-black punk band.
TB: It's actually a good single. I need a copy of the vinyl.
Sharkey: Me too. I have it on a CDR, it's pretty good.
TB: Have you guys ever had any good shows in Philly?
Sharkey: Whenever we play here, it's poorly received.
TB: You did a record release show there for Nevermind though...
Sharkey: We had one here and one in Baltimore.
Richie: The one in Baltimore mattered.
Karen: Philly is made of pussies.
Richie: Rich, just talk to Karen from now on, she's smarter than the rest of us.
Sharkey: Let's turn this interview around.
Richie: Rich, what's your favorite Ween record?
TB: Shit, who knows. The one with "You Fucked Up"...'God Ween Satan' maybe?
Sharkey: They were from Philly.
Sharkey: They were from New Hope.
Richie: Okay, sort of.
Sharkey: One of the guys, Dean Ween, he used to come into Rock-n-Roll Plus where I worked and tell me stories, one was about this time he saw Motorhead, or almost saw them. Motorhead supposedly walked into City Gardens in Trenton, and Lemmy said he refused to play because it was such a dump so there was a big skinhead riot and some girl got stabbed on the train afterwards. That's happened at Clockcleaner shows too.
TB: Except Lemmy is far better looking than any of you.
Sharkey: He is.
Richie: Better looking, better hair, better denim.
Sharkey: I saw them play once and he had on all white denim.
Sharkey: It was incredible, they played "Overkill" for forty minutes.
TB: I think you guys should all grow moles and wear white denim.
Sharkey: Have you ever been to My Mind's Eye in Cleveland?
TB: Yes. Great store.
Sharkey: Charles, the guy who owns it, hangs out with him whenever they're on tour, and Charles says whenever Lemmy is in town he has to take him to black strip clubs because Lemmy doesn't like white women. And Charles doesn't swear or eat meat or dairy or anything, so I don't think he'd lie about Motorhead. Plus, I saw him throw a kid out of the store once because the kid said he didn't like Sabbath.
TB: That's righteous.
Sharkey: Charles was ready to get physical with the kid...but back to Clockcleaner.
TB: Right, next question. It seems you guys have been lumped in with the hardcore circuit/scene even though you aren't a hardcore band exactly...
Sharkey: Unfortunately that's true.
Sharkey: I think it's just 'cause we're big Cro-Mags fans.
Richie: Gotta play somewhere.
Sharkey: It's either that or play at Friday's.
Richie: Or state fairs.
Sharkey: Like Michael Stanley Band?
Richie: If we sound like anyone, we sound like Antidote.
Sharkey: Yeah. And Jandek.
Richie: Cro-Mags and Sun Ra.
TB: 'Age of Quarrel' Cro-Mags only though?
Sharkey: 'Best Wishes' is not a bad record Rich. I could listen to that Profile CD from start to finish.
TB: I can agree with that somewhat. Back to hardcore thing...
Sharkey: There's very few bands that have the same appraoch as us...that wouldn't be perceived as a hardcore band. And the fact that the first EP came out on somewhat of a hardcore label kind of stunted us a bit, but the guy who put it out...
Richie: Top drawer.
Sharkey: Yes, seriously, from start to finish, a stand up human being, and we probably owe him more than anyone in our short existence.
Richie: And Rich, if you want to talk about Crass, just bring it up.
Sharkey: Or the first three Metallica albums too.
TB: I'm way into Eighties thrash.
Sharkey: Richie was just listening to the third or fourth DRI album...
TB: 'Four of a Kind'? I still like that record.
Sharkey: That's a good record. A lot of people really talk down on later DRI records. 'Definition' has one of my favorite DRI songs on it. I don't even know the name...but I remember hearing it and thinking that they're really making progress.
TB: Are there any bands out there you feel a kinship with?
Richie: The Sex Pistols.
Sharkey: I don't know. Not really. Maybe that band The Lamps kind of, they're doing something interesting.
Richie: That's a cool ass record.
Sharkey: It is, because it's very savage...
Richie: Very raw in an awesome sounding way...
Sharkey: They are one band I would really be excited to play or tour with. The Lamps.
TB: Good pick. So, a few bands have come about recently that are expanding on the Eighties Post-Hardcore/Pigfuck sound, like yourselves and Pissed Jeans and Tractor Sex Fatality perhaps...
Sharkey: I guess it's popping up. We didn't invent it or anything. We just...
Richie: Perfected it.
Sharkey: Yeah, sure, perfected the art of it. It's not like we decided, "Hey what gimmick can we have that no one else is using?..Let's do Touch & Go influenced stuff!..."
Richie: We tried sounding like Wire when we started.
Sharkey: Seriously, we did. It was really bad. Richie wanted to sound like Wire, I wanted to sound like Husker Du a little bit, our first bass player, who I refuse to call by name because he he doesn't deserve it and did nothing...he played without a pick, that kind of asshole. He never turned his treble knob up at all. He was really into Karp.
TB: Really into Karp? What the fuck?
Sharkey: Yeah, Karp fucking suck. People were really into them. Karp sound like fucking Snapcase. Fuck that band too. But, it was a rough time. We didn't know what the fuck we were doing. Through Richie's inability to play drums, my inability to be flexible and deal with that, and the lack of aptitude in the bass department for the first few years, it just kind of came out like it did. We didn't really try to sound like anyone, but I guess you always tend to wear your influences on your sleeve intentionally or not. Our first record was recorded after like six months of being together, and it's not a good representation of us.
TB: It's really good for a first record though.
Sharkey: Thanks, it was the first recording we could be somewhat proud of. But now it makes my skin walk away. It's truly sophomoric for a first record. We had a lot to figure out and we were slowly getting there.
TB: When did you guys record 'Nevermind'?
Richie: We recorded it in August of last year. It doesn't make my skin crawl yet.
Sharkey: Yeah, Nevermind was, to say the least, interesting. I had amnesia throughout the recording of that record. I got in a bad car wreck and got bi-lateral amnesia for four months or so. I would wake up screaming in my apartment alot of the nights not knowing where I was. Richard played me 'The Hassler' to try and jump start my memory but instead i just wrote 'Nevermind.' I eventually got my memory back around my 24th birthday. My parents came to my place and a lot of my friends and it all just slipped back after a few days. It's actually the first record I'm proud of.
Richie: That's saying a lot for an artist like yourself.
Sharkey: Yeah, it really is. I have a vast catalog behind me.
TB: Why did you call it 'Nevermind'?
Richie: What do you mean?
TB: I mean, why did you decide to use the title 'Nevermind' for the record?
Richie: You gotta call it something.
Sharkey: We couldn't call it 'The Hassler' again.
Richie: Yeah, I mean it's a whole different album.
Sharkey: They all have endings. So why not name it something?
TB: Alright, alright. What's the song "Missing Dick" about?
Sharkey: You know, when Jerry Orbach died...when famous people die, most of the time it doesn't really matter to you, but sometimes, you know, it just gets to you. I really liked 'Law & Order', so..."Missing Dick" has nothing to do with an appendage being gone. Dick means detective. That's the only insight I'll give. The lyrics are whatever you want to interpret. Sing about grilled cheese for all I care.
TB: How about "Gentle Swastika", what the deal with that one?
Sharkey: "Gentle Swastika"...I mean, sometimes we listen to Chain of Strength, but mostly we just listen to 'My War'. Some of the lyrics are based on some of Philip K. Dick's ideas. I'm a big PKD fan.
TB: So are you guys sci-fi rock?
Sharkey: I guess. It makes more sense than saying we're like bass-driven-scuzz-rock. I'm not a scuzz. I have a job and a girlfriend and I bathe daily. Yet, I read a lot of science fiction books. So I think that makes more sense in my daily routine than "scuzz bass".
Karen: I watch Star Trek sometimes.
Sharkey: Richie's reading a Pynchon book right now. So, we're definitely more sc-fi driven than scuzz-bass driven rock.
TB: That's pretty deep.
Sharkey: And because only one of us plays bass. And we all bathe.
Sharkey: Yes, we are constantly washing.
Richie: I always go to the gym and get sweaty and then shower.
Sharkey: We're all really into going to the gym and taking care of our bodies. We're drinking now, but just beacause we want to be a little more candid than usual.
TB: How do you feel about Hawkwind?
Richie: Never heard of 'em.
Sharkey: C'mon Richie, let's be serious. People can throw names at us, and Hawkwind might make sense. Or Tubeway Army.
TB: You sort of remind me of a modern day Klaus Nomi.
Sharkey: Have you seen that documentary about him yet?
TB: Oh yeah.
Sharkey: What did you think?
TB: It's an incredible story.
Sharkey: He was the first famous, or semi-famous, person to die of AIDS. And people were trying to beat him. But he won.
Sharkey: Yeah, Gay Related Immune Deficiency. GRIDS was our original name.
TB: So you guys went down to SXSW this year. What did you do down there?
Sharkey: My goal was to do blow with the Dandy Warhols. But we just ended up playing three shows. I like Austin, but the thing that sucks about it is like a thousand people have to tell you how great it is to live there. They're all so very proud, like, "Oh my God, Austin is so great! Breakfast Tacos!"
Karen: No kidding.
Sharkey: Seriously. "Omigod, there's sooo much culture here!" Fucking breakfast tacos and culture.
TB: And vultures.
Sharkey: Yeah. There's more to life than cocaine and Lone Star beer and shitty alt country. I would never want to live in Texas. It's too hot anyway. I'm not a lizard.
TB: Amen. Will 'Nevermind' ever be released on vinyl?
Sharkey: It's gonna be on gatefold vinyl. I'm not trying to blow smoke up your ass. But since Chris X has the business practices of a retarded child, myself, Richard and a third party have taken it upon ourselves to pick up the slack and release it.
Richie: Yeah bro.
TB: That's excellent news.
Richie: You want to buy one? They're twelve bucks.
TB: I might be interested.
Richie: Maybe when we come to your town. Where are you from again?
TB: Venice. Home of Beowulf and Suicidal.
Richie: Hey, thanks for coming out.
Sharkey: You know what's funny Rich, is that you remind me of a friend from from Ventura, California, but you're a little...better looking maybe, but this dude was a skinhead, a Suicidal Skin...
Sharkey: I'm sorry, he was from Oxnard actually, and was a Nazi, and he actually ran down Mike Muir with a car, he was the guy who fucked up Muir's leg so he couldn't skate anymore. He ran him over and did like seven years in a prison in Ventura. But anyway, he kinda looks like you except you're not bald. We're getting drunk here. Let's do some shots...
Sharkey: Caddyshack is such a great movie.
Richie: Never seen it.
Sharkey: What? It's the top comedy film of all time. Number Two: 'Elf.' Number Three: 'The Santa Clause.'
Richie: Number Three: 'Schindler's List.'
Sharkey: No really. Number Two would be 'Fletch'. I love that movie.
Richie: No, seriously, I love film. 'La Jete'. Fuck all that other shit.
TB: So, back to the band...
Sharkey: Back to fucked up bass driven scuzz rock.
TB: What's up with the next record? Will it be on Reptilian?
Sharkey: I think it's safe to say no.
TB: Are you guys going to do something with Bart at Big Neck?
Sharkey: We'd like to do a 12" EP, with a Neil Young cover. And maybe some slower creepier tunes than what was on 'Nevermind'.
TB: More creep and less scuzz?
Sharkey: Yeah, more like how we really are.
TB: Which Neil Young tune?
Sharkey: "Revolution Blues" off 'On the Beach'.
Richie: By Neil Young.
TB: Any truth to the rumor Bob Weston is recording the next record?
Sharkey:Well, we hoped to record with him, but he's out of the racket now since he opened Chicago Mastering Services. He is one of the few people who we've met on our journey through the cosmos that has been a worthwhile human being. Great guy, hell of a taco eater. I gave him a shitty CDR of The Hassler and a year and a half goes by and I get an e-mail saying that he was cleaning his desk out and found it, put it on, and thought it was good. Then we got dinner in chicago. Hell of a fella.
TB: What do you hope the future holds for Clockcleaner?
Sharkey: I really just wanna play more sports bars.
TB: That's where all the money is.
Sharkey: I'm serious. That's where the dough is. It's baseball season. Are you a Blue Jays fan Rich?
TB: No. I'm an Indians fan.
Sharkey: Really? That's excellent, stick with the home turf. These colors don't run Rich. I'm glad you're not a Blue Jays fan.
TB: Me too. Fuck those guys.
Sharkey: They beat the Phillies in the '93 Series.
TB: Yep. Joe Carter's walk-off homer.
Sharkey: I went to one of those games. Intense shit.
Richie: My mailbox got blown up during that series.
Sharkey: No it didn't.
Richie: I came home after the last game and it was blown up.
Richie: Yeah. Then I just went inside...
Sharkey: And masturbated.
Richie: I couldn't even masturbate.
Sharkey: I remember that. After that series I just crawled into bed and just started beating my limp cock against my stomach and cried myself to sleep.
Richie: Like a man.
Sharkey: Like any man would.
TB: I know that feeling...I guess we're just about done here. I have nothing more to ask for now...
Sharkey: You never asked what our influences are.
TB: That's like the worst interview question ever.
Sharkey: I know.
TB: What are your influences?
Richie: Sex Pistols.
Sharkey: Tuxedomoon. Renaldo and the Loaf.
Sharkey: Cro-Mags. Peter and the Test Tube Babies.
Sharkey: Aryan Disgrace. We're big Aryan Disgrace fans.
TB: Reagan Youth?
Sharkey: Reagan Youth suck.
Richie: The Pistols.
Sharkey: Reagan Youth just totally rip off that "Lone Ranger" song on every song. Know what I mean?
TB: Not really.
Richie: Sex Pistols. What are your influences Rich?
TB: I don't know. I was listening to the Brainbombs before you guys called.
Sharkey: The Brainbombs are the only band who have ever come close to sounding like the Stooges. Tons of bands are all just saying shit like "We sound like the fucking MC5 and The Stooges maaan, owwwww!" and then they sound like T.Rex on fucking Ambien or something. If I could endorse one single band it would be the Brainbombs. That band is fucking great.
Richie: The Pistols.
Sharkey: This is how it happened: first there was The Stooges, then The Sex Pistols, then the Brainbombs, then us. Clockcleaner. That's how it goes.
TB: I guess that's as good a closing statement as I could hope for.
Richie: Fuck yeah.
END OF INTERVIEW
Clockclean er web presence:
Clockcleaner on MySpace
Clockcleaner Fan Club
PO Box 63770
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(check the website for details/deals...)
Interview by Rich Kroneiss
Pics provided by various people