Joe Gideon and the Shark have formed only recently but you might already know more about them than you think. Joe Gideon and the Shark are Joe Gideon obviously, and also his sister Viva, both from the London four piece band Bikini Atoll. The duo started performing together last year, and it is now their full-time project. Their music is a natural development from that of Bikini Atoll. Gideon's lyrics have taken on more and more of a story telling shape and often have a dark context, but the music is still just as melodic, rhythmic and for a band which is just a two piece surprisingly rich.

I met up with Joe Gideon one evening in East London to ask him the reasons behind the formation of Joe Gideon and the Shark. I also took the chance to ask about their musical inspiration, plans and how they still manage to make their music sound so powerful as a two piece.

PB : Why did you decide to form Joe Gideon and the Shark?

JG : We, as Bikini Atoll, had some shows and Bastian (bassist) and Che (drummer) couldn't do them, so Viva and I were trying to figure out how we could play them anyway. At the beginning we had some help from Mark who helped us out by playing drums on three songs. At the time Viva was actually already learning to play drums and then we carried on with her on drums.

PB : So, who actually plays what in your two piece band?

JG : Viva plays drums. To her right is a piano. Behind her is an eight track unit. To her left is a glockenspiel and above her is a microphone so she can sing as well (Laughs). So, it's actually a one woman band except I'm standing in the front telling stories or singing them. That's how it works!

PB: Do you play guitar still?

JG : Yeah, that's true but I'm sure I will probably give that up (Laughs) because Viva plays guitar as well. It's basically a five piece band in one woman.

PB : Do you now write songs specifically for a two piece, and do you think those songs are quite different compared to Bikini Atoll's songs?

JG : What do you think?

PB : I remember when I talked to you just before you released Bikini Atoll's first album 'Moratoria' on Bella Union (2003). You were already working on the band's second album, 'Liar's Exit' (2005), and you said that your lyrics were becoming more and more story like, so I guess that is your natural way of developing anyway.

JG : Exactly. It's a natural development. I would have gone that way anyway.

PB : I guess you still have a wide range of instruments so not much has changed.

JG : Yeah, we are going to try work the bass in as well. We have just been focusing on live performances at the moment and how they will work. I am someone who really needs to hear a drumbeat when I'm doing a live performance. Otherwise I don't find it as compelling. I mean it's alright. I have seen some wonderful shows without drums but I personally need to hear them.

I guess we kind of realised that you can just reduce it down and all you really need to hear is the crash of the snare, sound of a kick drum and crash of the cymbal. That's enough for me from the emotional point of view.

PB : How is Viva learning to play the drums?

JG : She is learning from Che and her boyfriend is also a drummer so she has two very good teachers.

PB : Have you recorded anything as Joe Gideon and the Shark and are you hoping to released anything?

JG : We have recorded a few songs and put four of them on a CD which we have been giving out at shows. We have got only forty left now. But I don't think you want to give out too many because then it wouldn't be as special. I think we are going to give the last ones away at the Pennyblackmusic night on the 3rd March.

PB : As we have just mentioned, you released two albums on Bella Union. What is happening there?

JG : We were contracted to do two albums and we did them but we are trying to make another album as the new band.

PB : What are your gigs plans?

JG : We enjoy playing gigs but don't want to play too many. Also we are a bit more selective. We will be playing a few shows in Belgium which should be good.

PB : Your next gig is in Norwich. How did you get that one?

JG : We know people there and they just got in touch and asked us if we wanted to play. It's a nice place. We have been there a couple of times already and it's great.

PB : Could you tell me more about some of the songs that you have written recently?

JG : I have just written a song called 'You Don't Look At Tide Wave, The Tide Wave Looks At You'. It's a song about this person who was a great performer/actor/writer. He did some brilliant shows in the 80's and early 90's and wrote couple of brilliant books. The song is about him.

He used sadness and the depressive aspect that he had in him throughout his life as an inspiration to write. Then he had a car crash at the turn of the century which caused the depression to completely take over his life. It was as if the door had been opened and he could no longer control the amount of depression. He saw psychiatrists about it and they recognised that it was a serious condition. Unfortunately he couldn't live with it and committed suicide about three years ago. I thought it was very interesting but also very sad.

PB : Do you think that you find your inspiration for songs from things that happen around you in general?

JG : Yes. I guess the most fun with this is that you don't really know you are looking for this stuff. It sort of lands in your plate when you are looking for stuff to write. Suddenly you think it's a good idea and then it seems to take a greater significance than you thought it would. It brings it into focus.

PB : How did you come up with the name for the band? I guess the first part 'Joe Gideon' is obvious but how about 'The Shark'?

JG : I just gave my sister a list of names and she liked that one. It's just as simple as that.

PB : I like it. It reminds me of the song 'Shark Requiem' from 'Liar's Exit'.

JG : Oh yeah, it does have that thing about it, doesn't it?

PB : Finally, is this the end of Bikini Atoll?

JG: Probably, but I haven't really been in this situation before. We have reached a crossroads and had to make a decision but the thing is that maybe it doesn't have to be final. I can see that perhaps in a couple of years Joe Gideon and the Shark are going to be very different, but we are still all friends so you never know.

PB : Thank you.

JG : Thank you.

















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