Photo by Jeanette D Moses, (l-r) Sunny, Stephanie, and Rebecca
This year has marked a two-year anniversary for Brooklyn's hard-working Desert Sharks who released their supercharged rock 'n' roll full-length debut, Baby's Gold Death Stadium, in late September of 2019 on local label Substitute Scene Records. The band hasn't stopped moving, since! Their 2019 debut has teeth and is an absolute rager with the song subject-matter covering everything from aging, empowerment, misogyny, to toxic relationships, loneliness and more. In celebration of the album's two-year anniversary, we ordered a limited number of exclusive signed editions of Baby's Gold Death Stadium from the band (on gold vinyl)!
Recently, the band dropped two heavy-rock covers of 'Til Tuesday's pop anthem, "Voices Carry," and T. Rex's brilliant rocker, "20th Century Boy." I do love a great twist on an old favorite, so hearing these two re-do's have really fed my heart. The band will also be heading into the studio soon for a brand new EP and are looking to book a tour and make up for time lost (as are most artists who were hard-hit by not being able to play out) during the pandemic. If this is the first time you're hearing about the band, then let me introduce you--the band includes members Stephanie Gunther on bass guitar and lead vocals, Rebecca Fruchter on drums, and Sunny Veniero on lead guitar:
Carly: It looks like you had such a blast releasing recent covers of 'Til Tuesday, "Voices Carry," and T. Rex's "20th Century Boy." How tough is it to create a version of a song that sounds unmistakably like a Desert Sharks supreme-version?
Desert Sharks: Luckily, it was pretty easy for us to apply our sound to the cover songs. We knew, for example, that we wanted to speed up the tempo on “Voices Carry” and use heavy/crunchy guitars instead of synths. We wanted to pay homage to the originals while also reflecting the sound we’ve curated over years playing together. For “20th Century Boy,” we stuck to the original tempo, but replaced horns with guitar. When it came to backing vocals, Stephanie made a point to try not to listen to the original T. Rex version too much and tried to write backups that she would write if the song was our own.
You are part of the Substitute Scene label in New York. What is your favorite thing about working with the label and being an artist on their roster?
Substitute Scene is such an amazing record label! We love Emily (the owner) and all of our labelmates are incredible musicians. Emily fully respects and loves her artists and we feel super supported.
The band has been able to have a few close friends sub-in for guitar at your recent live shows: is the band still looking for an additional guitarist? What do you love about your current lineup (and how you work together)?
We started playing with our friend Cait, and it's been awesome. Even though we haven’t had the official “do you want to go steady” conversation yet, we do feel like we’ve found a missing puzzle piece. The sound is huge and there’s going to be an exciting new element with backing vocals. We have some great new songs written and are super excited to flesh out ideas with the addition of a new collaborator.
I've read that Stephanie loves the lyrics from, "I Don't Know How To Dress For the Apocalypse," written in reflection of the 2019 political climate. Your album tracks and themes from 2019 (darkness/empowerment, anxiety, loneliness, embracing age, fighting misogyny, toxic relationships, etc.) and their powerful messaging still resonate mightily in 2021. What are some of the themes for the new material that you are working on?
One of our newest songs that we’ll be recording is called “Medusa” and is written from her perspective--we’re pretty excited for people to hear that. Lyrically, we’re definitely still tackling some heavy subjects like mental health, shadow work, and misogyny. Songwriting for us is how we process the world around us, and as you know, things are still pretty intense out there.
When you were recording back at the end of May, was that for the new EP you have planned? Or was that for the cover tracks?
We recorded our two cover songs in May with Jeff Berner at Studio G in Brooklyn. He’s absolutely amazing and we will be going back in the studio with him for the next EP. We honestly can’t wait.
I love the whole look and the big sound of your first full-length, "Baby's Gold Death Stadium," (gold/black). Who designed the album cover and layout and what are two other tracks that were the band's favorite to record from that album/what made them special for you?
Thank you! We named the record first before we came up with the art direction, so once we knew it was going to be called, “Baby’s Gold Death Stadium,” using black and gold as a theme felt like a no-brainer. Stephanie had been inspired by the imagery on the cover of Queen’s “II” album and used that as a jumping off point for design. Kiki Vassilakis did the photography and Gabriella Rovera did the graphic design for the album.
Final thoughts: what do you hope is in store for Desert Sharks, 2022?
We will be putting out a new EP in 2022 and hope to tour the U.S. off of it. We’ll be looking for a booking agent too, so holler if you know someone cool!