Church Crush must have one of those refrigerator poetry magnet sets in the kitchen of their lavish Monkees-style band-pad-cum-meth-lab (just kidding about that last part!) because church and crush are two words not often found in close proximity except for on refrigerators and when fused together into a single phrase the meaning is more than a little ambiguous cuz, I mean, a "church crush" could be anything from romantic infatuation with a minister to Godzilla stomping all over a Shinto temple to forming a crush on an actual place of worship…
…but in reality Church Crush are neither a sexy Christian boy band nor a church-burning black metal band as you may think from their name but instead a Brooklyn-based indie combo with a talent for writing songs that are at once both stripped-down and expansive, or at least that’s the vibe we’re getting based on the first two singles and attending a live show…
…with prickly post-punk textures wedded to flowing, mellifluous melodies and hypnotic in-the-pocket rhythms—just check out that sweet hi-hat work on their debut “calyer” when it comes to the latter—and here’s where the name Church Crush starts to make sense cuz the name aligns with their sound given the band’s minimalist panache (three syllables for a three-piece band!) and their use of stark juxtaposition to open up new sonic worlds…
…all of which applies directly to the their second single "shark island" whose title sounds like another one of those fridge-magnet phrases or maybe more like a Z-grade horror flick riding the seemingly endless wave of cinematic shark tales where bad acting, cheap digital effects, and winking self-awareness are practically apropos especially in a post-Sharknado universe and it’s a bit odd isn’t it how shark movies are now an entire sub-genre of film despite them posing practically zero threat to the vast expanse of humanity, I mean, you’re statistically more likely to die from an errant champaign cork than a shark attack but I digress…
…and that’s the cool thing about "shark attack" is how it’s more Jaws than Sharknado with the taut plotting of Spielberg’s OG blockbuster as its model (minus the musical equivalent of CGI splatter or winking self-aware shlockiness) built on a straight-forward-but-highly-effective, herky-jerky-but-locked-in-tight dirty overdriven riff played in waltz time with a forward momentum as relentless as a never-napping Great White named Bruce…
…but be forewarned if you ever actually tried to waltz to the song you’ll likely tear a ligament or two cuz this is one of the heavier (and herky-jerkier!) waltz-time rockers since the Beatles’ "I Want You (She’s So Heavy)" that is until it gets to the safe-and-stable-sounding chorus section with its chorus-effects-pedal sustained Andy Summers-esque guitar chords played over a steady, symmetrical 4/4 rhythm with the vocals exalting the safe refuge provided by "SHARK!…iiiiissssllllaaannndddd"…
…that is until about the 2:30 mark where the whole things sounds like it’s being sucked into the ever-hungry vengeful maws of Jaws with all the instruments throbbing in unison and I’d happily listen to an extended version of "Shark Island" with this blink-and-you-miss-it part expanded to a full minute or two hint hint before paddling off into the sunset with a brief, nearly a cappella coda…
…but hey maybe the song has nothing to do with sharks at all in which case mea culpa so I got in touch with the members of Church Crush (ames o, paulie v, adam e) to pose a few shark-and-non-shark-related questions about “shark island” to these three lower-case-loving gentlemen and all you have to do is to continue reading after the jump to see what they had to say… (Jason Lee)
The Deli Mag: Where is/what is the “shark island” to which you refer in the lyrics?
church crush: “shark island” is a place you retreat to that feels familiar, yet desolate and scary. like you’ve got your own habitat but it’s kind of hostile and bizarre. visualizing a “shark island” helped drive the weird spooky energy we were getting from the chords and lyrics.
TDM: How did y’all get that cool guitar sound?
cc: we recorded the guitars mainly using the stereo chorus of the Roland JC-120 as well as a combination of reverb, lite distortion and compression to glue it all together. the overall distorted sound is the result of applying these effects (and more) to each instrument to give the mix a gritty sound that maintains the energy of how we heard it in our heads.
TDM: What is your favorite shark movie? Or your least favorite?
cc: Finding Nemo. the sharks self-reflect and are honest with themselves about their violent behavior, and support each other’s commitment to real change. we like that.
TDM: The stop-start rhythm in the verses is cool. How’d y’all come up with that?
cc: we just tried the verse chords over a variety of drum beats, eventually settling on one that kept the groove of the song while providing contrast to the chorus. love at first sight!
TDM: Do you believe people should be more afraid of sharks, or less afraid of sharks, or rest assured we’re already just the right amount afraid of sharks?
cc: less. I mean if you want to be out in the ocean you have to respect that they’re there too. frankly, the scenario of a sharkless ocean is scarier if you think about it. way more terrified of bears and tick-borne illness at this point.
TDM: Would you mind sharing the lyrics to the song?
cc: you say / run away / find somewhere / across the sea
you say / fly away / your wings won’t spread / you’ve lost yourself