Clockcleaner Hang It Up

Talking Teen Wolf and penises with Man Man and Clockcleaner. Also, Hannah Montana.

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 14, 2009

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Hot stuffed: Clockcleaner set fire to stuffed animals outside their Port Richmond practice space.

Photo by jeff fusco

Clockcleaner hang up the gloves: Any time you talk to head-Clockcleaner-in-charge, singer/guitarist John Sharkey, he’ll give you a few colorful quotes. Let’s get a few out of the way from the jump. On the current state of musical affairs: “Any independent rock band out now that thinks they’re going to go on tour, make it big, make money and live off their band is just trying to suck a fart out of somebody’s dick. It’s not going to happen.” On licensing music to commercials or TV as a way to earn cash in the ever-so-tumultuous climate music finds itself: “I’d rather jerk off with a cheese grater than have a Clockcleaner song be the intro to Deadwood or whatever ... ” On regret: “We didn’t write incredible songs to piss people off. It just happened.”

’K then.

In the summer of ’07 I took to the road with Clockcleaner for a couple shows in Virginia. On that trip one thing became abundantly clear: The band’s reputation—wily assholes whose antics (name-calling, pissing on other band’s merch) had made them the most notorious and hated band in Philly—preceded them. Without fail a yahoo or two would show up at these Clockcleaner gigs looking to out-asshole the assholes, hoping like hell to make trouble and inject some sort of manufactured chaos into the band’s set. In Richmond one drunken fan began lighting paper towels on fire, setting their black, hot ashes afloat into the air. The owner of the venue booted his ass, but not before he tried to bash bassist Karen Horner over the head with a fold-up chair all WWE-styles.

“We started playing, literally, for the worst people on earth,” says Sharkey over the phone from the brand-spankin’ new Fishtown apartment he and his wife call home, managing for one brief shining moment to not talk about his cock or quote Kenny Powers from HBO’s Eastbound & Down, which he’s prone to do without warning or explanation. “I still get really ridiculous emails from people. ‘Hey! Why don’t you faggots come play in Louisville?’ It’s gotten absurd.” The absurdity has even followed them to other continents, exhibited by a YouTube clip of a Clockcleaner show in Australia wherein a fan empties a fire extinguisher on the band.

They’re “moronic,” writes Clockcleaner drummer Richie Charles of the band’s fans to me in an email. “Most are my social inferiors by several tiers.”

So Clockcleaner are calling it a day. Done. Kaput. Over. Out. Fin. And, what’s more, their final show ever is invite-only to help put a cap on the number of degenerates who make their way through the door. “We may as well play the final show for a group of friends,” Sharkey says before dropping another Eastbound nugget—“I get pussy on the reg ... ”—like he has Tourette’s.

But violence-prone Neanderthal fans aren’t the only reason Clockcleaner is hanging it up. “We’ve written the songs we’re going to write. We’ve done what we’ve wanted to do. I always thought it was better to be a band that wrote two or three awesome albums than to be in the same band for 25 years that wrote the same album,” Sharkey says. “Like the Melvins or Sonic Youth, they’ve pretty much written the same album 12 times.”

Clockcleaner have a 12-inch, four-song EP that will be released posthumously on Load. It will be called Auf Wiedersehen.

Ten words used in reviews of Hannah Montana The Movie: 1) “Chipmunk” 2) “’Tween” 3) “Blandly” 4) “Irrelevant” 5) “Cheetos” 6) “Clean” 7) “Prepubescent” 8-9) “Disney stockholders” 10) “Recycled.”

Man Man’s new “Rabbit Habits” video: light on rabbits, heavy on Teen Wolf: Man Man’s album Rabbit Habits may have come out a year ago, but the video for the title track premiered last week on Will Ferrell’s funnyordie.com, a site where fans decide whether or not your video lives or dies based on whether or not it’s funny.

So far “Rabbit Habits” is making the grade, with 83 percent of voters getting their LOL on.

It doesn’t hurt that the Man Men recruited an alumnus of Judd Apatow’s golden comedy flock to write and star in the thing. Charlyne Yi—best known for her role in Apatow’s Knocked Up—wrote much of the script based on a concept by Man Man’s Ryan Kattner, the band’s mustachioed frontman/Rhodes player.

That script centers around a young lady, Yi, on a first date with an overeager ball of mega-cheese played by Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen. Things are going swimmingly until she reveals to him she’s a werewolf. Later she finds love with one of her own kind, and the two ride atop a van, Teen Wolf-styles.

“From concept to finish it took nearly six months,” Kattner tells me. “And part of that was—believe it or not—our budget was almost a no-budget, it was really small. We started in September and shot it in late November, then the special effects were done gratis by people we knew in their spare time.”

And how did Armisen come to be involved?

“That was all Charlyne,” says Kattner. “She’s friends with Fred. And he saw us play Pitchfork [Festival] a couple years back and was a fan of the band. She asked him if he wanted to be eviscerated by werewolves for the weekend, and he was game. He flew into L.A. from New York on a Saturday morning, shot his stuff then flew back Saturday night. It was pretty impressive.”

Random fact from my Rhino Records promotional calendar this week: Tues., April 21: “1963: The Beatles and the Rolling Stones meet for the first time at Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, England.” It also happens to be Iggy Pop (1947) and Robert Smith’s (1959) birthdays. Both get pussy on the reg.

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