CLEAN AND MEAN

Meet Philly's most hated band.

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 8, 2007

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John Sharkey is not having a good night.

The singer/guitarist/provocateur of punk rock noise outfit Clockcleaner is sharing a bill at the Khyber with New York City's Bad Wizard--a band he doesn't care for, at a club he doesn't like. It's cold out, and his furious playing style has caused him to throw out his shoulder again, something he fears is becoming a problem.

After his band's set, he has a drink. As Bad Wizard begin the night's last set, he has another.

The show wraps up and Sharkey, still in pain, does what he can to help load gear into the van. He has another drink and goes upstairs to retrieve his coat from the green room. There Sharkey finds Bad Wizard's "fat, Mr. Kotter-looking" lead singer sitting on his coat. The singer moves when asked, but only slightly.

Suddenly "Mr. Kotter," who hasn't made an attempt at conversation the entire gig, lets out a hearty chuckle about the night's payout. He and his Sweathogs: $600. Clockcleaner: considerably less.

Sharkey, outweighed and an arm short, decides throwing a punch would be less than a smart idea. So instead he takes a breath, goes downstairs and walks toward the exit. To the right of the door sits Bad Wizard's merch table: CDs, T-shirts, stickers and vinyl all laid out carefully for consumption. It's unmanned.

Sharkey could walk out, but he doesn't. Instead he pulls out his penis and, in his own words, "unleashes a bladder-full of the night's beer piss" all over their merchandise.


That cold night a seed was planted in the city's fertile bed of music gossip.

"There's some revisionist history going on now where people think I did it only to garner a reputation or some sort of publicity," Sharkey says, lighting another cigarette, "but that just isn't the case."

What was the case was that Clockcleaner was banned from the Khyber for life. They also lost the right to play all rooms booked by Khyber-affiliated HeyDay Entertainment. North Star, gone; M Room, ditto.

And clubs that would book Clockcleaner ran up against a problem of a different kind. Local bands, perhaps in the interest of keeping their merchandise dry, didn't want to share a bill with them.

But in the three years since Sharkey fireproofed Bad Wizard's merch, the roar about the whiz biz had finally begun to quiet.

People were telling new Clockcleaner stories--like that they play music.

And then Sharkey started running his mouth to the national press.


If the Bad Wizard story is the seed, a story in the May issue of Vice magazine and subsequent web-isode of Vbs.tv's Practice Space are the thorny black rose it grew into.

In both, Sharkey unloads, naming names, taking aim at some of the heaviest hitters and ridiculing Philly's newly budding--and for the first time in a long time, nationally breaking--music scene.

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