Meet Philly's most hated band.
Through it all, Celery Thief keeps rambling, "And then, ha, you lit that shit on fire! That was cool, man!"
Charles interrupts, "Hey, could you please shut the fuck up? You're really annoying. Like really annoying."
The Celery Thief's eyes begin to water. Spirit broken, he mopes off to retrieve his ride. "I thought we were all having a good time until that drummer asshole told me I was annoying!" he yells before staggering out.
Sharkey looks like a young William Burroughs.
He smokes too much, and even when in the presence of infants or the elderly, curses too loudly. He revels in making people squirm, finding their comfort zone, and pushing right past it. He's the kind of guy who would get a giant tattoo of a pineapple on his arm on a dare--and has.
At 19, Sharkey was sick of Philly, so he moved to Cleveland, where he was, by his own account, "a raging asshole."
"Believe it or not, I was more infantile than I am today," he says. "I was a total mess. I remember my boss in Cleveland telling me one night, 'It's like you're climbing the mountain right now, seeing how far you can push people and fuck with them.'"
Sharkey showed up smashed at parties frequently, refusing to leave until well after quitting time. He might punctuate his drunkenness by spiking a host's toaster to the ground.
Raging asshole or no, he found a few guys willing to let him play music alongside them in a band called Nine Shocks Terror.
"He was notorious for his antics," says Lamont "Bim" Thomas of Cleveland's This Moment in Black History. "But he was a Nine Shocks homie and musical collaborator too. They toured Japan. That was a pretty big deal around here. I guess he had a right to fuck around to a certain extent."
Personally, Thomas continues, "I thought the dude was funny. But yeah, certain people probably felt he was a bit much. Hey, when you're young, wildin' out, drinking beer and playing punk rock, that's just how it goes. I saw him at South by Southwest this year, and he was kinda laid back just being a super swell dude. They played a good set, had good tunes."
Reviews of Nevermind aside, that good set and those good tunes often get lost in the near-debilitating noise surrounding Clockcleaner--the constant shit talk about the shit talk that, surprisingly, no one will go on record about.
The instances of "did not return calls by press time" for this story are too numerous to mention, and twice PW heard the phrase "I don't want to be a part of this story in any way." Asked if he'd sit down to talk about Clockcleaner, Ryan "Honus Honus" Kattner of Man Man offered a simple, "Nope."
Sharkey talks frequently about the "back-slapping bullshit" the fraternity of indie rock traffics in, which makes musicians afraid to speak their minds because of any collateral damage it might cause in a community where everyone is connected to everyone else.
Take this telling snippet from the New Orleans music blog soundingoutthecity.blogspot.com, for instance, and watch how gingerly the Teeth's Peter MoDavis dances around offending anyone. Ellipses are the blog's own.
Soundingout: "Do you read Vice?"
MoDavis: "The one with the Clockcleaner interview?"
Soundingout: "Yeah, that issue. Is there really a tension between Philly bands?"
MoDavis: "I see that as a tough question because it seems like there is sometimes. I don't want to name what I've heard. I've hung out with a lot of different bands, and it seems some of them might ... I mean I won't ... man, that is a hard question. Some of them quietly say things about who they don't think should be popular like they are."
Talking Teen Wolf and penises with Man Man and Clockcleaner. Also, Hannah Montana.
PW's Music Issue 2014