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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Maybe MoDavis is just a nice guy. Sharkey would contend he's an indie hand-holder who should stop playing music. Of course Sharkey contends a lot of things.

Either way, Mike McKee, a sometime PW contributor and friend of Sharkey's since '96, thinks the publicity given to Sharkey's ideas and antics might soon slow to a crawl, and their music and live show will finally be what gets tongues wagging.

"Sharkey knows how to push people's buttons. He loves it," he says. "But I saw girls at Clockcleaner's last Johnny Brenda's show. Girls. That blew my mind."


Among the comments responding to the online version of the Vice article that sounded a thousand Philly alarms is the following pointed gem from someone named Emerson: "Clockcleaner is just a front for Sharkey's standup comedy stylings. The man is a latter-day Don Rickles. If he has pissed you off in the past, you are part of the joke."

Sharkey's reaction to the old-school insult comedian's name suggests this may be true.

"Holy shit, that reminds me," he laughs. "I've been meaning to pick up a copy of his new book. It's called Rickles' Book. I. Love. Him."

Rickles' face is pictured on Clockcleaner's MySpace jukebox when the song "Vomiting Mirrors" is dialed up. And no doubt the band's response under the "Sounds Like" query on the same site, "Horny sadness, punctual racism," could be used to describe Rickles' own act.

"At this point," Sharkey says, "I'd say we're more influenced by standup comedy and talk radio than we are music. I never listen to music in my car. It's always talk radio or a comedy album from my iPod. It's entertainment."

The Kidd Chris Show, Howard Stern, Philadelphia sports talk and WFMU's Best Show are more often than not what you'll find pumping from the Clockcleaner minivan, a sad maroon affair, made sadder still because an angry someone took time to key the words "Solid Bitch" on the passenger side door and hood.

If not for standup comedy and Sharkey's white-hot devotion to those who've mastered it, being booted off the island of Philly's music class might be harder to deal with.

"We truly are a peerless band in this city. And that's fine. The comedians I like, if they're bombing, they just ratchet up and start mowing down the crowd. They're vicious."

When asked, Sharkey can rattle off the names of a dozen or so comedians he follows and adores: Bill Hicks, Jim Norton, Patton Oswalt, Doug Stanhope, Patrice O'Neal, Andy Kaufman. These are the men seated at Clockcleaner's table of influence. Still, none can hold a candle to the comedian at the table's head: Louis C.K.

Louis C.K. isn't just an influence on Sharkey (and by extension Clockcleaner)--he's a way of life. Like someone suffering from comedy Tourette's, Sharkey often quotes the man's bits like a nervous tick. "How would one go about sucking a bag of dicks?" he'll ask to no one in particular while waiting to pay the bill at a diner.

Spend any time around Sharkey, and questions like that--or the occasional misplaced aside ("I would blow Ewan McGregor")--become commonplace.

In many ways Louis C.K.'s one-and-done series of HBO's Lucky Louie is to standup what Clockcleaner want to be to music: gifted, original, shocking, offensive. Reviews for both include the same words: brutal, honest, painfully awkward, unflinching, sick, twisted, unforgiving.

"Some of the things Louis C.K. says take balls," Sharkey says, seriously considering for a moment why he likes him so. "Sometimes I don't even know if he's trying to be funny. He'll say something that's so horrifically honest or awkward that it's just great."

Horner has another explanation. "He does rape jokes!"

"That's what I mean," Sharkey seconds. "He's doing shit no one else is doing. It's almost like he's fucking with the audience sometimes."


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