Joe Gideon and The Shark is a brother-sister duo in which Joe plays guitar and sings, while Viva (aka The Shark) plays drums, guitar, keyboards, glockenspiel and sings, usually playing two or more at the same time and incredibly well too.

I just want to write about the people who I’m sharing time with on this big blue tangerine

Gideon says their music sounds like ‘alien blues’ and he’s not far off the mark either, as the raw, riveting music they create is well-rooted in the blues, although rather than your typical 12-bar stride, the siblings’ interpretation of the blues is redefined in an effective and novel crossover kind of way that is comprehensively represented on the duo’s debut album, Harum Scarum.

Gritty and driven at its core, and spearheaded by standout tracks like Civilisation and the title track, the album also serves up some toned-down gems with an Americana tendency which, despite being relatively calmer, are as intense as the upbeat numbers.

As for the ‘alien’ reference, well, let’s just say that Gideon seems to possess a god-given talent for describing things in a colourfully roundabout way.

London-born, raised and based (they apparently only live a street away from each other) the siblings previously played in the multi-national post-rock quartet Bikini Atoll – Joe on guitars and vocals, Viva on keyboards.

Following the band’s untimely demise, they decided to continue as a duo after Viva’s incredible achievement of learning to play the drums properly in just six weeks – a feat she apparently puts down to having inner rhythm and co-ordination acquired from playing the piano and her background as an Olympic rhythmic gymnast.

Apart from attracting attention with Bikini Atoll, Joe Gideon and The Shark have gone even further as a duo, landing support slots – and a string of plaudits along the way – with the likes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Seasick Steve.

Inevitably, being a duo with a female drummer and a good measure of the blues at the core of their songs, they’ve also landed recurring comparisons to the White Stripes, although on further listening, these are largely misconceived as there are distinct differences between what Jack and Meg did and the music Joe and Viva create.

Exactly how and why is something you can discover first-hand on Friday, when Joe Gideon and The Shark bring their distinct blend of tangential Blues to V-Gen in Paceville as part of a mini-festival organised by Hairy Amp.

I interviewed Joe Gideon ahead of their visit.

Are there any musical elements/characteristics from your time in Bikini Atoll that you feel may have resurfaced at some point or other in Joe Gideon and the Shark?

Yes, by the end of Bikini Atoll I was just getting into the narrator/story form of song-writing. A couple of songs on Bikini Atoll’s last album are really Joe Gideon and The Shark songs waiting to happen. Also, with Bikini Atoll, Viva was really into exploring sonic possibilities with found-sound and synthesizers. This was before she could drum. It seems both worlds are really starting to collide now.

Were there other key elements you wanted to incorporate in your sound as you re-launched as a two-person band?

The record had to chime with my new songwriting style. It turned out that just having a great guitar amp for the first time and the fact that The Shark had learnt to drum really propelled us into the whole idea.

There’s a certain storyteller feel about your songs that inherently engages the listener. What is it that attracts you to this largely narrative vocal delivery?

This is going to sound trite at best. After years of writing abstract lyrics and songs that were all just smoke and mirrors, I wanted to write a song that made sense, perhaps due to an underlying feeling that it might help appease the burgeoning notion in me that nothing really makes sense. Then all these stories just splurged out. And, at the time, it was easier to tell them rather than sing them.

There’s quite a contrast in the way a song like Hide and Seek graphically portrays negative elements while a song like Anything You Love That Much You Will See Again projects a sense of soothing, hope, optimism even. Human emotions and situations seem to play a big part in what you write.

I just want to write about the people I’m sharing time with on this big blue tangerine. It’d be too easy to get too serious by all of this, so I always keep in the back of my mind the brilliant spoken message by Frank Zappa at the end of his Joe’s Garage opus that “ultimately, who gives a f**k anyhows?”, but then he sort of coughs on a laugh in the middle of trying to say this and then just cracks up. The laugh must be included in the message otherwise it doesn’t work.

Many will be looking forward to Viva’s athletic performance behind the drum-kit. Was it at all difficult to hone the various elements involved in a Joe Gideon and the Shark live performance into the seemingly seamless execution she has developed and has her gymnastic background helped in any way?

Viva had to put in loads of hours of practice to get this to work, which is good since it shouldn’t be any other way. I’m not sure about the gymnastic background helping, (though it’s nice to think it did) but this is more about musicianship and physical mechanics, which is part and parcel of playing an instrument.

Her flamboyance and elegance came before gymnastics. I think I first noticed it when she was 8 and we had choreographed a dance routine to The Human League’s Love Action.

BBC Radio 1’s Rob Da Bank said you “sound a lot like White Stripes on paper, but are a lot, lot better”. What do you make of such references?

The White Stripes comparison is like comparing a dog to a cat because they both have four legs… or a blue tangerine to the world…or the letter T to where two corners of a parking space meet, for instance. It’s an easy comparison to make unless you’ve heard the music.

I can only apologise to anyone who might buy our records thinking they’re getting a White Stripes record… whoops!

Joe Gideon and The Shark will perform at V-Gen in Paceville on Friday. Local acts Clandestines, The Shh and Skimmed will also be performing with DJ sets from Michael Bugeja in between and after bands. Tickets cost €12 (€15 at the door). For more information and tickets, look up the event page on Facebook.

bugeja.michael@gmail.com

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