HARDCORE ON THE HIGH SEAS The Jaws-inspired Sharks Come Cruisin’.
Sharks Come Cruisin' founder Mark Lambert is a Warwick native with a penchant for reworking and penning sea shanties from centuries past, often revised with rollicking punk flare — all thanks to the golden pipes of Quint, the shark-obsessed skipper in Jaws.
"If I had never seen Quint singing 'Spanish Ladies,' we wouldn't be having this conversation," lead singer/guitar-ist Lambert told me while chatting up an upcoming SCC gig at the Blackstone. Add in a healthy obsession with thrashing post-punk icons like Hot Water Music and the equation is complete. "I grew up listening to hardcore where the big 'crew call' choruses are a huge part of the music and experience," he said. "To put a hardcore or punk slant on these songs is not a stretch."
It's hard to argue after soaking in their 2008 studio debut Four Years Before the Mast, six songs built around traditional singalongs dating from "the 19th century through the steamship days of early 20th century," according to Lambert. The recent two-track Providence Piers Sessions single (spiked renditions of "The Bonnie Ship the Diamond"and "John Kanaka"), as well as their '06 debut Live at Jake's (and official SCC pint glasses), all are available at SharksCome Cruisin.com. Four Years opens with "Cape Cod Girls," with Eric Wohlgemuth's banjo giving way to a galloping guitar riff, while drummer James Toomey and bassist Michael Bilodeau (formerly of the 'mericans) accompany Lambert's table-pounding, tallboy-hoisting hooks, chanting "Heave away! Heave away!" between lines like "Cape Cod girls ain't got no combs/ They comb their hair with codfish bones" and "Cape Cod boys ain't got no sleds/They slide down hills on codfish heads." Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys come to mind when hearing SCC's spin on "Bully In the Alley" and "All For Me Grog."
The most effective outlet for Sharks Come Cruisin' remains their live show (cue cards are present ensuring maximum, synchronized participation), having played festivals along the eastern seaboard, from the New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival ("It was an honor playing for people in the sailing community," Lambert recalled), to their 2010 debut at Rad Fest in Wilmington, NC. "It's a port town, and sailor songs go well with port towns," Lambert said. He is also awaiting word on a third invite to the Fest in Gainesville, Florida, featuring more than 250 punk bands and organized by No Idea Records, home to seminal post- and pop-punk acts like Less Than Jake, Samiam, and Hot Water Music.
"I didn't think we had a chance when I sent the promoters a CD, but James had played at the Fest a few years back with [local folk act] Barn Burning and thought Sharks would be something they'd be into," Lambert said. "It's the most amazing three days of punk rock and Pabst Blue Ribbon."
Lambert recalled one of the more memorable Sharks Come Cruisin' sets, riding a float around Downcity during last year's Sound Session parade finale.