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Fake Shark Are Feeling Good  

Songwriter Kevin James Maher cranks up the angst to process past relationship trauma on new album, Afterglow.

by Johnny Papan

Photo by Matthew Miller

Human relationships are complex. We can develop lifelong relationships with people we met in school, fall in love with people we meet by happenstance, and receive uplifting support from some we’ve never met in real life. As time goes on, they can appear all the more simple – but some dynamics don’t always turn out that way. People can grow apart over time, friendships fade and love turns sour. People you love eventually pass away, and others might betray you.

Over his tenured career in the music industry, songwriter and producer Kevin James Maher has developed many of these relationships. Since launching himself onto the scene with mid-2000s electro-punk forerunners Fake Shark-Real Zombie!, he has worked with the likes of Kat Von D, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dave Ogilvie, Billy Howerdel, Jakalope, the Birthday Massacre, and many more. 

Now, with his current project Fake Shark, Maher lashes out with his feelings of frustration and alienation on the band’s grittiest album to date, Afterglow. The band takes a sonic shift, putting their electro-pop proclivities on the backburner for a more rock-driven sound fuelled by angst and melancholy.

Maher’s shock at how some of his own relationships turned out inspired the record. The songs “Bummer Summer,” “Exactly What I Thought You Were” and “Save Me,” for example, were written about an abusive relationship. “Abusers don’t think their victims will talk about the abuse, and I very much did,” he tells RANGE. 

I’m a person that often needs to feel good to feel creative, so this was a tough one,” says Maher. “There was a lot of loss to be dealt with. You don’t want to make people’s death about yourself, and when it comes to betrayal, you can’t exactly name names. So you want to process it a bit before deciding to say something hurtful. I can’t help but be affected by this stuff; I’m so empathetic it’s crippling, so it’s about surviving it.”

With that statement, it’s clear that Maher has a lot to say on Fake Shark’s new album. Its explosive sound is a sonic representation of how he was feeling while writing each tune, and though it’s more rock-oriented in sound, the band continues to deliver the dancey grooves and catchy hooks they’re known for.