Amy Shark gears up for NRL Grand Final debut
Amy Shark was like tens of thousands of Australian teens who fell madly in love with Blink-182 in the '90s.
The young skater girl learnt to play their songs on the guitar and voraciously consumed stories about them in punk fanzines and on websites.
Tom DeLonge launched his Macbeth shoe brand in the early 2000s and self-taught videographer Shark filmed The Invention Of Lady Mac, a campaign urging him to create a women's shoe with a heel, marrying her obsession with her favourite Shakespearean character with the love of all things Blink-182.
Shark posted it to the same punk sites she constantly perused and it went viral. It came to DeLonge's attention and the folks at Macbeth kindly sent her new shoes each season.
When the aspiring pop star and her partner Shane Billings went on their first big holiday together to America, they travelled to San Diego to see a gig by DeLonge's side project Angels and Airwaves, and she met her pop-punk hero and the extended Blink family.
Fast forward to 2017 and her breakthrough single Adore is blowing up worldwide. The Blink-182 members, including Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, declared their fandom to anyone who asked and posted shout-outs on social media.
"They started hitting me up 'Hey Amy … is this you? We are so proud of you," she recalls.
So when she was putting her debut album Love Monster together, she had a song called Psycho and could hear the voice of Blink's Mark Hoppus on it. She sent it to him.
"When I started talking to Mark and doing the whole Psycho thing, I got to know a lot of the Blink family. Tom's sister Kari and I are on a chat; I speak to her more than I speak to my parents. They knew I was a big fan … because of the Macbeth video I did years ago, which now thankfully has gone offline," Shark says.
Her new single, C'mon, features Blink's drummer Barker, further deepening the musical ties between Shark and the band.
"They are such a nice family, the Blink family. I got to see Travis in LA - he had already tracked the song - but we got to hang out in LA just before I came back in March when COVID hit," she says.
"There were a number of songs obviously Travis would sound great on. A lot of people don't realise it can be really hard to balance these relationships without annoying someone, ruining it.
"They're big-time people and they don't have to work with me so I really have to pick my times when I ask them if they want to. And do it in a respectful way."
Working with her childhood music heroes is just one of a litany of pinch-yourself moments for the Australian pop star since Adore thrust her on to the global airwaves.
While she played every pub gig she could land on the Gold Coast, desperate to slide her original songs in between the covers the regulars wanted to hear, Shark paid the rent as the videographer for the Gold Coast Titans.
Her work friends would often come to cheer her on at the pub gigs, and her boss gave her time off when she needed it to travel further afield for a show.
She shakes her head and laughs wondering what her Titans mates thought when she was announced as the artist to perform at the 2020 NRL grand final this weekend.
"They were awesome, even from two years before I wrote Adore, they were good to me," she says. "They would all come to the gigs, my boss would let me leave early, lend a company car to get to gigs because they knew I was kind of struggling and Shane was working different hours. People who came to the pub to see me play are now seeing I'm the grand final entertainment … they'd be WTF!"
While she is keeping her grand final set secret, you can expect to hear C'mon - and it's a damn shame the border closures prevent Barker from travelling to Australia to join her on the middle-of-the-pitch stage for the big moment.
She calls the song a companion to Drive You Mad from the 2017 EP Night Thinker.
Depending on your own interpretation, the song serves both as a rev-up to yourself in the mirror and a plea to those around you to stand strong when things get crazy. Shark knows it has been tough for some of those who knew her back when, before she finally cut through after a decade of slog, to understand her life now.
"People find it too weird; that's what this industry does to you, it can alienate you without you even doing anything, without even changing," she says. "This is me saying I've got these big hopes and dreams and I can't do it by myself … and it's not going to be easy because I'm not perfect.
"C'mon, help me out one more time … I never really put my hand up to be anyone's role model, so there will be times I am going to screw up. But I'm still human … the people that stay, you remember."
After weeks of indecision about putting new music out into the world during the early stages of the pandemic shutdown, Shark released her comeback single Everybody Rise in June. It has already achieved gold status and has more than 10 million streams worldwide.
And it won her two of her three 2020 ARIA award nominations for best pop release and female artist.
C'mon is the second taste of a new album expected in April next year, which will also feature collaborations with Ed Sheeran and Diplo among others.
The grand final will be her first opportunity since the Fire Fight Australia benefit in February when Shark finally gets to measure the true success of her new music, when she sees the fans pocketed throughout the football sing her words back to her.
C'mon featuring Travis Barker is out on Friday. Amy Shark performs at the 2020 NRL grand final on Sunday.
Originally published as Amy Shark gears up for NRL Grand Final debut