More than two years on from the release of her critically-acclaimed debut record Love Monster, Amy Shark has now announced her long-awaited follow-up, with CRY FOREVER set to arrive next April.
Officially announcing the news today, speculation about a new record has followed Shark for a few months now, following the release of “Everybody Rise” (recent winner of the ARIA Award for Best Pop Release) back in June, and the Travis Barker-featuring “C’mon” back in October.
Working with the likes of previous collaborators Dann Hume, M-Phazes, and Joel Little, in addition to the nascent talent of Jamie Hartman (Lewis Capaldi, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man), Dan Wilson (Adele, Leon Bridges), and Sammy Witte (Harry Styles, King Princess), Shark has crafted an album which showcases her growth as an artist at the front of the local music industry, along with her own personal evolution, and her ability to speak about much more personal topics.
“I am now a more confident musician and person than the Amy of 2018, and I feel like I am ready to share some moments from my life that I wasn’t previously ok to talk about,” she explains. “These are some of the most personal and confronting songs I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to share them with everyone.”
In celebration of the album’s announcement, Shark has also shared her latest single of the year, “All The Lies About Me”, which sees her picking up the acoustic guitar to sing an anthem of self-confidence.
“This song is me at my most confused, broken and lonely,” she notes. “It’s not easy hearing things about yourself that simply aren’t true. Sometimes the noise gets too loud so I had to write this song as it’s the only way I can talk.”
In addition to all this though, Amy Shark has also announced her return to the big stage, with a run of headline dates scheduled to take place throughout June and July of 2021. Her first local trek since the conclusion of a 2019 tour, the announcement of these dates also comes just a week after she took home the ARIA Award for Best Australian Live Act.
“I am so proud of this album and it’s time to hand these songs over to the fans,” Shark explains. “To announce a tour of this size, after the year we have been through, gives me hope that the world is heading back to normality.”
In anticipation of the record’s announcement, Amy Shark spoke to Rolling Stone to discuss her recent ARIA wins, the creation of her new record, and some of the big names she worked with along the way.
Firstly, congratulations are in order for the big ARIA wins last week. You must be feeling pretty excited about all that.
Yeah, I’m still in a little bit of shock, actually. It was such a relaxed event and night, not like the usual chaotic experience, so I think I was more shocked, y’know.
You’ve won so many in such a short time. It must feel almost surreal at times to be getting all this massive recognition when you look at where you were just five years ago?
Yeah, especially because I think in my head, “I’ve only put one song out, really, that was in contention for it.” So you never expect anything. I had my night planned – I was going to be home by 10 to watch something, like, I’d downloaded something to watch. That’s how much I was just not in the zone for it. Then it ended up being quite the night. So yeah, it was good.
Now, the big news though is that you’ve got your new album being released in April. How long after you finished Love Monster did you begin working on that one?
Pretty much straight away. It wasn’t too long after Love Monster that I was on tour and writing more songs. I always write songs for therapy, so I don’t even think in my head I was thinking, “Oh, this is for the next album.” I was just writing. And I think that I am just thankful that I kept writing, because I sort of avoided that second album syndrome.
There was just so much to choose from by the time I had to record the second album, and I’m just glad that any emotion that came to me at late night, or any argument, or even anything exciting or happy I made sure to document in some sort of song that made it on the album.
Obviously there are a lot of artists who do that sort of thing where they have to clear their schedule before they start work on new material, and then there are folks like yourself who are able to find inspiration anywhere. You say it’s like therapy, so I assume that’s the sort of thing that would even help you get through lots of touring as well?
Oh for sure, it’s just a coping mechanism, and a lot of the time I’m left alone with a guitar in a bus or something, and it’s just something to do. You just see what comes out, but I’ve spoken to heaps of artists and they’ll ask how I go about it, and it’s like… I don’t know why they do it to themselves, and I know it’s not always their fault and there’s teams around them saying, “This is when you will tour, this is when you will write songs for the next album, and this is when you will record said album.” And I just couldn’t imagine the pressure to know, “Oh my god, that time period, I have to write an album”, like, screw that.
Plus there’s idea of restricting creativity as well.
I know! I can sort of tell the albums that have that. [laughs].
Did the making of an album feel different this time around? Obviously Love Monster was a massive success, it won awards, it topped the charts. But did you have this apprehension of – as you said – the second album syndrome, and how you’d follow up something like that?
Yeah, I guess the songs were still coming, so I was very grateful that I had a selection from the get go that I kind of knew were strong. And I mean by this time, I’m a very self-deprecating person so I also know that… It’s like anyone that does anything for a long time, you know? Like, by now if I don’t know that I’m good at songwriting and that this is my thing and this is what I was meant to do, then that’s just weird. I’m comfortable in saying I know when I hear I’ve done good work, or that I know what a good song sounds like now.
So from the very early days, I had these demos that were sounding really exciting and I guess I thrive off that as well. So knowing I had some good songs already kind of made me keep writing songs that I was really happy with. And I sort of just know my structure now, and just crafting them all was super fun. And I was also just a lot more open-minded this time around.
With Love Monster I was still coming off the back of a pretty useless career of doing everything by myself, and not having anyone believe in me, and so I was very careful and cautious about my music. Like, “I fought so hard to get here, I don’t want any one to wreck it.”
So I was a bit precious about everything, whereas this time, I don’t know, I guess I was just a little bit more open-minded, I went and worked with a bunch of people I’d never worked with before. I just wrote so many more songs, more than what I needed, and just kept working, and just listened to everyone and took on every idea possible. I think I just have benefitted from that this time around.
You mentioned that you worked with other people, and I noted that you had expanded the production team this time around. The new people that you were working with, what were they able to add to the process that you didn’t have last time?
I think just very different ideas, and it was quite subtle. A lot of the songs that I had done were kind of in shape before I had worked with them – there might have been one or two that I actually worked with someone in the room and we wrote the song together.
Honestly, the majority of them were already started, so it could be like, one song in particular, I was working on it, and it just wasn’t feeling right – it wasn’t in the pocket yet. And I went and worked with a guy called Sammy Witte and he does a lot of stuff with like, Harry Styles, and he just started playing this guitar bit, and I was like, “Oh, do you reckon I could sing this over it?” And it just worked, so it’s like when you meet different people, different people have different skillsets and you can just tap into that.
Well it’s like solo artists who team up with a band for the first time, isn’t it? You can never really expect what the power of collaboration can give you.
And I guess now I’m confident enough to be in the studio and be like, “Ah, I don’t know if that works”, and I know what to take and what to not take from people. That just comes with just knowing your craft and being a lot more confident in the studio working with people, and just throwing yourself in that environment. So I’m just lucky that… I think what happened with this album is that things just fell in the right place, which was nice.
You mentioned confidence, and that appears to be the underlying theme of the record.
I’m so much more… I don’t know, I feel like a different artist. I feel like I’ve just learnt a lot, and I made it my job to really learn what worked last time, what didn’t work last time, where I want to grow, the stories I want to tell, and even the stories I’m telling on this one are so much deeper. I’m just ready for that part now, and I just know the whole rollout now.
I didn’t know anything before; no one tells you anything, so you’re just literally going in blind. But this time I kind of know the ropes a bit, and I’m just a bit more educated in the whole industry. So it put me at ease altogether.
Incidentally, the new single ‘‘All The Lies About Me’ sees you sort of showcasing a theme of resilience. Does it feel somewhat daunting to bare your emotions so deeply here? Or does it even tie into the idea of feeling like a new artist, where it feels somewhat easier to approach such ideas?
Yeah, I think I’ve just lost that care factor now. I’m still very cautious and wary to not hurt anyone’s feelings because obviously all my songs are about particular situations and whether that be real-life characters in my life. So I’m always very cautious about that. I made some mistakes on Love Monster in doing that, and I just don’t want to do that again. But with this one, I still haven’t held back, and I think “All The Lies” is a very nice introduction into what the album really is.
Because leading with “Everybody Rise”… I love that we did that, but everyone was kind of like, “Is that going to be the vibe of production of the album?” And it’s like, “It’s nowhere near it” [laughs]. So it’s kind of cool to hit them with “C’mon” and getting to all those emotional stories, but then “All The Lies” is like a home run as to what you’re going to expect for the album.
You mentioned “C’mon”, which notably features Travis Barker. Now, you’re obviously a big Blink-182 fan, so that must obviously feel like a real career highlight to work alongside someone from the band yet again, wouldn’t it?
Yeah, I mean, I wish I could’ve been in the studio when he was tracking them. And it wasn’t even during COVID – I was just in the middle of recording the album. It was like a spur of the moment thing sending Travis the track and seeing if it was even going to happen, if he’ll do it. And then he did it and it was all done within a couple of days, and then it was like months after that, I went and did “Everybody Rise” and I was shooting the video for it, and I just happened to be in LA and I got to catch up with Travis.
We got to talk about the song, and so it was sort of done really backwards. It happened very easily, and he was just wanting to be a part of it, wanting to be in the video, and just legitimately loved the song, which was great.
You also have a collaboration with Keith Urban on there too. You’ve obviously known him a few years now, but how did that one come about? Had you always planned to record together?
No, never. This is what happens: If I’m ever going to do a collaboration it’s always got to feel right, be really natural, and happen with ease, and not having to wrestle someone into doing it – I never want to do that.
This time, this particular song that he’s on, it felt like it needed something, and when someone threw Keith Urban’s name in, I was like, “Oh my god, that’s genius, and it’s perfect!” Because he’s all class, and the song is quite a classy, timeless song, and it just made sense. Once we sent it to him, he was just so stoked and more than happy to be involved, and just took the song to another level.
You’ve also got tour dates for the new record as well. You just won best Aussie Live Act at the ARIA, so they’re going to be some pretty highly-anticipated shows. But it’s been quite a while since you’ve played large shows – that must feel strange to get back on the road?
Yeah, big rooms – I’m looking forward to it. It’s essentially bigger than the last arena run, so I’m glad that my team has obviously got some belief in me [laughs]. But yeah, nah, I honestly can’t wait to be with the crew and the band, and let’s hope that everything is back to normal by then. But yeah, it’s going to be awesome.
Amy Shark’s CRY FOREVER is released on April 30th, 2021 via Wonderlick/Sony Music Entertainment Australia, with pre-orders available now.
Amy Shark – CRY FOREVER tracklist:
1. “The Wolves”
2. “Everybody Rise”
3. “Worst Day Of My Life”
4. “C’MON” (feat. Travis Barker)
5. “All The Lies About Me”
6. “Miss You”
7. “Love Songs Ain’t For Us” (feat. Keith Urban)
8. “I’ll Be Yours”
9. “You’ll Never Meet Anyone Like Me Again”
10. “That Girl”
11. “Lonely Still”
12. “Baby Steps”
13. “Amy Shark”
Amy Shark CRY FOREVER Tour 2021
Saturday, June 12th, 2021
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Friday, June 18th, 2021
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday, June 19th, 2021
Wrest Point Lawns, Hobart, TAS
Friday, June 25th, 2021
HOTA, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday, June 26th, 2021
Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday, July 1st, 2021
AEC Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Saturday, July 3rd, 2021
RAC Arena, Perth, WA