“Alligator,” the first song on indie pop outfit Hello Shark’s third LP Delicate, has singer Lincoln Halloran driving with an unknown companion until they get lost. And as fear-inducing as being lost might be, it’s the notion that it’ll “cave like grapes in the microwave” that seems to eat at Halloran more. Wherever the two are locationally, in that moment, is nowhere near as bad as where they might soon be relationally.
Talking with Halloran, who grew up around the Newburyport, Massachusetts area, it comes through that some of these emotionally piercing lines he crafts are grounded in reality, but many more dawn on Halloran because of how they sound. On “Drake Night,” one of Delicate‘s unmistakable highpoints, the 28-year-old Halloran gently warbles “I was only trying to push you away after I found out you were leaving, so it’d be easier to stay.” He says it’s a thing that’s happened to him, that it’s easier to push away than embrace. “I just thought it was a good line too,” Halloran says. “Just a good open up. It’s happened. Either I’ve done it to somebody, or had it done to me.”
The name Hello Shark, goofy on first read but warm the more you scrutinize it, was sorta chosen by somebody Halloran was with. In between turns working in kitchens or washing high-ball glasses and beer mugs at a bar, he would play shows and of course needed a name to put on the promo fliers he would staple up. Using Adam Davies’ 2006 book Goodbye Lemon as a jumping-off point, Halloran landed on “Hello Shark” which his significant other at the time liked the most. “Couldn’t really change it after a while,” he jokes.
Though Halloran says he was locked into pursuing music early, he admits he wasn’t always consistently pushing it. He would play shows but not go on tour. He would write songs to be set aside for later. He had a 7″ drop in 2010 and CD mixes carefully placed into hand-painted sleeves.
While he might occasionally still worry where he’s at with everything, Halloran has a little less to currently fear. The excellent Delicate, his first on Orindal Records, dropped on Sept. 30. and had three songs: “Drake Night,” “Jackson Browne” and “Alligator” premiere on Stereogum. He’s stationed in Philly now and recently turned 28. I chatted with Halloran not too long ago about the new record, his writing process, go-to meals and movies that’ll make him weep.
So I always like to ask, what are you listening to right now?- I’ve been listening to Sade Lover’s Rock quite a bit. I’ve been listening to a lot of Grateful Dead Wake of the Flood. John Prine Live. I just recently got into him.
What would pinpoint as some of the influences on the new album?- I try not to listen. I basically just try to write a good song. I listen to a lot of music and there’s a lot of great songwriting in different ways, but there’s no one really specific I can list or that would change the sound on the record.
When I’m in the middle of writing, or in that time period, I’ll listen to like piano music in the background. It’s hard to listen to like Bonnie “Prince” Billy who’s going to make me focus.
Is there a song on Delicate, such as “Drake Night” or “Jackson Browne” that you’re proudest of?- I like how “Jackson Browne” came out. I’m just happy with the record in general. I don’t know. I think before most of my songs were just verse/chorus/verse/chorus and maybe it’s cause those are different in the two songs. But I played a lot of piano on some of the songs too, so that was new. But songwriting, I like them all. Most of the songs are focused on the lyrics and then that’s where most of the thought goes. And the composition is just as important, but I’m not as good. That’s where I’m still learning.
What was your part in high school, were you the music kid then too?- I surfed and skateboarded a lot in early high school. Kind of hippy vibe. I ran cross country a lot.
Cross country can be a lonely one right?- It’s a lonely one. It’s definitely different in high school because you have buds on the team. You can do your own thing and you can run and train by yourself. And I still run. Headphones on.
What’s the go-to “running” anthem for Lincoln?- It’s been a lot of podcasts. I’d be too embarrassed to tell you what I listen to when I run. Lots of Nicki Minaj. Just like pop stuff.
Do you have a go-to meal?- Fish tacos. I eat a lot of kimchi. I’m a big Bloody Mary fan.
Any “unusual” items in your car?- Right now I just moved so there’s some crazy stuff in my car. I have two yoga mats. I have a vacuum cleaner in my car right now.
Has there been a movie recently that’s made you cry?- I watched this documentary called Author, it’s about the JT LeRoy author. That one just came out.
When did you feel the furthest away from where you are now? When did you worry this might not work?- I always kind of feel that way. It’s more just like when I was younger. When you’re young I think it’s easy to think that things will happen to you. Or you wait around more. If you’re gonna do it, you do it. Being younger and doing it, I had more of an “I don’t give a fuck” vibe. That’s when the music wasn’t coming out or I didn’t work on it as much.