When talking about the DC music scene, rock-and-roll may not be the first thing that jumps to mind. Punk? Sure—see: Bad Brains, Fugazi, Youth Brigade. Go-go? Soul? Check and check. But when it comes to rock bands, the District has few big names to call its own.
Perhaps the most noticeable exception is Shark Week—the unapologetically rock outfit consisting of frontman Ryan Mitchell, bassist Danielle Vu, drummer Dan Newhauser, and guitarist Albert Pacheco—that in its two years of existence has been steadily gaining recognition locally and is poised to make waves (sorry) on the national scene. This year saw the band land spots at SXSW and Sweetlife, and this Saturday they play the 9:30 Club for the first time to celebrate the July 30 release of their album Santurce, before embarking on a two-week tour that includes dates in Chicago, Louisville, and Nashville. Complicating their practice and performance schedule somewhat is the fact that all the members still have day jobs. (Mitchell, for example, helms the très-hip Mount Pleasant hair salon Eastern Confederate).
We caught up with Shark Week by phone after a Sunday-afternoon practice to ask about the music scene in Washington, juggling the band and their 9-to-5s, and where they see themselves headed. In between cracking jokes, they shared a few things they think people should know about them.
On their name: They say it doesn’t come from the Discovery Channel event—instead it’s from the phenomenon of women’s cycles syncing when they cohabitate, a reference to the original goal to have a mainly female band. They could be joking.
On how they balance the band and their day jobs: “Lots of Adderall.” Jokes aside, they say “your ‘you’ time becomes the band time”—and while they enjoy playing in a band, doing it full-time is “not necessarily the goal.”
On being known as a band from DC: “If you’re a band from DC it’s easy to be cool in DC, but it’s harder to be cool outside of DC.”
On how the local music scene is developing: “DC is known for suits and politics, but in the past five or six years it’s changed a lot. Now instead of just moving to New York, bands are staying here and building a community here.”
On how they see their trajectory as a band: “We’re going to keep doing this until we can play a show on the moon, and then we’re going to retire.”
On the thing that most excites them about the 9:30 Club: “The free cupcakes backstage!” They’ll also be trying out some new material and a new vibe for their show. “We’re playing on a bigger stage, to a bigger crowd, so we’re stepping up our game to make it a bit more of a show, make it a little more entertaining. We want to set the bar a little higher, so we can trip harder.”
On what to expect from their show on the 27th: “Just look at the cover of our EP! And wear a poncho.”
Shark Week play 9:30 Club Saturday, July 27, with several other local bands; the evening begins at 6 PM. Tickets ($15) are available online. Santurce is currently available for preorder online.