Q&A: Local garage rockers talk transition from basements to Sweetlife

Media Credit: Courtesy of Shark Week

Shark Week has moved from local basement shows to Sweetlife Festival with raucous garage rock and a penchant for partying. The Hatchet caught up with Ryan Hunter Mitchell, Dan Newhauser, Danielle Vu and Alberto Pacheco to talk record labels, DJ aliases and making it big in D.C.

Hatchet: You’re the only D.C. band to play Sweetlife Festival. Were you expecting this much attention when you first formed?

Ryan: No. The initial goal was to start an all-girl surf band. We thought that would fizzle out after a couple of shows at the Velvet Lounge. It was a joke band to start off, and then we kept on playing shows.

Hatchet: How does Merriweather Post Pavilion differ from the venues you normally play?

Ryan: We anticipate they’ll be far angrier if we break any of their monitors.

Alberto: It’s not in a basement.

Danielle: And beer costs more than, like, $5.

Hatchet: DCist called you guys the “premier D.C. party band.” How did you come to earn that title?

Ryan: We throw killer parties with fake DJ names – they’re always packed. DJ John Elway was the best one. We just played arena rock, like football arena.

Hatchet: D.C. has a rich history of punk music. Does that inform your music style at all?

Dan: No, not really. I was always into D.C. punk bands when I was younger, but none of us are from here, so we didn’t grow up in this scene. We all love Minor Threat, Fugazi and Bad Brains. The scene is influenced by it, but I don’t think our music, or the way we go about being a band, is informed by that.

Ryan: We’re more into older music. At least influentially, musically, it’s more like The Kinks, Iggy and the Stooges.

Hatchet: You guys have performed at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and at Baltimore venues. What do you make of D.C.’s local music scene?

Alberto: There may not be that cohesion sonically for it to be considered a “scene,” but I think it’s a lot better to have a scene of close-knit friends and bands playing eclectic music.

Ryan: It’s burgeoning. D.C., artistically and entertainment-wise, on every aspect, is improving constantly. Even restaurants – now there’s cool restaurants, there’s cool bars, there’s always a new place to play. It’s good that there are things happening artistically here so people are deciding maybe it’s worth staying here.

Hatchet: What comes after Sweetlife? Is there an album in the works?

Dan: We’re putting out a seven-inch [record] this summer on the label Analog Edition. We’ll be playing two preview singles at Sweetlife, and that’ll come out on July 30th. We’re playing 9:30 Club in July, Rock & Roll Hotel in June and this festival in Fairfax with the B-52s. And hopefully we’ll record this summer.

UPCOMING SHARK WEEK SHOWS

Rock & Roll Hotel
June 7
$10

Celebrate Fairfax Festival, Fairfax County Government Center
June 8
$9-$12

9:30 Club
July 27
$15

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