Q&A with Ryan Mitchell of Shark Week

photo courtesy of Shark Week

DC-based rockers Shark Week have energy, sexiness, style and swagger to spare. Their sound blends garage-rock/psychedelia/blues & surf, with a punk-rock attitude. Check out their surfy-bluesy jam “If You Want Me To Stay (for a while)” from their new EP. You can experience the awesomeness that is Shark Week live for yourself this Friday, August 10th at their EP release party at Montserrat House. This week WLDC’s Alexia Kauffman got the chance to ask frontman Ryan Mitchell a few questions, and here’s what he had to say.

Alexia: How did you first start playing music?

Ryan: Motley Crue. My neighbor when I was thirteen was John Corabi, the second singer of Motley Crue. His son was pretty close to the same age, and happened to be an amazing drummer. Still is, actually. I guess it was worth it to let me borrow his fender and a practice amp so his son could have someone to jam with…
 
Alexia: Was there any artist or album or song in particular that first made you fall in love with rock music?

Ryan: Hard to say, I mean, I remember really liking the Offspring when I was eleven. But we never had cable so I was always way behind my highly cultured cousins at the time who were educated by Beavis and Butthead and MTV. I remember my county’s NPR station would play blues roots all day on Sundays and I would press record on a blank tape and get these great early American folk and blues gems which fit in really well with the punk music I was getting into at the time. It was easy for me to tie Woody to The Clash or something like that. So I really think I benefitted from having over-sheltering Christian parents in my youth. They shielded me from terrible pop and somehow I was still able to get punk tapes from my friends. 
 
Alexia: How did Shark Week come together? 

Ryan: Divine Intervention. You know when a bunch of girls live in a group house and get on the same cycle?

Alexia: You all played an acoustic set at the Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum- was it challenging translating your music into an acoustic setting? How did that turn out?

Ryan: It’s funny actually. Most of our songs started out as acoustic songs. I hadn’t been playing electric for a while. Until Shark Week I had spent the last couple years playing a lot more banjo than guitar. Then we’d rearrange them and make them rowdy electric tunes… But when we acoustically arranged them for the Smithsonian show they didn’t revert back to the originals at all. On the contrary they went further away from the originals. I can’t vouch for the people who had to witness the event, but I think it went well for us.
 
Alexia: Do you have any favorite show you’ve played, or memory from a show that was particularly awesome or awful?

Ryan: I’m trying to think of a favorite show we’ve played. The very last night of Gold Leaf was a blast. We also had a good time at the Last Montserrat House show. New York is always fun. I might just be basing this off of times I climbed things…
 
Alexia: How do you feel about the music scene in DC right now?

Ryan: That’s quite a loaded question. I would say that generally the DC scene is very supportive. Everyone cheers every other band on pretty well (unless you actually have a chance of breaking out of the DC scene, ’cause then fuck you, sell out!) but I don’t know that this is always a good thing. I think Heavy Breathing is great. I really like that the limited number of bands (compared to say NYC or LA) creates a more diverse show with very different bands/artists on the same bill.
 
Alexia: Who are you listening to lately?

Ryan: Jackson C. Frank -Tumble in the wind, specifically. But his whole catalogue is great! King Sunny Ade, I’ve found some great early stuff by him. 60′s and early 70′s. Been getting kinda psyched on D’Angelo because the rumors of a tour coming up. The usual suspects, Tom Waits, Dylan, Townes van Zandt, Leonard Cohen…
 
Alexia: What’s on the horizon for Shark Week?

Ryan: Dan, after 6 more tiring years of political journalism will end up on a small Caribbean island (which I’m sorry I can’t mention) selling tourists over-priced watered down rum from “the finest distillery in the world”.
Eric ends up abandoning law altogether and takes a four-year vow of silence that ends abruptly during a cock-fight at the Mexican border of Guatemala.
Danielle leaves Shark Week for a successful, albeit brief, solo career hailed by many as the next Tia Carrere of Crucial Taunt.
Ryan(Me) after a near decade of coping with the loss of his band mates eventually moves to eastern Arizona and opens up a palm tree lot. You know like a christmas tree lot, but with Palm Trees?

Catch Shark Week’s crazy-fun, energetic live set this Friday at Montserrat House for their EP release party! You can get advance tickets here. (It will probably sell out!)

Shark Week

The Blackberry Belles

BROS (formerly BROADS)

Montserrat House/Friday, August 10/10pm/$10/21+

Alexia Kauffman

Alexia was born and raised in Arlington, VA. She has been a cellist since age four, and a lover of rock & roll soon after. The first tape she owned was “Make It Big” by Wham, and the first tape she bought was Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and she still loves both. She was a member of local synth-rock outfit Soft Complex for several years, and has recorded with bands including Engine Down and Two if By Sea. By day she works for a non-profit distributing royalties to musicians and labels. She currently plays cello, lap-steel guitar and tambourine in the DC post-folk/Americana band The Torches.

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