American Sharks are, like Lady Caroline Lamb said of that early 19th-century rock star Lord Byron, mad, bad, and dangerous to know. The bong-loaded Austin trio had been reliably fucking shit up around Houston for a few years -- see this practically Neanderthal 2007 slideshow from Proletariat -- before relocating to Austin in early 2012. That was around the time the band released the "Weedwizard" 7" single that came packaged with a free grinder. On green vinyl.
Among relatively recent Houston transplants, only the Octopus Project and arguably the Eastern Sea have made bigger splashes in the Austin scene than the Sharks, who the Austin Chronicle called the "Future of Austin Rock" in June. Last month VICE magazine's hedonism-touting Noisey blog spotlighted "Overdrive," a Riverboat Gamblers-like blast of a video featuring a UFO, men in radiation suits and a room full of girls in skimpy outfits.
And then earlier this week, Brooklyn label The End Records released the "Overdrive" mothership, the Sharks' debut, er, "full length" album. Simply titled American Sharks, not even half an hour long, but that's more than enough time for the Sharks to indulge in plenty of debauchery and other demonic activity. If "Cocaine" doesn't do it for you, surely "Demon With a Glass Sword" or "Satan's Overture Pt. 1" will. It's Cali high-desert throb smeared with Texas scuzz, absolutely no seeds and stems.
But when it comes to getting cthonic, the Sharks shun more sci-fi practitioners of demonology like H.P. Lovecraft in favor of the good old Biblical stuff.
"Book of Revelations style is way more fun, I think," says Sharks singer/bassist Mike Hardin, the friendly, equally hirsute fellow many Houston fans may remember as Roky Moon of moonage daydreamers Roky Moon & BOLT!
"More flair," he explains. "They are way more evil. Those are the kind of lyrics people want to hear."
The eye-popping post-apocalyptic artwork adorning American Sharks, the work of the Austin illustrator who goes by Gutrot, is another pretty good clue where the Sharks' head is at. Best is the fold-out lyric sheet that reveals the three animated Sharks -- Hardin, guitarist Will Ellis and drummer Nick Cornetti -- puking up the band's name.
Let's see... what else could we ask the Sharks?
What influences were you on -- we're not talking about other bands, either -- when making this record?
"There has definitely been a little of everything during the long making of this record..."
Should your fans be at all concerned about your health and safety?
"Oh my, yes. Always."
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Is the band currently in good standing with city, county and state authorities?
"Of course not. We're answering the questions from jail."
Can anyone in the band be safely trusted with sharp objects?
"Nick is better with a katana, while Will is more of a butterfly-knife kind of guy. I'm a broadsword man, myself.
Last one. When is the last time anyone in the band called his mother?
"Well I did, for one," Hardin swears. "She was criticizing me as usual."
Boy, was she.
"'When are you gonna get some friends for once in your miserable life?'" Hardin begins. "'You might as well forget about marriage! Your face looks like the hairy part of your butt, and I don't know even one single woman that likes a hairy butt! Certainly not a hairy butt face!'"
And with a winking, frowning emoticon -- ;( -- Hardin and the Sharks swim off toward more nefarious deeds.
American Sharks' album-release party -- their only Houston show this time through before a few dates with Clutch and full fall U.S. tour -- is 5:30 p.m. today at Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth.
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