Catching Up With Sharks & Sailors

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Sharks and Sailors last played in Houston in the summer of 2008, riding high on its second release, Builds Brand New, and the resulting accolades. The band--bassist/vocalist Melissa Lonchambon, guitarist/vocalist Michael Rollin, and drummer Phillip Woodward--took a much-needed break, but finally return this weekend for a show at Mango's with sIngs, Young Mammals, and B L A C K I E. Rocks Off recently asked Rollin some questions about what the band's been up to lately, its new material and plans for a new album. Rocks Off: This weekend's show will be your first since August of 2008, correct? Why the long wait? Michael Rollin: By the time we'd reached August 2008, it was readily apparent we were in need of a break. We'd been going three and a half years straight without one. I think at that point we all realized we'd taken our set list at the time about as far as it could go. We still enjoy and are proud of that material, but we felt the need to have something new, and didn't want to be a band that plays the same seven or eight songs over and over again. It takes a while to write and arrange new music, and during that period all of our time was eaten up rehearsing for upcoming shows. So we all decided to take a healthy break from that type of schedule. Looking back on it now, it's probably been the best thing for us. We're having a lot more fun now, and I think it comes across in the music. We often say it feels like a new band starting out again. RO: I assume you'll be playing some new songs at Saturday's show? What can you tell me about the new stuff the band has been working on? MR: Yea, we'll be playing new songs. I'd say the set list on Saturday leans more towards the newer material. I'm always writing new stuff at home. One thing that's helped me out a lot is I got a Mac back in the summer, which has made it so much easier to record and stockpile new ideas. We practiced sporadically throughout 2009 and it was fun, because there was no agenda or shows to rehearse for. We're all really great friends, and we just had a lot of fun playing together again. It allowed us to experiment a lot, and we were able to come up with some sounds and ideas we'd never really done before. I'd say by the time this past fall came around, we were like, "Okay, it's time to arrange all of this and put it together." We've yet to record it in a proper studio, but we have recorded our own demos which have been fun to listen to. Like I said, it's a lot easier to demo now, and then change things as we go, if needed. We do have some time set aside at Dead City Sound next month, though... RO: Is the band trying anything different on the new album as opposed to Builds Brand New? MR: Yeah, I think we've made an effort to write shorter, tighter songs that get to the point a bit quicker. Most of it is a bit more up-tempo and the overall sounds tend to be more experimental. We have some new equipment that allows us to really go "out there" now. RO: As far as promotion goes, technology seems to change pretty quickly these days. How do you guys plan to handle the promotion of the new album (or have you gotten that far yet)? MR: We've not gotten that far yet. I mean, when we started the band five years ago, there wasn't a YouTube, and MySpace was still in its infancy. Now, it's completely different than it was even two years ago. We don't really use our MySpace anymore as it's a magnet for Spam, and really difficult to manage. It mainly serves as a hub or portal to all of our other places on the Web: iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. We always encourage people to contact us through our gmail account as it's considerably easier to manage. I also like how you can now manage certain things through your phone. I would've never guessed that when we started the band, ha! RO: The show this weekend has a good line-up, with sIngs, Young Mammals, and B L A C K I E also on the bill. Are you pleased with the amount of bands (and talent) that have hit the scene in the last year or two? MR: Yeah, it seems like more bands are taking initiative and doing more things themselves. After the Proletariat closed in February of '08, the scene did seem to stall somewhat. Most of that seems to be remedied by Mango's, though, which has been great. It seems they are always packed, and most importantly with new people, which is always good to see. Omar [Mango's owner Afra] has really done a lot for the scene in the last couple of years. Dude knows how to hustle! RO: What are some of the more recent bands that stand out to you? Any favorite local releases yet this year? I am digging The Jonx's latest a lot... MR: Black Congress and Balaclavas are the first things that come to mind. 'Roman Holiday' and the new Black Congress 7"'s are absolutely killer. Just another example of Chris Ryan's fine work at Dead City Sound. And of course, The Jonx's new record is great. Their song, "I'm Getting Really Good At Tetris," often gets stuck on repeat at my house. RO: You guys are also on the bill for this year's Free Press Summerfest in June. It's great that the city's finally getting a sustainable festival of its own, with an impressive line-up. Are you pumped to play the festival? Did you make it out to last year's fest? MR: Totally. It's going to be great for Houston, and should be an awesome time. We did go to the Summerfest last year. Actually, Phil worked as a roadie on the main stage. When we were there, we all kind of went, "Uh, yeah, we should play this next year." Melissa and I went and saw The Flaming Lips this past NYE in Oklahoma City and it was amazing. It was funny, I remember on the ride home we were like, "It'd be cool if they played the Summerfest this year." Then, lo and behold... Rollin also says the band has no firm plans yet for releasing its new songs. "We've thrown around a few ideas as far as how we'd like to release any future material, but nothing solid," he says. "We tend not to announce anything until it's finished or confirmed--it's just easier that way." Catch Sharks and Sailors at Mango's 8 p.m. Saturday night with sIngs, B L A C K I E and Young Mammals. The band also plays Saturday, April 24, at Dean's Credit Clothing in downtown Houston.

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