I count the people who greet Mike while we’re on the corner of 6th and Lamar: one, two, three-four-five. One yells from his car; seven. Another again from his car, whoopin’ and hollerin’ at the long-haired man standing in front of his album poster that graces a window at Waterloo Records. This looming cover, plastered right by the front door, is unavoidable. Loud. People gathered outside the store admire it, then look at Mike and congratulate him, pat him on the back, ‘cause man, he’s had a good year.
We’re in Austin celebrating the album release of local band American Sharks, who have just finished touring with fellow locals The Sword. Mike Hardin (bassist and singer), Nick Cornetti (drums) and Will Ellis (guitar) play their entire album in a 30-minute, in-store show to a crowd that is easily distinguished by its affection for this band; they dance and laugh and cheer. Hell, they even buy the record. I will say this: screw neutrality; I fucking love American Sharks.
Seeing them live for the first time was definitely an experience. They opened for The Sword at Red 7 in July and played the hardest rock I’ve heard in a long, long time. Their energy was, above all things, contagious. “I remember that night,” says Hardin. “We’re at Red 7 and it starts raining, and nobody gives a fuck. It’s that kind of energy that can’t compare to anything.” Add to that The Sword’s always anticipated set and you’ve got a powerful combination.
The two bands came together when Nick gave the Sharks’ 7” to Sword guitarist Kyle Shutt. He thought they were good, asked them to open for The Sword one night, and their relationship has kept growing ever since.
Now American Sharks has released its self-titled debut album on The End Records, a nine-song collection that screams of Satan and demons, and is a whole lotta fun to listen to. It’s simple, fun music but also therapeutic, the kind you can’t help but thrash around to because your body demands it; American Sharks brings release through its noise. “I’m pretty serious about writing music,” says Hardin. “But all the songs are meant to be fun. I talk about demons and stuff, but I don’t believe that shit. I don’t have a set belief. So I write a lot about demons and Satan because you can let your imagination run wild, and let yourself run wild.”
The band is rapidly building a reputation on great sound and a great show. Will, eyes rolling back into his head, completely absorbed in his guitar; Nick, who drums hard and incredibly clean. And then there’s Hardin, who can quickly be described as a Big Personality. “I like to joke around, we have a lot of stage banter,” he says. “And I lie. I lie. I lie all the time.”
Take a listen to American Sharks’ “Overdrive” below.