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Show preview: Austin’s American Sharks at Emo’s

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Chad Swiatecki

Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 5, 2013

The easiest way to throw a fake party that looks real? Beer, and lots of it.

When the American Sharks set about filming the video for “Overdrive” the Austin band had reservations about how to pull off the riotous and kinda destructive house party footage that makes up the bulk of the clip.

Do it wrong and the camera gets lots of people shuffling around instead of slamming into each other, so the punk-metal trio opted to turn the shoot into a complete drunken free-for-all.

“We floated three kegs and had to go get a fourth one, so when we told everyone it was time to rage they had no problem,” drummer Nick Cornetti said of the shoot that took place this summer at the Austin home of the members of metal band Ditch Witch. “They were ready to go as soon as the music started and the tracks were playing as loud as we could get them, and I was playing drums live, so other than the guitar and bass and vocals it was like a real show.”

Released late this summer, the “Repo Man”-homage clip has helped the band promote its self-titled debut album on the End Records and build on the momentum that has come from having Kyle Shutt – guitarist for Austin metal stars The Sword – sign on as their manager.

Shutt helped set up the American Sharks’ recent run of shows during the CMJ Music Marathon last month in New York City, and got them a run of opening slots on the Sword’s current tour with headliners Clutch, which comes to Emo’s on Tuesday.

Cornetti said the band’s time in NYC was something of a pressure cooker since CMJ events are designed for music industry professionals, and the band’s largest show with English metal band Godflesh was canceled because of visa problems caused by the federal government shutdown.

“That was the big one at Irving Plaza and it didn’t happen, but we played five shows in a few days, went to an Agency Group party, met with lots of publishers and met a producer with Anthony Bourdain who’s going to do our next video,” Cornetti said.

“And then right after we get through playing these tiny clubs for like 100 people we meet up with Clutch to play 1,500 and 2,000-people rooms. It was overwhelming and there was definitely some anxiety, but the crowds have been extremely receptive and they seem to love it even though we’re a little bit different from the Sword and Clutch.”

Shutt, who discovered the band through an early video for a single it had released, said he was moved to help the American Sharks after being impressed by their short-but-powerful songs that are “exactly the kind of music I’d want to be making if there was no American Sharks.”

“The Sword has been so fortunate to get support from bigger bands like Metallica as we’ve gone on, and I feel like I owe a debt to the universe for all the help we’ve gotten and helping out a great band like is how I do it,” he said. “Basically I’m making sure they’re playing the hugest shows possible, keeping them on the road and doing whatever we can to keep their name out there.”

The Sharks seems to have already taken Shutt’s guidance to heart, swearing off drinking after their days and nights in New York got a little too hazy and painful for them to be in top form all the time. The results of that clean living have been far tighter shows and better decision making as the band encounters more opportunities.

“Even before New York and CMJ we’d always partied pretty hard but things started getting too rough all the time and now we’re staying a lot more focused all the time,” said guitarist Will Ellis, who said the band has half of its next album written and will play one of the songs live for the first time in Austin.

“We could get away with being sloppy before when we were just playing in tiny places, but now we have so much more energy and we’re so much tighter because we’re hearing everything that’s going on. The muscle memory to play these songs is working better than it ever has before.”