They’ve got Hammerhead on the upright bass and Wail Shark on the tenor sax. Let me introduce you to Norfolk’s Sharkophagus.
AltDaily: So your bio states these exact words about you guys: “Like jazz, with a little punk, and some hip hop, and like prog rock! Right!? …Sure *cough*, I guess.” I would agree that anyone would be hard pressed at putting y’all into a single genre. But, that’s what y’all are going for… right?
Sharkophagus: Absolutely, eclecticism is something I (Jamie Ingraham here) love and respect. There is so much good music out there coming from all over the world in a million different styles and sounds. Why pigeon hole ourselves into one sound? Plus it maintains interest from an audience perspective and if we’re gonna play a three hour gig, like we are this Saturday at O’Connor’s Brewing Co, we better have more than just one sound at our disposal. But most importantly, it keeps it fun for us.
The last time I went to see you guys play, I mentioned to a group of friends that I was going to see this Out of the Box, Jazzy, Hip Hop, Punk Rock band named Sharkophagus. The response I got was kind of a mix between “Woah, say that name again?” and “WTF, Do I even want to know what that means?” And, that’s not the first time I got a double take after saying your band name. So what is a Sharkophagus, anyway? And, how did it come about as your name?
Haha I’ve (still Jamie) only had one person understand the name immediately. We’re the big fish in the sea so the shark better be wary because we’re hungry.
This is the honest version of the story, the others might chime in with a more elaborate telling but this is how it went. Sam, Austin, Jamie, and I had been jamming and piecing tunes together for a solid 6 to 8 months but never agreed on a name. I wasn’t worried about it because I don’t like naming things in the first place, but after each practice we would shoot the shit outside what used to be Morning Star storage facility and literally just say stupid words at each other. Sometimes someone would say something kind of good but there was always one person who shot it down. Now at the time, Bantustans practiced on the same floor as us, usually around the same time. One day they asked us to play a show with them, so naturally we agreed despite not having a name. Two weeks before the show, no name. A week before the show, still no name. So finally Mike from Bantustans was like, “Hey we need to put these posters up, give us your name.” Luckily, Sam has a bottomless reservoir of shark names and was the one who managed to cobble together those four syllables. So, we’ve been Sharkophagus ever since and so far it’s worked out pretty well.
You guys are well rounded musicians with an obvious background in jazz, given the amount of classic jazz instruments onstage and the ways you guys pass around sweet feels on the keys, trombone, upright bass, drums, and sax. Tell me about your band members.
Well I’m glad we seem well rounded haha. Mudshark and I, Wailshark met at TCC in a philosophy class, then met again after I responded to a Craigslist ad looking for a sax player. He just happened to be in that project. It never went anywhere but we both signed up for the Jazz Improv. class at TCC. We spent the following summer writing songs that we play now like “Bitch Please,” “Ranger-Poacher-Bear,” and a few others. Then, the next semester Austin joined the class and soon the three of us were jamming once or twice a week. Then over the next few months we suckered Sam and Dimi into joining our little group of renegades. There are 5 of us and we are Jamie Senechal on guitar, Austin Tekamp on drums, Sam Haga on bass, Dimitric Casey on trombone, synths, and percussion, and me on tenor saxophone.
I can only speak for myself here (Jamie I.). I just grew up in a musical family. My Dad retired recently from 35 years in Navy music and was the C.O. of the Armed Forces School of Music here on Little Creek Amfib. so being around a lot of high caliber professional musicians has had pretty huge role in my ongoing musical development, but I think I can really thank NPR for a lot of my musical taste. It was on all the time when I was growing up and exposed me to jazz and orchestral music when I was young and it just stuck. Oh, that and The Dr. Demento Show. That show help feed my uhh… eccentricity.
(Jamie S. here.) I grew up in Norfolk with the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Police dominating the radios in my house. With a little bit of jazz and classical mixed in, it was mostly guitar driven music. So it was only a matter of time before I picked one up. It was much later that I learned that jazz melodies were fun to play and the chords were more expressive sounding to where I started blending the two influences together. I felt like Voltron! When I was in my early twenties I was lucky to have worked with the late Matthew Odietus. He was the guitar player in the local punk band The Candy Snatchers, great overall guy, my friend, and boy, was he a walking encyclopedia of rock n roll knowledge. So one night after work, I gave him a lift home and he asked me to come listen to some records and drink a beer. I had no idea what I was walking into. His record collection was well over 2,000 records, but the wide variety of genres he played that evening blew me away. He started with The Velvet Underground into the Animals. Then He played some Screaming Lord Such into Black Randy and The Metrosquad. Then he opened my eyes to Miles Davis’ Live Evil, John Coltrane’s Om, Albert Ayler, Larry Coryell and finished with a record of Irish Bagpipes and Drums. It was an insane evening of getting my brain rearranged as to how the only limits in music are the ones you set for yourself.
As a person who likes to get foot loose and fancy free at shows, your live performance makes me very happy! The first time I saw y’all live I felt as though I had somehow slipped into a bar in the French Quarter, then all of a sudden the guitar gracefully moved into these distorted punk rock progressions a top a some nice heavy symbol crashing. These things make for fun dynamics, which makes an excited atmosphere for the dancer and listener alike. Is that kind of what your going for in a live performance? *Hear mentioned track above*
Hell yeah! What’s the point in going to a standing room only show in a bar if you can’t dance!? We gotta make the booty shake. I get a serious kick out of watching people move to our music and we feed off the energy from the crowd. It only takes one person to really get into it to push us to the next level.
Do you consider your band anti-establishment? Is there a main artistic statement you guys are trying to make in the creation of your music? During your live performance?
(Jamie I.) Is it possible to be anti-anti-establishment? Is that a thing? The only thing I’m against is boring shows. My only agenda is to play well and have fun. I know I’ve been to shows where the band has a cause and I’m just like “shut up and play another song.” At least when they’re singing about their opinions I can just not listen to the lyrics.
(Jamie S.) I consider our band pro establishment to any establishment that will allow us to perform. We get out there and have fun and enjoy it for the moment it is.
You guys have a practice space at The Norfolk Arts District’s very own @AlchemyNFK. How awesome is that! Are you guys hopeful of fun collaborative projects in the future through that space?
We do and it’s wonderful. Charlie and Caryanne have been nothing but great to us and there are a tremendous amount of resources there. Like, we just got posters and stickers made at AlchemyNFK. It would have been a pain to get that happening if we weren’t there. Plus, it’s pretty great supporting the other artists and creative people who are there, so thanks to Justin Stanley and Alchemy for making that a breeze. I’m not sure about any collaborations, we tried out a little thing with Fugative 9 where they rapped over us but it was so on the fly that it wasn’t really together enough to use, but who knows! It’d be sweet to try it again.
A little birdie tells me you have upcoming shows this weekend?
Not just a show but two shows! We’re a busy band! Both are on Saturday. The first is at O’Connor’s Brewing Co. from 4-7 and then that night we shuffle on over to 80/20 Burger Bar to open up for Deathhouse Blues at 9:30. So yeah, there really isn’t a reason not to see us this weekend.
These guys aren’t just the average easy listening jazz band, check out this mellow tune while you read your next altdaily.com article…