by chuck bell

There are some music scenes that are so tightly knit and incestuous, that it is difficult to tell where one band starts and another begins. For example, in the early 80s, D.C.’s hardcore scene was based around Ian Mackaye and various Dischord affiliates, from Minor Threat all the way to Fugazi. In the early 90s, nearly every Chicago indie band was somehow involved with Cap’n Jazz and the Kinsella brothers. Today, it is difficult to find a Canadian band that is not associated with Broken Social Scene. Such collectives give birth to groups with varying levels of success and longevity, but are also inevitably responsible for a staggering number of casualties.

Artist: Sharks Keep Moving
Song: Tied To The Tracks

One of the most underrated indie scenes of the last decade is that of Seattle, Washington. Having kept relatively quiet after the demise of the grunge movement, the city began churning out a network of bands in the late 90s that are surprisingly relevant today. Sharks Keep Moving was one of the seminal bands of this scene. In 1997, after the dissolution of their relatively unknown post-hardcore group, State Route 522, Jake Snider, Nathan Turpen and Jeff DeGolier decided to change their sound a bit. Although always highly technical, they evolved into a more jazz-tinged, melodic indie format. They were joined by drummer Dan Dean in 1998, and released a split 7″ with The Kentucky Pistol – Rocky Votolato’s first band.

Between their built-in fanbase from State Route 522 and the momentum of the split EP, Sharks Keep Moving eventually gained the attention of both Second Nature Records and Status Records. They recorded the Desert Strings & Drifters EP with producer Matt Bayles, and released it on Second Nature. On this record, the band completely expanded their horizons, with odd time signatures and extended instrumental stretches. After the EP’s release, Jeff DeGolier left the band, and was replaced by Morgan Henderson of the Blood Brothers.

Artist: Sharks Keep Moving
Song: Try To Sleep

In 1999, after some brief touring of the west coast, they went back into the studio with Matt Bayles, and recorded a self-titled full length, which they would release on Status. This album found the band nearing the 10-minute mark on several tracks, half of which were instrumental. When Snider did sing, the lyrics were delivered with a laid-back croon, generally dealing with Pacific Northwest pastimes, such as drinking, driving, smoking, and sailing. The band kept relatively quiet during the next year, and Dan Dean eventually left the band. He was soon replaced by J. Clark of Kill Sadie. After months of rumors that they were in the process of recording, the band finally released a 3-song EP titled Pause and Clause. Although this EP developed their sound even further, incorporating more jazz elements into the mix, it was the last collection of songs that they would record.

Sharks Keep Moving did not break up because of lack of exposure, personal differences, or any other of the many reasons that typically lead to a band’s demise. Rather, these musicians were so prolific, that they could not maintain this band among the many others that they were involved in. Snider has found the greatest level of success as the lead singer/guitarist for the math-rock supergroup, Minus the Bear. J. Clark went on to form the female-fronted post hardcore group, Pretty Girls Make Graves, who broke up after 3 albums. He is currently playing in the Matador Records art-punk band, Jaguar Love. Morgan Henderson continued to play with the Blood Brothers until they broke up last year. Status Records announced that they were preparing a Sharks Keep Moving B-sides/remix CD back in 2001, but little has been said on the matter since.

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