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Indie band Washington Drama Club releases debut EP

Ahmad Tanji and Mary Whitney during the Washington Drama Club's EP launch at Mow's on November 24. Photo by author

MANILA — You might think that rick olivares is this American band out of the Pacific Northwest that records either on Barsuk, Slumberland, Kill Rock Stars, or Sub Pop Records to name a few is now in Manila to perform a show or two.

But no. Washington Drama Club is actually a local indie noise pop band consisting of Mary Whitney (guitars and vocals), Ahmad Tanji (guitars and vocals), Evee Simon (keyboards and vocals), Bijan Gorospe (bass), and John Jason Rodriguez (drums).

The band makes no bones about their American influences. Their extended play cassette album, "Yada Yada Yada," (on Body Clock Records via the amazing United Cassettes Philippines) with the lovely artwork by the talented Felix Taaka channels Death Cab for Cutie’s "We’ve Got the Facts and We’re Voting Yes" and Margot and the Nuclear So So’s "Animal." The “Yada Yada Yada” title (and some of the song inspirations) are right out of "Seinfeld." They like Rocketship, Stars, Broken Social Scene, Sunflower Bean, and similar bands.

Yet everything else is about the band. Boy-girl harmonies. Songs about relationships. “Don’t forget that the cat on the cover is a caricature of our Persian cat, Vishnu,” pointed out Tanji.

Of course. How can we forget the cat?

At Mow’s last Saturday, November 24, for the launch of "Yada Yada Yada," we caught up with Whitney and Tanji not only about Vishnu, but about the EP and where this club is going.

At first, the band’s name was simply Drama Club. However, it begged for an adjective or a qualifier. “Now the street where I used to live in Legazpi City (in Bicol) was named Washington Drive so I presented to the band the name Washington and it clicked.”

Vishnu, on the other hand, is well loved not only by the members of Washington Drama Club, but also by Tanji’s other outfit, We Are Imaginary. “We even have a video from We Are Imaginary that features Vishnu,” bared Tanji. “A cat has a curious way of communicating unlike dogs who are more affectionate. And it worked with the album title.”

Speaking of the album, “We were supposed release the EP online with no intention to sell,” revealed Tanji.

“But,” interjected Whitney who admitted to being stoked to have a physical format for the band’s music, “I wanted to release the music either on compact disc or cassette. It is something I wanted to be a part of our history, to archive what we created.”

“It isn’t a hipster thing,” chimed in Tanji. “I do think that the band’s music is ‘collectible’ in a sense. Someone recommended that we work with United Cassettes Philippines and now, the cassette is here.”

"Yada Yada Yada" features four songs that are both sides of the cassette (“so there is no need to rewind the tape,” said Whitney) – “False Alarm,” their first single and video “Lucid Dreamer,” “Spongeworthy,” and “A Shudder to A Sigh.”

“With Ahmad’s other band (We Are Imaginary), he is a perfectionist,” shared Whitney. “With Washington Drama Club, I want that what we can record or perform in one take, 'yun na. Very raw. If ever, we record a song twice. But that is the exception.”

“We are a band without any real pressure,” added Tanji. “We’ve had these songs sitting on a shelf or a file for some time now. We also have songs in the vault that we hope to release some time in the future.”

Previously, the band performed like once a year. However, this year, they broke the mold with three performances including this cassette launch.

Does that mean that the Washington Drama Club will be more active?

“I think we’re going to have to call a meeting among the members, you know, like a real club,” laughed Whitney.

And rightfully so, because Washington Drama Club is pretty cool band that plays cool music. Even if it’s only once a year.

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