Washington Social Club represents the District

Washington, D.C., is one of those lucky cities blessed with a thriving and ever-expanding local music scene. Venues like the Black Cat and the Velvet Lounge offer spaces where local bands can play and develop followings that will hopefully lead them to fame and fortune. Washington Social Club, who played the Black Cat on Friday night with Philadelphia-based band Cordalene and fellow local rockers Army of Me, is such a band.

WSC originated as a trio back in 2001 when lead singer Marty Royle and bassist Olivia Mancini, who went to college together, returned to Mancini's hometown of D.C. and started a band. The trio has since become a quartet, consisting of Mancini, Royle, Randy Scope and Evan Featherstone.

"[Olivia] came back to D.C. [after college] and I came with her," Royle said. "We met Randy in summer 2001, and met Evan like 10 months ago. So we were a three piece for a while, we rocked around, played the Velvet [Lounge], that kind of thing."

Although WSC still plays the Velvet Lounge, their career has taken off since their early days. The band signed with Badman Recording Co., an independent record label out of San Francisco, and will be releasing an album called "Catching Looks" May 25.

Despite their growing notoriety and the fact that only Mancini and guitarist Featherstone are actually originally from the area, the members of WSC still consider themselves a D.C. band.

"We do think of ourselves as a D.C. band," Mancini said. "I think we're part of a new movement, sort of a revival."

Mancini also explained that the D.C. scene has impacted her musically.

"[The D.C. music scene] hasn't influenced me tremendously except for the Jonathan Fire Eater movement," Mancini said. "They're from here as well. All these different bands sort of came out of the D.C. sound [around the same time] and they have been very influential."

Staying true to their roots, WSC plays in D.C. once or twice a month, usually at the Black Cat. The band's name is also a result of WSC's D.C. connection.

"I got kicked out the Washington Sports Club for smoking weed so I wanted to form a club where I could smoke freely," Royle explained. "I don't smoke that much anymore because of my voice."

"We're a pot-friendly band," Mancini added.

It seems like delinquency may be one of the band's strong points, a fact that is evident when the band expressed their opinions on file-sharing.

"I've stolen so many things in my life that people can steal our music," said drummer Scope.

"It's more important for our music to be out there," Mancini agreed.

Mancini, a female bassist in what appears to be a male-dominated music industry, is not fazed by being constantly surrounded by men.

"I would say that it's very entertaining," Mancini said. "I don't feel alienated or out of place. I think I get more attention because I'm a girl, because there are so few women out there."

But playing with men actually seems to have more benefits than limitations for Mancini.

"Boys sometimes are better because they have more confidence and that's something that I noticed," Mancini explained. "I hate to say it but it's true. If a girl's not playing very well it's probably because she feels like she can't play very well. So, when you play with boys ... you gotta do it. You play as well as they do, you act like they do"

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