“It felt a little like a haunted mansion in here, very ghost shippy,” Dante Ferrando says, flanked by his bandmates at the nightclub’s Red Room bar on a recent Wednesday afternoon. “So for me, having music up on that stage had this keep-the-flame-burning kind of feel.”
For the band itself, that flame burned warmly and easily — in part because “we had the best practice space ever,” says Catherine Ferrando, gesturing toward the club’s main stage, the spot where the Owners wrote all their songs, recorded their demo and live-streamed their first performance at the Black Cat’s 27th anniversary celebration in February. On top of that, the band also volunteered to be lab rats as audio technicians upgraded the club’s sound system during the pandemic closure. Very quickly, the lines between rehearsal, recording session, soundcheck and performance began to evaporate in a prolonged act of rock-and-roll symbiosis: The band took care of the room and the room took care of the band.
And yes, the Owners have deep punk résumés — members have played in Ignition, Ex Hex, the Shirks and more — but does their collective club-work make them better as a band? Running a venue and playing in punk groups both require intense energy, acute muscle memory and a level of teamwork that borders on telepathy, right? “It’s a weird question because we’re also both couples who have been together a long time,” says Budd. “And we’ve all worked together forever, too. So yeah, that’s far out.”
Even further out: Imagining a future in which the outside world is still sheltering in place while the Owners continue making happy noise in their spacious punk rock bomb shelter. “Starting during the pandemic, nobody knew if anyone was ever going to be able to play live again,” says Harris. “So it was like, ‘If worst comes to worst, we’ll just be in here writing songs until the end of time.’ ”
“Actually,” says Budd, either contemplating that alternate reality or the next planetary pandemic, “that sounds better to me.”
Show: Friday at 8 p.m. at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. blackcatdc.com. $15.