The Washdown hailed from Tampa, Fl, not a town necessarily known for its rock. Members Ryan Hess (guitar), Michael Waksman, (guitar/vocals), Bryan Bates (bass), Heath Dupras (drums) and Phil Salick (guitar) were brought together through friendship and a desire to get their town dancing. And that is exactly what they have done. Says founding member and singer Ryan Hess, "Michael and I had always half joked about trying to start a danceable rock band that sounded like an old Otis Redding tape we heard in a car years ago. The idea was to substitute guitars for the horn parts, and try to create a sort of dissident, brooding intensity. It never really materialized musically, but it was the impetus which got us moving in our current direction."
The Washdown began originally as "Dead America" and caught the attention and devotion of ex-Tampa resident Megan Blackburn, who at that time was booking the legendary Mercury Lounge in New York City. Megan flipped over the Dead America demo and shared it with her friend and NY publicist, Steven Trachtenbroit, who then passed it along to Molly Neuman of Lookout Records. Needless to say, the succession of flipping out and excitement continued on and on. While the A&R types were starting to check the guys out, who by this time had changed their name to the more unique The Washdown, everyone involved agreed the best thing to do would be to get a record out as soon as possible. The demo became the bands self-titled EP and was released on Lookout in the fall of 2002.
The Washdown gave the US underground music scene a needed shot in the arm. They crafted a truly original style of 60's-informed modern punk. The Washdown mixed the youthful intensity of bands like The (International) Noise Conspiracy and At The Drive In with the swagger of The Starlite Desperation, Jon Spencer, The Rapture and Gang of Four. Twangy, distored guitar-driven punk'n'roll that's angular, intelligent and compelling.
The Washdown captured much interest for their intense and entertaining live performance. This band had an edge that put them ahead of the rest of the "Brooklyn band" types that have been popping up since 2003 with the revival of dance punk and angular guitar riff driven music. Touring followed with Bratmobile, The Mooney Suzuki, Sahara Hotnights, The Pattern and Hot Hot Heat among others. The Washdown's twist of dancey rock 'n' roll is stylish without being pretentious. The sound of the street, not flashy, a gem yet to be discovered.
"At some point they added the guitarist Gregg Schmidt and Hess moved to vocals only position. They did a few tours, had ups and downs personally, and raised three beautiful children."
After breaking up in 2005, members continued on to form Zillionaire and New Roman Times.