Dana Skully has fond memories of growing up at the Hoosier Dome.
“I lived at the Hoosier Dome essentially,” Skully says. “I must have been 11 [when it started]. The community that I started out with was very much like, ‘Let’s have community meals. Let’s do all of this awesome shit, but then also run a music venue.’”
Skully now fronts the band Dana Skully and the Tiger Sharks, who just recently released an album in January. Having now played shows all around the Indy area, the band will embark on a week-long tour next month, with a kickoff show at Healer on May 10.
After attending a Girls Rock Indy camp in middle school, Skully formed a punk band called No Direction, which quickly found success after winning a Battle of the Bands competition at Hoosier Dome.
“It was a really great space because there aren’t a lot of local spots where people that are 12 or 13 years old can get their start,” Skully says of the Hoosier Dome.
Skully’s teenage band quickly became regulars at the Hoosier Dome, which naturally led to shows in the house show circuit as well.
“Of course, there were also the kids (myself included) that were very much like, ‘Running a music venue ain’t that hard. Maybe one of these days we’ll start one,’” Skully says. “So it [Hoosier Dome] really got the gears turning for other projects too. Kids got houses when they’d move out of their parents’ houses, and then they’d run house shows.”
Eventually, Skully began making folk-punk music, playing shows as a solo act. Before long, current Tiger Sharks drummer Mike Newman came into the picture.
“Showroom Studios started, and I met Mike through his band Summerbruise,” Skully says. “We started hanging out a lot. One day, he was just like, ‘Hey. Hear me out. What if you want to do full band instead of just solo?’”
In due time, bassist Marina Walker organically got involved with the project too.
“Basically, the same thing happened with Marina,” Skully says. “I was just like, ‘Hey. Do you want to play bass in a band? And she was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’”
All with roots in Indy’s all-ages music community, the trio of bandmates remains passionate about all-ages issues to this day. For Skully, Girls Rock Indy really served as a solid jumping off point.
“For me, it [Girls Rock Indy camp] instilled that DIY mentality in me,” says Skully, who has now volunteered at Girls Rock Indy’s summer camp since 2012. “I just really love the atmosphere of it. It’s a really safe and supportive community made up of a lot of really, really strong individuals.”
Much like the founders of Woo Grl Fest, Skully is passionate about getting more women and queer artists involved with Indy’s music scene.
“It’s not so much that there aren’t women that want to do music,” Skully says. “There’s an overabundance of women that want to learn instruments. It’s more so that women and queer people don’t have the space or the accessibility to just pick up a guitar and go.”
This lack of women in music is ultimately what inspired Skully to give music a go in the first place.
“It’s seen as a boys club, and that’s why I started,” Skully says. “I was just like, ‘I love listening to this music, but Hayley Williams is the only woman that I listen to right now. And I need there to be more of this in the world.’”
“I definitely think that’s changing,” Skully continues. “More and more of the bands we play with are queer and are women, and it’s absolutely fantastic to see all these underrepresented communities express themselves.”
When it comes to all-ages spaces in Indianapolis, Skully thinks improvements can always be made.
“Even if there were ‘enough,’ I still think there could be more,” Skully says. “You’re not only limiting your fan base [as a 21-and-over venue] but you’re stifling creativity because it’s the young people that keep scenes moving.”
This opinion is one that’s shared by every member of Dana Skully and the Tiger Sharks.
“If you have a live space to play in when you’re young and just starting out, you’re gonna learn so much and will have better chance of being a successful performer and musician,” Walker says.
“No one’s first show should have to be at age 18 or 21,” Newman adds.
While age and gender representation are both areas Indy’s music community can surely improve on, Dana Skully and the Tiger Sharks are encouraged overall by the progress they’ve seen in recent years.
“The diversity [on shows we play] has taken such a big spike, and that’s not just people taking interest that didn’t before,” Newman says. “That’s just people finally getting opportunities they weren’t getting before.”