By John Hanley
Composed of cellist Raudol Palacios, guitarist Michael Blount, vocalist Ashley Monaghan, and percussionist Eric Brown, Ship of Fools is the folk-heavy rhythmic indie pop you’ve been looking for. Energetic and full of of high-tempo acoustic work, their unique sound is lively and fresh. Coming up on June 27, their talented blend of rhythm and melody will grace the stage at Chelsea’s Café for another show. DIG sat down with Palacios and Blount recently to discuss the band’s history and their hopes for the future and this upcoming show.
DIG: How did you come up with the name?
Raudol Palacios: That was tough homework that we had. We wanted something that could relate to not just music or our names or something. Ship of Fools is a Plato allegory; it’s also a painting. It’s a pretty painting, and it rolls [off] the tongue. It seems appropriate to us—we’re foolish, we’re just fooling around.
DIG: What would you say is your style or genre? What are your influences?
RP: We have way too many influences, I guess, and that makes a weird mix. It’s just something different—we have influences from jazz, from rock, from pop music, from folk music, and it just comes together with instruments that are not normally used in any of these genres, such as the cello mainly, and guitar doing some rock riffs while being an acoustic guitar instead of an electric guitar.
Michael Blount: That’s what makes our sound interesting…the cello takes the lead guitar role of the band, essentially. And we really have to take into account that we don’t have a bass player, so there’s a void that’s missing that we think about. [Our music has] pop structure, for sure. The structure of some of our songs isn’t really that abstract, but we try to do it in an interesting way. We’re not trying to do the core four-chord progression for the entire song; we try to make it more interesting than that, and do things that are unique. It’s hard to give [our sound] a name. It’s like classically folk influence with pop structure and R’n’B vocals—it’s weird. I don’t know the correct genre to put that under.
DIG: How did you guys come together to form the band?
RP: About a year ago, I met Ashley. She went to the School of Music, one of the jazz classes. I saw her here, and I started talking to her, and she was like, “Hey, we should jam.” I knew Mike [Blount] from before—I was already jamming with Mike here and there—and the next time Mike called me up, I was like, “Hey, can I invite this girl?” We started putting some things together and it came out really easy. It was really easy to play with them. I would tell [Blount] to play this chord, and she would sing it, and it was happening.
MB: That’s what was great about Ashley is she’s not nervous by any means. Day one of meeting you, she’s belting notes, so you can take home a song by the end of the day.
RP: Eric [Brown] came in later. We started as a trio, but eventually we were like, “Hey, we need drums because we’re just kind of a coffee shop band.”
MB: [Ashley] saw [Eric] at Highland Coffee and was like “Hey, do you want to come try out for our band,” and we played with him, and Eric fit in perfectly off the bat.
RP: He’s a very efficient player. He’s a very smart guy, and he really knows his structures, and he really adapts to the beat changes and the time signatures and everything that we throw at him.
DIG: Do you guys have a message or a goal or anything you’re trying to bring to music?
MB: I’ve tried to have bands forever, and they just never panned out or never worked, and now with this one, I can do things that I could never do before, technically or melodically. So, that’s kind of the goal is just to see what we can do with the next new song—
RP: [And] just break barriers. It’s very fun to us because you can do whatever you want. We don’t have a genre we have to follow; we don’t have barriers. It’s a burst of creativity, and it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.