Baton Rouge, June 15, 2015 – Ship of Fools has captured their first studio recording after months of honing and perfecting their constantly-evolving live show and have just released their first single, “Handle Myself,” produced by Matthew Schwartz (Pacifico) at Cedar Park Recording in Baton Rouge. “Handle Myself” is one of the band’s earliest compositions, a representative taste of their compelling style which draws from the quartet’s varied backgrounds – from LSU, Baton Rouge and New Orleans to Cuba, Venezuela and Switzerland – combining folk and classical touchstones, soulful r&b-infused vocals, rock drums, pop song structures, fingerpicking guitar and shredding cello, all beautifully and tastefully presented.
Song: Ship of Fools – “Handle Myself”
Ship of Fools says of the song:
“Handle Myself” illustrates the roguish yet entrancing beauty of uncertainty, indecision, and manipulation. It is about finding yourself, or self-realization rather, through relationships that you cannot control; being drawn to the imperfect. “Handle Myself” was one of the first songs we wrote, and it is the first song where we truly found our signature style and began to get in the groove of songwriting with a collective effort. Our inspiration ultimately came from the invigorating feeling of having this new musical venture that we all knew deep down could yield something great.
Ship of Fools is Baton Rouge native Michael Blount, 23, on guitar and LSU students Raudol Palacios, 21, on cello, Ashley Monaghan, 19, on vocals and Eric Brown, 21, on percussion. Blount cut his teeth on Bob Dylan, Doc Watson and Chet Atkins, developing his skills on acoustic guitar by implementing a fingerpicking technique revolving around alternating bass notes played simultaneously on top of a melody line. Cuban-born Palacios grew up in Venezuela where he started playing the cello at age 8, eventually becoming part of El Sistema in addition to studying at the Mozarteum School of Music where he trained under cellist German Marcano. At age seventeen, he traveled to Switzerland, where he continued his study of classical music at the Conservatoire Cantonal de Sion and Haute Ecole du Musique de Laussane, and developed both his technique on cello and his knowledge of jazz. In the spring of 2013, he moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he began his studies under cellist Dennis Parker at the LSU school of music. Drummer Eric Brown studied under New Orleans icon Johnny Vidacovich, and vocalist Ashley Monaghan is praised by 225 Baton Rouge for her “poised, pucker-lipped voice, at times a vulnerable flutter or a boom, [which] contributes to that unique sound—a blend of brooding, film noir romantic pop.”
The band took shape around a few serendipitous exchanges at Highland Coffee. Before long, their layered and celebratory baroque pop sound began taking shape, eventually creating what LSU Reveille describes as an “ongoing conversation between the musicians: as the cello pleads, the guitar responds. Monaghan’s vocals provide a soaring English translation of the unfurling musical saga, and Brown’s percussion compels you to pay damn attention.”
Ship of Fools’ unique style is built on interesting arrangements and unconventional uses of their instruments, with Palacios’ cello taking a central role, ripping through leads and engaging in skillful interplay with Blount’s fingerpicked guitar and Monaghan’s controlled vocal stylings. The band first focused on creating a stellar live experience, making every performance a treat, whether playing at Waka Winter Classic, the TEDxLSU after party or at the runway for Southern Design Week: Autumn 2015 (Monaghan is immersed in design and fashion too, with KLSUs’ DJ Strangelove referring to her as “best dressed on campus” during their 2015 interview).