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City of Ships

Bringing the Independent Spirit to Town for an Independence Day Show

By Ben Larson

Fort Wayne Reader


On July 4th, City of Ships will be making a tour stop in Fort Wayne to play an all-ages show at 1624 N. Harrison St. The band formed in Florida’s Gulf Coast area in 2005, but now its members are spread throughout the country. Drummer Eric Soelzer lives in Austin, TX, guitarist and lead vocalist Eric Jernigan lives in New York City, and Bassist Andrew Jernigan is in Florida. “It’s pretty much a logistical nightmare,” Soelzer told me when I spoke with him, and confessed that setting up a tour is easier than arranging band practice.

The reason I want to point out the members’ geographical diversity first is because it’s also a pretty good metaphor for the music that City of Ships makes. While they definitely have a heavy sound, Soelzer said “I wouldn’t say we have any specific influences. We all listen to a wide array of music,” and that eclecticism finds its way into the bands sound. “Any influences are just a search for self-expression, and whatever we can grab on to. And we didn’t really want to play one kind of music. We kinda wanted to drift in and out of all sorts of stuff and just go wherever we wanted to, and that’s been an underlying basis of this band. You know, we don’t really hold back on anything in terms of any kind of structure or sound, really. It’s just what comes up at the moment.”

At times slow and melodic, and other times loud and aggressive, City of Ships is a band of musicians just trying to make music that they like and think is good. “That’s the thing I really like about our band. It’s just no-holds-barred as far as direction; its whatever we want to make it. That’s the fun part about it. There’s never any sort of idea when we start out . . . it’s very organic.” This aspect of City of Ships is also what sets them apart from other bands that have come out of the same region (Baroness, Kylesa, Torche). While those bands primarily stick to a consistently heavy brand of doom/stoner metal, City of Ships wants to set themselves apart from that scene. “We’re trying to find out who we are as a band, but we don’t even really know,” Soelzer said. In regards to any direct comparisons with the aforementioned bands, he said “while we definitely like those bands, I would say there’s definitely a separation there because we not really ‘metal dudes.’ I would say that we’re fans of that progressive heavy element of taking rock in new directions, but our music doesn’t come from any kind of scene or anything. We don’t associate with any kind of scene because we’re so spread out that our band has no home base. We aren’t a local band anywhere, and because of that I think it’s thrown the band in a really positive direction; there’s no real scene influence.” In fact, the only thing City of Ships really has in common with their regional peers is that, as Soelzer put it “we’re all out to reinforce the idea that there can be a lot of thought in heavy music, but still be heavy at the same time.”

Since getting together, City of Ships has put out a number of releases. Beginning with the EP Live Free or Don’t in 2007, the band has subsequently released a tour EP and a split LP with Souvenir’s Young America, both in 2008, an LP containing the “Live Free” EP and the tour EP, and then in 2009 they released the full-length Look What God Did to Us on CD and LP through Transition Loss Records and Sound Study Recordings. They also just got done recording a couple new songs to be released on 7” this summer, and also have recorded a cover of an M83 song for digital release later this summer. “We’re really excited about that one,” Soelzer said in regards to the latter, “I think it translated really well.”

City of Ships is getting ready to head out on a tour that will encompass nearly every region of the U.S., and will even be spending a few weeks on tour with Rosetta, who should be familiar to fans of such doom bands as Isis and Neurosis. “They’re some of our favorite people, and one of our favorite bands, so we’re stoked to play with them. Our tour with them is going to be about four weeks, then we’ll continue on past that tour by ourselves for another two weeks after that. We’re starting in Michigan with Rosetta, then heading out towards the Northwest, Seattle/Portland area, then going down the west coast.” After traveling through California, City of Ships will head east and traverse the country.

Whether or not you are a fan of heavy music, I think anyone with a taste for well put together, crafted music would like City of Ships. Check them out at www.cityofships.com, and come celebrate Independence Day with them at the Harrison House.

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.