Folk band returns to Iowa City


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The connotation of the name Death Ships is much harsher than the band’s folk sound — and the group knows it. On its website, the members warn those expecting long hair and death metal might be in for a surprise when a few guys wearing plaid and toting acoustic guitars walk on stage.

Death Ships will appear with Datagun, Olivia Rose Muzzy, and the Vagabonds at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington, at 9 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $6.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Dan Maloney (who once wrote for The Daily Iowan) launched Death Ships in 2001 as a solo project when he was a student at the UI, and he accumulated a cast of band members throughout years of playing.

In 2008, after finishing school, he took the group to Chicago, where a new lineup of members was added.

“It feels great, obviously, to come back to a town I spent six years living and going to school in,” Maloney said.

Seeds of Devastation, Death Ships’ début album, was released in 2006 to critical acclaim, and the Alternate Press named the group the “best unsigned band.”

Since the album’s release, Death Ships has worked on other projects, including the Maybe Arkansas EP, which will be released on iTunes soon.

KRUI music director Drew Ingersoll said he thinks the new EP will be “one of its best releases.”

Ingersoll, who saw Death Ships two years ago, said he noticed a definite growth in the band’s sound.

“You can definitely tell all the experiences that Iowa City brings — you can see it in their music,” he said. “Since [the guys] moved to Chicago, they keep getting better and better.”

Maloney agrees that the move has helped the band connect more to the music world and said the transition is “a nice challenge, and we are starting to make a little niche in the scene there.”

The Death Ships member said the band members are excited about returning to Iowa City as a headliner at one of the bars where they often opened for others.

“I still have a lot of friends still in town, and I hope to come back and reach new ears that haven’t heard us or seen us before,” Maloney said.

Those who attend the show can expect a variety of music. Death Ships will play some of the most familiar tracks from Seeds of Devastation.

New, unreleased songs the band is recording for its next full-length album will also be featured, along with some covers it has recently added.

“[The show] will hopefully amp us up to be on top of our game and try not to get upstaged,” Maloney said.

He believes that headlining at the Mill proves the group’s growth.

“Iowa City is lucky to have music people in this town … who continue to give local bands breaks opening for regional and national acts coming through as well help put Iowa City on the map,” he said.

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