Weird Voodoo Tales: Fatter Than Albert, The Local Skank and Ska New Orleans-Style

Fatter Than Albert and the Local Skank are ska and they’re not. “We definitely don’t stay within the ska scene,” says Local Skank member Melissa Crory. “We want to get our sound out there and see how other people interpret it.”

“Gypsy, reggae and punk meld together to make our sound,” says D-Ray of Fatter Than Albert. “Hunter (Miller, FTA’s guitarist) holds down the jazz influence, playing a lot of seventh chords to give it a sound atypical of the more poppy ska from the ’90s.”

“I also grew up watching a lot of horror movies,” says Miller. “The dissonance found on the soundtracks always appealed to me. We’re technically a ska band, but we do what we want.”

Similarly, The Local Skank pulls together many different genres outside of ska, as the new album, Collect All 5!, demonstrates. “We’re a solid ska band, but we have a lot of bizarre influences,” says Crory. “Some of us are into indie rock. I’m big on metal and goth. No matter what we bring to the table, it gets filtered through the ska format.”

Both bands retain one important element typical of modern ska artists: energetic live performances. “After playing so many years, we have to keep it interesting,” says Miller. “We tend to play things faster and challenge ourselves.” On the other hand, the Local Skank’s live shows have a loose, theatrical element, utilizing costumes, themes, and props. “We think that it doesn’t hurt to try anything once,” says trombonist and vocalist Ashley Shabankareh. “That’s why our shows are so zany and fun and always have surprises.”

Fatter Than Albert and the Local Skank embrace—and have been embraced by—the local ska scene, but both bands feel their arms are wide enough to also hold anyone who wishes to join their party. “The thing about New Orleans is that there are so many genres of music, sometimes people get bound down to what they do,” says Shabankareh. “We’re trying to break down those walls and be a little part of everything.”

Fatter Than Albert play Saturday, October 30 at 11:15 a.m. in the Preservation Hall Tent. The Local Skank play Sunday, October 31 at noon in the Bingo! Parlour.