Boston, Massachusetts three-piece The Ballroom Thieves are primed to make 2014 a banner year! Still a very young group (they’ve been around for about 3 years,) The Ballroom Thieves have exploded onto the rock/folk scene as a heavyweight contender for the crown. Dropping their first EP, The Devil and The Deep, as recently as January 2012, the group quickly brought the action to the people, gaining excellent traction and attention.
As the trio places a strong focus on their highly captivating live performances, it’s no wonder that they caught the eye of New Frontier Touring to handle their booking duties. If the work they do with The Avett Brothers is any indication, we can expect a whole lot of road-dogging in the near future!
I spoke with Martin, Devin, and Calin on an excruciatingly cold Tuesday afternoon (Polar Vortex, Eastern Standard Time) to get you wonderful readers of Live High Five an introduction to the band before they blow up!
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! How’s everything going?
M- Going well. How are you?
G- FREEZING! How about you?
M- It’s pretty chilly here in Boston, but we’re making due.
G- Very good. Have you guys resorted to any liquid warmth at this point?
M- Oh yeah. Couple cups of tea, our manager made us soup for lunch. We haven’t left the house, so it’s been good.
G- Right on.
Ok, so for some of our readers who may not be familiar, though I gave them your first names, if you could, go ahead and introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
M- Alright. My name is Martin Earley and I play guitar and do lead vocals for the band. I grew up in Switzerland, but my parents now live in Maine. I’ve been living in Boston for about 4-5 years now.
C- I’m Callie (Peters.) I’m the cellist, and I grew up in Franklin, Massachusetts, about an hour away from Boston.
D- And I’m Devin Mauch. I grew up in Red Hook, NY and I play the drums and sing for the band.
G- Right on! Now, you guys are still a very young band, but I’m told this current incarnation is only a few months old. How did everybody come together, and when did you start feeling like the group was clicking really hard?
M- Well, Devin and I have been playing together for a number of years now. We met in college, and Callie recently joined us as our cello player. We were playing with a different cello player before that, but we kinda parted ways, and things went in a different direction. So, we were looking for someone, not to really replace the old cello player, but kinda bring a new look to the band and change up the direction of where we were heading. That’s when we found Callie! We were fortunate enough to find another cello player, so she joined up and, ever since, we’ve been writing new songs and she’s been writing her own parts to the old songs. We’ve been kind of overhauling everything.
G- And you mentioned writing… Are you guys currently in the studio or do you have any plans for a new release in 2014?
M- We do! We’re not in the studio yet… We’re kinda in our writing phase, so the next few months, we’re focused on getting some new tracks down and arranging and composing, so yeah working on new material. But the idea would be to hit the studio early Summer, 2014, and then release something in the Fall.
G- Are you guys aiming for an EP release, or a full-length? How’s the writing been going so far?
M- We’ve released 2 EP’s so far, so this will be a full-length release… That’s the general plan right now. We have a 5-song EP and a 4-song EP right now, so this will be more of a comprehensive project.
G- Cool. Excellent!
And another really cool thing that happened to Ballroom Thieves recently is you’r enow a part of New Frontier’s roster, and that will undoubtedly give you a huge boost in exposure! You be making some serious miles with them… How did the signing come about, and how’d you get hooked up with New Frontier?
D- We had a few agents starting to talk to us over the Summer, and New Frontier was one of those. They started coming up to us in Boston and New York City, and they are great, great, great people. Right from the start, they were very nice to us and we couldn’t have been happier, with that aid, to sign with them. It was a long process… We wanted to make a smart decision and not just jump into something, but so far it’s been a great relationship, and we’re really, really looking forward to this year.
G- Decent! And it looks like you have a few shows coming up in January… Maine, NYC, Elmira, and Portland will be taking you through the end of the month, and since you’ll be heading into the studio in the Summertime, what else do you have planned for the next couple of months? Hopefully some warmer touring climates?
M- That would be amazing! We’d love to say we were doing Hawaii on a month-long tour, but that’s not possible right now.
But yeah January and February, we’re really focusing on writing this record and tuning up some older stuff. In March, we’ll be hitting the road hard again. March to August is pretty tour heavy, and then we head into the Fall and that is starting to look pretty good, too. We’re looking forward to the whole year! It’s going to be hard work, but we’re excited for it!
G- You had a pretty successful trek of college runs last year… Are you going to try to stick with that market, or will you be branching out a little bit?
M- We’re going to combine the college markets with club shows, especially now that New Frontier is helping us out with bookings. We’re getting a lot of shows through them that we wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise, so we’re going to try to combine the college shows with those clubs shows and see where that takes us.
G- Cool! So, I have all 3 of you here, so this could turn out to be a long, arduous process, but I’d like to know… Give us 4 albums every fan of The Ballroom Thieves should have in their collection, or if they have them in their collection already, they should definitely know about The Ballroom Thieves.
D- I would definitely say The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit would be in there.
C- I’m not sure what album, but The Lone Bellow… EVERYTHING!
D- Just The Lone Bellow.
M- (Bob Dylan) Blood On The Tracks. Everyone should own that.
C- And 1 more.
M- The Slim Shady LP by Eminem (laughs.)
G- (laughing) Very good!
Ok, so does everyone have a favorite song you have ever written or one that is most fun to perform as a group, or if you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of The Ballroom Thieves before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
M- I think, for me, we wrote a song called “Coward’s Son” and it’s on our EP. I really love to perform it, and I like everything about it. It’s a son that I wrote for my dad, so there’s a lot of personal… I don’t know. I’m very fond of it for that reason, but I also really enjoy performing it. It’s a song that encapsulates the feeling of the band.
C- I tend to agree of that, from the EP, but currently my favorite song that we play live is called “Bullet.” It’s very new, and it’s one of those songs that I got to write from the stat with the band. I just love playing it.
D- And I have to say mine is also another new song that will definitely make it onto 2014’s record. It’s another kind of violent name, “Archers,” and yeah… it’s a blast to play live, and we always feel a good energy from the crowd with that one, so it’s been fun to see the reaction that some of this new material has.
M- And also, all these songs are available on our Daytrotter which came out today, actually.
M- And there is an Audiotree session that will be coming out soon, and all those songs, as well as a few other ones are on there.
G- Rad! I’ll link the Daytrotter, and hopefully I’ll have the other in my hot little hands to include as well. Perfect!
Ok, I’ve got 3 of you on the line, and The Ballroom Thieves are starting to build very strongly right now, so are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If each of you could give me one band to curate your dream lineup to be a part of, who would you like to tour with?
D- Hmmm It’s not a secret at this point that I am a healthily obsessive fan of Frightened Rabbit. They’re a Scottish folk rock band, and it’s definitely a dream of mine to be on the road with them, or someday have a show with them. That’d be a real special day.
C- I would love to be on the road with Josh Ritter someday. That would be cool to me!
M- I’d really like to share a bill with, or anything with, Gary Clarke Jr. Just going to dinner with him, or maybe meeting his mom or something…
Anything having to do with Gary.
G- That’s awesome!
M- Assuming Gary follows your blog.
G- That would be one of my dream lineups, in the blogosphere world anyway, I s’pose.
Ok, just one quick last question for you. The Ballroom Thieves are on the up and up, and making noise all over the place. For some of the up and comers, what advice can you give some of the younger bands who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician like yourselves?
M- The best advice that I’ve ever received was from a family friend who is one of the more recognizable banjo players in the world. His name is Jens Kruger, and he plays with a Bluegrass band called The Kruger Brothers. His piece of advice always stuck with me, and it’s just whenever somebody asks you to play, you should play. It sounds really simple, but if you get asked to play a lot, you should never turn it down. That always stuck with me.
G- Good piece.
D- I would say just focus on building a family tight team around you. I feel like there are a lot of these dreams from years ago, like you need a record label, you need this, you need that, and that stuff is great and maybe it comes, maybe it doesn’t. But building a team around you, even if it’s just friends starting off, that are willing to work with you and work for you, and just take the experience and the journey on together. It’s really hard to do it alone, and it’s way nicer to have a nice team.
G- Truth. And to finish us up, Callie?
C- I think the best advice would be just to have humility. Be humble. That’s it.
G- Also a good one.
Well that’s all I’ve got for you today and I just want to say again, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five. Wherever you are, stay warm, and travel safe on the upcoming dates! I’m looking forward to one that hits Upstate NY!
M- Sounds good. Thank you so much!
G- You too.