The Ballroom Thieves are back with their sophomore album, Deadeye, a collection of songs about the past few years of life on the road – “the wonder of new places” mixed with the “unspoken tension”. We’re offering ticket giveaways for their upcoming December dates and caught up with cellist Calin Peters to talk about the new record.
Thrillcall: You’ve just released the excellent Deadeye after a tumultuous year or two on the road. How does it feel to finally release these songs, and perhaps put some of that behind you?
Calin Peters (The Ballroom Thieves): It was our hope that releasing this collection of songs in the same time we created them would bring us some peace, and perhaps light a much needed spark to our road life. Releasing this album, especially without the help of a label, was an enormous amount of work, but even among the sky high to do lists we are able to feel a change in the wind. The response to the album has been truly warm and positive, and even at my most cynical, I have been able to feel that we are moving forward.
You talk about consciously moving away from the standard label release process and putting the record out yourselves. What prompted that decision and how do you feel like that freed you up artistically?
So far, we write and record our albums on our own, hidden safety away from the eyes of the industry until the album is complete, the songs are chosen, ordered, and named, and the album art is finished. We feel this process should be under the discretion of the creator, and not the industry, so we find freedom in limiting our label experience album to album, instead of aligning our band to a single label.
We decided to speed up our release late this summer after a crucial month off the road was coming to a close. We had driven ourselves mad after two non stop years on the road, and buried inside that, three full and productive weeks in the studio recording Deadeye. Turning back to the road, we felt we needed to give these songs the life they deserved immediately so we could revel in the anticipation a year of possibilities a fresh album cycle can bring to an artist, and so our listeners could have a tangible idea of how we were holding up. Our attempt at transparency has engulfed our band in a world of support, and we’re loving the connection.
It sounds like these songs came from the inevitable struggle that touring brings to a young band. How does it feel to be back out on the road? Is there a catharsis to playing songs about the road live?
Except for a month off the road at the end of the summer, and the excitement of a new album now out in the wild, not much has changed, and we continue to hack through long drives and heavy show weeks. We’re currently on the back end of an almost 4 month tour, so we’re as exhausted as ever, but anytime we’re able to add another Deadeye song to our setlist it’s a glorious moment. For us, new material is the highlight of our set, especially if the audience enjoys it as well.
How has the band grown musically from the debut record to this one and where do you see your sound developing over time?
Without much discussion, the three of us unanimously agreed that this album should be a sibling to A Wolf in the Doorway in genre, but with a deeper, richer, stronger sound. While touring takes its toll, the rehearsal qualities of performing and singing together each night is second to none. Since our first album, we are individually better musicians, and collectively a tighter and more critical group than before. According to our social media images, we also seem to have each aged 30 years since the fresh faced days of our first record. Join a band they said, it’ll keep you young they said….
I think our sound will continue to meander down the rock folk road, always without boundaries and endless room for further learning and expanding. We hold fast to our “no rules” mantra, and we have no plans of adding any more band members, but perhaps we’ll continue to make use of free limbs to see just how loud and rambunctious three people can get.
What does 2017 hold for The Ballroom Thieves?
We plan on smartening up in our road life. We can’t quite keep the current haul going this strong, so we’ll apply a quality over quantity approach to 2017. I’m looking forward to a cozy New England winter of whiskey soaked songwriting, a lot of giving back to the family and friends that support us from home. In the early spring we’ll hit the road with vigor, ignited by new music, and the promise of more compact tours. Who knows, we might even end up living out of homes instead of suitcases for some of it.
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