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Ballroom Thieves set to rock Snowbasin's free Sunday concert series

Saturday , July 28, 2018 - 5:45 AM

The Ballroom Thieves are spending more time at home these days.

A lot more.

The Maine-based neo-folk band, which will headline Sunday’s free Blues, Brews & BBQ concert at Snowbasin Resort, used to be just this side of homeless.

At one point, the trio — Martin Earley on guitar and lead vocals, Devin Mauch on percussion and vocals, and Calin Peters on cello and vocals — basically lived on the road year-round, completely giving up homes of their own.

“We did that for a little over three years,” Earley said Wednesday in a telephone interview from his home in Maine. “Then we almost went crazy, and we had to settle down.”

After three years of nonstop touring, Earley admits that the three musicians reached a breaking point and came close to splitting up. But, he says, instead of being stubborn and continuing to tour, they took a step back, settled into homes and tried to take care of themselves.

“I compare it to going on a big family vacation,” Earley said. “By the time the first week is done, you’re having a good time but you don’t want to be around these people anymore. You just want to go home and have a vacation from your vacation.”

The Ballroom Thieves spend a lot of time in Maine working on new music. Earley said they’re currently “steeped in the writing process,” getting ready to go into the studio in early 2019 to record a new album.

“Our next full-length album will be slightly different from what we’ve typically done in the past,” he said. “It’s our way of evolving naturally. No one would like us to release the same album three or four times.”

Following Sunday’s Utah show, the group will return home to the Northeast and — except for one or two private events — will spend the next month off the road.

“We’re going to tour pretty heavily in the fall, so we want to get creative and do some writing and arranging while we’re off the road,” Earley said.

Band members used to only write music when they were sedentary and not out touring.

“But then, we were traveling so much that we were never sedentary, and we had to learn how to write on the road,” Earley said.

And writing on the road is a tricky process, he said, because the road “can be sterile and not the most inspiring atmosphere.”

The Ballroom Thieves just released an EP, titled “Paper Crown,” that’s currently available for streaming on Spotify. Earley views the new EP as a stepping stone that brings the listener to the new songs they’re working on.

“I like to say that we’re a rock band in a folk suit,” he said. “And recently, with this new EP, we’re even taking the folk suit off a bit and showing you the rock side.”

The Ballroom Thieves used to rely heavily on powerful harmonies and a folksy Americana sound. Now, they’re moving into more of a vintage rock ’n’ roll sound. Either way, Earley said their music is “likely to be unlike anything you’ve heard before.”

Earley said they’re trying to write music that excites them as artists and attracts new listeners — all without alienating their current fan base.

“Some bands have made massive shifts in sound to great results, and others have tried and failed,” he said. “In the end, we’re just going to write the songs we want to write, and we hope people accept them.”

Earley describes a Ballroom Thieves concert as “energetic and inclusive, and we pride ourselves on being kind people.”

And that — being kind to the fans — is what Earley calls that the new rock star thing to do.

“Whereas the [old] rock star thing was throwing TVs out of windows, now it’s being nice to people,” he said. “But then, maybe I’m just willing that into existence.”

Looking to the future, Earley says all three members of The Ballroom Thieves just want to continue to write and play music, but ideally be able to do that while also starting families.

“We’re getting to that age where it’s coming up, and we’re all interested in doing that,” he said. “With us constantly moving around, that was the difficult part, and adding a small child into the mix makes it even more difficult. Our big goal, and I think it’s achievable, is to do well enough we can afford to take time off and have children, start families.”

The Ballroom Thieves have played Utah a handful of times; they even did a photo shoot on Antelope Island once. They’ve also played Snowbasin a time or two in the past.

“We’re really excited to come back to Utah,” Earley said. “It’s always a pleasure, and it’s one of most beautiful states in our country.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.

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