Ballroom Thieves Talk New Album, Dylan, More

The Newport Folk Festival caught up with Martin Early, singer/guitarist of the Ballroom Thieves, on the eve of the festival to talk the latest record, festivals and the Bob Dylan tribute set.

Allston Pudding: You just released A Wolf in the Doorway, your debut album. What’s reception been like?

Martin Early: Reception has been great so far. We toured extensively in support of it, and it was really one of the first tours where we saw a significant bump in show attendances and general excitement all across the country. It’s been really nice to see the hard work we’ve been putting in for the last few years pay off, but mostly we’re just happy that people seem to be enjoying the record.

AP: Boston Calling was a recent hometown show for you — festivals are certainly different beasts from something like Folk The Cold. What do you like and dislike about the festival experience?

ME: There’s a lot to like about playing festivals. We love meeting up with other bands and sharing stories from the road, and we’ve been fortunate enough to play some well organized but laid-back fests lately, so our responsibilities were pretty much limited to playing our songs. We don’t get as much time to sound check as we would at a normal club show, but when you consider that we get to play for bigger audiences, enjoy seeing all kinds of bands we love in one place, eat and drink to our heart’s content, and meet plenty of fellow music lovers, it’s really not too bad of a trade.

AP: Newport is an entirely different festival from others, too — what does it mean to be playing such a festival packed with such legacy?

ME: Playing Newport has been a goal for this band since before we had a band name, so the gravity of it all definitely isn’t escaping us. We’re incredibly honored to be listed among such a star-studded lineup of musicians, and a look back at the history of the festival increases that honor exponentially. We used to joke that Newport is the pinnacle of any musician’s career, so we could all retire once we’ve played it, but now that it’s happening I think we just need to come up with some new goals…

AP: You’re also performing on the day of ’65 Revisited — the Bob Dylan tribute set. What has Bob Dylan meant to you as a band?

ME: I’m a big Dylan fan, and I think any songwriter can find heaps of inspiration in his body of work. What impresses me most about him is how he’s managed to stay at the top of his profession for several decades. He’s continually evolved through the drastic changes and fluctuations the music industry has naturally gone through, and there just aren’t many bands who can stay relevant in the way that he has over such a long time. Absolute badass.

AP: If we’ve seen you at the Sinclair and Great Scott, what can we expect from your set at Newport?

ME: You can expect a few new tunes and maybe a new spin on a few older ones but, more importantly, you can expect us to be as happy as we’ve ever been on a stage. I’m not exactly known for my on-stage smile, but I doubt I’ll be able to contain it come showtime on Sunday. You can also expect us to be roaming the festival grounds in the highest of spirits all weekend. The lineup is killer and we can’t wait to hear so many of the acts that Newport has lined up for us all this year. We’ll see you at the Fort!?

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