The Ballroom Thieves Say Community Is at Their Roots

The Ballroom Thieves
The Ballroom Thieves, with members of the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, in a scene from the video for the song “Bury Me Smiling.” (source: NPR)

The Ballroom Thieves — I have no idea what the name means, but it’s catchy.

This Boston-based band makes Americana-folk music, and they just dropped their second album, “Deadeye” on October 21. 

It started when band members Devin Mauch and Martin Earley started jamming together in college. After a couple years of this, they met cellist Calin Peters at a local open mic. Despite Boston’s size, the music community is tight. 

“The best thing about the Boston music scene as we were starting was just that it’s very supportive and very loyal,” Earley said. “There’s a lot of connections there, so it was easy — at least relatively easy — to get started and to get a little community going of people who are technically in competition with each other, but are doing so in a pretty positive way, where you’re inspiring each other instead of s–tting on each other.”

Mauch agreed, emphasizing the great music community.

“There’s really a sense of community there, especially when we were starting out, that focused on collaboration over competition and working together to grow everyone,” he said. “I think that paired with, there’s a loyalty in Boston — they’re committed to their sports, their music; if you are from there, they’ll love you and support you to the end. I think it had a great impact on us in the early days because, you know, you’re an artist, you’re creating, you’re dealing all these things, and you have such a supportive community around you that it allowed us to have the confidence to keep going.”

It’s that community that gave them the encouragement to get serious about music as a career. After graduation and before Peters joined, Mauch and Earley set out on the road.

“That’s sort of what kicked all of this off,” Mauch said. “I think we found a great amount of inspiration traveling, seeing new places, and doing that through music. It was just like, ‘Wow. This is something we connect with that we’ve never done before. Let’s explore this.’”

Then, after hiring a session musician — cellist Peters — for some of their tracks, they decided to make the cello a permanent part of their music.

“I had been going along in other bands,” Peters said. “Sometimes I would find a project I was passionate about, sometimes I would kind of go in as a ‘fixer,’ and I knew I was temporary: I would come in and offer my knowledge and then play a little and then move on. But this time, I thought that maybe I could do that, and also, they could fix me as well; I needed to come out of my shell a little bit, and they nurtured me out. It felt great immediately, so I jumped in, and they also jumped in, and we all just kind of did it together.”

The Ballroom Thieves (feat. Maine Youth Rock Orchestra) — “Bury Me Smiling”