The Ballroom Thieves is Calin Peters and Martin Earley. For the last decade the band has focused on an energetic and dynamic live show that features a powerful quartet of searing vocals, drums, bass, electric guitars, and more recently synths. But this winter they’re scaling things back to expose the bones of some of their most well-loved songs on an intimate duo tour.
“This run of more personal shows is built around the conversational nature of songwriting as a way of telling a story,” says Earley. “The colder, cozier months seemed like a perfect setting for us to perform our songs in the way they were written, just the two of us,” adds Peters.
The band’s July ’22 release, Clouds, is a song cycle born of mixed experiences and fueled by the power of imagination. The album is a lush meditation on longing to return to touring – to see different sunsets and cities. But, it’s also a reflection of its difficulties, such as insomnia brought on by staying in different hotel rooms every night.
“We miss exploring the country,” says Peters. “The road offers us structure and it gives us something to write about. During the pandemic we learned just how much we love and need it.”
As they leaned into their wanderlust, themes became apparent – the idea of a life spent in motion (“Shine”), the power of the storm representing a relationship transformed into heartbreak (“The Lightning”), Man’s ceaseless degradation of resources and Nature’s inevitable fury (“Worldender”), and Harry Styles (“Harry Styles”), who should be considered a force of Nature as far as Peters and Earley are concerned.
“We were sitting around our woodstove, and Callie looked over at me and said, ‘I think I’m in love with Harry Styles,'” Earley recalls. “And my first thought was, ‘wait a minute, I love Harry Styles! You can’t have him!’”
Clouds became an opportunity for the band to mine the challenges of the past three years for creative inspiration.
“We were able to step away from a lot of the big three-part harmonies and for the first time we recorded most of the album live,” says Earley. “We try to let change inspire us, even when it comes with difficulty.”
It’s an artistic statement that doubles as a life mission. The pair both emphasize that they’ve learned to navigate complicated situations, including their struggles with depression, which often colors their songs. If they can impart anything to listeners, it’s that talking about mental health is not a weakness—and that sharing any of life’s trials can be a source of strength.
Clouds was released on July 15 via Nettwerk Records.