I think a lot more people need to hear about these guys, their very, very talented, a great live band and have released an amazing debut album ‘Wolves And Thieves’ and collection of B-sides. I can't express how lovely they all are as well, they are just 5 of the nice guys you'll ever meet and they really do deserve all the success they get.
Goldheart Assembly are: James Dale (lead vocals, bass), John Herbert (lead vocals, guitar), Jake Bowser (keyboards, vocals), Nicky Francis (drums, vocals), Kyle Hall (guitar).
The band have spent the year criss-crossing Europe on tour, gradually playing to bigger and more appreciative crowds everywhere from the biggest festivals to the most obscure dive bars. As well as support tours with Black Mountain and We Are Scientists, Goldheart Assembly were handpicked as tour support by Band Of Horses on their most recent UK dates after the Seattle band heard them play at the Reading festival and fell in love with Goldheart’s harmonies and ramshackle choruses.
In March Goldheart Assembly completed their first US tour, including appearances at the South by Southwest festival and a live slot on Last Call with Carson Daly. In April they played a UK live date at London’s 1,000 capacity Scala theatre and have continued playing at various festivals.
A bizarre internet rumour has it that Goldheart Assembly met while working as zookeepers mucking out the elephants at a British zoo. The truth is slightly more glamorous: the band actually formed in West London at the tail-end of 2008 where they met as part of a scene of mutually supporting groups playing and putting on nights at the Troubadour club on Brompton Road in Earl’s Court. The legendary coffeehouse where Bob Dylan and Paul Simon played early gigs in the ‘60s had a lax attitude to licensing laws but a supportive one for new talent: after the Troubadour’s doors closed and the paying patrons were kicked out, the bar would carry on serving drink to the musicians until early in the morning, encouraging impromptu jam sessions and the swapping of instruments, ideas and band-members. Often the staff would just go home and leave the bands the keys to lock up, trusting them to leave money for booze consumed on the shelf behind the bar. It was at the very end of one of these long, magical nights that Goldheart Assembly formed, inspired by both The Band’s classic Last Waltz live documentary and the Troubadour’s very cheapest red wine. James Dale and John Herbert were old college friends, but they recruited drummer Nicky Francis from another group. Keyboardist Jake Bowser was persuaded to abandon his lucrative but unfulfilling job playing in a Motown covers band and Goldheart Assembly played their first show together in October 2008 after choosing a name inspired by a song by their musical heroes Guided By Voices.
Immediately they found that the effortless blend of perfect six-part harmonies and timeless songwriting, played by a group who actually look like they have fun onstage, started to prick people’s ears: their debut release, a limited-edition seven inch single on London indie label Heron Recordings sold out its 500-copy pressing in a day and now commands respectable sums on eBay. The record was followed by a UK tour and a string of summer festival appearances at Glastonbury, V, the Isle Of Wight, Secret Garden Party and Hard Rock Calling (in support of their hero Neil Young) which saw the band build up a word-of-mouth reputation which extended far beyond their low key timeslots - so that by the time they reached the Latitude festival the BBC
Introducing Stage was rammed with fans.
After their festival triumphs Goldheart Assembly set to recording their debut album. ‘Wolves And Thieves’ was recorded over two weeks one summer by the band in a studio space that they set up in among the old engines at drummer Nicky Francis’ dad’s steam train museum in Norfolk. Assembling their collection of vintage mics and old guitars in a makeshift studio at the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum they set about combining their harmonies and breezy West Coast guitar melodies with the atmospherics of the museum, even incorporating the sound of a 150 horsepower Vickers Armstrong pumping engine that was originally used to open Tower Bridge as a rhythm track on one song, ‘The Jesus Wheel’. Drawing on their collection of battered old vinyl records including ‘On The Beach’, early Beatles, ‘80s American lo-fi and indie, West Coast rock and blues, the band explored their surroundings:
as well as the steam engine they recorded doors slamming and other cacophonous found sounds in a way reminiscent of the more experimental tendencies of more recent Tom Waits (whose song ‘Clap Hands’ the band occasionally cover live) records, finding that this crash and clatter served to put the sweetness of the hooks and harmonies into greater perspective. After a support tour with The Low Anthem the band returned to London to finish recording and mixing with legendary producer Laurie Latham (Echo And The Bunnymen, Squeeze, Ian Dury And The Blockheads) at Helicon Mountain studios in Greenwich. The steam train theme was continued at Helicon: owned by Jools Holland, its design is modelled on that of Portmerion, the small Welsh village featured in cult ‘60s TV show The Prisoner and whose entrepoint is an old railway station. The result was a beguilingly classic-sounding record that never falls into the easy trap of being too retro: indeed songs like ’Anvil’ and ‘Under The Waterway’ were full of enough hooks and charm to take the band far beyond their ramshackle and wine-sodden beginnings into the hearts of music fans everywhere. Following that, they will put the finishing touches to their second album, due at the end of 2011.
Oh Really live at Glastonbury
They are a wall of arms around me
It is they who are my army