Assembly Lane are four young Newcastle-based musicians from both sides of the Atlantic, playing music that draws its influences from both North America and the British Isles. quartet fuse folk from the British Isles and America.
Their debut album ‘Northbound’, recorded by Josh Clark at Get Real Audio, [Kate Rusby, Flook], was released to universally positive reviews in November 2017.
They are: fiddle player and vocalist Niles Krieger, guitarist Matthew Ord, Tom Kimber, on mandolin and banjo, and bassist Bevan Morris.
Ahead of the band’s first ever appearance at Priddy, we talked to Tom about the band, how they manage to integrate folk and bluegrass, and what they are expecting at Priddy this year.
Q. The band is based in Newcastle but you all seem to be from all over. How did you meet and what brought you to Newcastle?
Tom: We met through Newcastle University and have all moved around a bit to get there in the first place. Myself, Bev and Niles were studying on the Folk and Traditional music degree there, whilst Matt was working on his PHD.
Q. You seem to gel very well. Was that something you experienced from the beginning?
Tom: Surprisingly, it was! It’s still as a result of playing together for a few years but I never remember a time when we didn’t seem to be on the same page musically. We never intended to start a band, which is a good sign, I think. At first we used to just get together to play the music that we mutually enjoyed and then took it from there, so the whole thing happened very organically.
Q. You come from, and draw on styles from, both sides of the Atlantic – how does that work?
Tom: Niles is originally from Connecticut, US, while the rest of us are from various parts of the UK, but we all listen to and play a large range of music from these places, including the shared repertoire between them.
When we’re writing and arranging material, we generally treat a song or tune in a way that we think serves it best, but also works well with the combination of instruments that we play. Considering the diversity of the sources that we take our music from, it’s actually been surprisingly stress-free to make it all work as a cohesive set and we try not to get too bogged down with letting the geographical origin of a song dictate how it ends up sounding.
It’s always been our aim to focus on the similarities of the musical styles that we play, rather than the differences.
Q. Does playing to both folk and bluegrass audiences present any problems or are music-lovers essentially all the same?
Tom: In our early days as a band, we worried that it would. However, from experience we’ve found that both audiences seem very open and receptive to what we do and it seems that the ancient Scottish ballad ‘Sir Patrick Spens’ goes down as well at a bluegrass festival as the bluegrass tune ‘Road to Columbus’ does at a folk festival.
Q. And how has it been touring? Are you building up a following now?
Tom: We’ve been lucky enough to play some really great gigs over the last few years and feel like we have a small following now. Some of the best feedback we get is about our debut album ‘Northbound’ which was expertly recorded by Josh Clark in Bath. Fans of that album seem to really love it, so that’s always fantastic and humbling to hear.
Q. Tom, you are from Bath, not too far from Priddy. Are you looking forward to coming ‘home’?
Tom: I can’t wait! Priddy has been a favourite of mine and my family for some years now so I’m very excited to come back and play. It definitely feels like a home gig for me, being so close to Bath, and it’s a huge bonus that it’s such an amazing festival too. It’ll be great to see all the other bands too and it’s set to be an excellent weekend of music as always!
Q. And finally what treats would you like to see in the green room at Priddy?
Tom: Bourbon biscuits never go amiss after a day of driving. I’d also be happy to see a couple of bottles of local cider, considering that it doesn’t get any better than in Somerset!
To get a taste of just how good Assembly Lane are, click here