"It’s our music, and we know what’s best for it.”
Ones To Watch: Goldheart Assembly

Whether they’re being labelled the ‘British Fleet Foxes’, a ‘Simon And Garfunkel covers band’ or more simply just ‘beardy folkies’, Goldheart Assembly have heard it all before.

Yes, they specialise in sun-kissed harmonies, a little like the acclaimed Seattle five-piece, sometimes play acoustic guitars as the ’60s duo did and have facial hair, but to pigeon-hole this six-piece with such lazy, catch-all phrases is to miss the point entirely.

“We were more expecting to get comparisons to The Beatles, Beach Boys and The Everly Brothers than those bands,” begins co-songwriter, singer and bass player James Dale. “We just didn’t expect to be lumped in with Fleet Foxes and the like. We didn’t see it coming.”

Hopefully, as their debut ‘Wolves And Thieves’ makes its way into homes and hearts, their real intentions will become clear.

“It’s fair enough that people put you in a box,” reasons fellow songwriter, vocalist and guitarist John Herbert. “We wrote the songs, so we see the influence from other places. I can hear The Fall just as much as the influence by The Byrds and Moby Grape. We love those bands, but we love a lot of music.”

‘King Of Rome’, for example, the album’s opener and first single proper after last year’s limited ‘So Long, St. Christopher’, owes much to the rhythmic guitar stabs of Television’s ‘Marquee Moon’, while collectively, the record is steeped in the typically British eccentricity that stretches back to The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Traffic and beyond.

‘King Of Rome’, like ‘St. Christopher’, was written after twenty-eight-year-olds James and John had finished university. After their studies, the pair moved to Berkshire where James worked as a fishmonger, while his bandmate trained to be a zoologist at Whipsnade Zoo.

When James set up a club night in London, the pair began sharing the bill and formed the band around that.

“We basically poached the best members of the bands that played,” admits James, adding that the line-up, while once ever-changing, has now been steady since Christmas of 2008.

When it came to recording ‘Wolves And Thieves’, the band, short of money, had to be resourceful and ended up in the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum in Norfolk, curated by dad of drummer Nicky Francis.

With Fierce Panda interested, an EP quickly became a mini-album and finally the twelve-track collection we have now.

“We went into Jools Holland’s studio in Greenwich to finish off some of the songs, as something was lacking from a couple of the takes in the museum,” says John. “We went in with Laurie Latham, who produced albums by Ian Dury, Squeeze and Echo And The Bunnymen and redid three of the tracks.”

Having been heavily involved in the recording and mixing process, the band are now rightfully proud of their creation, and, despite the advice of friends, parents and elders to the contrary, are especially pleased with their decision to stick to their guns and do much of it themselves.

“If you’re seventeen or eighteen everyone wants to tell you what you should do,” says James. “Fortunately we’re that bit more experienced and say what we want. You always assume there are people who know better than you, but then you realise there aren’t. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but it’s our music, and we know what’s best for it.”

Words by Andy Welch

Where: London-based.
What: Folk pop
Unique Fact: Their name was inspired by the Guided By Voices song ‘Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory’, John’s favourite.
Get 3 songs: ‘King Of Rome’, ‘Last Decade’, ‘Under The Waterway’


Read ClashMusic's review of Goldheart Assembly's debut album, 'Thieves & Wolves', HERE.

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