Toronto-based rock band The Balconies are proud to hold the rock ’n’ roll torch high. Their sound owes much to the world of classic rock but with modern flourishes that keep the band rooted in the present day.
Comprised of vocalist-guitarist Jacquie Neville, her brother Stephen Neville on bass, and drummer Liam Jaeger, the trio lays down a serious groove, led by Jacquie’s powerful vocals.
The origins of The Balconies date back to the time that the Neville siblings were in high school. Jacquie and Stephen had a band together in their younger days but their musical aspirations were temporarily put on hold when Jacquie enrolled in university.
Ironically, it was while she was on her self-imposed exile from music that she met Liam, and about two years later, they decided to start a band. Of course, it just made sense that when the time came to fill the vacant position of bass player, the call would go out to Stephen.
The trio went on to release their debut EP, Kill Count, in February 2012 and subsequently landed high-profile shows alongside the likes of Big Sugar, Devo, Sloan, the Sam Roberts Band and more.
Their commitment to being on the road and spreading the gospel of The Balconies was so strong that they had a hard time tearing themselves away from touring to record their latest effort Fast Motions, released this past January.
“We played somewhere in the vicinity of 290 shows last year,” Jacquie begins. “It wasn’t an intentional move on our part to stay on the road that long. We were very lucky to have received one amazing opportunity after another. We were focused on strategically spreading word about the band in as many new markets as we could. A lot of bands would love to be on the road as much as we have been. We didn’t want to let any opportunities go to waste.”
The Balconies’ commitment to not letting opportunities pass them by did come with a price, however. After three European tours and countless North American dates, the group had essentially burned out in the time leading up to Christmas last year.
They took some well-deserved time off to shoot some music videos, wait for the release of Fast Motions and rehearse for the inevitable return to the road.
“It was nice to be human for a little while, for a change,” Jacquie laughs. “Ultimately, we came back to the band so much more focused than had we continued the way we were.”
Produced by Arnold Lanni (Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan), Fast Motions represents a definitive step forward for the band. Speaking of the group’s decision to work with Lanni, Jacquie says they could not have found a better producer to help realize Fast Motions. Being able to leverage his extensive experience as a musician and in the studio only helped ensure the record was everything it could be.
“We recorded our single ‘Do It In The Dark’ with Arnold as a means to kind of test the waters between us and get a feel for the dynamics of his production style. He is such a fantastic, charismatic individual that he became a mentor for each of us.
“I had always found that I had a hard time coming out of my shell when it came to being in the studio but it was with Arnold’s help that he taught me so much about animating myself in the studio.
“It’s not always an easy thing to maintain the intensity of the live show when you’re in the recording studio. Arnold made that magic happen though. He really helped my voice come to life.
“I was never one to look forward to being in the recording studio but the experience of recording with Arnold forced me in a new direction and now, I look forward to getting back into the studio again.”
The Balconies show in Moncton on Saturday night is one of 18 dates with British Columbia’s Head of the Herd that will take the band from Halifax to Calgary before the tour wraps up at the end of May. The group will then perform a handful of shows on their own as they work their way back to Ontario at the start of June before taking a brief respite from the road. So, one has to wonder how the three of them living in such close quarters is working for the group.
“When you are on tour, every day can seem as though you are stuck in a time warp as you are doing the same thing day after day: You drive to the next city, you play a show, you hang out then you go to bed and get up the next day and do it all over again.
“We know once another so well at this point, I think it is safe to say that we each know what is going to push the buttons of others,” Jacquie says. “We have found that as long as we keep our minds busy and keep the lines of communication open and transparent, that seems to be the secret to keeping things harmonious among the band.”
What: The Balconies
with Head of the Herd
When: Saturday, May 17, 9 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $15, available online at tideandboar.com or by phone at (506) 857-9118