Interview: The Balconies

The Balconies @ The Rivoli, 11-12,10

The Balconies headlined night two of Audio Blood Media’s two-night stand at The Rivoli. I had the opportunity to chat with The Balconies “backstage”, which really means we stood around near the doorway and chatted amongst a bunch of gear. It was pretty cramped and Jacquie jokingly remarked, “It’s a really great spot if you just wanna hang out and relax.” But hey, any possible discomfort was not really noticeable chatting with the delightful folks in The Balconies.

Since the release of their self-titled debut album, The Balconies have been working hard at touring and playing as many shows as possible to get their music out there. Just recently the band competed in Live 88.5’s Big Money Shot (Ottawa) and walked away with $75,000.

Jacquie reflected on the experience. “It was really awesome. It was really exciting. And it really forced us to stay quick on our toes and really fine-tune transitions between songs, so we’re much more aware of that. It’s really great and it really shows you how tricky it is to work in a great set in 20 minutes. That was a great challenge and I think we learned a lot from that.”

The band was first runner-up and, although it wasn’t the grand prize, they still received a good chunk of change. Cheerfully, Jacquie remarked, “And now we have some money to go towards the record and touring for the future, so we’re really, really happy about it.”

The Balconies have been working on new material and have been slowly introducing some new stuff at shows.

Jacquie commented, “We’re always working on material and so far, so good. I feel like things are really coming together. And we’re really, really excited for people to hear it. We’re gonna be showcasing a lot of the new stuff tonight, so we’re really excited.”

Liam’s pleased and says that some of it was “for the first time, too.” Any fans of The Balconies that were present surely noticed the new material, but heads up to those who were not there, you missed out on the debut of some songs!

With new material on the way, jokingly, Stephen says their songwriting process is “chaos.”

Jacquie clarified, “It’s funny because for the first record it was very much so Liam brought his songs to the table, Steve brought his songs to the table, I brought my songs. And it was very clear whose songs were whose and once we got together that kinda created The Balconies’ sound, but now it’s kinda nice because we’re jamming a lot more and we’re trying to collaborate a lot more, so we can have a really unified, clear sound. I mean, I think it was clear before, but I think it’s going to sound a lot…” Liam then finished her thought with “more coherent” and Jacquie continued, “Yeah, a little more coherent and I feel we will be able to reach out to more audiences that way.”

Stephen agrees that they’ve been growing together.

Jacquie pointed out, “We know each other a little better now. Well, not just as people… obviously, because we’re siblings [points to Stephen]… but how we work, how we write together. It’s been quite an adventure.”

Liam chimed in with his thoughts. “I mean, a lot of the songs from the first record were written in some way or another before we even started this band. We started this band to have an outlet for these ideas we had that weren’t be used in other bands we had at the time, so after playing together for 2 and half, 3 years now, there’s a lot more things we’ll just discover from…”

At this point, Liam was interrupted mid-thought by one of the guys that work in the kitchen needing to bring something into another room only accessible through the room we were in.

Liam attempted to continue his thought by indicated the band has been “exploring” a lot more. “We would do a little bit of jamming ideas and discovering a lot of things that way, a lot of the new songs are kind of louder and have a bit more freedom in the instrumental parts… We got more to experimenting with our instruments a bit more than we had writing our first record, so it’s fun… Some songs have guitar solos now, which we didn’t have before.”

Following Liam’s thoughts, Jacquie remarked, “We’re evolving.”

Liam agreed, “Yeah, that’s what we want to do, what everybody wants to do.”

Having been trained classically, it is interesting how they have shaped themselves as musicians.

Jacquie articulated that it’s a relatively subtle influence for herself. “I really feel it’s more that it’s really trained us, trained our ears and it’s really helped make communication really easy between the three of us because we’re familiar with theoretical terms and we’re very aware of the history of music.”

Liam indicated that having studied music in school has led to more “discipline,” considering they are able to work on their music repeatedly for long periods of time in order to get what they need done without really get fed up.

Jacquie continued, “It forces you to work well under pressure.”

I then decided it was time to get less serious. As far as drunken stories go, The Balconies were pretty tight-lipped on the subject.

Liam jokingly offered this story: “Jacquie spilled wine on her shoes once.”

Stephen remarked, “I’m the band driver, so I can’t really share any drunken stories.”

Jacquie joked that maybe “people just can’t handle the extremeness of our drinking habits.”

Liam, as an aside, mentioned, “I find that when we play shows I sweat so darn much and lose so much water that I’ve been hung over after shows without even having any alcohol because of just pure dehydration. And that’s pretty scary. Waking up the next day after not drinking anything and being really hung over is really weird. Those shows are the ones where… I remember a few times having to take my shirt off and ring it on the floor because of so much water collected in my shirt.”

After some banter between the three of them as to whether or not this sweat smells, Liam pointed out that “athletic sweat is very clean because it’s happening so quickly.” Jacquie then refers to this athletic sweat related to playing shows as “musical sweat.” Did she coin the term?

The Balconies then gave me their shots of choice.

Jacquie stated, “I like to have a shot whiskey because it kills germs in the throat and, you know, it just tastes good.”

Liam then remarked, “I like whiskey too, but I wouldn’t want to have a shot of whiskey. I like to have a glass of whiskey and drink it. I like Jagermeister shots [At this point, Stephen chimed in, “I like Jagermeister shots too.”] because that’s my name and because it’s, you know, part of the club that drinks that stuff, and I like weird-tasting stuff.”

At this point, Liam likens Jager to “the Italian soda pop, that chinotto stuff, Brio and San Pellegrino” and then ends up coming up with a concoction that he may patent.

Jacquie decided, “That’ll be our merch, making drinks. Buy 5 and you get a t-shirt and a CD.”

It was a weird way to end the interview, but it was a great chat. The Balconies went on to play a great set to the packed crowd later that night at The Rivoli.


Categories: Interviews


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