Interview: The Balconies are Moving on Up


On the day in which manages to get Jacquie Neville of Toronto-based rock quartet The Balconies on the line, a rarity the-balconies-1-smallis experienced: she is at home. This is an everyday luxury experienced by most, but when you’re in a young band looking to get a foothold on a fan base, you better get used to the road.

“When did we sleep?!” Quips Jacquie, after explaining that the past year saw her band – which also includes brother Steve on bass and backing vocals; as well as Liam Jaeger (guitar, vocals), and Steve Molella (drums, vocals) – play 290 shows. She’s hoping to increase that to 300+ shows per year at some point. It’s hard to tell if she’s playing with sarcasm here.

If not, this shouldn’t be a challenge.

In late January, The Balconies released their debut full-length album, Fast Motions, an album that melds hooky rock n’ roll tendencies with the slickness of ‘80s-era metal. Produced by Arnold Lanni (Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven), this offering was a long time coming for the group.

Writing for it began four years ago, when Jacquie was but a 21-year-old who had just relocated from Ottawa to The Big Smoke. Of that era, she recalls the initial fearfulness of entering such an environment, and the fact that many of her friends were going through a similar, yet traumatic rite of passage toward the next phases of their lives. Those feelings were dumped into the making of Fast Motions, which proved to be very therapeutic and cathartic experience for the young frontwoman.

“I look back on that record, and it’s almost like a tattoo,” explains Jacquie. “You look at it, and it brings up so many memories and moments that were maybe hard, but also remind you that you got through it and you’re still here.”

Describing Lanni fondly as an “eccentric,” and a “role model,” Jacquie says that the veteran producer listens to artists as a music fan, and helps them bring forth the sound in which they’re hoping to. She believes he pulled the best out of her as she adjusted to singing in an isolated booth as opposed to in front of encouraging fans.

“We have punk rock roots. So I would often write songs that had the intention of being more lo-fi and dirty. But at the same time, I the-balconies-4was writing songs that had hooky, pop elements to them,” says Jacquie of the making of Fast Motions. “When we got into the studio, I [decided] to give into that. I like the slickness of the album, because it still has an edge. It still has that [rock] greatness to it, but it’s still very easy to listen to.

“As soon as we started recording, it didn’t feel like we were going against anything that I believed in. I wouldn’t have done it if it didn’t feel okay.”

At the moment, Jacquie says that The Balconies are already in the midst of writing the all-important sophomore album, as they prepare to head off on a cross-Canada tour in May with friends of, Head of the Herd. She says Europe will be the band’s destination for June, ahead of what’s hopefully a busy festival season for them. Either way, the group is taking things one step at a time.

“Although I do set long-term goals for myself and the band, it’s important to live in the moment and focus on the baby steps,” concludes Jacquie. “[You have to] focus on what is in front of you, and I think that’ll make you appreciate things a lot more.”

-Adam Grant

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