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Jacquie Neville from The Balconies on Fast Motions

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By Owen Maxwell

Ottawa-born three-piece The Balconies have been playing together since 2008. After they released their Kill Count EP last February, the title track and hit single “Kill Count” has earned them radio play, something many Ottawa bands could only dream of. But to get to their first LP they had to dream bigger and that involved moving to Toronto, adding a fourth member and amping up their sound. The band plays Ritual Friday February 7th to help promote their new LP Fast Motions released this past January, and they couldn’t be more excited.

I caught up with frontwoman and lead guitarist Jacquie Neville to talk about The Balconies and their new album.

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A few of the songs on the album are from your EP, but have seen a few changes, why the changes?

Well we changed the feel of ‘Kill Count’ for a few reasons. First, we had changed our sound a lot since recording it and wanted the song to reflect that. Second was since the original version of it had already gotten a lot of radio play, we decided to just have fun with it and mess around. I think the final product represents our vision of it much better. As for renaming ‘Serious Bedtime’ to ‘Do It In The Dark’ we mostly just thought it was a catchier name and people had been calling it that rather than ‘Serious Bedtime’ for so long it just made since.

balconies-web-newThere’s some interesting synth sounds on the album including “Moving Parts” which is only synth, why did you choose to do that?

We listen to a lot of different stuff so we want our music to reflect that by mixing in a little bit of everything, maybe to give a break from the hard rock. My brother Steve came in to play piano and he loves composing so we just decided to make a whole track for it.

The sound on your EP is a lot softer both vocally and instrumentally, where did the gritty sound come from?

It felt like a natural evolution for us. It’s surprising but when you’re alone in the studio you feel more vulnerable than you do on stage, without all the shouting fans it’s intimidating. I’d already been singing out like that live and our producer Arnold Lanni had kept pushing me to sing harder in the studio, so it just came out that way. As for our sound, we’d been touring with hard rock bands like Big Sugar and Rival Sons since September and we just kept cranking up the volume and messing around with distortion. If it was possible to crank it up to 11 we’d done it.

“Fast Motions” starts on a modern pop note, how did that come about?

It was a lot of trying to mix in our interests and a bit of a Kate Bush influence I wanted to bring out, I feel she’s really underrated.

“Let Me Go” sounds reminiscent of other reprise songs done by Arcade Fire and She & Him, was there any influence from that or did it all just come about naturally?

Mostly natural. We’d finished “The Slo” and just wanted to keep going with it. We’d loved the bridge so much but had to keep going. When we finally went into the studio to make the record, Arnold (their producer) pushed us to follow it. I messed around with it one day in the studio and the guys loved it, so we followed it.

How did the band start?

Well me and Steve are siblings and we’d been playing from a young age. I started writing music at 15 and picked up guitar soon after, and Steve moved to bass. We’d played in a high school bands together but when we got to university, we wanted to focus on school. That’s where Liam (their drummer) came in. He’d also been in a bunch of bands and we were just so similar so we really wanted to play together. In 2008 we started playing in our parents basement and it all just came together.

1417763_577398235665531_1955109984_oBiggest inspirations?

Freddy Mercury, Black Sabbath, Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar and Joan Jett. Cream also influenced the exotic sound of the solo of “Kill Count”.

You recently became a four piece, why did you add a second guitarist?

The songs were getting harder and it became increasingly difficult to keep the energy of them up when we played live, especially as the only guitarist. With our sound getting increasingly loud it just became necessary.

What’s next for the band?

We just played our first sold out show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, which is huge for us, and now that we released the album we’re touring Europe in April.

THE SCENE


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