From classical to Cream

Former music students, the Balconies, find inspiration for their modern rock sound from bands like Cream

Siblings Stephen and Jacquie Neville had a band together in high school, but they had to break up when Jacquie left for university. Now with friend Liam Jaeger, they form the Balconies.
Siblings Stephen and Jacquie Neville had a band together in high school, but they had to break up when Jacquie left for university. Now with friend Liam Jaeger, they form the Balconies.
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The Balconies haven’t always been known for their infectious pop melodies.

The high-energy trio may now be rocking out to sweaty pop-rock melodies, but just four years ago you were more likely to find siblings Jacquie and Stephen Neville with long-time friend Liam Jaeger wielding classical music textbooks and violins rather than electric guitars.

“We were still in Ottawa, going to university and studying classical music,” drummer Jaeger said of the band’s formation. “At the same time, we’ve always been playing in different bands outside of class but we didn’t really contribute to the songs, we were just filling space. After a few years of hanging out, going to shows and talking about songs we wanted to play, it really made sense to come together.”

The trio has been a tight-knit family ever since.

“It’s really nice to know the two of them so long and so well, we all had a really clear understanding of each other’s dedication to music,” he said. “It’s not the type of situation where people start showing signs of not being too interested as soon as things start getting serious.”

The Balconies have come a long way since their self-titled debut was produced on a student budget in 2009.

The group wrapped up 2011 by hitting the studio with high-profile producer Jon Drew, famed for his work with Tokyo Police Club and the Arkells.

“It was fun working with him because he’s got so much experience and knows how to make everything just really that much cooler,” Jaeger said. “We’re still really happy to look back on our first record considering we did it all on our own, but now this definitely feels like we are working on a new level.”

The Balconies released the EP Kill Count last month and their upcoming full-length album which will hopefully be released at the end of 2012. Like most musicians, Jaeger said their new work has a more mature sound.

“All the new recordings have a modern rock vibe,” he said. “For instance Kill Count, our most recent EP, takes influences from Cream and Jimi Hendrix.”

The recently recorded and still untitled full-length album is a testament to the band’s love of mixing unique inspirations.

“From the onset we were always experimenting with different flavours,” he said. “Now after four years we’re still doing that but getting better at making a unified record in terms of tones.”

There are of course things the Balconies will remain faithful to, despite the band’s creative growth.

“Jacquie’s loud and awesome vocal range works so well with Neville’s backup vocals and I just go pretty mental on the drums,” Jaeger said. “Those are things our fans will hopefully always hear when they listen to our music.”

The Balconies are bringing their high-energy show to Kingston before heading south of the border to Austin, Tex. for the South by Southwest Festival.

“Jacquie has some pretty awesome dance moves and our songs are written in a way where you really have to be bouncy to play them,” Jaeger said. “Oh and it’s gonna get pretty loud.”

The Balconies play the Mansion tonight at 10:30 p.m.

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