EARLIER this month The Balconies performed their first headlining show in Vancouver at Venue.
Jacquie Neville, along with her brother and bassist Steve Neville, guitarist Liam Jaeger and drummer Theo Mckibbon make up the Toronto power pop punk band.
They've previously shared the stage with the Cold War Kids, Mother Mother, Tokyo Police Club, Puddle of Mudd and the Sam Roberts Band. Their previous performance in Vancouver saw them up open twice for Big Sugar at the Commodore Ballroom.
"We had a really great time it exposed us to a lot of great people," Neville says.
The Balconies originally started out as a three-piece but late last year they decided to bring in a new drummer and have Jaeger join Neville on guitar.
"It felt like the right time to make a change," Jaeger explains. "It's always fun to bring in some new elements to keep it fresh. I think that between the three of us, we had always been kind of purists of the three-piece rock band. After a while you feel like you could be doing more."
As the band progressed The Balconies started noticing that their sound was getting a little heavier and they felt that they didn't have that extra kick anymore.
"We were pushing our live show a lot harder and our sound was getting fuller. It
was really natural to evolve into a four-piece," Jaeger says.
Although Jaeger had five years of guitar under his belt he originally got behind the drums leaving Neville on guitar.
"It was just kind of a way for me to try and excel on guitar. It forced me to practise really hard and improve as much as I could," she says.
Initially, Jaeger was worried that adding a second guitar player would take the focus away from their lead singer.
"We tried it out and then we realized that Jacquie has got so much of that star quality that people are going to be drawn to her whether I'm there or not," Jaeger says.
The Balconies could not be more thrilled to have new drummer Mckibbon join the band.
"He's a really experienced musician and we love him," Neville says. "I feel that he adds an exciting new dynamic to the band because he's a true rock 'n' roll drummer. He plays with so much passion and heart and that's what we've been looking for all along.
"It creates more of a balance from an audience perspective. I am really excited about the new dynamic. It's a change but this is exactly the kind of evolution that I foresaw," she adds.
The Balconies are currently working on a new record which they plan to release sometime in early 2014.
"The album is definitely a lot heavier. I would say it falls in the category of alternative rock. It's the evolution that I'm very excited to take," Jacquie says. "There are still the typical Balconies hooks that we like to feature but it has more of a rock 'n' roll dirty vibe."
In years past, The Balconies have written songs together. However, for their upcoming album, which has not been named yet, they spent time in songwriting sessions.
"That was the first time we ever really worked in a songwriting boot camp kind of thing," Jaeger says. "We've always just tinkered away at songs. In the past, we'd always record them the way we'd play them live. We'd been touring so much that we never really had taken the time to write and rework ideas."
The upcoming full-length album was produced by Arnold Lanni, who has previously worked with Finger Eleven, Our Lady Peace, and Simple Plan.
In order to raise money to produce the record they turned to Pledge Music, a service similar to Kickstarter. Depending on the amount of money a fan decides to pledge they can receive all kinds of unique and interesting gifts.
"It's not just a donation thing, your fans are going to be getting something out of it," Neville explains. "In our case anyone who pledges, will get a digital download or a CD or a vinyl depending on how much they pledge."
Artists that have previously used Pledge Music include B.B King, The Spoons, Hawthorne Heights, Bleeker Ridge, Ben Caplan, Brittney Bouchard, Family Force Five and The Lumineers.
"You can also pledge really awesome exclusives like having a bowling party with the band, or another pledge that we did was I buy groceries and come to your house and cook for you and three friends," Neville says. "It's a really awesome way to engage your fans and let them be a part of the making of your record. It gives us an opportunity to connect with our fans and that is what we are all about. We really want to have a cool relationship with them. I am so happy we have such supportive fans."
The Balconies have spent the majority of 2013 on the road. Earlier this year they played at MIDEM in Cannes, France as well as South By Southwest, North By Northeast and Canadian Music Week.
Neville says that audiences overseas interact differently at live music events compared to North American crowds.
"They're so passionate. I just find in Canada everyone is engaged on the inside almost. They are very attentive but it is almost like they're dancing in their head. They're really trying to analyze what you're doing a little more whereas I find in European cities, especially in like France or Italy where it's a romantic language, they're so passionate and it's just in their culture to just be very passionate people," she says. They want to dance, they want to sing, and they want to move with you. It is very unusual and unique energy that you feel when you are over there. But we love the Canadian crowds because it's familiar and it's our home.
"I do notice that in Europe they like to dance a little more so we can throw in more of our disco upbeat songs a little more. I find in Canada they're more into the heavier pop rock that seems to be really popular right now."
In September, the band will be making their third trip to Europe this year. They will be performing at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany, along with fellow Canadian band Monster Truck.
When they have free time on the road The Balconies enjoy going bowling. The Neville's grandmother was a championship bowler in the 1970's. "We love bowling. Pretty much every city we've toured we've found a way to go bowling somewhere. I think the last cross-Canada tour we went on we went bowling at least six times," Jacquie says. "There is something about bowling. It is like this weird time capsule because everything feels like it is still stuck in the '70s or '80s. Seeing the super retro bowling shoes and bowling balls. There is something really special about it."
For more information on The Balconies visit thebalconies.ca or follow them on Twitter: @TheBalconies.
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