BY OWEN MAXWELL
Catch the full interview Monday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. on In Tune. Each week Owen Maxwell interviews musicians from across Canada, plays the latest alternative, indie, and electronic releases and covers a cross section of weird and important news in the world of music. In Tune is Monday mornings at 10 a.m. on 93.1 CKCU FM.
Some bands stick with one sound for their entire career, but the ones that continue to evolve often have the most success. Evolving is exactly what Ottawa band The Balconies are doing on their latest album Rhonda that finds the band adding more experimental and electronic sounds on top of writing a concept album.
Evolving has meant writing a book companion, adding new instruments, and even losing a founding member.
The Balconies frontwoman Jacquie Neville said the band hasn’t altogether changed.
“We’re still a rock band and our shows are just as crazy and dynamic, but we wanted to experiment more with synthesizers because it’s important to evolve,” she said.
The Balconies’ earlier work Kill Count EP and Fast Motions were guitar-focused efforts so it was a decent step for the band to switch gears while writing a story.
“The new sound happened organically, we don’t make conscious efforts saying ‘we want to sound like this’. We wanted to stay true to the songs,” Neville said.
Rhonda is also a concept album about the life of a musician, and the struggles of suffering for art—topics the band is all too familiar with.
“It’s about what it means to be authentic and true as a musician: grief, anger, expression, in the show itself we wanted to allude to those emotions without being explicit,” she said.
One struggle in particular the band dealt with this time around was the departure of core member Steve, bassist for the band, and Jacquie’s brother.
“We’re sad about it but his heart wasn’t in it so we respect that,” Neville said. “We felt it was important to continue with Liam and I, as a new band in that way.”
“It’s a rock opera. You won’t be disappointed and it’s very DIY since we’re not at the Pink Floyd level but it feeds into the themes of the album,” says Neville, describing the band’s new live approach considering how much they’ve changed. “It’s the album back to back, its manic, the audience feels that raw emotion because it’s coming from a real place, we’ve lived it and people get it.”
Neville also assured that on top of staying true to the band’s trademark over-the-top energy, the show is a lot more emotional.
“Not that you’re going to cry but you’ll feel the emotion, it’s a more focused energy instead of just excitement all the time.”
Rhonda will hit record stores this October. •