After a decade of making music, Ottawa’s very own rock legends The Balconies announced in December 2017 that they were calling it quits.
By Owen Maxwell
Siblings Jacquie and Stephen Neville started making music with Liam Jaeger after Liam and Jacquie met at the University of Ottawa. After a self-titled EP, the band won Live 88.5’s Big Money Shot and started turning heads with their Kill Count EP. In 2012 the band released their first LP Fast Motions and followed it up in 2016 with the concept album Rhonda. In the midst of all this are hundreds of shows a year, TV appearances, and Stephen’s amicable departure from the band ahead of their second LP. Neville and Jaeger deciding to call things off when it wasn’t working for them anymore.
“We hit a point where we realized that anything we did next was going to be a huge financial burden for us as individuals,” says Neville. “That’s by no means to say we’re not making music anymore, but we’re shifting how we’re doing it and proceed with future projects.”
The band’s endless touring also contributed to their decision, as they were spending up to 80 per cent of their year touring.
“It just got really hard to maintain personal relationships, keep that drive going, and Liam and I just got to a place where we wanted the next thing in our lives,” says Neville.
This next thing is The Balconies Collective, as Jaeger and Neville move behind the scenes for now while they figure out where they want to go next.
“The Balconies as a band is changing as you know it, while focusing on production and songwriting.”
Neville isn’t sure exactly how this new collective will take shape, but she’s already working on her own solo material in the meantime.
“It’s injected new life into us and it’s motivating us to stay creative with musicians we know and others we have never worked with,” she said.
The band also finally put out two of their previously unreleased records with their retirement letter, The Balconies EP and Show You. While the two releases were both shelved along the way by management suggestions, Neville insists that it led them to their best selves.
“We just embraced the paths we took at the time, so I regret none of it, but I think it’s important to celebrate those different evolutions we made as a band.”
Their final album Rhonda was at the time supposed to be an ongoing story, which Neville claims may still see the light of day in another form.
“When we wrote Rhonda, I had written about 20 different songs with Liam, and we decided which ones we were putting on the first record with the vision of making a trilogy,” said Neville. “We have 10 songs that remain unfinished and we’ll likely release them down the road but not under the Balconies.”
While they had been working on some new material for their follow-up, Neville also stated that new material may carry the spirit of Rhonda without necessarily being part of its world.
Leading up to their final shows, Neville admits their cult of fans have always brought her the best memories, and she closed out our chat with a story of two fans pulled right out of an indie film.
“We would play in Ottawa and it turns out this guy had flown from London to see us. That’s Glen, he’s definitely our number one fan and I will never forget him. Glen saw us first play in Iceland, when we played seven shows in four days, and he saw all of them. Then, he was such a turbo-fan, he was always posting stuff over our Facebook page, so this girl Miriam from Montreal would comment on these posts. They connected and have now been dating for four years, and it’s all been through the Balconies. I love that story so much, it goes back to our goal of bringing people together. It lasted so long because of the people that were so excited to come see us play.”
* Learn more about The Balconies from thebalconies.ca