By: Megan Delaire
Fans lined the stage as The Balconies played the opening guitar riffs of their set at Algonquin on Sept. 19. The rock group, originally from Ottawa, played with openers The Walkervilles at The Observatory in what was the venue’s first musical performance of the year.
The Balconies were not touring in Canada at the time but made a special trip from Toronto to Ottawa to play the show before departing for their fourth tour of Europe this year.
Front woman Jacquie Neville and her brother, bassist Stephen Neville, grew up in Ottawa where they learned to play classical instruments between the ages of four and six. Jacquie Neville was first attracted to the violin.
“We had pianos, guitars, drum kits and all of a sudden when she was four she started walking around with a coat hanger, pretending it was a violin because she saw it on Sesame Street,” said Giselle Neville of her daughter Jacquie Neville.
In her early teen years Jacquie played guitar for the first time and soon began writing songs. By their mid-teens the siblings were playing rock music in a band called Jacquie and the Kitchen.
“I feel like I’ve had always one foot in the classical world and one foot in the other,” said Jacquie Neville, 25. “I realize that classical music, I have such a huge appreciation for, and it’s where my roots technically are and it really developed my ear at a really young age.”
Neville went on to study music at the University of Ottawa where she met the band’s current lead guitar player Liam Jaeger. Jaeger, a Toronto native, had a background in rock music but was studying classical guitar at the university. He was eventually persuaded by Jacquie Neville to return to his rock roots and, together with the Neville siblings, formed The Balconies in 2008.
“I saw Jacquie playing with Steve in what was still their high school band at the time,” Jaeger, 25, said. “I just thought she had a gift and we became good buds and kind of always had a lot of similar musical interests and inspirations and she got me back into playing rock music.”
The Balconies have toured heavily this year, bringing their frenetic rock act to Europe several times, as well as criss-crossing Canada. Following their most recent tour of Europe the band will tour North America’s east coast, travel to Iceland and then return to Canada for a west coast tour.
The Balconies have been working with producer Arnold Lanni to release their first full-length album in January, 2014. Lanni is known for producing music for Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven and Simple Plan. According to Jacquie Neville, the album will be heavier and louder than the band’s EP.
“We’re really excited,” Jacquie Neville said. “It’s definitely different from what we’ve released in the past.”