The Balconies push through challenges to rock across Canada

Break-ups, downsizing and the toll of touring couldn’t stop this band from sharing their music

The Balconies performing at the Dirty Jersey. Liam Jaeger (left), Jacquie Neville (right). (Veronica Kos/The Omega)

The Balconies performing at the Dirty Jersey. Liam Jaeger (left), Jacquie Neville (right). (Veronica Kos/The Omega)

Burlesque dancers, pregnant women and raw meat can all be seen in The Balconies’ music video for War, the first song on their new album, Rhonda.

Jacquie Neville and Liam Jaeger are the duo behind the band originally from Ottawa, Ontario. They performed War along with other songs from their new album at the Dirty Jersey on Nov. 30. Kamloops was one of the stops on their cross-Canada tour, promoting the new alternative pop/rock album. It’s easy to see that The Balconies don’t shy away from adding dark elements to their music.

Neville, the lead vocalist in the band says, they’re all about pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. “You never see pregnant women in music videos. It challenges people, pushes people’s buttons and makes them feel uncomfortable.”

The band’s big break came from winning Live 88.5’s Big Money Shot back in Ottawa. With a $75,000 development package, workshops with people in the industry and the opportunity to work with producer Jon Drew, The Balconies released the popular EP titled Kill Count.

Since then, it’s been constant working and touring.

The Balconies latest creation is a self-produced concept album, having Rhonda as the fictional heroine that shares her journey to self-acceptance with each song. Though the songs have a dark rock n’ roll vibe, the main message behind the album is hope.

“Yes, there are some dark elements where Ronda is in this inner turmoil and is listening to her dark tapes, but then she comes out of it and realizes that she has so many amazing people around whose opinions are the ones that really matter,” Neville said.

When asked why they chose to self-produce this album unlike their previous two, Neville said that Rhonda is about doing it on your own and having that faith in yourself.

“We self-produced the album to kind of practice what we preach, push ourselves out of that comfort zone and do something that makes us a little uncomfortable. Clearly, I’m all about that, let’s make everything uncomfortable!”

Performing up to 300 shows per year all over Canada has brought the band some challenges of their own.  The Balconies were originally a trio with Neville’s brother Steve. The hectic life of a musician wasn’t for him, though, and he chose to leave the band before the creation of Rhonda.

“We went through some growing pains for sure, but as his sister, I have to respect his choice,” Neville said.

And that’s not the only challenge the band has gone through. Neville and Jaeger originally formed The Balconies as a couple before deciding to break up roughly five years ago.

“When you break up with someone, even if it’s mutual, you don’t really plan on seeing the person for a little while, but for us it was ‘well, I guess I’ll see you in the van every day for another three months since we were still on tour,’” Neville said, laughing. “It was definitely hard, but at the end of the day what was most important was that the band succeeded.”

The Balconies are already planning on continuing the story of Rhonda on their next album.

“Liam and I are always writing, always working, always trying to push ourselves. We’ll try to get back into the studio as soon as possible because there are a lot of juices flowing right now. Big things are coming,” Neville said.