Features Interviews Interview: The Balconies' Stephen Neville Is A Happy Camper

Interview: The Balconies' Stephen Neville Is A Happy Camper

The Balconies

Stephen Neville from The Balconies is very careful.

While he clearly knows that his band has had an amazing past year, he is cautious about admitting it. And that is not to say that Stephen, one-third of Ottawa’s pop rock band The Balconies, is unsatisfied with his current position. Quite the opposite, actually; it seems that he is so grateful for where he is in his life that he’s scared admitting it is real will make it disappear.

I ask the 21-year-old bassist to reflect on the past year he has had with Balconies lead singer (and his sister), Jacquie Neville, and drummer, Liam Jaeger. It has been quite the whirlwind since the band released their self-titled debut album in 2009. Thanks to their infectious pop rock sound and stunning live show, they have gained incredible momentum. The band spent the past year touring Canada and receiving a ton of great attention along the way.

“It’s been busy,” Stephen says. “It was great, we got to do an east coast tour, a west coast tour, and we got to see all of Canada which was awesome.”

AND???

“Just a lot of adventure this year,” he continues. “For me it’s my first year out of school ever, this past year. So it’s great, it’s more real. I have a better impression of what a band has to do now in their daily life. What a professional musician actually does.”

As if his success is a timid deer, Stephen whispers so as not to scare it away. Still, I prod. What about all the success you’ve had?

“We’re busy, we work hard,” Stephen says. “We’re getting some credit which is good, slowly but surely.”

And that is all he says on the matter. As much as it shocks me, I cannot help but feel incredibly impressed. He is a rock star without the attitude.

“I would not be happy doing anything other than music,” he says. “But I studied classical music a lot so if I wasn’t in a rock band I’d probably still be involved in music in one way or another. But I like being in a rock band so I’m going to stick with that.”

Stephen did two years at the University of Ottawa before dropping out to take on The Balconies full-time. He was studying classical music but always had a deeper love for rock.

“Classical music is so specialized,” he says. “What I prefer about rock music is, as a musician you can be a songwriter, you can travel with it, there’s so much you can do. I really like that multi-outlet.”

Stephen and Jacquie grew up in Metcalfe, a small town outside Ottawa. Living there is what got the siblings into music in the first place.

“Being in Metcalfe, isolated all the time, is what made me want to be a musician,” Stephen says. “I didn’t have many friends and I really would just sit at home and play music all day long ... [Jacquie and I] started playing together and writing songs together when we were very young.”

The relationship between the three members of The Balconies is close-knit to say the least. Not only are Stephen and Jacquie, 23, siblings, but Jacquie and Liam, 26, are dating. The three of them live together (which Stephen admits is a bit much) but they are getting their own apartments soon.

“It’s very close,” Stephen says of the band’s dynamic. “The dynamic is fiery – it’s consistently fiery. We get in some heated debates, we have some arguments, but we also work well together and understand each other.”

And work well together they must, because all of the band’s songs are written collectively. Though Stephen says more song ideas come from himself and Jacquie, he insists that the process is truly done by all three.

“Even in our album it says, ‘All songs by The Balconies,’ because it really is a very collective process,” he says.

And as far as sharing the wealth goes, The Balconies take it beyond just themselves. I ask Stephen who he could choose to share the stage with if he could pick any living musician. Instead he talks about how he wants to do more shows with his friends’ bands.

“It’s all friend-based,” he says. “Mostly I just think about other friends that I want to get involved.” Over the summer, The Balconies took part in a Beatles vs. Rolling Stones cover night with fellow Ontario band Sandman Viper Command. They do tons of multi-band events. Playing so many gigs like that, Stephen often ends up friends with the other bands on the bill.

“Any show you play is potentially an opportunity to make friends,” he says, adding that now most of his friends are musicians. “It is really cool and such a great way to put shows together when it’s your friends.”

Though they make friends with the people that are technically their competition, it is clear that The Balconies take their job seriously; they are here to stay.

“We want to make a career out of it,” says Stephen. “We’re serious about it.”

But does he ever want to go back to school?

“I do, but I’m not in a rush,” he says. “I’m totally happy where I am.”

 


 

The Balconies play Toronto on October 14 and November 9. Visit their MySpace page for details.