Balance and Composure won some serious fans over with their debut full length ‘Separation,’ thanks to the grunge influenced style of down-the-line progressive rock. The guys are back with a follow-up record and plenty of upcoming touring for it (including Australia). Killyourstereo.com had a chat to frontman Jon Simmons about the new record and life for the band.
What can you tell us about the new record?
It’s called ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing,’ it’s how Balance and Composure are supposed to sound I think, and it’s our sophomore record.
What would you say are the major differences between this new album and ‘Separation’?
Mainly the songs are just put together a little bit better. ‘Separation’ was just parts slapped together and it was a little bit lazy. This time we took more time with how we wanted to have everything flow and how the songs hit you. I feel like it’s a solid growth and I know everyone says that, but that’s just what it is, it’s a growth and a more mature take on our band I think.
Would you say that this is closer to the vision you have for the Balance and Composure sound?
Definitely. I stayed away from yelling as much on this record, there is definitely yelling for sure and aggressive parts, but I wanted it to be more melodic and more beautiful than rough and in your face this time around. I’ve always wanted to make music like this record with a little more diversity, so I’m definitely happy with it. It’s how I wanted us to sound eventually, I still don’t know how I want us to sound fully though but I think this is it. (laughs)
Until the next record.
(laughs) Yeah, the next record.
Was the writing process similar to the way you guys usually create or did you change it up to try and achieve that more diverse sound?
We changed it up for sure. When we wrote ‘Separation’ we all had jobs, well we still do, but we wrote it after work. After a long day at work we would go to practice in Eric’s basement for two hours every day, and it was really draining and it didn’t work. We just got lazy because we were drained from the whole day y’know? So with this record we decided let’s avoid that feeling because we’ve all been there and we still have to work, so we said let’s take off work for two weeks and all go to a cabin in the woods in Pennsylvania, and we actually spent two weeks there writing most of the record so it was awesome to have that experience because we didn’t have any distractions. It was just write music all day and cook your own meals. It was really cool and something we have never done as a band but I think we needed to do it because it helped so much and we has all of that time to focus on the music and what we were creating instead of just kinda being lazy about it.
Whilst that worked for you this time, do you sometimes find that when you sit down to write something, nothing good will come out because it is forced creativity, sometimes the best stuff just comes when it comes?
Yeah definitely, that’s how it is for me. I mean vocally and lyrically or making a melody it has to come to me, I can’t force anything like that, but musically we are just in a great space and inspired by each other so it was cool to be around music all day. I’ve never really done that, besides recording ‘Separation’ but in regards to writing I learnt a lot about myself and how we write and thought "we can do this, we should do this with every record." It was cool, I was surprised at how well it worked for us.
Were there any negative elements to being in such a collaborative workspace all the time?
Yeah, we got a little cabin fever, we started drinking and doing drugs so it was a little crazy towards the end. Just because you are spending all that time with one another and there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, so we kinda like started to lose it a little bit but then we got it back together. At the end of the day we’re best friends.
It’s actual cabin fever when you are in a cabin as well.
Oh yeah, we were getting very stir crazy and random fits for no reason know what I mean? But it was funny.
Have you had a chance to try this new stuff out live yet?
Yeah, we have played twice, and played Reflection and Tiny Raindrop, we’ve only had a few shows so we haven’t played that much but we’ve been practicing it heaps. We played Made In America, a festival over here and the crowd reaction was really cool to the new songs so people seem excited which is cool. We wrote this record more thinking about our live sound more so than we did with ‘Separation,’ we wrote it thinking about how we sound live so I hope it translates well to the stage.
How was it playing on something as diverse as the Made In America festival?
It was weird, I loved it because I wanted to see Beyonce and A$ap Rocky and stuff, it was an honour to be apart of Jay-Z’s festival. Our stage was like, no one gave a shit about our stage, but we had a good crowd and just to be able to get into the show for free, or kinda getting paid to see the show (laughs).
How did you guys even get on their radar to join the bill?
There is a company over here called Live Nation….I doubt Jay-Z was like, "Hey let’s get Balance and Composure….." (laughs)
You never know? Maybe?
Never. You don’t understand, that is such a dream. Live Nation just asked our agent, it was a last minute thing.
You mentioned before still having to work day jobs, how do you balance the nine to five lifestyle with being in a well known rock band?
I hate it. I hate working, I’m losing my mind just because all I think about at work is, I need to be way more creative, it’s definitely hard to work all day when all you are thinking about is a song or something. I’m not mentally there but I have to pay my bills, I can’t ignore that. So it’s really difficult for me.
Do you find that it dulls your inspiration a little bit when your day-to-day is the same thing on repeat it makes it hard to write prolific songs about life’s many adventures?
Exactly. That’s the worst part about it, my days are going to waste, I could be doing something creative or writing something, and by the time you get home you are so drained but I have to do it. That’s another reason why we did the cabin, we knew we needed to get away and focus on the music, and I loved it but now I’m back at work. It’s hard but I’ll get over it.
At the end of the day you are still in Balance and Composure, you guys are at a level that plenty of bands dream about.
Definitely, it’s amazing we’ve seen the world and that is the coolest part, I can’t wait to go on tour again and see more, that’s what I live for, going on tour or recording and writing. It’s cool that people aspire to get to this level but don’t think it’s glamorous or anything.
I think people realise these days more and more that the glamorous levels are much higher than they may have originally thought.
I’m still just getting by you know (laughs).
So you mentioned touring, when will we see you in Australia?
Hopefully early 2014, we’re trying to get there asap, early in the year.
You guys are just thinking your own headline tour?
Yeah I think so, unless something cooler comes up but we shall see, I’m excited to go back.
Well we look forward to it and the new record.
Let me just say, it’s a grower of a record, you might not get it right away, or like it right away, it might take a few listens, I just want people to digest it, so be careful with it. (laughs).