Balance and Composure: Solid Roots and Uncertain Destinations

January 13th, 2015 by  |  Published in Interviews, Show Announcements

Balance and Composure


Doylestown, Pennsylvania-based emo-rock outfit Balance and Composure have made a home in Ottawa over the last three years—closer to one, at least, than most American bands have bothered to. While many mid-level acts from below the border skip our city en route to Montreal or Toronto, BaC make an annual trip. And they’ve built a following here as a result.

On Thursday night, the band stops by Ottawa to play Ritual Nightclub exactly a year since their last show here. I got the chance to catch up with vocalist Jon Simmons about influences and plans for the future (or lack thereof) while the band trekked to Syracuse during the opening dates of their current tour.

So, this is the third year in a row you’ve stopped in Ottawa, which is something not many American bands are able to say. Have you grown fond of the city?

We love the city a lot, and we love playing there. The crowd’s always really fun, so we love it. It’s like a habit now.

You’re in Syracuse today, then you’re up here for Saint Catherine’s and Ottawa—but right down to Portland after that. Usually when bands stop in two places up here it’s Montreal and Toronto.

It just always ends up being booked that way; we don’t have a whole lot of control over that. I guess we do Montreal and Toronto so much that we want to play in some other places, and switch things up a little bit.

You said you recorded your last record in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere. Any plans for your next record?

We’re kind of taking our time right now, so we haven’t put a lot of thought into it yet. Probably in the summer we’ll have an idea of what we want to do, but right now it’s up in the air—we don’t know yet.

Are the songs written?

No, we haven’t written anything actually (laughs). We’ve just been touring. We have some ideas, but we need some time apart before we do a new record…(sic) different than our last album. So we really give ourselves a lot of time between albums.

What’s the shelf-life of a Balance + Composure record? How long is it before you get weary of playing the same songs?

It’s been a year and three months I think. We usually do one every two years.

How do you guys keep yourselves occupied when you’re on tour?

We play a lot of games, and we’re all pretty good friends so we make each other laugh a lot. We have off days where we do something fun all together.

What are your favourite Canadian cities to play?

Ottawa is awesome. We also like Quebec City a lot.

You guys toured with Manchester Orchestra last year. Who are some of the other bands you’ve played with that you were excited about?

Circa Survive was really, really fun. And yeah, I’d say Manchester Orchestra and Circa Survive are my favourite tours that we did support for. But also any band that we’ve brought out has been great.

When Separation came out, it seemed like everybody that reviewed you guys was in competition to better identify your influences. I’ve read names like Nirvana, Sunny Day Real Estate, Brand New. How accurate were your reviewers? What were you guys listening to back then?

Well back then, those were definitely my influences. Sunny Day Real Estate was one of the main ones, Jawbreaker and stuff. They were pretty right. But it’s hard to say what we’re influenced by now.

Myself personally, I was hearing stuff like Knapsack in there. But “The Things We Think We’re Missing” seems to be moving in a different direction. Was it a conscious effort to distance yourself from comparison?

That’s awesome, (on the Knapsack reference). It was something we had to do musically, I wanted to do something different with “The Things We Think We’re Missing.” I couldn’t tell you the direction we’re going (now) but it’ll be better, and way different I think.

You guys have been known to listen to pop music and rap, haven’t you?

Yeah, we listen to a lot of hip hop, actually. Right now I like this guy Travis Scott, from Houston. He’s really cool, and he’s a producer too.

Some of your lyrics—like the ones in Tiny Raindrop—sound like they’re pretty personal. Do the lyrics mean as much to you now as they did when you wrote them? Can music be a coping mechanism?

For sure! Lyrics are really important to us, and it’s all really personal. Whenever we play them they always take you back to when we wrote them.

Does everybody have a hand in the lyrics, or do you write them personally?

I write most of them but Bailey, he wrote down some ideas for me. Me and him kind work together sometimes.

Do you guys sit down in the studio to write, or does it happen on the road?

We usually write at home. We don’t write on the road that much at all.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and good luck with the show!

Yeah, no problem. Thank you. Come out and check it out!

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