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2017 is another busy year for Doyleston post-hardcore/indie-rock outfit Balance & Composure, continuing on their world tour in support of their third LP, Light We Made.
By contrast, it’s also a full decade since the band was first formed out of the ashes of two separate local bands. They originally came together just to see what might happen. “I don’t think any of us really knew what we were getting into when we first started,” says Bailey van Ellis, the band’s drummer.
“The first band practice we had, I hadn’t even met Andy [Slaymaker, guitar] yet. He was the first one to show up to my parents’ house – we practised in the garage – and I was too shy to go out and greet him. I wanted to wait for one of the other guys to introduce me to him. He was sitting outside in his car for like 15 minutes! It’s so weird to think back to that, looking at where we are now. It’s nice to remember that from time to time, because we’re so grateful for how far we’ve come.”
Since its release in October of last year, Light We Made has accumulated a fairly passionate response from both sides. Some fans have felt ostracised by the departure in sound, others embraced and celebrated the quintet’s progression. Regardless of public perception, it’s something that the band felt they had to do in order to keep what they were doing as something of interest to them. “There are a lot of things that are really new for us on this record,” says van Ellis.
“There are songs where Jon [Simmons, vocalist] isn’t playing guitar at all. Andy is playing a lot more keyboards. This is the first record where we’ve prominently used a sampler. It’s all factored in to how we play live, too – some songs have ended up really different. It gets boring to keep playing the same way, so this album has really freed us up and allowed us to improvise more.”
There are a lot of things that are really new for us on this record.
From the drum machine of Postcard to the glitchy dream-pop of Midnight Zone, it’s easy to see how far Balance & Composure have been able to push themselves. It’s reflected now in particular with their live show, which incorporates an impressive light show, new gear on-stage (including electronic drum trigger pads and synths) and a heavy emphasis on the new material. “It feels very natural to play these songs now,” says van Ellis.
“I think we were worried about how it was going to mix with the older stuff live, but it gels pretty well. They’re a lot of fun to play. They sound a bit different to how we recorded them – they’re a little more unpolished. I don’t want to say aggressive, but it definitely has a more live sound to it. I think there’s always this weird bit of time between recording the songs and learning to play them live. It’s nice to be past that point now. It feels very solid.”
Australian audiences will get a chance to see the new and improved Balance & Composure for themselves later this month, as the band returns for its third visit and their first-ever headlining shows. “It’s our favourite place to play,” van Ellis says about the upcoming run. “It feels like another world to us. It’s so far away from where we live, and it’s way more laid back there. People are just super-friendly, and the weather’s always nice. The shows are always great, too. We just always look forward to coming back so much.”
Light We Made is out now via UNFD. Balance & Composure are touring Australia with special guests Oslow and Introvert from the 22nd to the 30th of March.