Allschools: Hi, could you first introduce yourself and your part in the band?
Jon: My name is Jon Simmons, I sing and play guitar in BALANCE & COMPOSURE.
Allschools: As far as I’m concerned, this is your first European tour in almost 3 years. So how did it turn out, especially when compared to 2011?
Jon: This is our first one in 3 years, yes. We’ve been in the UK once before since then, but it’s the first time in Europe in the past 3 years. This one is great, it’s going very well. We have 5 days left and we are completely surprised by the turnouts and people coming to the shows is awesome. It’s our first headlining tour over here, last time we were supporting TITLE FIGHT, so this is a really different experience for us but we have a great time. There has been sold out shows, there’s been close-to-sold-out shows, we played cities we haven’t played before so it has been a lot of fun.
Allschools: Did you already know MOOSE BLOOD and MILK TEETH before the tour?
Jon: No, we met them the first day they joined and they’re our friends now. They’re great. They are both from the UK so we didn’t know them before.
Allschools: Did you expect that your new album would be received so well and that you would gain attention in this amount?
Jon: No, not at all. It was a big surprise, everyone’s reaction has been really cool. That’s the best thing when you put so much time and effort into something and people like it, so we’re very lucky to have people listen to us and enjoy what we do.
Allschools: Have you noticed a shift in your listeners / fans since you released “The Things We Think We’re Missing”? Do you feel like you have reached a lot of new listeners?
Jon: I think so, yeah. I’ve been asking the crowds in Europe like “Was anyone at the TITLE FIGHT show?” and there was like 4 or 5 people, so I think it’s a whole bunch of new people that listen to us now, which is what we really wanted. Just keep reaching out and getting more people to listen to us. We’ve always had young fans but I feel like now we’re getting older fans, more people like our age, which is great.
Allschools: Do you have an explanation for that?
Jon: No, I think maybe it’s the maturity. Our new record is a little bit more mature than our first one, maybe that’s the reason but I don’t know. It’s hard to have an outside point of view on yourself, you know? But I’m just going with the flow.
Allschools: You are using a very poetic approach in your lyrics. Do you read a lot of poetry in your free time? If so, who are your favorite poets or poems?
Jon: Yeah, I’m always reading poetry. I grew up reading Charles Bukowski and Sylvia Plath, so these are my favorites.
Allschools: I wouldn’t have expected Bukowski. Do you think we can find an influence of him in the lyrics?
Jon: Maybe in the negativity. The lyrics can be negative sometimes, that’s when I tend to write the most, because I’m like in a negative headspace. I don’t know if he is an influence, but he is one of my favorites.
Allschools: You played FYF Fest. Is it getting more and more common that you play with more popular indie bands or was this an exception?
Jon: I think it’s an exception, we haven’t really been asked to play that many festivals, but we were really lucky to play that one. Maybe since we played that, there’ll be more opportunities, who knows.. it was a really fun time. A lot of people walked by and stopped and watched us, so we had a really big crowd. Maybe we were a bit nervous, but it was fun.
Allschools: The album came out last year, have you already got plans for a follow-up record?
Jon: Yeah there’s always plans. We’re always playing around with some ideas. We have like 6 months off after this tour, so we’ll probably writing then. There are no complete new songs yet, we take our time and we are really slow about it, which I think is good for growth. You need to have some space between records. I think it’s a important thing a lot of bands don’t do, they just keep pushing out albums and they lose their esteem or they lose the creative process. We like to have some years in between the albums and really focus on growing up number one. I think that really helps with the creative process, just becoming who you are more as you get older. We don’t want our albums to sound all the same.
Allschools: Are you gonna stick with your current label (No Sleep Records)?
Jon: No, we’re actually off that label with the last album, that was our last one with that label. We’re looking but we’re not worried about any labels right now so we have like demos or songs.
Allschools: In my opinion, all of the BALANCE & COMPOSURE releases are quite on a high level songwriting-wise. Have you guys been in other bands before being in BALANCE & COMPOSURE?
Jon: Yeah we grew up in like punk bands and stuff in high school and middle school, but I was eighteen when we started this band. I started playing guitar by then, so I kind of like taught myself. So I’m not the best guitarist but the other guys in my band can shred really well. I’m still learning, which is fun.
Allschools: There’s said to be a lot of nineties grunge influence on bands that are getting popular in the last few years. Would you say that this is true for BALANCE & COMPOSURE? Do some of the recent bands also have an influence on your song-writing process?
Jon: I think it’s definitely popular right now. When we first started, that was definitely our main influence but right now we just focus on being original and not sounding like anybody else. When we first started, we were definitely influenced by SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE and old JIMMY EAT WORLD and stuff like that. So at first, it was totally an influence but now we’re just trying to make our own lane of music.
Allschools: Are people right when they suspect that bands like NIRVANA, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, FOO FIGHTERS or SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE were rolemodels to your sound in some kind of way or do you think it was just coincidence that your new record ended up sounding as it does and reminding people of these legendary bands?
Jon: Those are definitely bands we love, I’m sure it comes off in our music, whether it’s intentional or not. We’re not sure, we just kind of try to stick to our guns and right what we like. The records of these bands are really guitar-driven, that’s something that’s important to us, too. But I think that’s just part of rock. Those are the type of sounds we like, for sure.
Allschools: If you are into FOO FIGHTERS and THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, have you listened to their new songs? What did you think? Are you looking forward to their new records?
Jon: I haven’t heard the new FOO FIGHTERS song, we haven’t had a chance because we don’t have service over here, but that’s one of the things I plan on doing when I’m at home. I’m excited to listen, we’re big fans.
Allschools: How did the plan to work with famous engineers like Brad Wood or Emily Lazar evolve? Was there like a time when BALANCE & COMPOSURE as a band decided to go like “full speed” and produce the best record possible or did they show interest in mixing and mastering stuff before?
Jon: We hit them up, we reached out to them. We’ve been huge fans of Brad Wood, we liked the MEWITHOUTYOU albums he did, “Catch for Us the Foxes” is one of our favorite albums by MEWITHOUTYOU. It’s even one of our collective favorite albums, so we reached out to him hoping maybe he would be interested, and he was, which was a huge surprise. And Emily as well, so we kind of just got lucky that they were into the idea.
Allschools: Which emo, alternative or grunge bands from the nineties or even earlier would you recommend to the younger fans who aren’t familiar with that kind of stuff? For example, Mineral are touring through Germany in February. Should we go see them?
Jon: You should definitely go to see MINERAL. We grew up loving MINERAL. There is a band that doesn’t necessarily sound like us, but one of my favorite bands is NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL. They are one of the greatest bands of the 90ies and possibly of all time, if you wanna check them out, you should!
Allschools: Does anyone of you have a side-project besides Jon doing solo stuff?
Jon: No, no other side projects. I’m just doing solo stuff to stay busy at home and to keep the creative juices flowing, but I don’t think I’m doing anything with that. I just like playing shows every once in a while. I did one tour with SAVES THE DAY, but that was just for fun. It was just a few days, but it was a big learning experience, for sure. The crowds were a little too big, I was so nervous. I was a wreck. I did my own songs and 2 BALANCE & COMPOSURE songs. So most of my own stuff and like covers.
Allschools: Current pop punk or alternative bands like TITLE FIGHT are often associated with the hardcore scene. Also, there are a lot of mixed line-ups, even on tours in the US. Are the guys in BALANCE & COMPOSURE typical hardcore kids that grew up in this scene or did this association evolve out of the circumstances?
Jon: Out of the circumstances. Me and Erik, we grew up listening to hardcore, but I don’t think it has any kind of influence or anything. I definitely loved hardcore growing up, but I’m kind of growing out of it a little. It was definitely a part of who we are in the beginning.
Allschools: So were you in the classic bands like MINOR THREAT?
Jon: Yeah, MINOR THREAT was and is one of my favorites. BLACK FLAG was great.
Allschools: When did you stop listening to hardcore bands?
Jon: Probably around when I was like nineteen. They just became redundant after a while for me. I always went to hardcore shows, but I just kind of grew out of it. I just started liking other stuff. I’m a big melody fan, so that does more for me now than what the angst of hardcore does.