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Pennsylvania band brings loud emotion to The Conservatory

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Balance and Composure, a five-piece rock outfit hailing from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a small mountain town between Philadelphia and New York City, plants its roots not in a contemporary rock scene but in one its members were too young to witness.

Finding inspiration in a period more Generation X than millennial, Balance and Composure’s influences are found in 1990s indie acts such as Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker.

“People cared for honest music,” said lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jon Simmons of the era. “That’s what I like about it. It was more about making honest music.”

Honesty pushed its way into Balance and Composure’s two full-length albums musically and lyrically. In both 2013’s The Things We Think We’re Missing and 2011’s Separation, the lyrics mean something to the messenger and the music reinforces it.

The band is also honest about the music’s bedrock and composition.

Take the song “Quake,” a single from its 2011 debut album Separation. The guitar sound is more overdriven than distorted, yet melodic. Simmons’ vocal notes are stretched, two traits heard in the original “emo” scene of the '90s, not the more gothic emo era beginning in the mid-2000s.

What can also be heard in “Quake,” particularly in the intro and verses, is a full drum sound with heavily ridden cymbals and thumping kick drum. Though the beat is loud and energetic, it is slowly paced by the snare drum. This and the above attributes display Balance and Composure’s foundation in that era, particularly Sunny Day Real Estate.

That is not to say the band is a rip-off or a retread. Balance and Composure are their own band. The five met in high school, forming the band in 2007. Though Doylestown is a small township with a population of approximately 8,500, its position between two major metropolitan areas produces an interesting mix big city culture with small town living, an aspect of which the band took advantage.

“It’s a small mountain town,” Simmons’ said. “It’s pretty cool. We are lucky because it has a music scene. It’s more of a punk rock feel.”

Songwriting is a collaborative effort for the band. Simmons, along with Andrew Slaymaker and Erik Peterson share guitar responsibilities. Matthew Warner and Bailey Van Ellis create the rhythm section, playing bass and drums respectively. Multi-instrumental Ellis also adds to guitar writing at times. Simmons tends to keep the lyric writing duties to himself.

“I use life experiences for sure,” he said. “At our age, we are living a lot, just trying to find yourself.”

The band's current tour crosses the country, taking it from California to New York, playing markets of many sizes. Simmons said the band doesn’t compare venues and fans and looks forward to returning to Oklahoma City.

“We don’t look at cities differently,” he said. “Last time we were there, we had so much fun. People can expect a loud, emotional experience.”

 

 

 

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