The Story of
the Great Balancing Act
Hi. My name is Jeep Jones. I started this band waaaaaaaay back in the mid 90's when I was living in Montreal. I had been co-founder of a couple of great bands which had run their course ( Moncton's Sintax Error and Montreal's Planète X ). Now I wanted to start something fresh and new. But what? I was (and still am) a big fan of the Velvet Underground, and I loved their attitude of doing the opposite of what was trendy at the time. While everybody was into peace and love and flower power fashion, the Velvets dressed in black and sang about death and sadomasochism. By 1994, grunge and death metal and shoe gazer rock were big. It was all about darkness and angst. Everybody dressed in black or plaid. Clearly, the most punk thing I could do was start a happy disco band with a real positive, life affirming attitude. I had just seen The Muppet Movie and I thought "Yeah, that's the stuff right there. Kermit the Frog riding a bicycle on a sunny day. And that muppet band, Dr. Tooth and the Electric Mayhem! I needed a cool name like that, so I went down to the bookstore and headed straight for the Dr. Seuss section. It was in Oh the Places You Will Go! the last book Seuss ever wrote, that I stumbled upon this phrase:
So now I had a name and a vision. All I needed was a band. I first saw Nina riding down St-Laurent on a vintage bicycle, in a bright yellow dress wit her turquoise hair showing beneath a red Sly Stone hat. "Who is this magical butterfly creature?" I mused. About a month later, I stumbled into the now legendary cafe Phoenix and to my great surprise, there she was, here at my table taking my order. "I'll have the lentil soup" I said, trying to appear cool and calm. I think she was wearing old school roller skates. The Phoenix was a strange place. We were drawn to each other immediately and began writing and singing harmonies together from the get go. I played acoustic guitar and Nina played an African clay drum (called an Udu drum). We were anxious to perform, but we needed a name. Well, I happened to have one in my back pocket. The Great Balancing Act released their first album, Swamplands in 1994 (on cassette).
The following year, we travelled and played across the US, ending up on Salt Spring Island BC, where we first experimented with being an electric band. I bought Nina a bass and we recruited my old friend Michael on drums. That summer, we moved to my hometown of Moncton. We quickly formed a new band with DanO LeBlanc who at the time was playing with a band called Godspeed You Black Emperor! We were also joined by the elusive Bendy Wendy who sang and played toys. With this lineup, we recorded another cassette release: the excellent Low Ride ep. Shortly after that, we recorded our first CD lp, Spring with Rob Robichaud providing some bass and djembe. Fred Weltall of Planete X joined us on keys and though Rob left us, Fred would stick around to tour and record the infamous Blelvis ep.
The most well known lineup was formed in 1998 and featured Gilles Gaudet on drums, Alex Madsen on lead guitar and vocals, and later, Kim Wilmot on violin and vocals. It was this lineup that recorded the albums Summer and Dream. We toured the Maritimes extensively with this band and made quite a name for ourselves.
The year 2000 saw chanteuse extraordinaire Lullaby Baxter enter the picture. We had backed her up for a couple of gigs and eventually decided to merge the two acts together. This was a strange beast indeed. The Great Balancing Act, featuring Lullaby Baxter was a crazy circus sideshow of a band. We toured the country, all of us dressed like circus clowns in drag. Our show was insanely fun, but the music itself wasn't really working for any of us. I don't know what you would call it. Imagine Patsy Cline fronting Sly and the Family Stone, and everyone is dressed as KISS. After this tour, everyone split up and went their separate ways.
Although no longer touring, in 2005, Nina and I wrote a new batch of songs for a new album. I was fascinated by Leonard Cohen's New Skin For the Old Ceremony, which sounds almost like a solo acoustic album, and yet features all kinds of interesting, subtle arrangements. A sound that is sparse, yet somehow rich in texture. I thought Nina and I might want to try something like this, returning to our simple folky roots as a duo, while still adding colour and arrangements. 2 Birds was very successful in achieving this and features superb contributions from GBA alumni Kim Wilmot, Gilles Gaudet and Alex Madsen. This would be the last we hear from the band until...
In 2011, Nina and I decided to give the band another go after we discovered our good friend Sara Parks had a real affinity for the drums. Her style was refreshingly simple, and squarely in the pocket. I'd always loved the sound of Liz Phair's first album and I figured a simple trio might result in something along those lines. Plus, Sara could sing, so that was exciting. There was an ABBA-esque thing happening here! So we dusted off the guitars and amps and together we wrote and toured a new album: Cherry Bomb. As a bonus, Mr. Alex Madsen added some sweet guitar bits to the record. Then Sara moved to England and the band was back on hiatus.
In 2020, Nina and I began writing some more songs just for the heck of it. Last summer we toured the East Coast with old friend Petunia, to overwhelmingly positive response. The lineup featured John McLaren on guitar and Danielle Lee on drums. Today, we are working on the new album to be released in the fall: Planet of Song, featuring Sir Gilles Gaudet on drums and Gab Kerouac on keys. Sir Gilles recorded his drum tracks from his home in Wakefield and continues to be an active participant in GBA shenanigans. And now, joining us on drums for live duty here in the Maritimes is the sensational Harsh Patel.