Interviews

Who’s your musical inspiration? BALKO found their groove thanks to a high school music teacher

Like the shimmering light at the end of a very dark tunnel, BALKO were drawn to rock music after the “tedious struggle” that was high school.

Happy got together with the four boys from the Eastern ‘burbs to chat about their biggest inspiration and the effort of piecing together four diverse musical minds.

Photo by Robbie Trayner

BALKO are a tasty “melting pot” of four diverse musical minds who couldn’t have done it without the paradox of high school.

BALKO began as Founded in 1908 by Asher Degrey and Jack Bennett before recruiting Tom Wakim on drums and stumbling upon  “Jeeves (Jordan Eves) on the street.”

While school can be a killer of creative ambission, musical inspiration came from Degrey and Bennett’s high school music teacher who they named their band after.

“We always thought it would be an epic homage to have your old teacher’s name representing you. Plus, his nickname sounded cool.”

In April, they released their debut record Operatic Optimism. Reflective of each member’s individual style and experience, the EP is diverse in stories, sonics and concepts, Bennett describing it as a “piece of work that explored different avenues of music.”

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Although Bennett says the process of putting together the EP “seemed pretty organic” it was also a challenge trying to maintain the spontaneity  of their gigs which meant constant takes of “guitar solos and synth ideas (and) different ways of singing certain parts.”

In the end, BALKO teed up with Luke Bertoz at Yap Yap studios to translate their various ideas.

“We tried our best as a band to keep a live feel for the EP. We love playing live, we love to change things up live, chuck in new ideas in a section. So bringing that to a recording environment was interesting.”

Take S.A.P, the last track on record, which ends on a scream which the boys were uncertain about but added it anyway for the “wackiness.” In Sometimes they wanted to strip back the layers.

“We wanted to write and structure them in a way that allows people to interpret them however they want. I think that’s an important aspect of music and art in general. In saying that, there are definitely some emotions and themes involved with the songs.

“False Prophet kind of reflects being young and naive, thinking you know how things work, Thumb is pretty much the opposite of that.”

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Balko released their debut EP, Operatic Optimism, in April this year – check out the review by Tom Cameron here!

“These four smiley lads from Sydney have thrown shade at rock stereotypes by embodying its polar opposite; a heightened, clowny state of glass-half-fullness that’s completely enchanting.”