INTERVIEW: NE-HI

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Chicago band NE-HI are in the middle of an exciting time. The band’s first release on Grand Jury Records,  “Offers”, just came out last week. The band is also approaching the halfway point of a four-month tour that is taking them around the country. They’ll be in Milwaukee at Riverwest Public House this Sunday, but, we caught up with guitarist/vocalist Jason Balla ahead of time to talk about the album, touring, and more.

 

B&E: Introduce yourselves! Who are you?

JB: We are Alex Otake, James Weir, Jason Balla and Mikey Wells. Together we form the rock outfit NE-HI. We’re all Midwestern transplants who now call Chicago home. We’ve been making music together for the past few years and have been touring for about as long.

B&E: Your new album, “Offers” will be out soon. What was the experience of making this record like?

JB: We’re so excited for the record to come out! We set to writing songs to follow our first s/t release and in the process met the fine folks at our label Grand Jury. After two stints in a studio in Humboldt Park, with some revision, some excision, and the help of our friend/engineer Dave Vettraino we had a finished record on our hands.

B&E: Are there any bands/styles that influenced this record?

JB: I would say post punk, or the idea of post punk was a big influence on the making of this record. We wrote and recorded the record in the winter and I think the darker tones and angular melodies really complimented our surroundings and head spaces. The band Wire was on repeat especially often.

B&E: You guys are on a long tour after the record is out. What do you look forward to most about touring?

JB: Aside from performing every night, I most look forward to waking up at a friend’s house the day after a concert and sharing a cup of coffee and some chat. I’m a total sucker for most morning rituals and it’s made all the better by spending the time with old friends who live far away and we don’t always get to see.

B&E: Being relatively close to Milwaukee, do you ever get to check out some of the music scene here?

JB:  I definitely get out here a couple times a year. Our buddies play in a few groups around town. My favorite places to catch a show are Riverwest Public house and High Dive. A highlight of visiting MKE for everyone in the band is the routine stop at our favorite tiki bar, The Foundation. They got blue drinks and puffer fish!

B&E:  Lastly, you’re coming to Milwaukee from Chicago. Do you abandon Old Style for PBR (or another Milwaukee beer) when you’re here?

JB: If it’s cheap we’ll drink it.

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