We were introduced to The Joy Formidable back in 2009 at Hop Farm Festival and subsequently we’ve never looked back. We caught up with the band at the recent ‘Summercamp’ Festival in Liverpool, in a dingy car park on their lush tour bus we spoke to singer/guitarist Rhiannon "Ritzy" Bryan, bassist Rhydian Dafydd, and drummer Matthew James Thomas.
You seem to have spent your life on the road since the release of ‘Wolf’s Law’ either here or predominantly in the US. Do you have any favourite places you like playing?
Ritzy: Over the last year?
Rhyd: You need a good memory for that.
Ritzy: Selfishly coming back home, especially to North Wales, Home coming gigs are always amazing, Manchester is always good, generally coming home is always good, we love it.
This summer was our first time in Sweden and Hungary and Sziget Festival was amazing.
Do you get to see any of the places you visit?
Ritzy: We don’t really get to see a lot of the places – If we like a place and then we get time off we will go back.
But if we do get the opportunity to spend some time at the place were gigging, we like to soak up the atmosphere.
What’s your least favourite thing about being on the road and do you get sick of each other?
Rhyd: We’re pretty good at not getting sick of each other. Sometimes it’s hard to find your sea faring legs.
We’ve toured in caravan’s, Matt’s Nissan and Ritzy’s Golf, slept in the back of vans and its still hard to find your sea faring legs. We’re so lucky on this tour as we have a proper tour bus, BUT you have to get used to being thrown around the bus.
Ritzy: I want my own bed syndrome comes in to play, but I have nowhere to live at the moment so occasionally it would be nice to sleep in a bed that doesn’t move.
Rhyd: Being away from family and friends is hard, we don’t take anything for granted, we never moan.
Ritzy: We hate moaners.
Matt: 3G blackspots are the most annoying things about being on the road.
Rhyd: Or if the Tour Manager has decided that you have to have your day off in a car park some where with nothing to do, We say can we just not go somewhere like white water rafting or walking in the hills, not in a grey car park in the middle of nowhere.
Matt: or just eating McDonalds.
You’ve played so many festivals over the last few months including Sziget, Firefly, Truck Fest, Boardmasters and obviously Summercamp. Who decides the set list and do you tailor make it to the kind of audience who you’re playing to?
Rhyd: We don’t tailor make the sets.
Ritzy: We do swap it up, it’s a feel thing, like constantly making a fucking mix tape, d’you know what I mean? Its about what feels good, the vibe, We’re very aware of wanting to keep ourselves through the course of the songs, so there’s a different flavour coming, you know with every moment we impact and there we like to pull it back.
Rhyd: Keeping yourselves on your toes on tour, we don’t do the same set all the time.
Ritzy: Its that that guides us and we have a lot to choose from as well, were two albums in, but we’ve got a back catalogue that’s not existed on those albums and we’ve certainly never been afraid of playing stuff like that that people haven’t heard before. If we wanna fucking play it, we’ll play it.
Rhyd: It’s more important to do that to challenge people as catering for them.
There’s a lot of bands out there that play the same thing all the time and people expect it I think, think that’s why you’re quite different.
At Boardmasters it was a quite chilled vibe, when you came on, on the second day, everyone was like ‘What the Fuck’??!!
Matt: We were sandwiched between some acoustic acts.
Rhyd: We thought it was cool.
I remember Rhyd coming to the front of the stage and shouting at the front row ‘Come on You Fuckers’
The band: laughs.
You seem to be really hyped up on stage, your all mental and totally bonkers, especially like at Boardmasters, Ritzy tried to kick in Matt’s bass drum and bashes the symbols and she even sat on Rhyd, we particularly like the madness and pandemonium on stage, where do you get your energy from, it’s like you’ve plugged yourself in to the mains electric.
Ritzy: It’s a tricky one, but erm, it should be always be like a conversation.
Rhyd: Its really emotive stuff, you go through the rollercoaster of emotions that you had when you were writing the songs, then there’s that and also, you know, it kinda depends on the gig and people getting involved, we don’t like this thing where the audience just go through the motions.
There’s a separation between you and the audience, you know, so if an audience is a little bit like that, it’s like ‘Why are you Fucking Here’, they might as well have fucking stayed at home to watch the telly than not get involved – ‘Are you not watching the Fucking Show?’
So yeah, there’s multiple reasons why we get the red mist.
We saw an acoustic set you did for a US radio station(KEXP) a few months ago. Have you ever thought about doing an acoustic show in the UK so fans get to see another side of The Joy Formidable?
Ritzy: We did three shows where we split the show into two halves. The first half we called it ‘The Camp Fire Sessions’, where we actually played in the pit, we got a fake camp fire and a couple of model bunnies, we did half the set acoustically and then we played the other half full electric. We only did three shows like this, we’d definitely like to do more stuff like this, at the moment were doing a lot of writing, we’re not quite sure, there’s a lot of new material and there’s several acoustic songs within the material, so there is a feeling that at some point that its something that would open out even more, rather that it being just acoustic versions or fully electric songs.
When we came to see you on the Wolf’s Law tour at Wolverhampton, you did an all electric set, but then did an acoustic version of ‘Silent Treatment’ and I think it shocked everybody that you could do that type of material, even though they might have bought the album, that song, the way you sang it was amazing and it stuck with me, every time it comes on my stereo in the car I jack it up.
The band: laughs.
I was shocked because Rhyd seems to be able to play everything, he’s very talented….
Ritzy: For someone who looks so stupid!
Ritzy is always horrible to Rhyd on stage…
Rhyd, how many instruments can you play?
Ritzy: Yeah, he’s very talented at playing one pink instrument .
Matt: Rhyd’s the master of the Pink Flute.
Rhyd: Mainly guitar, keyboard, bass, piano, I dabble in other things to.
Have you also done any of the art work on any of the previous releases?
Rhyd: I’ve always done the sleeves up until the last album, and it wasn’t because we were lazy, we found an artist who came and spoke to us and his material was kinda similar to the stuff we were writing at the time, but, yeah, absolutely, we’ll see how it goes for the next album.
Ritzy: It depends, its gotta mean something, its gotta feel like it adds to the album and the material your writing obviously.
I hope you (Rhyd) wanna do some more, You’ve just done some designs for merchandise which is cool.
Ritzy you play the guitar so well, where did you learn to play and who were/are your influences?
Ritzy: I suppose my Mum and Dad love music, but they’re not musical themselves, so they kinda wanted me to get into an instrument, so it started off with the flute, but I used to pass out every time I used to play it, then they sent me for harp lessons, its one big fucking instrument to carry around with you, especially when your a little gnome like me. (WE all laughed so much at this), so obviously that went out of the window.
Guitar was the first instrument where I thought you can take this to school and you can make it sound good kinda straight away and you can write songs on it.
It was like the first instrument that stuck. I was 8 years old and I used to love writing songs more than anything, rather than just playing it was about everything, the lyrics especially.
You’ve supported so many bands, The Black Keys, The Foos and Muse to name a few, who is your favourite and why?
Ritzy: Foo Fighters for me, just the camaraderie and backstage on that tour, and the way that the tour came about, it was really honest.
Dave (Grohl) had heard the song and acted on it and invited us to play, it wasn’t about labels getting involved or agents, it was just very honest and I think that meant something to us because I think its really important as I think you should all be championed or championing new bands. Supporting things you’re in to, it’s really important.
What does the future hold for The Joy Formidable?
Ritzy: Immediate future, think we’ve got another few nights on tour on this bus, then we go home for a week to see our families, then were heading to the US to support Passion Pit.
When do you think the new album will be out?
Rhyd: Its so hard to say, we’re just like doing and doing at the moment, there’s a load of material but you know, you never quite know how much kinda more that’s left until you go and record the album, you don’t know how long its gonna take to record it.
Rhyd: I think what were hoping for is to get it out at some point next year.
Ritzy: I guess at the moment we don’t wanna put dates, times and restrictions in place, we just wanna really be free with it.
It’ll be fresher then...
Ritzy: Yeah and who’ll know what will come in between and thats the thing, we still haven’t released a live album since before our first album. We’ve definitely changed and grown as a band since the first album we did, so that would be something, we’d like to capture, there’s a lot of acoustic material, it could be on an acoustic EP or a Welsh EP something like that. But at the same time there is a real fire at the moment for another full third album as well, so we’ll see.
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