Wednesday 23 January 2013, 10:36 | By Andy Malt
Q&A: The Joy Formidable
Having made a name for themselves on both sides of the Atlantic with blistering live performances and their self-released debut EP, ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’, The Joy Formidable released their first album, ‘The Big Roar’, through the Warner/Atlantic-affiliated Canvasback Records in 2011.
Having supported Muse on their UK arena tour last year, the band released their second album, ‘Wolf’s Law’, this week. Last night they began a hefty run of headline shows to promote it, but before that, CMU’s Andy Malt managed to grab frontwoman Ritzy Bryan for a quick chat.
AM: There were two years between the release dates of your debut album and ‘Wolf’s Law’, how have things changed for you in that time?
RB: Matt now has three hairs on his chest and Rhydian can finally bake a soufflé. We’ve been busy.
AM: Did you consciously leave such a gap between the two albums?
RB: We’re happily unconscious of time, there’s been no waiting, no hanging around. We finished touring ‘The Big Roar’ in March 2012, the new album was already written, so there hasn’t actually been a gap, but it’s whatever the band needs, we’re in control of it ultimately.
AM: How has the reception to the two new singles you’ve released so far been?
RB: That I don’t know, but validation comes from yourself and having no creative regrets. We’re proud of everything that we share, otherwise it wouldn’t be out there. We’ve been putting them in the set and the gigs have felt great, we’ve even noticed the crowd making very particular moves to ‘Maw Maw Song’, so we’ll see if that continues to catch on!
AM: How has your sound developed on ‘Wolf’s Law’?
RB: There’s a lot of breadth on the new album, thematically and instrumentally. We really enjoyed the challenge of composing some of these new songs. Tracks like ‘The Turnaround’ were a real labour of love, there’s so many string and choral sections to weave together, but it was a fantastic moment hearing it all come together in the studio.
AM: Do you write with live performance in mind, or record and then adapt? Has that changed over the course of your career?
RB: We’ve never wanted the recording process to feel restricted, so it’s whatever the song needs, let it take you to wherever it wants to go. I get bored by bands who play complete replicas of their album live anyway, it’s much more exciting to find the live character of songs even if that involves some deconstructing and reconstructing.
AM: Tell us about the artwork for ‘Wolf’s Law’. Is Martin Wittfooth an artist you were aware of previously? What drew you to him?
RB: We met Martin in Brooklyn, NYC last year. He’d just started work on a new exhibition called ‘Empire’ and we were blown away by the paintings in his studio. His style is dramatic, fresh and modern in their subject but with a classical aesthetic, and we just clicked. We’d just started mixing the record and we knew we wanted Martin to paint the cover.
AM: You’re signed to a relatively small label within the Warner Music Group, how do you think that affects your experience of the music industry? Do you feel like a major label band?
RB: We love working with Canvasback. We have a free reign creatively, a great relationship and a shared vision and that’s all that matters. It’s about the people and the enthusiasm, it’s irrelevant whether it’s a major or an indie.
AM: With the album release out of the way so early in the year, what are your hopes and plans for the rest of 2013?
RB: We can’t wait to get back on the road, we have a lot of ground we want to cover, a lot of people we want to see. The new album sounds great live, so we’re excited; raring to get out there and share it. We’ve also started work on a Welsh EP, which is something different, especially for me as its my second language, and we always have something cooking in the pot creatively, so it bodes to be a really busy, exciting year.