To say The Joy Formidable’s star has risen quickly would be an understatement. From their beginnings as a North Walian three-piece formed from the ashes of Manchester band Tricky Nixon, the band have quick-stepped through the minor leagues off the back of self-releases, a re-location to London and a lot of touring. Having been picked up by major label Atlantic, the band released debut album The Big Roar earlier this year, which was produced by Rich Costey (Muse, My Chemical Romance, Franz Ferdinand). They are presently breaking the LP over in the States and have been asked to support the Foo Fighters on tour this November by self-proclaimed fan Dave Grohl. The MMP caught up with Wales’ newest superstars to see how they are adjusting to it all.
What music have you each been listening to recently?
John Grant, Dutch Uncles, Mono, 18th Dye, Anna Calvi, Patti Smith, Fang Island and many more.
Does any member of the band like to be in charge of the music selection on the tour bus?
It’s a free for all, fortunately none of us are cd – player dictators. We occasionally have to throw Matt out the window, there has to be SOME time limit on experimental jazz.
Does anyone have any “guilty pleasures” musically?
Sure, we love great music, but there’s no snobbery here. Different tracks serve different purposes. Haddaway finds itself into our pre-show warm up music; it makes us go a bit loopy. Men at Work has the same effect, though it has been known to make Rhydian cry.
What was it like having a pretty big producer (Rich Costey) work on the album? Did both parties share the same vision for the sound or was it more complicated?
We have a great relationship with Rich, a lot of respect and it was a very intuitive, productive relationship. That’s not to say we didn’t challenge each other. I’m sure we drove him nuts but that’s what happens when both parties are passionate and as a band we have a very clear idea of what we want. He’s tremendously talented & I hope we get to work with him again.
How have the band’s performances been received by American audiences at your live shows so far?
It’s been a great year. It’s very simple. We put everything into our live performances and everything tends to fall into place after that. There’s a real love of live music in the States & that is something we’ve been feeling at the shows, we feel very welcome.
Is there much of a difference playing one country to the next, and if so, which has been your favourite?
Touring throws up so much variety its hard to choose favourites, every night is different. We have so many fond memories, even the bad ones in high insight take on some nostalgic hilarity. From the freezing cold drives through Scandinavia in Winter to the boiling heat of the Mojave Desert; mountains, glaciers, lakes, we’ve seen a lot & it’s a beautiful ole world out there.
Dave Grohl is apparently a fan and you’re going to be touring with the Foo Fighters this November. How did that come about and how excited are you all?
What’s heart-warming about that story is that it came about very naturally. He heard Whirring on the radio in Seattle and hummed the tune home so he could look up the band. It should always be about the music, and for someone who’s has achieved so much to still have a down to earth attitude it really strikes a chord with us. Great guys. Great band. We’re very excited.
Who was responsible for the album artwork? It looks like Rhydian’s handiwork.
Yes, its Rhydians artwork with ideas jammed between us. The visuals and the music are very much entwined
You’re a new band that has reached a successful level fairly quickly. What single piece of vital advice would you give to other new bands who might want to follow in your footsteps?
We’re not in habit of giving out advice, every band should carve and follow their own path. Stick to the path and you’ll be alright, just don’t veer into the woods.
Is the music industry really screwed?
Not at all. Not whilst there’s great artists out there. It’s a different fight, different rules but it’s not screwed until people stop caring about new music& musical diversity. There’s still hope where that’s concerned.
What’s the best pizza topping?
Artichoke hearts, mushrooms and roasted red peppers.