Since the debut of The Joy Formidable’s first EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, in early 2009, the UK-based trio hasn’t stopped to take a breath. Led by the feisty vocalist/guitarist, Ritzy Bryan, the alternative/dream pop outfit has spent the last three years primarily on the road, stopping only to record its debut LP The Big Roar in 2011, and its sophomore effort, which is slated for release later this year. The outfit will be spending the second part of March in North America, and amidst pre-tour planning, Bryan was kind enough to chat with me about the beauty of DIY, being part of the Twilight: Breaking Dawn soundtrack, and a few details of the new album.
Katrina Nattress: Ritzy, you spent some time in Washington DC before moving back to Wales and forming the band. What made you decide to move back?
Ritzy Bryan: I got a phone call from Rhydian who I'd not seen for a couple of years. He had a band in Manchester that was guitar-less. I was intrigued, impulsive and on a plane within the week.
KN: For the most part, TJF continues to focus on DIY techniques, even with its growing success. What do you feel are the benefits to this style?
RB: It's a simple case of having full creative control and being proactive artistically. I think the DIY tag is misguiding, because we work with some great people, our label, our management and the team around us. We're at the helm of all the creative decision, and I can't imagine working in any other way.
KN: You took a bit of time between releasing your debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, and your LP, The Big Roar. What was the reason for this?
RB: We released ABCM in 2009, then we toured for a year. We made a live album, put out a scattering of other recordings, and then The Big Roar appeared in early 2011.
KN: Tell me about the recording process for The Big Roar.
RB: It was intense, claustrophobic and strangely magical. Rhyds and I produced most of it between our studios in North Wales and London and we had the greatest allies in Rich Costey and Neak Menter.
KN: You spend a lot of time on the road. How many days out of the year do you dedicate to touring?
RB: Around 62 lunar months.
KN: What’s your favorite part about touring?
RB: The variety, the camaraderie and the sleepless nights.
KN: What do you miss most about home when you’re on the road?
RB: Not much other than friends, family, furry family.
KN: You’ve played with some impressive bands. What’s been your most memorable tour to date?
RB: We had a great time with Foos. We miss The Dig and Fang Island. The evening with Paul McCartney was very memorable. And we always love our headline tours.
KN: Aside from playing clubs, you’ve played numerous festivals. How do these performances differ from playing at a conventional venue?
RB: They tend to be outside. And sometimes there's a hotdog stall.
KN: Which do you prefer, playing a festival or a club?
RB: Every gig is different; the surroundings are irrelevant; that's the beauty of it.
KN: How did it feel to have “Endtapes,” featured in the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn film soundtrack?
RB: They have a great legacy of soundtracks. We wrote the song during The Big Roar sessions, so we're glad to have released it and for it to reach a different audience.
KN: What can you tell me about the new record?
RB: I can tell you that it's finished and we'll be sharing it later this year.
KN: When can we expect to hear some tracks?
RB: Soon, when we're ready.
KN: Have you been playing new material at your shows?
RB: Not yet. We débuted one track in the UK earlier this month, but that was a surprise.
KN: What can we expect from TJF in 2012?
RB: We'll be playing a handful of festivals, working on some other musical projects and being kept busy by our new album.
Catch The Joy Formidable in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 14 at The Mayan Theater. Doors at 7 pm. $33.15. All Ages.