INTERVIEW WITH THE JOY FORMIDABLE
They’re one of Bristol Big Jeff’s favourite bands, they recently supported the Manic Street Preachers at their Cardiff homecoming gig and they’re currently making waves in the States (something many British bands could only dream of); so, what is it about The Joy Formidable which makes people go oooo. First up, we have the joyous collaboration between real-life couple Rhydian and Ritzy (could be the start of some 80s cult romance flick), then with have the formidable personality that is Ritzy. Finally we have undeniably energetic, catchy, slightly lo-fi indie.
Laura Williams snatched 10 minutes with Ritzy as the band drove from Ohio towards Rochester, nr New York, for another headline show. Ritzy explained: “We have been doing a lot of festivals in America and Canada and we have gone on to have some headline shows. It’s been a great tour. We have seen some great things and met some great people.” She added: “The festivals are pretty similar, but obviously much hotter – it has given our pasty Welsh complexions a bit of sunshine.” (Worth noting her disappointment as I explained we were in the middle of an October heatwave here in the UK). And on that note, Ritzy told us how much she was looking forward to their gig at Swn festival this month. She said: “We’re really looking excited about coming back home. It will be the the last UK tour of the year. We always have a great time in Cardiff. Although we’re from North Wales, Cardiff and some other places around the country, have very much adopted us.” Last time the group played in Cardiff, they were supporting local heroes the Manic Street Preachers, a band close to The Joy Formidable’s heart. Ritzy said: “The Manics’ crowd were a great crowd. The Manics were hugely important to us. The early albums were on heavy rotation when I was growing up. I used to love the Holy Bible.”
Talking of albums, when can we expect another Joy Formidable album? Well, according to Ritzy – next year. She says they’ve been busy writing and are waiting to hit the rehearsal rooms where they can put it all together – with a view to recording and releasing it next year. She said: “We have been writing such a lot. But everything is all very chaotic at the moment. There are so many bits of paper all over the van. I’m quite looking forward to Christmas when we can make sense of all of that. It’s quite hard in a van. Everything we record has a lot of van noise over it. It could be our signature sound on the next album but it really does not sound that good.” While the van (and being on the road in general) clearly has its limits when it comes to recording new material, Ritzy conceded it also has its benefits and has left them with reams of potential new material for when they go into the studio. She said: “Some bands find it hard to write when they are touring but there’s so much time, what with those long 14 hour journeys, which is when we have those times for reflection really. A lot of other time there are distractions and it should never be a forced process.”
Ritzy said the audiences had been very good to them and hinted at a few Big Jeff type characters they’d picked up along the way. (For those who don’t already know – and where have you been? -Big Jeff is the most prolific gig goer in Bristol. Identifyable by his signature blonde curly locks and unrelentless air drumming, you’ll find him at the front of most gigs. You can also read about his monthly exploits HERE.) “Big Jeff is great,” said Ritzy. “It doesn’t matter what the tempo of the song is, he’s moving. I love people who lose themselves in the music or the moment. It creates exhuberance during the gig and it’s really great to see.” But Bristol-folk, if you thought Big Jeff was a one off, think again. Ritzy added: “There are hundreds of characters like that across the UK and we are starting to find a few in the States.” She added: “We have got some very loyal fans. We have got people who come to every show on tour and we think of the money they invest. We wouldn’t be anywhere without our fans. We’ve always been very focused on making a proper fan-community. I know so many of them and that just comes from meeting them at shows. We took a few out for a curry recently. They are absolutely vital to us.”
The Joy Formidable play Cardiff SWN Festival on October 21. More info HERE.
by 247 Magazine