Interview with The Joy Formidable [20 March 2010]

Entering the reasonably salubrious surroundings of the Academy 3 dressing rooms we’re met by two thirds of The Joy Formidable. Lead singer Ritzy’s curled up demolishing a pot of hummus and packet of pitta bread and co-vocalist and guitarist Rhydian’s sipping a beer.  Drummer Matt joins us, wrapping bits of tape around what’s left of his fingers and we’re all set for a delightfully ramshackle interview (you can blame me for that…I’m no Alan Carr…I might look a little like him and I’m as camp as tits but that’s as far the comparison stretches). We start off by randomly discussing such pressing matters as floating poo, Rhyl, flatmates and Walsall before I remembered what we were there for and actually got my scrappy list of questions out. Here, in some sort of order, are the highlights:

Gig Junkies: How’s the tour going so far and what have the highlights been?

Rhydian: It’s been great…

Ritzy: Yes, every show’s been pretty much sold out and there’s been really vibey crowds. I think there’s been a sense that, as we’ve been doing lots of supporting shows that “Yay, they’re headlining!” so now we can do more than half an hour and we’ve been lapping that up. Highlights…

Matt: Artichoke hearts…in Leeds. That was a highlight!

Ritzy: Yeah, I think Leeds was a double whammy ‘cos we got the artichoke hearts and a good crowd.

Matt: We didn’t expressly ask for them.

Ritzy: We could’ve just ended up with artichoke hearts…in fact let’s have a bit of fun with this…if any promoters are listening just give us fucking raw artichokes!

Matt: YES!

Wayne (Gig Junkies photographer): Just a warning…artichokes are poisonous if eaten raw.

Ritzy: Ahhhh…I like a good poisoning.

Gig Junkies: This is the world’s most random interview already…facts about artichokes…er…Matt…am I right in believing you joined the band in the middle of last year?

Matt: Er…no…the start of last year. The 2nd January.  

Gig Junkies: And how’s that changed the dynamic or sound of the band?

Rhydian: It’s changed things quite dramatically really ‘cos Matt’s a really hard hitting drummer and exactly what we were looking for as well. He brings so much energy, especially live. We were talking about this earlier on. As soon as Matt joined we had a first gig in Paris the following week, completely thrown in at the deep end and it was like we’d been playing together for years.

Gig Junkies: And Matt, were you a fan of the band before you joined? Had you seen them before?

Matt: I hadn’t actually. I was just trawling the Internet and auditioning for hundreds of bands, but you know how it is, you audition for so many things and they’re rubbish then something stands out…and that’s what happened both ways.

Gig Junkies: I’d like to talk now about videos. I was watching a dirty video (the video for Austere featured various fans…er…pleasuring themselves off camera – you could just see their faces…You Tube banned it!) that you did…

Ritzy: We didn’t!

Gig Junkies: No, okay, it was the fans that did that, whose idea was that to invite fans to…

Rhydian: It wasn’t even an invitation, we just happened to see it and we really liked it. It wasn’t that pornographic. It was just really inventive. I think anything like that that crops up, it’s just nice to interact with fans, keep things interesting.

Ritzy: There was that pretzel one too, in fact that was ruder than the fucking wanking one in some respects. That was insane…

Gig Junkies: That Jiminy Cricket one that you’ve got at the moment, where you’ve just invited people to send in videos for…that’s your idea…you’ve got fans sending in videos.

Rhydian: Yeah, they’ve compiled it now actually. It’s looking really good.

Gig Junkies: What was the scariest one you’ve had in?

Ritzy: Uh…I know the answer to this. The one where they cut out my head, like loads of different faces, then they cut out the lips and shoved their own lips through it and there was this robotic voice, kind of synthesised and they were just following the lyrics.

Rhydian: It was like something out of American Psycho.

Matt: I really liked it…

Rhydian: Yeah, there’s a lot of creative people out there.

Gig Junkies: Yes, creative / unhinged…as a band you do a lot of the stuff yourself, producing recording, promoting, what’s your standpoint on downloading music?

Rhydian: I think artists have to get it into their heads that it’s not just giving it away ‘willy nilly’ and that’s it…

Ritzy: For free you mean?

Gig Junkies: Yes.

Matt: Keep it legal!  

Rhydian: I think the thing is, it’s gonna happen, you just have to trust that fans are going to come back to you and they do, you know.  

Ritzy: Well they do if it’s good.

Gig Junkies: It seems that the live music scene is getting more and more vibrant and perhaps the recorded side of music is almost a trailer to get people into the gigs.

Rhydian: Yeah, but it would be nice to shift it back. Like with the new album we’ve just finished. It feels more like a journey. You have to actually work at it a little as well, it’s not just a bunch of singles. You have to listen to the whole thing and that’s a conscious decision. I’m a bit of a traditionalist in that way. It would be nice if the recorded thing doesn’t just get homogenised and lost and you know what to expect from songs.

Gig Junkies: Speaking of the new album, has it got a title yet? Are you prepared to reveal the title…exclusively!

Matt: Not yet.

Gig Junkies: Awww come on…Artichoke Hearts…let’s go for that!

Rhydian:  It’s only just finished. It’s not finalised in terms of every aspect of it yet. In terms of the recording though it’s pretty much there. Maybe in two or three months time we’ll put it out, we’re talking to some labels and there’s a possibility it might be out later ‘cos of scheduling and stuff.

Gig Junkies: So when might it be coming out, what sort of month?

Ritzy: I’d say the earliest June, the latest August.

There then followed an in depth chat about record labels, doing it for yourself and raising the money to make all of this happen…

Rhydian: I think there’s a lot of different avenues to get money these days through.

Ritzy: Off you pop then, get down the docks!

Matt: Get your avenues out! Come on then…

Gig Junkies: Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to collaborate, work or tour with?

Rhydian: Definitely, I would love to collaborate or tour with Mew.

Ritzy: I’d like to do something with Flaming Lips.

Rhydian: Everything Everything, they’re doing something interesting. I quite like some of Grizzly Bear’s recent stuff. I listened to Band of Horses the other day too, I quite like some of their tracks. Passion Pit, we were talking about maybe taking one of their songs and reworking it just because I think they would lend itself to our way.

Ritzy: They’re such great songs…

Rhydian: And lyrics too.

Gig Junkies: What would you like the band to achieve over the next twelve months?

Rhydian: Just expanding on where we’re at at the moment really. We’re really happy with how it’s working out, ‘cos we’re not making people like us, it’s been a steady growth. I think building on the loyal fanbase, and we’ve definitely got a loyal fanbase. It means a lot to us.

Ritzy: I was going to say the same thing. For us there’s still so much lust for the whole thing and, maybe I’m naive, but it’s certainly not going to change for a long time.

Rhydian: Yeah, conquer the world I suppose!

Matt: Why limit yourself to the world when you’ve got a universe! First gig on the moon. Whoohooohoo!

Gig Junkies:  Final question. You must get bored being interviewed by twerps like us over and over again. Is there any question that you’d like someone to ask you?

Ritzy: I’d quite like someone to ask me “Would you like a goat?” and I could go “Yes” and then it just miraculously appeared.

Gig Junkies: Wow. Wayne, you got the goat?

Wayne:  It is Birmingham.

Matt: Town of dreams. City of dreams. Birmingham.

Gig Junkies: It is. It’s the place where dreams happen. Is there anything behind the goat idea?

Rhydian: Oh she’s just got a thing for goats. It’s the only child thing. She’ll make friends with anything…

Ritzy: Oh I hate this “only child” thing! There’s two things that Rhydian does that really annoys me. Fuck you! Or “it’s a woman thing”. Really fuck you.

Rhydian: No. I never say anything like that!

Ritzy: You fucking dickless bastard…(laughs like a drain)

Gig Junkies: Ooooh the juicy stuff. Oh I’ve got to capture this.

Tour Manager: They do curried goat across the road.

Ritzy: That’s not quite the angle I was going for. 

Rhydian: No, she wants to hug it.  

Ritzy: Yeah, and I want it to sleep in my bed and it could sit in the van and whinny. Whinny? Bleat? (makes bleating noise…Gig Junkies joins in…Tour Manager looks concerned…suddenly Ritzy nails the perfect goat impression).

Matt: Oh my god, do that again.

Ritzy: I don’t know if I can.

Matt: She is half goat, I think that’s the problem.

Gig Junkies: Thanks ever so much, you’ve been very patient with us.

Ritzy: It’s been fucking wonderful.

Gig Junkies: Has it been fucking wonderful?

Ritzy: It’s been fucking amazing you know who we are.

Gig Junkies: Well we do. We do know who you are! Yay…are you in a band then?

Our sincere thanks to The Joy Formidable. Three of the nicest people you’re ever likely to meet (in or out of a dressing room). The goat’s on its way.

Interview with The Joy Formidable [20 March 2010]

You can see the review of the gig here…

Words by Daron Billings, email me.
Photos by Wayne Fox, email me.

3 Responses to “Interview with The Joy Formidable, Birmingham, UK – 20 March 2010”

  1. Gig Junkies – Live Music is our Drug! » Blog Archive » The Joy Formidable + Baddies + Airship @ The O2 Academy 3, Birmingham, UK – 20 March 2010 Says:

    […] can see the review of the gig here… Share and […]

  2. Lee Hathaway Says:

    There’s nothing better than reading an interview and getting a feel for the randomness of the conversation as it unfolds. It definitely helps when the bands on your side, but then as the interviewer you need to coax it out of them. Top work the both of you! :o)

  3. DB Says:

    Thanks Lee. They’re a lovely band to interview, we could’ve chatted for hours…mainly about floating pooh. Well worth seeing live too (the band that is…not floating poohs…oh dear…I feel sick now).

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