"A whole new level of busyness" – An interview with The Joy Formidable

It’s not always easy interviewing a band you love. For example, you wouldn’t ask your best friend what they have been up to over the summer; what’s the point in asking questions when you already know the answers? That’s how I feared my interview with Ritzy, one third of the exceptional The Joy Formidable, could turn out.

It’s All Happening have long been avid followers of TJF but my what-will-I-ask related fears evaporated when Ritzy filled me in on the last 12 months, which have been, a “new level of busyness.” Since September 2009 they have headlined the Electric Ballroom and The Garage (the latter of which they recorded and released as a live album), released two singles (soon to be a third), signed to a record label, opened the Other stage at Glastonbury, played Reading and Leeds, toured Britain, the USA and Australia, and recorded their debut full length album. Oh, and they played with Paul McCartney and Manic Street Preachers at the Millennium Stadium. It turns out that we did have a bit of catching up to do, after all.

New single ‘I Don’t Want To See You Like This’ will be released on October 11th, but the trio still haven’t recovered from the experience of recording the video in south Wales, with it reminding Ritzy of some all too recent memories. “Oh, no…the video has been such a traumatic time! We really haven’t learnt about filming outside in Wales, the video for Whirring was a fucking nightmare too!”

A series of electrical storms, a hysterical crew and a damaged £200,000 camera later and the video was finally finished. The single has recently received Radio 1 airplay and this, along with headlining the upcoming NME Radar tour, demonstrates the increasing popularity of the band. Not that Ritzy is overawed by it, “It’s good but we’ve not really given it much thought. We’re just looking forward to another headline tour, it doesn’t matter what the name behind the tour is!” The band holds a similar opinion regarding their record label Canvasback Records who, despite being sure that they are the right label for them, Ritzy sees as the “boring business bit behind the music.” Throughout the interview it becomes clear that The Joy Formidable only care about the music they produce; not the money they make or press they receive.

January 2011 sees the release of the long awaited full length debut album, The Big Roar, to be accompanied by a headline tour. Three versions of the album will be released: a regular version, a box set version and a mystery third version (unfortunately Ritzy would not disclose the details of this!). Having already released ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’ (a teasing mini album) and ‘First You Have To Get Mad’ (a fantastic live album) it is of course no surprise that TJF have decided to go down the unorthodox route of releasing three versions of ‘The Big Roar’.  ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’ was greatly influenced by Mold, Ritzy’s and Rhydian’s home town, but a hectic touring schedule has meant that the new album was “written over a few locations.. London, South Wales, and whilst we were away on tour, where we had to grab sketches of them and then capture them properly once we got back”. This range of places and experiences has meant that ‘The Big Roar’ has “more range than ‘A Balloon Called Moaning.’ And it is much more aggressive, mainly thanks to Matt!”. Matt joined on drums at the start of 2009 and has helped TJF jump up to the next level, with his energy and charisma really shining through in the live performances and complementing the power and vivaciousness of Ritzy and Rhydian. Just ask Ritzy’s guitar, which took a festival battering and didn’t survive this year’s Reading and Leeds performances which was part of a “great summer.. the Glasto weekend was completely surreal, it was like a double head fuck. We supported Macca and Manic Street Preachers in the Millennium Stadium and then opened The Other stage at Glasto. Everyone was so down to earth. It was very inspiring!”

 In July 2009 I sat in a field in Kent interviewing The Joy Formidable at Hop Farm Festival , discussing who they would love to play on the same bill as. After a few minutes Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt decided upon The Manic Street Preachers. Within a year TJF had achieved this dream – this now seemed like a logical place to finish the interview with Ritzy. In hindsight, I wish I had asked what they hope to achieve in the next twelve months, but whatever it is I’m pretty confident this gifted trio are going to achieve it.  And that’s why I love them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Published by Francesca Baker

Passionate about music, the world, exploring, literature and smiling. Writing, marketing and events for all my favourite things.

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