I have always loved it when I chance upon an ace new band via the good old fashioned medium of late night radio...
This is how I first heard The Joy Formidable - a fantastically noisy pop band based in London. Championed by the likes of Steve Lamacq, they have been getting loads of positive press and message board attention of late and recently played a blinding BBC6music live session for George Lamb.
I threw them a few questions about how life as The Joy Formidable is treating them and here’s what they had to say for themselves....
IT: As a new band journalists will always make comparisons to other more established acts. Which names have been cropping up in reviews etc, and are these ever true/relevant?
TJF: We've all got quite eclectic taste, so lots of influences - generally anything melodically pleasing, with a good beat.. that makes us happy. Music journalists will always try and find a comparison, the favourite at the moment is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs... for obvious reasons.. 3 piece, bowl-headed girl! , but musically, I think we're quite different... they're a good band though. The weirdest comparison we've had is to Bruce Springsteen, which flattering though it is, isn’t the most obvious analogy!! Maybe its Rhyds' onstage poise that did it!!
IT: Although you have a very poppy sound, you don’t really seem to entertain the traditional pop structure that much, which I really like. Are you all fans of both pop and more diverse music or are you divided? Was it a conscious decision to shape the music in this way, or was it simply just how they turned out?
TJF: I like your questions, very insightful!! I don’t think POP is something to shy away from, so many people think it’s a dirty word, but what we do naturally embraces pop ethos and we're proud of it. Saying that, we do have a bit of an internal struggle sometimes, but the results are what they are, and the blend works.
IT: Were any of you involved in other musical projects before TJF, and are any of you involved in anything musically/artistically outside of the band at the moment?
TJF: We've all been in bands, Rhyds and I have worked together for quite a few years, and then we met Justin about 8 months ago. Outside of the band, we're launching our remix label, which is really exciting... so watch out for that. Working with a great act Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs... I mean the name alone makes you prick up your ears!
IT: At times you guys have a huge sound considering there are only three of you, particularly the epic ending to ‘Austere’. Do you build the tracks up in the studio or are the recordings a reasonably true representation of your live sound?
TJF: It’s always a tricky one... matching live and recorded sound, and obviously you're a bit more limited in a 3 piece. I think we manage it really well, and even if the recordings are slightly more layered, you can make that up by sheer rawness and energy when you're performing.
IT: The live radio session that you did for BBC6 sounds great, how did you find that whole experience? Did you get to go to the Maida Vale BBC studios?
TJF: Thank you. We didn’t go to Maida Vale, it was recorded at the BBC 6 studios. The engineer was shit-hot, so we were really pleased with how it turned out, we had a good day and George Lamb was lovely, massively tall.. he probably doesn’t fit on TV!
IT: How have you found your live shows since the recent positive attention to TJF? I’m guessing busier!? Which gigs stand out as memorable or favourites?
TJF: It’s very early days but it’s great when people come to your shows knowing the tunes and are into the band. When you're unsigned, a lot of the time you’re playing to a new audience, who you hope will leave as fans! The last gig we did at Norwich Art Centre was a buzz, great audience and we saw the most beautiful shooting star shower on the way home... i just had to pull the car over and the 3 of us had quite a touching moment! big softies that we are!
"Austere" live on Channel M
IT: I suppse next up is the ‘Support Tour’, is there any particular band you’d like to tour with or think would be fun, or are you not too fussed?
TJF: Yeah, a tour support would be a treat... I love being on the road and I'd love to be gigging every night. If we had our pick, if only! A tour with The Flaming Lips would be a dream... how much fun would that be?! So Wayne, if you're reading this....
IT: Are you as a band at your happiest creating in the studio or chugging up the M1 in the back of a transit van?
TJF: No complaints here, both are very different but very lucky places to be.
IT: What do you enjoy when you aren’t doing band stuff? What are you reading/watching? Been to any good gigs of late
TJF: Lots of reading, I like biographies... reading Lorca's at the moment... films, good telly and lots of going out.
I went to see American Music Club last week, got a lot of respect for Mark Eitzel... very weird gig though, a bit crazy, great song writing though.
IT: Last month saw endless lists of hotly tipped and uber hyped ‘Bands For 2008’ etc. Are you into any of the new crop of new bands?
TJF: Always a funny one those hotly tipped lists, never go off what the "experts" say! I think Vampire Weekend will do well and MGMT. my tip... Sam Sparro I reckon.
IT: I understand you guys have re-located to London, was this for band related activities or did you just fancy a change? How are you finding it there?
TJF: It was a logistical decision really because Justin was living here and we were in Wales, so moving has made things a lot easier. We're having a good time, London’s being kind to us so far!
IT: Finally, what are your plans for the first TJF release, and indeed the rest of 2008?
TJF: We'll have a single out in April/May, we've got some touring planned and then a few festivals. Gonna just keep on doing what we do best!
The Joy Formidable have shows coming up in Lincoln and London this month, further details can be found on their myspace as well as three downloadable tracks which include the previously mentioned "Austere".