With a US tour
currently in progress, the Welsh band aims to get down to business.
BY MARK JENKINS
Singer-guitarist Ritzy Bryan and bassist/boyfriend Rhydian
Dafydd started the Joy Formidable in 2007 in Mold, their North
Wales hometown. Later, they relocated to London, adding drummer Matthew Thomas. But Bryan developed her songwriting skills half a world away,
while working some five years ago as an au pair in Washington, D.C.
The job was “very much as a disguise for doing music, because I’m not
particularly maternal,” says Bryan
with a laugh.
Anyone who’s heard the trio’s storming music – aptly described by the title of
its latest album, The Big Roar (Atlantic) – may be surprised that Bryan
was then pursuing “the route of being a singer-songwriter.” But, she
says, the tunes she composed after the kids went to bed were similar to Joy
Formidable material “in terms of the lyrical voice and the melodic
sensibility.” Back in Wales,
Bryan added an
effects-laden guitar style. “We knew we wanted to remain a
three-piece,” she explains, “so I had to develop my guitar playing to
fit that vision. We wanted to be a powerful and dynamic live band. The way the
guitar interacts with the drums and bass creates that wall of sound.”
The Big Roar expands the sonic range
of the group’s eight-song mini-album, A
Balloon Called Moaning. Both sets were recorded in Bryan and Dafydd’s bedroom studio, but this
time the musicians enlisted the help of their live engineer. Interestingly,
they didn’t have live drums. The band incorporated Thomas’ thumping and some
new parts that evolved while playing the songs live, but didn’t entirely
re-record Moaning songs held over for
TBR. “We didn’t want to lose any
of the soul by polishing it too much,” the guitarist notes.
Despite the trio’s robust attack, there is something singer-songwriterly about
its music: Bryan’s
cryptic, personal lyrics. “I’m definitely a private person,” she
concedes, “but at the same time, the album is emotive. And it’s loaded
with a lot of meaning. It’s just not my style to lay it all out there.”
Go here to view The
Joy Formidable’s tour itinerary. The North American tour runs through September
30, then commences in the UK
on October 13.