Ahead of their headline show at Brudenell Social Club, in Leeds, we were due to interview Joy Formidable. Unfortunately lead singer Ritzy was ill and saving her voice for the show so she was unavailable. We then found out that they had double booked so we could only interview drummer Matt Thomas, as Rhydian would have to fulfil their other duties. This felt like a mild disappointment to begin with but Matt was entertaining and charismatic enough to make up for a whole orchestra, never mind the two missing members. He strolled into the room dressed in a jazzy shirt, yellow skinny jeans and pink rimmed Ray Ban style sunglasses, looking like a cross between Serge from Kasabian and Timmy Mallet.
I began by enquiring how the tour was going so far, as they were six dates into a UK tour. “It’s good, lots of people coming out and enjoying what we are throwing at them, which is mostly banana pants. Every gig is very different, one gig might be a little less crazy than another gig, I guess my favourite moment of the tour so far has been going out with our support band, Demob Happy, and ending up in this bizarre jazz bar and dancing non-stop for about two hours, and looking very ridiculous, and then falling asleep really……but the gigs have also been amazing!”
Joy Formidable have recently released their third album, ‘Hitch’, which they recorded and released their selves so I wondered what reaction Matt had received from the crowds at the previous shows. “It’s been quite interesting really, there has been a ton of good reviews but equally people are saying ‘this doesn’t sound like the old stuff’ which is really confusing to me because bands are supposed to progress.” He then added “I think people just need to grow up and deal with it, if you don’t like it go away! fair enough you don’t like it, fuck off! there are plenty of people who do” in a jokey tone.
Matt then went on to explain how recording ‘Hitch’ themselves differed from the previous two albums. “I guess we have always self-recorded our stuff like guitars and vocals and all that kind of stuff, they are generally always recorded at home in a home studio then we will go and try and track other things like drums, it’s difficult to do that in your bedroom. So we have either gone into studios and done the drums there or this time round we just built like a space in North Wales, and called it the ‘Red Brick Studio’. It sounds posh but it was just a room really I guess, we just chucked some recording equipment in there pressed record and hoped for the best really. That didn’t happen so we rearranged things and we tried again, then when that didn’t sound any good we did it again. I’m joking of course because it was awesome the first time around….so props to us.” Matt is an incredibly jovial character so I wanted to ask if self-recording relieved some of the pressure and hassle which often comes from major labels and recording studios. “Obviously we feel pressure but from ourselves, we pressure ourselves more than any management or record label could do. They will be saying ‘you need to do this, you need to do that’ and the same goes for recording but we would be like fuck you we do what we want if you don’t like it then it’s your fault, you signed us, idiots! we’ve already got the advance, see ya later, talk to our lawyer.”
I was interested in the slightly different dynamic and relationship he might have with the tracks as compared to a lead singer, so I asked if there were any songs he was most proud of both personally and from a drummer’s perspective. “There is a few actually on this album, I think the way we’ve recorded this one it’s much more live, it’s more of a performance thing. Even the fuck ups where we went wrong we have left them in because it was so real, you know we wanted to record a real album, it’s us in a room just going for it. My favourite from this recording session is probably ‘Passerby’ but that’s not even on the album, but that’s only because I get to do a bit of a drum solo in it. A girl called Laura Martin came in and she did some fluting on ‘Underneath The Petal’ and that’s a really nice kind of chilled out acoustic track.”
With Ritzy being ill I asked Matt if he could draft in anyone as some extra cover who would be his ideal co-lead singer. “If we were going for a female vocalist then I would probably say, just because it would be really bizarre to hear our songs, I was thinking of Bjork. Aretha Franklin would be interesting, how would these people sing the songs it would be very interesting to see, they might not even want to.”
When you listen to Joy Formidable there is a noticeable anthemic quality to them and the choruses have elements of a chant, so I was a little bit disappointed that they were overlooked by the Welsh F.A. when they chose Manic Street Preachers to record the Welsh anthem for Euro 2016. “We’re not really big fans of football, so to speak, but it just goes to show that perhaps the people choosing the bands need to get a bit more imaginative perhaps and look at some other options. There are plenty of Welsh bands out there that would probably jump at the chance to do something. For me I think it’s just annoying that people become the go to, oh Welsh band who are we going to get? Tom Jones, Manic Street Preachers…..who else is Welsh?…..erm Manic Street Preachers go with that.”
Joy Formidable latest album ‘Hitch’ is out now, but Matt requests that you buy it from their website if possible. “It’s delightful, I would urge people to go to our website to buy it, which is www.thejoyformidable.com“