The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable

A Place to Bury Strangers, Violens

Wed, March 28, 2012

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

$20 advance / $25 day of show

This event is all ages

The Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable
There's something panoramic about The Joy Formidable's music - their mountainous, fuzzed out riffs and ferocious, earthy rhythms shrouded in ethereal haze. It sounds like where they're from: Childhood friends Ritzy Bryan (vocals, guitar) and Rhydian Dafydd (bass, vocals) grew up in rural North Wales, surrounded by rolling green hills and little else. "There's a beauty and a loneliness to the landscape there," says Dafydd. "We had no neighbors growing up," Bryan notes. "I think my parents looked for a house with no neighbors so they could play their music as loud as possible."

For her part, Bryan loved the isolation. Growing up as an only child, the singer immersed herself in her parents' enormous record collection and the classical guitar studies she took on at the age of seven. "I loved playing guitar by myself, back then I was quite introverted with my music," she says.

Bryan and Dafydd had been writing music separately from one another, and worked together in a couple of short-lived local bands after finishing school. They knew they wanted to collaborate, but didn't manage to make it work until a few years ago. "We kept missing each other," Ritzy says. Bryan went off to Washington, D.C "on a whim" and returned to Wales in 2008 with renewed focus. "My family situation wasn't easy to go back to" says Bryan. "I came back out of necessity and found a lot of sanctuary recording with Rhydian and having this new band to concentrate on."

For six months, the pair wrote together, experimenting with different sonic approaches. "We'd go for walks in the hills between recordings," Dafydd remembers. "We'd write for hours and hours," adds Bryan, "and if we got frustrated, we'd go stomp it out, up and down the mountains." But as the sessions began yielding signature tunes like "Austere" and "Cradle" - tracks that combined the duo's interest in thick, textured noises with clear, shimmering pop hooks - they knew they'd found their sound. "We'd always been into writing strong melodies," Bryan says. "The sparks really flew when we started messing with things that were choral and symphonic, mixed with what both of us had already enjoyed separately: dirty, loud, rhythmic guitars and thick bass-lines."

The Joy Formidable released "Austere" in July 2008, followed by "Cradle" on double 7" later that summer, and quickly produced an eight-track EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, which they released themselves in the U.K. in early 2009. Having relocated to London and recruited drummer Matthew Thomas, the trio quickly earned a reputation for blistering live performances. "We love and encourage the beautiful double-pedal," says Bryan, with a chuckle. "We do lean towards a slightly metal aesthetic when it comes to drums, which makes it very loud and heavy and all the things we want to be as a live entity. The new album definitely explores those elements, and that's because of Matt being in the band."

The trio spent 2009 touring the U.K., Europe and Australia with bands including Editors, Temper Trap and Passion Pit, mastering tiny clubs and festival stages alike. Their introduction to American audiences came early this year, when Passion Pit invited The Joy Formidable to open a pair of sold-out shows at New York's Terminal 5. In late April, they teamed with a new label started by Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy, Black Bell Records, to release A Balloon Called Moaning in the U.S. The New York Times' Jon Pareles praised the EP's "cryptic lyrics that glint with urgency," and said that "the music regenerates the turbulent haze of 1990s rock, but it's less tormented and more anthemic, confident of the pop structures at its core." They've also earned critical raves from NME, The Guardian, the London Times, Spin and Pitchfork, heavy rotation on Sirius XM's indie rock channel, Sirius XMU, and praise from Garbage's Shirley Manson and Courtney Love, among others. This summer, The Joy Formidable signed with Canvasback/Atlantic Records, and will release their debut album for the label, The Big Roar, early next year.

When they weren't on the road, the band worked on writing and tracking the material for The Big Roar. "We recorded in a tiny corner of our London bedroom" Bryan says. "It was great, because you could capture that moment when you wake up in the middle of the night with a melody or an image or a lyric." Working on and off for a year, The Joy Formidable crafted a remarkable collection of modern rock songs that explore what Bryan describes as "the possibility of victory in a hopeless situation.” Adds Dafydd: "The album covers a lot of emotional range. It's captured the battle between the eternal optimist and the manic depressive."

They produced The Big Roar themselves - with help from engineer Neak Menter - and traveled to Los Angeles this summer to mix it with producer Rich Costey (Muse, Foo Fighters, Glasvegas). A single from those sessions, "I Don't Want To See You Like This," is due out this autumn, with the full-length to follow in early 2011.

The Joy Formidable will headline the Emerge NME Radar tour in September and October, making stops at various venues throughout the UK, and return to the U.S. for a headlining run in November.
A Place to Bury Strangers
A Place to Bury Strangers
A Place to Bury Strangers
Transfixiation (Dead Oceans, February 17th)

"There are moments where I'm really scared on stage," admits A Place to Bury Strangers bassist Dion Lunadon, "where it's really foggy and I know someone's swinging a guitar around. I don't give a fuck though; if a guitar is about to hit me in the head, oh well. It's going to make for a better show."
He should know. After joining the Brooklyn-based trio in 2010, it only took a few shows before Lunadon smashed his bass against his face. The freshly drawn blood trickled like rain off of a tin roof. But since the band often plays in the dark, he couldn't actually see what happened. He had to keep going, and hope for the best.
"That's the most intense fear and feeling—when you go to a show and you're actually scared," says frontman Oliver Ackermann, a co-founder of the soon-to-be-shuttered Death By Audio DIY space that's hosted its fair share of frantic, life-affirming shows.
"Or you can palpably feel the danger in the music," adds Lunadon, "like it's going to fall apart at any moment and the players doing it are so in the moment they don't give a shit about anything else. They're just going for it. It's a gutter kinda vibe; everything about it is icky and evil and dangerous."
The same could be said for A Place to Bury Strangers' fourth album, Transfixiation. Rather than fixate on precious recording techniques and minute details, the members of the group -- Ackermann, Lunadon, and hard-hitting drummer Robi Gonzalez -- trusted their instincts and tried to keep things as pure as possible. If that meant a mess of cross-contaminated microphones and mud-caked mistakes, so be it. Music is much more exhilarating when it's unpredictable, and from the tortured straight-to-tape transmission of "I Will Die" and molten funk melodies of "Straight" to the violent guitar spasms, cannon-like drums and not-so-idle threats of "Deeper," this is very much an unpredictable record. Gonzalez makes his recording debut with the band here and he’s helped push the band’s recorded sound closer to the intense level of its infamous live shows.
Considering how controlled the chaos feels at every turn—the mark of a band at the peak of their powers—it's hard to imagine that Transfixiation almost didn't happen. Having spent nearly two straight years on the road, the musicians figured they'd parlay that momentum into a new record as soon as they got settled back home. And while the self-produced sessions at Death By Audio led to some fantastic material, Ackermann hit a wall near the end of that initial month. He needed a long break.
"The way it was broken off was so intense," he says. "It got to be too much, where we—or at least I—almost had a meltdown or something. I felt like we had to stop, and I wasn't even sure if the album was going to get finished or if we were going to be friends again."
Two months passed by with little communication between the three members. Lunadon worked on other recordings, and Gonzalez retreated to a mountainous region in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Ackermann pieced together the set: fresh compositions, songs that had already been recorded in Brooklyn, and the fruit of an earlier recording session with Serena Maneesh frontman Emil Nikolaisen in Norway. Thankfully, everything clicked. A Place to Bury Strangers became whole again, with a bond—onstage and off—that's arguably stronger than it's ever been.
"Things go wrong all the time," explains Lunadon, "so with anything that's thrown at us, we have to make the best of it and turn something into gold instead of falling apart."
"The one thing we have in common is this fire when we're playing," adds Gonzalez. "I don't know; it's real intense."
The well-oiled Lunadon-Gonzalez rhythm section has adapted to Ackermann's unique style of playing -- the pair has embraced the chain-linked effects (Ackermann has produced custom pedals for such major artists as Lou Reed, My Bloody Valentine, The Flaming Lips, and Nine Inch Nails) and minimized the drum fills.
"It's not rocket science," says Lunadon, "but rock 'n' roll shouldn't be. When you start to do bluesy scales or try to be too fancy, it doesn't work for us. You gotta keep it simple and seize the moment.”
Violens
Violens
TIME-OUT NY: "Most bands will never write a song so flawless as Violens' "Violent Sensation Descends." ... Your ears are broken if you don't play it several times over before you can do anything else...Violens clearly draws from the mid-'80s U.K. indie scene (Aztec Camera, the Pale Fountains, Prefab Sprout) but doesn't sound derivative of anyone; the group's evocation of that era's internationalist style and wit comes wrapped in a cool emotionalism that also characterizes Violens' onstage vibe. The only issue with their shows is that we can't get them to play a song more than once."

RCRD LBL.COM : "Violens ...make hallucinatory, '60s inspired pop records akin to Of Montreal imagining kicking it with the Zombies and Joe Meek back in the day. We're releasing their first RCRD LBL single today, the bouncy "Violent Sensation Descends". We've been listening to it all morning and we feel as if a void has been filled."
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019
http://www.terminal5nyc.com/