1.As a band, youve had a very organic growth and natural development,
but have you been surprised at how much youve managed to achieve
whilst remaining as an unsigned act, and what has been the best thing
that someone has ever said about The Joy Formidable?
Rhydian: Oh God, that last bit is tough, but
Ritzy: Well, I suppose theres two sides to it you know?
I think weve always been quite relaxed about it theres
never really been this conscious effort, like, Right, come on,
we need to do this and we need to do that. So on one side, its
been relaxed, weve said, Lets just do it, lets
keep the quality good, enjoy it, keep the songwriting consistent
Rhydian: Yeah, head down, work hard and you know that eventually
people will come to you.
Ritzy: But then I suppose, there has been a conscious element,
because obviously when you dont have a big machine behind you,
you dont have a lot to fall back on you have to really
watch yourself and you maybe just have to be a little bit more careful
along the way. Or, I dont know, maybe even if you are with a machine,
you still need to be careful, but maybe you just end up becoming more
blasé because you think somebody else is in control of it (laughing).
Rhydian: I mean, weve certainly been focused you know
Rhydian: And I dont think the unsigned thing really matters,
because were at that stage now, where were talking to people
about putting out the next record and its not a big deal to us.
Like you said, its been such a steady growth, that weve
just been concentrating on what were doing, heads down, and with
that, I think all of the usual traditionally glamorous elements of it
go out the window really. It should just be about writing great songs,
being a great live band and I think you trust that over time, that that
filters through and people come to you. So with that though, I dont
think much surprise comes you know? I think just with each gig, when
people come and talk to you and the passion theyve got and knowing
all of our songs, those are the little things that mean a lot to me,
do you know what I mean?
*I remark that TJF have a very loyal fanbase*
Ritzy & Rhydian: Oh yeah (both smiling)!
Rhydian: I cant think of any one review or anything like
that, where Ive gone, Oh wow!
Ritzy: I seem to remember the more comical kind of reviews to
be honest, because we like having a good old chuckle about them. There
was a 5 Star review, but I got called A whelp, a witch and a petulant
Rhydian: Yeah, and our sound was once described as Lady
Gaga and The Proclaimers, which was a source of entertainment
Ritzy: We like having a good chuckle over the funny ones (laughing).
2.When discussing groups, some music critics have argued that three-piece
bands are able to deliver the purest form of musical expression
i.e. guitar, bass, drums. Would you agree with that?
Ritzy: Absolutely (laughs heartily)!
Rhydian: Oh yeah, for sure (big smile)!
Ritzy: The purest form of musical expression (big smile)!
Rhydian: I think one things for sure, you cant hide behind
anything, you have to really have a connection, because it is so empty
and everything has to really work, you cant fluff anything
Ritzy: No, you have to get your sonics bang on dont you
I think, because like you said (looking at Rhydian), youre quite
Rhydian: Like every line, everything has to almost mean something
Ritzy: Work together, yeah.
Rhydian: Because you cant hide under any noise or anything
like that, and with that along with everything else that weve
got going on I think that adds to how focused you have to be
about it you know? I mean, I really like the fact that were a
three-piece and theres definitely been moments where weve
gone because on the recordings theres a few layers and
stuff How can we do that? But it just doesnt
feel right to get someone else in to play certain layers. I think we
always have to remain as a three-piece, because thats where the
connection is. As long as its interesting, on occasion, wed
prefer for it to be a little bit emptier than the record and allow it
to be different.
3.In relation to this, one of my great idols, Anton Corbijn once said:
Jeff Buckley showed that the human voice is more powerful than
doing something great on the guitar. Would you also agree with
Rhydian: Absolutely, yeah!
Ritzy: Yeah, I think its an amazing medium! You know, it
all depends on your connection with a song and that doesnt necessarily
go with all singers and with all songs (laughing). But, I think if youve
got a real personal connection with the songs that youve written
and the songs that youre singing, then I think thats very
Rhydian: I think it depends what your message is, but generally,
obviously with Western music, the voice is a big thing and thats
where the soul if you like, mainly comes from its meant
to be the main core of the delivery of a song. So yeah, I couldnt
agree more. But having said that, Im a big believer that not every
voice has to be technically perfect either, its utterly about
the soul! Because I wouldnt say that we necessarily come from
a really technical background, in terms of our voices you know, but
it doesnt bother us whatsoever. Its about touching people!
4.How many vocal takes do you allow yourselves when recording?
Ritzy: Well, the new record is very reflective of this, because
I didnt re-track any of the vocals hardly at all, no.
Rhydian: Im really against that as well.
Rhydian: Generally, I prefer for something to be imperfect and
instinctive, and that it says something.
Ritzy: The vocals were sang in on the demos and a lot of the time,
they were being written in my head as they were coming out, so yeah,
theres definitely elements where theyre stumbly, but thats
where you capture it isnt it? So Im not a big believer of
re-tracking and if you dont get it in the first or second take,
then fuck off (laughs heartily)!
Rhydian: I remember reading an interview with Thom Yorke and he
was the same, like limit yourself to the first few takes and if it doesnt
work, then leave it.
Ritzy: Its never meant to be overanalysed.
Rhydian: No. Because some people do hundreds and hundreds of takes,
I think that can work with certain things, but theres something
so kind of soul-orientated to just a voice, that you have to be very
careful. Or, you step away from it and then come back to it and try
it again in a couple of takes.
5.Similarly, when producing, how important is the balance between unprocessed
rawness and studio polish to you?
Ritzy: I think its always quite a difficult balance to get
you know, because I think the way that we record, is maybe a little
bit different to some bands, because we kind of
Rhydian: We sometimes write as were actually recording.
Ritzy: We sort of write as we go along, so it can be very spontaneous,
layering and then the vocals, or whatever the order happens to be, because
the order can be different. So I suppose sometimes there is that
Rhydian: Its not always guitar, bass, drums, then the vocals.
Ritzy: No not at all! And its not like a live recording
either, where all of a sudden its the three of us in a room.
Ritzy: And thats the moment captured. So, I think from that,
sometimes when you go from that demo stage, to actually, OK, were
going to capture this properly, its really difficult to
try and relive or rediscover that vibe. Sometimes it works, you put
it down right I suppose and you capture a different vibe and thats
Rhydian: Wed much prefer for something to be soulful and
be utterly noisy and horrible
Rhydian: Than for it to be polished and homogenised and boring
and dull, its all about being interesting. Some songs (pausing),
it was like when we were doing the album, some songs would be quick
and other songs we worked and worked and worked at, up to the point
of feeling insane, but theyd really worked by the end you know?
Thats not necessarily polish, it requires a different kind of
focus I think, and we wanted the album to be a bit of a journey and
I think that comes through. You need those moments where it feels like
its just you laying down in bed, playing your guitar and singing
along. Whereas with other songs, its like a real bold statement
and its bombastic, but youve worked a long time to hammer
that message home.
6.What computer software do you use to record?
Rhydian: We use Nuendo 3 by Steinberg, just because were
used to it.
Rhydian: It just so happens to be that thats what weve
used all along.
Ritzy: Its just familiarity isnt it (looking at Rhydian)?
Rhydian: Yeah, and it feels like everything is secondary to the
process, because were so used to it thats the main
thing! If you were changing software all the time, I think youd
be spending all of your time trying to figure out all of these little
nuances, whereas we prefer just to be free (laughing)."
Ritzy: Yeah (smiling).
7.Have you had many happy accidents in the studio in terms
of musical ideas / directions?
Rhydian: Absolutely (without any hesitation)! I think Austere
came about like that thats a really good example, because
when we were writing back in Wales, we were just fiddling around with
a vocal hook. Ritzy was messing around, doing some falsettos
Ritzy: Oh, we were totally pissing around (smiling)! I was jeering
him on, I was sort of saying, Whats your highest falsetto?
Rhydian: And that was the basis of the whole song!
Ritzy: Yeah, that was the basis of one of the top lines.
Rhydian: We were like, Shit, that sounds quite good
and wed never written anything like that before you know, like
that kind of really high falsetto thing. We said, Yeah, lets
just do it, lets forget everything for a minute and it was
kind of like just rewiring our songwriting structures and everything.
Rhydian: Saying, Yeah, lets just try something different.
In a way, that was kind of the starting point for The Joy Formidable,
just working in a different way, because I think wed been so used
to working in a set way with the bands we used to be in (Tricky Nixon,
Sidecar Kisses), that it felt a lot more experimental from that point
on I thought.
Ritzy: Yeah, well I suppose we hadnt really written together
from a starting point had we (looking at Rhydian)?
Ritzy: If it could ever be described as working together. It was
more like you or another member of the old bands bringing something
and me just doing guitar licks over it, and certainly, that wasnt
something that completely satisfied me, I have to say. So it was really
nice to suddenly be thrown in together
Rhydian: We were just having fun with it basically, yeah.
Ritzy: We experimented and pissed about a lot in those 6 months
didnt we (looking at Rhydian + laughing)? And, we didnt
go out very much.
Rhydian: I think happy accidents are actually the
best way of (pausing), you could say happy accidents, but
you know, when you try an idea over and over again, then you go, Oh
my God, its not working, how many times have we done this in the
studio? Then you come back after 10 hours of trying to get it
right and it doesnt sound good, and you go, OK (exhaling
a deep breath), lets try this (clicking fingers), then you
hit on it!
Rhydian: Those are the best ideas, because theyre instinctive
and theyre simple (laughing). Its funny.
8.As a songwriting partnership, what do you consider to be some of
the great songwriting partnerships in the history of popular music?
Ritzy: I think definitely Morrissey and Johnny Marr for me, that
would be quite a main one.
Rhydian: I very rarely actually mention The Beatles, but its
got to be Lennon and McCartney at some point. Fucking hell, thats
a pretty amazing dynamic!
Ritzy: Yeah (laughing), thats got to have a mention frankly
*I joke maybe just as a footnote in rock n roll history*
Ritzy: Yeah (laughs heartily again)!
Rhydian: Its one of those things, you never reference The
Beatles, because its so big and its so done, that you think
Ritzy: Its taken for granted almost isnt it, yeah.
Rhydian: Other collaborations, I dont know, theres
so many isnt there?
Rhydian: But iconic ones, in terms of two people (pausing), Im
struggling at the moment. Can you think of any (looking at Ritzy)? Youve
caught us off guard (laughing). Oh (suddenly), actually, the Manics
Ritzy: I was just gonna say the Manics (big smile), yeah!
Rhydian: I think that kind of dynamic, is actually a big rarity.
Rhydian: Its a pretty amazing dynamic and do you know what,
I dont know of that many bands that work to such a fluid kind
of success. Because Richey couldnt play that well apparently could
he? He was just very, very lyrically-based and James put his words to
music. I mean my God, thats quite a fascinating way to work and
along with Nickys lyrics, it shaped the Manics sound, because
its so distinctive isnt it?
*I joke that its usually me who brings up the Manics in most of
the interviews that I do, so Im glad that this time around, its
Ritzy and Rhydian who have mentioned them, because otherwise it may
look like it was me yet again*
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh)
Ritzy: No, definitely the Manics!
Rhydian: Theyre great man (smiling)!
9.Returning to The Beatles for a moment, John Lennons most
cherished songwriting experience, was when he felt possessed
by it. Is this the same for you?
Ritzy: Absolutely (without any hesitation)!
Ritzy: I think obviously, because were close and because
were a couple and because we record in our bedroom, I think it
can become utterly consuming
Rhydian: Just utterly life-consuming, yeah!
Ritzy: There isnt anything else, but happily so.
Rhydian: We were talking today, about how weve finished
the album at last! Because sometimes, the recording process for us can
be quite (exhaling a deep breath), exhausting. Because its all
in our bedroom and you cant escape and all of these things, and
yet weve just finished it and Ritzys going, Im
really looking forward to getting back in the studio!
Rhydian: And Im like, Are you mad?
Ritzy: (laughs heartily)
Rhydian: Weve only just fucking come out, and Im fucking
going insane man (laughing)!
Ritzy: Ive had like a new burst of writing again and I love
touring (pausing), were going back to London tonight and Im
thinking an early morning start (laughs heartily), before I forget them!
So yeah, you do get possessed by it!
Rhydian: It shouldnt be separate to your life, and it shouldnt
be a chore.
10.Of all your songs to date, which one has been the easiest to write
and record, and which one has been the most difficult?
Rhydian: I can tell you which was the most difficult, I think
its Llaw = War, which is a song off the new album. Llaw means
hand in Welsh, so Hand = War.
Ritzy: Yeah, I dont want to be reminded about that actually,
that was a fucking traumatic couple of days, I have to say!
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh heartily)
Rhydian: We did it over and over again, to the point of insanity
(laughing)! But its like I was saying before, with some songs,
you need to do them a million times to get them right, but with other
songs, you destroy them if you go over and over them again. But that
one, I think deserved
Ritzy: That won the prize for
Rhydian: Never giving up (laughing)!
Ritzy: I think thats probably the biggest fight weve
ever had over a song as well, there was some serious
Ritzy: We dont tend to wrangle over things too much, because
I think things are so intuitive now, that a lot of the time, both of
us dont even have to say, Thats shit or thats
good (laughing), you know? But that was definitely a little bit
of a difference. With the easiest one, Im thinking of The Greatest
Rhydian: Yeah, yeah.
Ritzy: And Im thinking of Austere. I think they both came
very quickly and very easily, yeah!
11.A lot of TJF tracks have interesting titles, but are there any song
titles that have stuck in your head?
Ritzy: Song titles that have stuck in my head (thinking)
*I say that when I was lucky enough to interview James Dean Bradfield,
he mentioned a song by the Silver Jews that he liked called, Sometimes
A Pony Gets Depressed*
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh heartily)
Rhydian: Ill tell you what, McClusky had a few of my favourite
titles, but you know, God, theres so many of them! So all I can
say, is have a look at McCluskys entire back catalogue!
Ritzy: (laughs heartily)
Rhydian: Theres a few nuggets in there, yeah (big smile)!
Ritzy: Im trying to think, although I just keep thinking
about The Smiths, because whenever anything comes up lyrically, I cant
help but think of them.
Rhydian: The thing is with song titles, I think its about
being inventive isnt it? And that isnt necessarily massively
long titles or anything like that, its how it relates to the song
I think and what is derivative. Its certainly something that we
take on board, in terms of you wouldnt necessarily associate that
kind of feel with the song title you know? Its just about keeping
people on their toes.
12.To date, youve released some fantastic singles, but who
do you think of as great singles bands?
Ritzy: It feels sometimes, like its becoming a little bit
more of a rarity nowadays its either all about quick-fix
songs, or its about the total opposite of that, which is like,
This is a whole album and you have to listen to just this.
Rhydian: Yeah, yeah. I think it is a bit stuffy these days.
Ritzy: I really like the Fleet Foxes album, but I think maybe
what I would think of as being a single, may not be what the majority
of people would think of as a single, or maybe not what The Music Industry
would traditionally want as a single (laughing).
Rhydian: Yeah, youre right, because most of the songs on
that album are bang on!
Ritzy: They are singles they are! Who else is there (thinking)
Rhydian: It is genuinely a bit of a rarity these days, it seems
to be one or the other.
Ritzy: I think the Super Furry Animals are a great singles band
and they have great albums as well!
Rhydian: Yeah, you have to look back to people like the Super
Furry Animals, the Manics and some of those kind of bands you know?
Ritzy: Yeah, theres been plenty whove managed to combine
Rhydian: Its interesting though, because like you say (looking
at Ritzy), it depends on what is a single these days? Because it seems
to me, if you listen to whats on Radio 1 and all of these kind
of things, that actually, the traditional single (pausing), you used
to get a really homogenised kind of sound and structure, and apart from
your utterly pop daytime radio programmes, it seems to me, that a lot
of DJs are now making an effort to go for a bit of an alternative. So,
what is a single these days? Its so bizarre, which actually makes
it quite difficult to answer that one I dont know. To my
mind, Ive got my own opinions and with that, Im saying that
actually, there hasnt been many bands over the past few years
that have got a consistently good album. I like a few songs, but to
get a whole body of work of utter quality, I do find it difficult to
think of some. Maybe its just because Ive had a few beers,
it probably is (laughing).
Ritzy: I think its difficult to say as well
Rhydian: In the pop sphere.
Ritzy: Yeah, and I feel like weve been in a little bit of
a bubble recently, because when we record, we tend to become quite bubblised,
is that a word? But you know what I mean, I dont think we listen
to a lot of music, or I dont think we connect with a lot of things
that are going on outside. So it does feel like over the last 6 months,
that I havent been exposed to a lot thats going on and I
find it quite difficult when people ask, Who are you listening
to at the moment? It feels like my ears have just started opening
Rhydian: Yeah (looking at Ritzy), but you listen to a lot of things
on iTunes have you listened to a whole album and thought that
it was consistently good?
Ritzy: Yeah, I thought the new Mew album (No More Stories) was
Rhydian: The whole thing?
Ritzy: I did, yeah, I fucking loved it!
Rhydian: Really? Mew then, thats your answer (laughs heartily)!
But, is there a single on there (looking at Ritzy)?
Ritzy: I dont know if there were any singles on it?
Rhydian: But Mew are consistent, definitely.
Ritzy: Yeah, definitely.
Rhydian: Thats a given!
13.With the b-side now sadly becoming a lost art, who do you think will
be remembered as some of the best b-side bands?
Ritzy: I think Radiohead for me
Rhydian: Yeah, Radiohead.
Ritzy: I was a big Radiohead collector you know, and I think I
like their b-sides more than their a-sides!
Rhydian: I actually liked Mansuns b-sides more than their
Ritzy: Yeah (excitedly), Mansun had really good b-sides.
Rhydian: Really good, yeah!
Ritzy: I think were going to try and make a comeback with
the b-side arent we (looking at Rhydian)? I think the b-side to
the new single (Popinjay) is going to take over the world (big smile)!
Rhydian: Its going to destroy everything!
Ritzy: It is! Its going to be all over Radio 1 like a dirty
rash! A really feathery rash!
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh heartily)
*I mention that the Manics, Suede and Oasis are some of my other most
cherished b-side bands as well*
Ritzy & Rhydian: Yeah.
14.From some of the music that I love, one of my favourite epic songs
is Motorcycle Emptiness by the Manic Street Preachers, and one of my
favourite short songs is Velocity Girl by Primal Scream. But do you
have any favourite epic and short songs?
Ritzy: I think epic for me, is I Know Its Over by The Smiths.
I keep namedropping them (laughing), but apart from that, its
just a massive tune!
Rhydian: One of my favourite short songs, is the single-version
of Being A Girl by Mansun, its just a (clicking fingers together)
tiny, tiny song! Its really to the point, but there is an extended
version on the album (Six).
Ritzy: I think Lipstick Vogue by Elvis Costello for me, for a
favourite short song.
Rhydian: Thats a great song! What about that Yes song you
always seem to
Ritzy: Close To The Edge by Yes, thats quite an epic.
Rhydian: How long is that (looking at Ritzy)? About 30 minutes?
Ritzy: Well, its in about 7 parts isnt it and its
23 minutes 19 seconds I think.
Rhydian: Its a really good song!
Ritzy: Yeah (laughing).
15.There was a recent debate about what the darkest and most uplifting
albums ever recorded are. But whats the darkest album and the
most uplifting album in each of your record collections?
Ritzy: I think The Flaming Lips for me, The Soft Bulletin, thats
definitely a full-on uplifting album!
Rhydian: I would say something like Grace by Jeff Buckley is quite
uplifting for me. I know that theres a lot sadness in there you
could say, but its more inspirational, and then with that, comes
a true understanding of things and thats where the uplifting element
comes for me. You kind of learn something about the artist and you learn
something about yourself. Its like the whole debate about Radiohead
and bands like that, Is their music depressing? No, I dont
think it is depressing, because if it moves you, then you come out of
the whole process going, Wow, that really touched me and
you grow! Thats an uplifting listening process for me. So Id
say Jeff Buckley Grace, for the most uplifting album in my record
collection, I dont know about the darkest
Ritzy: The Holy Bible is definitely one of the darkest records
Rhydian: Yeah, but its so enjoyable!
Rhydian: Youre going, Oh My God, is it dark if its
that good, if its that enjoyable? (laughing).
Ritzy: Exactly! Ive just been combing through all of my
record collection in my head and I think even some of the ones that
are fucking pretty sad or troubled (pausing), I dont know, I still
think theres like an underbelly of hope and like you said (looking
at Rhydian), maybe even rage, which isnt always dark either.
Rhydian: I think The Holy Bible is a really good example, because
its so sneering and it pisses on so many death metal albums, its
Rhydian: I think the amount of angst in that album is insane,
but beautifully done as well you know?
16.Did you always plan to release a limited edition live record (First
You Have To Get Mad), in-between your debut mini-album and full-length
Rhydian: I dont think we ever planned it, no, not really.
Ritzy: I dont think we do an awful lot of planning, I mean
if you look at A Balloon, that was kind of an accident, and these are
all good accidents, because we werent flippant in just shoving
it out there, but theyve all kind of been a little bit accidental.
A Balloon came out because there was a Japanese version and people wanted
to hear it, so we thought, Fuck it, well put it out.
Then we sold out the Garage, so we thought this could be quite a good
opportunity just to capture it really, for posterity I suppose.
Rhydian: In a way, I think that it was a little bit pompous and
bombastic of us, because not that many people have heard of us and yet
were going to do a live album, because A. Its quite essential
to The Joy Formidable experience if you like. And B. Its not usually
what you really do you do a live album three albums in or something,
and so it was partly maybe about keeping things interesting as well
Ritzy: I think it was a little bit ambitious and I mean you know,
I love what we captured with the live album, its so truthful
the fucking amp blowing up and all that. Like we said, we didnt
really protect ourselves with much of a safety net (laughing)! What
youve got on that album, is what happened and what the evening
was. That could be seen as a little bit brave or a little bit stupid,
Rhydian: No, I think people are scared now of having honesty,
like accidents and things going wrong. But God man, if you go back to
every iconic artist that had the space to do it (pausing), unfortunately,
not many bands have the space to do it these days, but we dont
Ritzy: Im with you (looking at Rhydian).
Rhydian: We do gigs occasionally, where its really quiet
between songs and it feels uncomfortable, but who cares. Its just
about feeling natural and people are there to see you play music
we dont have to fill the space and we dont have to provide
entertainment all the fucking time!
Ritzy: (laughs heartily)
Rhydian: Its nice to keep people on their toes though, do
you know what I mean?
Ritzy: Yeah. I guess what I was trying to say, is that Im
not scared of being brave, because thats all we ever seem to do.
But, I think that a lot of people will be scared of being judged when
something goes wrong you know? Everybody these days is all about tactics,
because theyre so fucking scared about getting dropped.
Rhydian: Thats exactly what Im saying though, yeah.
Ritzy: Yeah, and I guess what Im saying, is that we just
wanted it to be driftwood and to capture a moment. Its a souvenir
for us, as much as anything else and were really proud of it!
Plus, not many people bootleg these days Im constantly
asking people to send in bootlegs of our shows, because I just like
kind of keeping them. So more bootlegging (big smile)!
Rhydian: But people share files a lot though dont they (looking
Ritzy: Yeah, but they dont record whole shows as much.
*At 11.35pm, The Joy Formidables Tour Manager Jonny enters the
Jonny: (looking at Ritzy & Rhydian) We kind of need to roll
now, theres 1 person left in the venue.
Ritzy: Is there? Oh, well be alright for a little while.
Jonny: Were going to load out then.
Ritzy: Are you sure?
Rhydian: We wont be long.
Jonny: Thats cool, thats cool.
Ritzy: We really enjoy Steves questions!
Jonny: I can tell (laughing)!
*I say thank you to Ritzy & Rhydian for allowing me to have some
more with them*
Ritzy: No worries (smiling)!
Rhydian: They can load out.
Ritzy: Its amazing, we dont have to load out now
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh)
17.Can you reveal any details about new TJF material musical
direction, song titles etc. and when can fans expect the album
to be released?
Ritzy: Well, Im happy to tell you a little bit about the
Rhydian: We dont want to reveal the album title just yet
Ritzy: No, but its 11 songs (pausing), or is it 12 songs?
I cant remember (laughing + looking at Rhydian)?
Rhydian: I think its now 11 songs that weve decided
on. But A. Were really happy with it, and B. For me anyway, it
feels like I was saying before, like a real big journey and I think
theres gonna be a few surprises. Its funny, because with
some of the gigs recently, weve dropped a few new songs in here
and there, and I think it kind of catches people off guard and thats
something that we really embrace you know? Like I said before, we want
to keep people on their toes, but dont get me wrong, its
not a massive departure from A Balloon Called Moaning, but it feels
a lot more substantial to me and this is just looking back on it retrospectively,
its not a conscious thing. Its quite sumptuous, its
quite a journey and I think it requires a bit of listening work you
Ritzy: No, it fucking doesnt (looking at Rhydian).
Rhydian: No, but what Im saying is its not
experimental but compared to the tastes of maybe today, its
not, bang, bang, bang, there you go, single after single. Every song
I think, is really good and were really proud of it, but it really
does feel like an album. Its not just a bunch of songs thrown
together, do you know what I mean?
*I remark that I remember reading that TJF were considering including
some songs from A Balloon Called Moaning, so wondered if this was still
Ritzy: Yeah, there are 2 that have crossed over, The Greatest
Light Is The Greatest Shade and Austere, just because I dont think
we ever expected (pausing), A Balloon was not a debut album for us.
I feel like the new album for me, is everything that I wanted to put
across in the first album. But in saying that, that meant bringing over
some stuff from A Balloon as well, because that feels very relevant.
Its quite strange to include Austere, because it was the first
song that we ever wrote together, so theres a real sense of a
beginning and then obviously what weve done since that time.
Rhydian: I think theres a lot more going on dynamically
with the album.
Ritzy: We should mention Matt as well, because its the first
album with Matt on it (pausing), well, Justin wasnt on A Balloon
either, but its captured a lot of what Matt has brought rhythmically
to the band, which I think is important.
Rhydian: Yeah, youre right, it is!
Ritzy: Hes added so much to our live dynamic and Im
really happy that weve managed to capture that on the album.
Rhydian: Weve been listening to it a lot in the van over
the past few days, well, the past few weeks referencing it and
all that kind of boring stuff, to make sure that were happy with
how it sounds and stuff. Its a lot angrier in places and yet,
like I say, its a lot more dynamic its quieter, its
sadder and I think theres a real sense of a journey like I said.
*I joke that theyve sold it to me!*
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh heartily)
Ritzy: Our manager Joel, was talking about a September release
date for it, but ideally, we would like to release it in the next couple
18.I recently watched the brilliant film on Blur, No Distance Left To
Run, which documents their 2009 reunion. But, what do you think are
some of the best Music DVDs available to buy?
Rhydian: I can think of one (smiling).
Ritzy: What are you going to say (looking at Rhydian)?
Rhydian: What do you think Im going to say? What did we
watch in South Wales?
Ritzy: Ahh yeah, Anvil (big smile)!
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh heartily)
Rhydian: Have you seen Anvil?
*I say yes, that I thought it was great but also very sad in places*
Ritzy: Its so sad, yeah! But its so fucking funny
isnt it as well? Its like that perfect balance of something
thats so tragic, but so beautiful at the same time.
Rhydian: Yeah, I thought that was one of the best films that Ive
seen in the past 5 or 10 years even. Some people think its funny,
but its not just funny, its true and its beautiful.
Like you say (looking at Ritzy), its tragic and its got
so many different emotions, its just fucking great and the fact
that they couldnt be any different you know? In a way, it resonates
to some degree with what we do, because we work really hard at it (pausing),
dont get me wrong, were not as oblivious to what goes on
as those guys at all. But that kind of shit is rare now man, do you
know what I mean?
Rhydian: Its just so endearing to watch people like that.
Ritzy: They have so much tenacity, but its like they dont
know anything else, so I suppose its that side I think, that really
connected with us. Like, you just cant let it go you know, you
have to do it!
Rhydian: Yeah, I know, absolutely!
Ritzy: Despite how difficult the challenges are.
19.Continuing with this train of thought, I know that you put a lot
of thought into your promo videos, but of all your favourite artists,
are there any video concepts that you wished had been yours?
Rhydian: Oh God, theres been some great videos man.
Ritzy: I have to say that new OK Go one (This Too Shall Pass),
like when we were coming up with the concept for Popinjay, I was kind
of saying, What about if we do this video where its like
a domino effect and everything kind of gets pushed over. And then
Rhydian: That was done in that card bit though wasnt it
(looking at Ritzy)? It was just an expansion of that in a way.
Ritzy: Yeah, but when I saw that OK Go video with the domino effect,
I thought I could never have done it as well as that anyway (laughs
heartily). It was so fucking nailed! Again, I think for videos, Radiohead
always resonates for me. Like Just, which has that sort of subliminal
story-line, you kind of go (clicking fingers together), I fucking
wish Id thought of that! And the cinematography is so beautiful,
like with Street Spirit.
Rhydian: Yeah, UNKLE, their videos are great.
Rhydian: Bastards Of Young (The Replacements), that was such a
simple video, but really influential! God, theres so many, but
again, not necessarily recently, so its about keeping things interesting
Ritzy: But I suppose with us not having a massive budget for videos
sometimes, its all about the concept, making both that and the
imagery really strong. I always think I Wanna Be Loved by Elvis Costello,
where hes sat in the photobooth and hes having his picture
taken, but lots of different people are coming in and kissing him
Ritzy: Its really visual I think.
Rhydian: Lola Perrin Cloud Sky Fade.
Ritzy: Oh, thats a good one, yeah!
Rhydian: Its a really simple video, but the song is beautiful.
Id really recommend that.
*I remark thats why YouTube is so brilliant*
Ritzy: Oh, you can see them so easily, yeah its amazing!
20.As a band with a fearsome live reputation, can you tell us about
some of your most treasured instruments and effects pedals?
Rhydian: Id say the POG is a big one. That, and maybe Verbzilla
for you (looking at Ritzy)?
Ritzy: Yeah, I do like my Verbzilla pedal and I like my MXR EQ
as well, even though thats maybe a little bit more boring sonically.
Rhydian: MXR do great pedals!
Ritzy: Yeah, and shit man, I dont know what Id do
without my main guitar, because its been with me for so long,
its been with me from being about 8-years-old and its battered
to fuck! Theres actually been a few audience members who have
come up to me and said, Ill buy you a new guitar (laughs
heartily) and Im always like, Its OK, I dont
want a new guitar you know (laughs heartily again)? I really love
my guitar (laughing), its just that it looks like a load of shit
though (big smile)!
Rhydian: I like old, crappy distortions
Rhydian: That nobody ever likes and overlooks, because theyre
distinctive. The Fulltone MOSFET that I use on my bass as well, Ive
kept that all the way through the band, its got a really synthetic
sound to it.
Ritzy: Were geeking out
Rhydian: Yeah (laughing).
Ritzy: I like a bit of geeking out (big smile)!
21.Do you write on the road, and does creating songs bring out different
emotions in you, compared to when you perform them live?
Ritzy: We do try out new songs in soundchecks. As to whether Does
creating songs bring out different emotions in me, compared to when
we perform them live? I remember quite early on being accused
of not by any of you guys (looking at Rhydian) allowing
the live performance to be too close to how I was actually feeling personally,
not just on the day.
Rhydian: Being too emotional about it.
Ritzy: Yeah, just being too emotional, that was something that
kind of cropped up. I dont think its changed and I dont
think its tamed you know, I still find it very strange how there
doesnt ever seem to be any watering down or chipping away of any
of the emotional rawness I suppose, of the songs, you know when we do
them live? I kind of sometimes feel, Fucking hell man, is this
going to be as exhausting as this all the time (laughing)? But,
I think we all wear our hearts on our sleeve and I think were
all quite sensitive as people, and I cant really imagine that
sort of changing if you know what I mean? Im surprised it hasnt,
but I suppose a lot of people would argue, How can you constantly
have that emotional connection?
Rhydian: But for me, thats where the best bands reside anyway,
theyre not a machine that can churn out everything, like great
songs over and over again, just because they have a great songwriting
Rhydian: I mean, dont get me wrong, it works in some cases,
but I think we do wear our hearts on our sleeve and I think we need
that kind of attitude of just occasionally going, Actually, Fuck
You! Because it is a bit of a rarity now (pausing), I dont
want to fucking go on about preaching that nothing has soul anymore,
because there are fucking loads of great bands doing interesting things,
do you know what I mean? Sometimes, being soulful can be the most boring
thing, but sometimes a lie done in an interesting way, is so much more
entertaining and has so much more value in a way. But I think for us,
at this point, its about getting that voice out there you know,
and we love playing live and connecting with people and telling our
story. The new album feels like the truest exploration of our voice
up until now, compared to A Balloon Called Moaning.
22.Fans almost always shout out song requests at gigs, but of all
your songs, which is the most requested?
Rhydian: Its quite different each night actually, I would
say maybe Whirring, Cradle and Austere, have become kind of favourites.
Because the way weve kind of worked things up until now, is really
going out there and gigging and gigging and gigging. So because theyve
been the singles, maybe thats what people are most familiar with?
I dont know. Having said that, you come across some real strange
Ritzy: I was going to say, I think the last time we played Oxford,
we had someone shouting the whole way through the gig for us to play
Crazy In Love (laughing), which isnt even our song!
Rhydian: (laughing) With our songs that people shout out for,
I think it goes back to that thing of not having necessarily done anything
in a traditional way. At some gigs, its like (mock-shouting),
While The Flies, While The Flies, and at other gigs, some
people havent even heard of it! Well do it at the end of
the set and theyre kind of like, Oh, whats this song?
And you know, theyll enjoy it, but its really strange.
23.Do fans ever tell you how they interpret your lyrics and if so, what
has been the most memorable song interpretation that youve ever
Rhydian: Well, we did it with the Popinjay video recently actually,
we invited people to do it.
Ritzy: Yeah, but that was more about interpreting the song really
wasnt it (looking at Rhydian)?
Rhydian: I suppose, yeah.
Ritzy: I think lyrically, because we havent always printed
the lyrics, people have printed their own versions and Im always
amazed by just how much swearing there is in peoples new versions
(laughs heartily)! I was like, Thats quite interesting.
Rhydian: It is quite funny actually, because its quite similar
I suppose to the Manics in a way. I think some people dont get
what Ritzys singing sometimes, but those days are quite rare,
you know like some of the early REM albums? You cant fucking understand
a word Michael Stipe is saying and its actually nice, it makes
you listen more (laughing)!
Rhydian: So, I would say that occasionally, it is true for this
band as well. On our Forum, weve had people writing out lyrics
and theres some nuggets on there (laughing).
Ritzy: Oh, theres some good ones, yeah, but some are a bit
Rhydian: But the funny thing is, some people tend to simplify
the subject, because if you listen to some of the earlier singles maybe,
theyve got a happier sound about them, but if you genuinely listen
to the lyrics, its not the case you know? Obviously, its
the same with bands like The Smiths, its a very happy sound and
if you didnt know what Morrissey was singing, you would think
it was just any old jingle jangle. But that is the essence of them anyway
isnt it, so its quite an interesting dynamic.
24.Ritzy, I really love your duet with Paul Draper on Greyhounds In
The Slips, but if you could sing a duet with anybody else, who would
it be and why + are there any dream collaborations that you would both
like to see happen?
Ritzy: Oh OK, Im trying to think collaboration-wise.
Rhydian: I said this recently, just a couple of days ago actually,
I wouldnt mind working with Mew.
Ritzy: Yeah, that would be pretty nice actually.
Rhydian: Theyre doing something interesting, although I
think occasionally, they can go into a bit too much meandering for me,
but I think a pairing with them would be great, definitely! I think
theyre fucking wicked!
Ritzy: Id quite like to do something with Future Of The
Left as well, I have to say, that would be quite good.
Rhydian: Yeah, you singing on a Future Of The Left song would
Ritzy: I quite like the thought of that
*Matt, whos packing away in the dressing room, does a screaming
impression of Future Of The Left*
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh heartily)
Ritzy: It probably would sound a bit like that!
Rhydian: This is such a bummer, because Ive thought of answers
to questions like this, like what would be my dream collaboration
Ritzy: Really (looking at Rhydian)?
Rhydian: Yeah, I have genuinely thought about it, but Ive
Ritzy: (laughs heartily)
Rhydian: Like Bowie with Prong or something like that. I dont
Ritzy: Let me think
Rhydian: For me, the sound has to be secondary to the song, and
what compliments the other is not necessarily two great singers, but
I think maybe Björk with Mew would be nice Ill say
Ritzy: Mmm, that would sound pretty nice actually. Youve
kind of stolen my thunder
Rhydian: Were you going to say that (laughing + looking at Ritzy)?
Ritzy: No, I was going to say Björk with Mercury Rev.
Rhydian: How about PJ Harvey with Mercury Rev?
Ritzy: There you go or PJ Harvey with The Flaming Lips,
that would be quite special!
Rhydian: Or Patti Smith with LCD Soundsystem (laughing).
Ritzy: Patti Smith with Elvis Costello.
Rhydian: That would be good, that would be really good!
Ritzy: I might just drool too much and faint.
*I ask Ritzy if she would like to sing with Elvis Costello*
Ritzy: I would, but I never mention that, because it just seems
like the most ridiculous idea in my head (laughs heartily). You know,
Ive been such a fan of Elvis Costello right the way through
Rhydian: Dont meet your icons, youll get disappointed
Ritzy: Yeah, exactly, I think there is that to it as well, definitely.
25.Following on from this, if a TJF Tribute Album was
recorded, which artists / bands would you most like to see cover some
of your songs?
Rhydian: Oh God man
Ritzy: Id quite like Passion Pit to do something.
Rhydian: I would love The Flaming Lips to do a version of one
of our songs, that would be great!
Ritzy: Yeah, The Flaming Lips and Passion Pit.
Rhydian: And Id like Slipknot to do a version of one of
Ritzy: Yeah, and Napalm Death.
Rhydian: It would only be like 2 seconds though wouldnt
it (looking at Ritzy)?
Ritzy: 2 seconds of The Greatest Light.
Rhydian: (humming for 2 seconds)
Ritzy: Yeah (mock-shouting for 2 seconds).
Ritzy & Rhydian: (both laugh heartily)
26.And if theres ever a TJF Tribute Band, what do
you think they should call themselves?
Rhydian: Well, weve thought of one already. Our manager
Joel, we constantly say The Joel Formidable, because hes a closet
Ritzy: Ahh (big smile). When we rehearse
Rhydian: Every rehearsal, he comes in and has a bash on the drums
or the guitar.
Ritzy: Yeah, we kind of swap with our manager and let him take
over one duty, and then its The Joel Formidable for one song (smiling),
before we send him off.
Rhydian: Yeah, thats the perfect tribute act I think. We
should let him support us on our next tour and well actually play
with him, barring you (looking at Ritzy), and thatll be The Joel
Ritzy: Im quite happy to be out of it to be honest (laughing),
that sounds like a good idea (laughs heartily)!
27.What have been some of your personal highlights so far?
Rhydian: Pohoda Festival in Slovakia (looking at Ritzy)?
Ritzy: Yeah, but I find it difficult to say Pohoda, and I dont
think we should say it, because it was so tragic the way it all ended.
Rhydian: Yeah, the way it ended, but the way it started was good.
It was a really great Festival, but unfortunately we were like
10 minutes away from going to the Festival and we got a call
saying that the tent had come down. It held about 5,000 people or whatever
and 2 people died. It was such a tragic end to a really nice Festival
wasnt it (looking at Ritzy)?
Ritzy: Yeah, thats why Im saying its quite difficult
to choose that. Because before that happened, wed had a wonderful
time we saw Patti Smith and all these different bands (pausing),
we were there for the whole weekend and we were playing on the actual
last day. So, I think we actually felt like wed become so involved
with the Festival and wed enjoyed it the whole way through, but
it was just really weird that we didnt get to play it and that
it ended so sadly.
Ritzy: It was a freak storm, so everybody got evacuated. The point
is, I hope it doesnt end up not happening, because they were talking
about never being able to do it again. But the actual atmosphere of
that Festival was so, so beautiful and so peaceful and everybody was
having such a good time! I think that part of it was a highlight."
Rhydian: Theres been so many other highlights, seriously,
but there are a few things that I remember in my head over the past
year-and-a-half, and thats touring with Passion Pit theyre
such nice guys and it was so vibrant, so up and good fun! Leeds And
Reading, that was a really memorable Festival experience for us.
Ritzy: Oh yeah, definitely! I think because it was like the first
show (pausing), we were so new when we did the Introducing Stage, to
within in a year playing on the Festival Republic Stage to a full-tent!
There was something quite (pausing), we felt quite jubilant about it!
We were kind of like, Ooh (excitedly), this is nice! And
I think Japan
Rhydian: Yeah, youre right there.
Ritzy: Just because theres a massive cultural shift in the
way that things are done.
Rhydian: Japan was insane!
Ritzy: And to actually be able to get over there doing the thing
that we love, thats got be celebrated!
Rhydian: I think its partly because of the label we had
over there, Rallye
Ritzy: Oh yeah!
Rhydian: Who are an independent label, but they really took care
of us. Not in a kind of frivolous way, money-wise, but the label boss
is such a nice guy, so passionate about music. But yeah, its such
a different culture and obviously, youre trying to take it all
in, but it was such a great experience you know?
Ritzy: Yeah, theyre great highlights to have (big smile)!
28.Lastly, are there any Joy Formidable tracks that you think of as
companions to each other + is there a song that sums up where you are
Ritzy: The companion thing is quite interesting, Im trying
to think of what kind of came close together Im thinking
of Austere and Cradle I suppose, they feel like theyre part of
the same pod almost.
*I mention The Smashing Pumpkins songs, 1979 and Perfect, which are
linked sonically, even though they were recorded years apart, as are
the promo videos for each track*
Ritzy: Oh, OK.
Rhydian: Yeah, yeah.
Ritzy: I dont think anything consciously has become that,
but I suppose the timing of the splurge has kind of covered those songs.
Rhydian: I think each song actually feels a little bit separate
for us, because weve wanted it to feel different you know? I mean,
Id say if theres any kind of partnership, it would be from
the listening experience of the album. Theres an interlude on
the album and whats followed by that, is actually considered.
So those two together, are maybe where the partnership element comes
from? I dont know. In terms of a song that sums up where we are
right now, I think maybe theres a song on the new album and its
called (looking at Ritzy), Im not sure if Im allowed to
Ritzy: Yeah, go on.
Rhydian: Yeah? OK, its called, I Dont Want To See
You Like This. That for me, feels like maybe its a song that kind
Ritzy: Or that captures the whole thing now (looking at Rhydian)?
Rhydian: Yeah, its kind of where were at now. Its
experimental and yet its sad and its poppy its
so many things and it feels like a real development from the last album,
and yet its really loud and exciting too!
Ritzy: Yeah, for me as well, it definitely does capture quite
a lot of what were about!
A very special thanks to Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt,
and to The Joy Formidables Tour Manager Jonny, for all of their
time and help.
Oxford Set List
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While The Flies
Turn the dial, Chime along, Chime along
Read Steve's earlier Joy Formidable interviews here