1. If you could write the perfect headline for an article about
The Joy Formidable, what would it be?
Rhydian: "Oh, God..."
Ritzy: "Blimey, I'd forgotten how good your interview questions
are! That's not 'How did you come up with the name of the band?' is
All: (laugh heartily)
Ritzy: "Maybe it could be something like 'RED BRICK STUDIO BECOMES
A PERMANENT FIXTURE' instead of something that we keep having to put
up and take down."
Ritzy: "Because obviously, we've built this studio space, but it's
kind of doubling-up as somebody else's house. It work fines, because
we're not there at the moment as you can tell and we've
got a lot of touring going on. But, it would be nice if we could make
something like that a completely permanent thing not just so
that we can use it, but maybe so that some other bands could use it
as well. I think it would be nice to be able to provide a space for
bands in our country and further afield, where they could come to make
Rhydian: "Yeah, and I would also add to the headline 'AND IT'S
NOT FOR SALE'."
All: (laugh heartily)
2. Some songwriters speak of how when they haven't written songs
for a while, they have a fear that they won't be able to do it again.
However, you both write constantly to alleviate such worries and in
terms of a starting point, be it working individually or together, Rhydian
has talked of how "there really isn't a formula as such and whatever
happens happens." From jamming, to moulding ideas that began life
on an acoustic guitar or as beats / rhythms, to experimenting with studio
technology, to a topline melody, chorus or hook, to lyrics coming fully-completed
from one of you or by trading co-authored words and lines. But as you
recorded between 60 to 70 tracks during the Hitch sessions, was it difficult
selecting what ended up as the final 12 song tracklisting / deciding
on the best possible way to pace the long player and present the breadth
of your songwriting?
Ritzy: "Yeah, and I think that's why it probably took a full year
for us to finish this record, because there was a lot of writing in
that space and a lot of recording. Because I think we wanted to see
a big chunk of the songs through and actually make sense of them all,
I suppose. So, it wasn't until we kind of got to the point 12-months
in where things almost started to become clearer for us, in terms
of the material that we were writing and the feel of it and the vibe.
Obviously, the flow of an album is a really important thing to us, so
I don't think it was until we kind of purged an awful lot of material
(laughing), that we arrived at the core of the record that we've actually
3. As a collection of songs, I think Hitch easily contains some of
the very best tracks that you've ever put out! But is there anything
that you may be willing to impart about your unreleased material, and
are you preparing to release a follow-up record quickly?
Ritzy: "Well, some of the songs are very different that belong
to those sessions..."
Rhydian: "Yeah, I think there's a mixture and we do plan on recording
the next record pretty soon actually, but that's just where we're at,
at the moment. Who knows what those songs will be, but we've got enough
from these past sessions."
Ritzy: "And we'll be writing in the interim as well, because we
don't just like to rely on material from another chapter. It's also
a very personal thing, because what's happening in your own life, will
inevitably have an effect on the songs that you write next."
Rhydian: "Yeah, but we never write-off stuff that we've written
Ritzy: "Oh never, no!"
Rhydian: "Because we've revisited songs that we started writing
right at the very start. You put them in the context of now and they're
different again it's kind of like a big bag full of ideas that
you can tap into at any time really."
Ritzy: "We also want to record another live album at some point
4. A lot of musicians believe that "you have your whole life
to write your first album, that the second album is a reaction to this
record and that by the time of your third album, youre much closer
to establishing a defining sound / identity of your own." Would
you agree with this, and also, do you have any favourite third albums?
Rhydian: "Oh wow, favourite third albums..."
*I say that some of mine are The Holy Bible - Manic Street Preachers,
Coming Up - Suede and Free All Angels - Ash*
Rhydian: "I'll have to have a think about that. But in answer to
the first part of your question, I think that we've had quite a non-traditional
path anyway you know? We've always done bits and bobs in-between albums,
so I'm not sure about the whole theories and myths that go around about
album-making. I think you just have to view it like each one is a different
chapter in your life. You know, for instance, they say that the second
or third album is the difficult one. But surely, that just depends on
how successful the first album has been anyway some bands are
fucking amazing, but on a financial-level or exposure-level, they're
not that successful. It depends how you categorise it really doesn't
it? But for us, it's just about being proud of what we've written and
the pressure that we put on ourselves. We kind of just have the shutters
on with everybody else and I think it's important to do that!"
5. Although as previously mentioned, you're consistently thinking about
ideas for new songs, I remember once hearing how Rhydian writes the
most frequently, while Ritzy, you tend to wait for lyrical inspiration
to arrive unforced whenever and wherever that may be. Even acknowledging
how a lot of your ideas are stream-of-consciousness, and that your "songbook
is really a mixture of more fully-realized poems and very chaotic words:
just word combinations, wordplay and imagery. Lines that sound interesting.
It's a collage of separate threads." But in terms of honing your
songcraft, do you both now know exactly how a track should be treated
sonically, length and feel etc?
Rhydian: "Well, I mean, obviously as you grow, there are certain
things that fine-tune your perception of some things, but then you don't
ever want to feel that you're stagnant either. So you have to push yourself
and not feel like things are formulated. It's a constant push-and-pull
maybe you know? That's how I feel."
Ritzy: "Yeah, and I like to be constantly surprised. Like maybe
you'll have the bare bones of a song and you do have some preconceptions
about what you want to lead it, in terms of section-to-section
and definitely the lyrics will be part of that for me. But sometimes,
you do get surprised. For instance, like the flute making an appearance
on this new album, that came at quite a late stage and it came quite
spontaneously, just through us seeing Laura and playing some records
that had that kind of feel wondering how that would work in the
context of the tracks that we were writing."
Ritzy: "So a big part of creating, is keeping your mind open to
the moment and what the moment can bring it can make it very,
very different to what you originally had in mind."
6. Have any song ideas ever come to you in your dreams a la Paul
McCartney and Yesterday?
Rhydian: "Definitely in daydreams..."
*I interject, that while humming the melody to himself after waking-up
and searching for the right words, Paul originally sang Scrambled Eggs,
which then became the working title for Yesterday*
All: (laugh heartily)
Rhydian: "I mean (looking at Ritzy), you have quite a lot of vivid
dreams, so I could totally imagine you've had that happen?"
Ritzy: "I have lyrically, but I don't know if I've had them musically.
I was laughing just recently, because I saw Chrissie Hynde talking about
how she wrote some of the tracks for The Pretenders she said
that she was on a train and there was something about the sound of the
train, that made her think of a guitar riff..."
Matt: (adopting the voice of a train warning) "Mind the doors."
Ritzy: "So, I get that musically more often, where I hear stuff
rhythmically or melodically, rather than dreaming of a song lyrically
or conceptually and waking-up with a whole dream in my head. Definitely,
7. Ritzy, when asked about revising lyrics in a fascinating interview
with Songwriters On Process, you revealed, "If your lyrics completely
capture the spirit of what you want to say, then you leave them be and
shape the music around them. On the other hand, if it feels like the
words are not quite complete or can be changed, you revise because the
music has a stronger lead at that moment. But when I'm more precious
about the music, that's really the only time I'll revise the lyrics."
But of all your songs to date, which one evolved the most or are there
any that have taken on a life of their own / gone beyond your expectations?
Rhydian: "I suppose in a live sense, we've taken Whirring into
loads of different places. Because we do enjoy how onstage when you're
playing songs as a band, there's an element of improvisation and being
in the moment as well that's important I think. Recordings-wise..."
Ritzy: "With The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie on the first record
(The Big Roar), I do remember the original demo of that being a lot
simpler to what it actually ended up becoming. Because that went into
the live room and then out of the live room, and back into the studio.
So, it kind of had two building stages."
Rhydian: "Yeah, and we did that with this record a few times as
Ritzy: "We did, yeah. But we'll never drain the life out of a song
and we'll abandon an idea very quickly, if we know that it isn't going
*I remark how a lot of artists / bands recognise that knowing what direction
a song should go in and when it needs more work, or is actually finished,
are some of the most vital skills that any songwriter or musician has
to learn seeing 'the bigger picture'*
Rhydian: "That's right, and The Brook started off in a very different
way. Initially I think, quite a few of the songs maybe had a lot more
distorted guitars or whatever. But, we wanted to explore space and vocals,
and therefore the lyrics a bit more on this album you know, and show
intensity in different ways. Not just through aggression with our instruments."
8. Although over the years you have written and recorded music on
the road using your mobile studio,while all the time "collecting
experiences, soaking up your surroundings and chronicling the moment."
I'm sure that readers will be interested to know more about your purposely-built
recording studio, 'The Red Brick', which you set up at Ritzy's childhood
home in Mold, North Wales. So, can you walk us through what a visitor
Ritzy: (laughing) "Well, it's an old house and it hasn't had
much done to it either since The '70s really. So it's quite an interesting
house it's got a lot of Welsh slate on the floors and we've got
a big room where the drums were set-up."
Ritzy: "It's a bit higgledy-piggledy (smiling), but it definitely
feels very much that it's not been completely 'studiofied', in the sense
that it kind of feels that it's this meeting of an abode you know? You
might find a microphone at the top of the stairs or in the kitchen,
or wherever we've decided to stick it for the day. You know, next door
to the fridge and the kettle really."
Ritzy: "It's a great space for us, in terms of just having somewhere
that we could make this record without having the pressures of time,
which sometimes a studio brings and there's also a lot of financial
implications setting-up in a studio. So having that space and being
back home, was a big part of this record as well, because we hadn't
been back to Mold for a really long time. But yeah, we could make people
a cup of tea very easily!"
9. Of your musical output to date, in terms of studio embellishments,
whats the simplest recording and the most complex multi-tracked
recording youve ever committed to tape?
Rhydian: "The simplest, is maybe something like Silent Treatment."
Ritzy: "Yeah, or 9669 either of those would be in the simplest
Rhydian: "For the most intricate, I would say maybe The Everchanging
Spectrum Of A Lie."
Rhydian: "And on this record, Running Hands With The Night..."
Ritzy: "But I think Spectrum would beat that."
Matt: "Which song was it that had 128 drum tracks on it in the
Ritzy: (laughs heartily)
Matt: "It was something from Wolf's Law."
Rhydian: "We put some engineers through the mill."
Ritzy: "Yeah, poor Andy Wallace (laughing)."
10. Having fulfilled your contract with Atlantic Records / Canvasback,
can you tell us about starting your own label, C'mon Let's Drift, and
why you chose that name?
Ritzy: "Of course (enthusiastically)! Well, I think we've always
had a real sense of autonomy as a band, in terms of our career path
and our creativity, and I suppose it's been spurred on by the Welsh
single releases that we did in the middle of recording this new record
we were doing these collaborative double-sided 7"s with
other bands from Wales. So as I said, I think that definitely spurred
on the decision to maybe build some sort of releasing platform for ourselves,
and that was under the guise of Aruthrol. C'mon Let's Drift feels like
an extension of that, and it's definitely something that I would like
to keep on building outside of us. Because I do think what we really
liked about the Aruthrol series, was the collaborative aspect and sharing
this release with other bands. I do think with our background in production
and now having 'The Red Brick', I would like to use it outside of us
as well eventually. So with Hitch, I suppose that's the starting point,
and hopefully, it will flourish and then we can go outside of The Joy
Formidable. The name comes from a Raymond Chandler book, where one of
his characters says, "C'mon let's drift." Which basically
just means, 'Let's get the fuck out of here'."
Ritzy: "So, it's that sort of sense of going for something you
know? Inspirationally and thematically as well, our new album talks
a lot about freedom and following your own path, which also ties the
11. To date, what has been the biggest surprise in your career?
Rhydian: "Wow (wide-eyed), the biggest surprise!?! (thinking) Well,
the world of The Music Industry is quite a surprise in a way, because
there are a lot of grey people and a lot of evil people and you think
you know that, but until you come across them (pausing), that's taken
me a little bit by surprise. I don't know about these guys?"
Matt: "I always knew there was a lot of slime!"
Ritzy: "I still look back with a lot of happiness and fondness
on the gig that we did with the Manics and Paul McCartney at the Millennium
Stadium in Cardiff (June 26, 2010). There was just something about that
whole weekend (big smile) it will always be hard to top!"
*I remind The Joy Formidable how they very generously added me to their
guestlist with a +1 for this concert, and that with both the support
acts and the headliner, it is without question, the best gig line-up
that I've ever seen!*
Rhydian: "Yeah, and it was quite a moment walking out onto the
stage there. I mean, we'd done stadiums before, but that was like HUGE!"
Ritzy: "Yeah (excitedly)!"
Matt: "Do you remember walking out and we just burst out laughing!"
Ritzy: "Yeah, I think there was a lot of that happening."
Ritzy: "I remember the first vocal line that I delivered (laughs
heartily) and I still try not to laugh, because I could hear it echoing
around the stadium! Before I delivered the next line, I was thinking,
"Holy Fucking Shit! There's 10 of me!" (laughs heartily again).
My vocals were just bouncing off the walls! That was a surprisingly
happy moment. I also actually had a good surprise not long ago in Brazil,
when I turned around onstage and (looking at Rhydian) you weren't there
and there was some other gentleman with your bass guitar!"
Ritzy: "That was quite an interesting surprise, because he was
a good bass player (laughing)!"
Matt: (laughs heartily)
Ritzy: "Not that you're not (looking at Rhydian)."
Ritzy: "I'm just saying (laughing). But, I hadn't even noticed
that you'd swapped hands almost. So, that was quite an interesting development!"
Matt: "It was choreographed."
Ritzy: ""Where have you come from!?!" (laughs heartily)"
12. Your LPs all have very memorable opening and closing tracks, but
do you have any favourite album intros and outros?
Ritzy: "Thank you for saying that about our opening and closing
tracks (big smile)!"
Rhydian: "Yeah, thank you! As for some of our favourites, doesn't
The End finish one of The Doors albums? That's a great finisher!"
Matt: "I'm trying to think of album bookends..."
Rhydian: "What starts off OK Computer?"
Rhydian: "That's a fantastic song!"
Ritzy: "I do like The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead, that's a clever
opener because it's really powerful and visceral. But although it's
one of my favourite albums of all-time, I always think the ending of
that album isn't how you would expect it to end, because it finishes
on Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others and I always thought that was quite
Ritzy: "I suppose that's the great thing about music, because it's
very personal in terms of the journey that an artist wants to take you
on. But you would have thought that they could have ended it with I
Know It's Over or something. Maybe that would've been too clichéd?
So, I like the way it starts, but I'm not keen on how it ends."
Matt: (laughs heartily)
13. If you could have played or sung on any album in your record
collection, which one would it have been?
Matt: "There's a few for me!"
Rhydian: "Wow (excitedly), maybe Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin
for me and on something by Björk."
Ritzy: "What about yours Mr. Thomas?"
Matt: "Obviously, Joe's Garage Acts I, II & III from Frank
Matt: "Selling England By The Pound by Genesis. Jeff Buckley's
Rhydian: "I would've loved to have collaborated with Bowie."
Matt: "Hiromi's Sonicbloom - Time Control, but I can't play as
good as that though. For that album, I cannot emulate the drumming on
that one, and I need A LOT more practise before I can do that (laughing)!"
Ritzy: "Well, that's a good honest response (laughing)!"
Matt: "There's so many though really."
14. Now neatly segueing into your back catalogue, The Joy Formidable
have issued a number of gorgeous collectibles through the years
from limited edition vinyls and CDs, to bespoke box sets, to promos.
But as music fans, habitual record store shoppers and crate-digging
collectors yourselves, whats the most expensive album that youve
ever bought and the best bargain youve ever found?
Rhydian: "I've found plenty of bargains, but I don't think I've
ever spent hundreds and hundreds of pounds on one record or anything
Ritzy: "No, not on music. I think the best bargain that I've ever
found though, was when I bought the first ever Radiohead release, the
Drill EP. I found that at a record fair and I was really young, but
it was just before The Bends had been released and I don't think the
lady running the stall who was selling it, quite realised just how rare
that EP was and how valuable it would go onto become. I remember thinking,
"Wow (excitedly), this is a find!" I've still got that (big
Rhydian: "It's funny how buying physical music has changed, because
I remember years and years ago, some albums costing close to £20."
Matt: "If you're talking about CDs, they were new things weren't
they. But buying vinyl wasn't as expensive then and it's kind of reversed
now, vinyl's really expensive and CDs are super cheap (laughing)."
15. Can you tell us more about collaborating with the esteemed artist
and illustrator, Ralph Steadman, for artwork on both Hitch / fan merchandise
and how this came about?
Ritzy: "Well, it came from just a very regular night out in Mold,
which is the nearest town to where 'The Red Brick' is located. We happened
to be having a few drinks and we bumped into some people and got talking
to them (pausing and looking at Rhydian), I don't know if you knew them?"
Rhydian: "I knew them before, yeah."
Ritzy: "But I hadn't really made the connection at all, we were
just having a nice chat and it turned out that one of the ladies we
were drinking with, was Ralph Steadman's Daughter. Like I said, it was
a very honest conversation and several drinks in..."
Matt: (laughing) "You mean a very drunk conversation!"
Ritzy: "A very drunk and honest conversation (laughing), with me
saying (adopting a drunken slur), "Do you fucking think Ralph would
like to do something for the album?""
All: (laugh heartily)
Ritzy: "Because even prior to that moment, if anybody had made
us choose an artist to collaborate with, it would've been Ralph Steadman
100%. So it was very, very surreal!"
Rhydian: "Yeah, we LOVE his work!"
Ritzy: "We're BIG fans (enthusiastically)!"
Rhydian: "Her Husband, Andy, I've known a long time. There's a
bar in Mold called Y Delyn Wine Bar and that's where we've been more
than any other bar really. It's quite a cool little place and we always
used to see him in there."
Rhydian: "But also, it turns out that Ralph Steadman is Welsh
he grew up in Abergele. So that was a nice connection, especially because
at the time, we were doing the Welsh single releases..."
Ritzy: "Yeah, we were in the middle of those at the time."
Rhydian: "And it felt like it totally made sense. Because the whole
point of that singles club was to champion the stuff coming out of Wales,
especially North Wales, because we feel that it needs a bit of help
you know? So it was a nice touch!"
Ritzy: "He was really nice. We just had one simple phone conversation
with him and off he went. We haven't met him yet he invited us
down to visit him didn't he (looking at Rhydian), but we haven't had
a chance to. But he's going to be at one of our shows..."
Rhydian: "He's going to be in Denver apparently isn't he?"
Matt: "Yeah he's having a big party!"
Ritzy: "In Denver, yeah. He's been listening to the record, because
prior to him doing the artwork, he hadn't listened to the record..."
Matt: "Oh, right (surprised)."
Ritzy: "But now, he's really into it (laughing) and he wants to
come and see us!"
All: (laugh heartily)
Ritzy: "I thought that was quite funny (chuckling)."
*In relation to Hitch's sleeve artwork, I mention how I noticed that
on the LP's tracklisting, The Gift is written in an italic typeface
so that it stands out from the other songs and I wondered what the reason
behind this was*
Rhydian: "It's because we felt like it was some sort of
not interlude but like Adam was saying the other day, there's
almost like a breath in the album or something. It feels like if you
were to have your way with a vinyl, it would almost be like there's
16. As dedicated readers, I know that you even have a mini-library in
the back lounge of your tour bus, and so I thought that this next question
about literature would be rather apt! A book entitled, The Empty
Page: Fiction inspired by Sonic Youth, features "short stories
by authors whose initial sparks came from Sonic Youth song titles."
Would you ever like to see a selection of your song titles treated in
the same manner, and if so, are there any specific writers who you would
like to see take up the challenge?
Ritzy: "Well, I've written a song based on a writer, because A
Minute's Silence which is a song that we released (as a limited
edition 12" vinyl) exclusively for 'Record Store Day' in 2013
was inspired by Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. So yeah, I'd be
quite fascinated to see it reversed from his perspective, because I
love his writing and I especially like some of his novels. When he hits
it, I just think that his observation and the simplicity in which he
captures the moments of relationships, and conversations between couples,
is so well-executed! So, I would LOVE to see what he would do with one
of our song titles. But what song title could we give to him (looking
at Rhydian & Matt)? Let me think..."
Rhydian: "Maybe give him A Minute's Silence."
Ritzy: "Just throw it back at him, yeah!"
All: (laugh heartily)
Rhydian: "I would have liked Roald Dahl to have written a story
based on Popinjay. Obviously, he's a children's writer, but he's one
of my favourite writers ever, in terms of the imagery and how strong
and powerful and imaginative his books are. I can imagine he would have
thought of something pretty macabre for Popinjay... I mean, we kind
of did do a pretty dark video to it anyway."
17. In our previous wide-ranging interview, you told me some interesting
stories behind the creation of some of your tracks. So with this in
mind, if you were asked to put together a TV show in a similar vein
to Storytellers whereby 5 musicians play songs together,
talk about their music / respective careers, jam and tell anecdotes
etc. Who would you ask to appear?
Ritzy: "I've never seen that."
Matt: "It's really good actually, VH1 'Storytellers', but it's
hard to watch it in the UK now. Over here, it was on satellite TV in
the mid-'90s to early-'00s (looking at Ritzy), so that's why you wouldn't
have seen it (jokingly + laughing)."
Ritzy: "We didn't have very good TV in North Wales (laughing)."
Rhydian: "Did they have all kinds? I think I saw some country musicians..."
Matt: "They had loads of stuff and each show focused on one particular
act, where they would perform and chat, plus answer questions in front
of an invited audience. There were quite a few programmes really and
sometimes you see it when we're on tour in America, because you can
Ritzy: "Oh, ok."
Matt: "They'll be going like (adopting a hippie voice), "Yeah,
we were really bummed because our tour bus broke down, so we just started
writing this song that we're about to play for you.""
Matt: "Stuff like that (laughing)."
Ritzy: "But (looking at me) your idea is a new spin on that, where
an artist or band would actually book the guests and there'd be 5 different
songwriters and musicians all appearing together. Wow (excitedly)!"
*Rhydian asks me if the artists have to all still be alive and I say
that that would be better, joking that just in case a TV channel may
read this article and want to commission the programme, that line-up
All: (laugh heartily)
Matt: "It COULD happen!"
Ritzy: (laughing) "That's it, yeah! Well, I think Courtney Barnett
would be good, just in terms of having that free vibe lyrically and
she's quite witty. But who could we put her with?"
Matt: "Tom Waits?"
Ritzy: "Tom Waits, yeah."
Rhydian: "Leonard Cohen maybe?"
Matt: "Kanye West, just because it would be hilarious to see all
of these people try and punch him really (laughs heartily)!"
Ritzy & Rhydian: (laughing)
Ritzy: "Definitely not Kanye West!"
Matt: (laughs heartily again)
Ritzy: "You can bog off frankly! I think Benjamin Booker would
be cool on guitar and how about Steve Nieve on piano? He's been doing
some of his own stuff recently and that would be a nice twist to it."
*TJF's 'Storytellers'-style TV show line-up in full... Courtney Barnett,
Benjamin Booker, Leonard Cohen, Steve Nieve and Tom Waits*
18. Of all your songs to date, which are you most proud of and why?
Rhydian: "It's always a tough one that."
Ritzy: "It is."
Matt: "It's like saying who's your favourite child (laughing),
which is weird, because none of us have even got kids!"
Rhydian: "Some of our songs are short and some of them are long,
and it's easy to think that something is somehow bigger and deeper if
it's longer. But, I don't always think that's the case, I just think
it's the context of everything you know?"
Matt: "Yeah, and I guess it depends what mood you're in when you're
listening to it as well, because it changes. You don't want to listen
to a sadder song when you're about to go out clubbing do you? Well,
you might (laughing)!"
Rhydian: "For the sake of being decisive, I'll say The Greatest
Light Is The Greatest Shade."
Ritzy: "I think I'll say something off the new record, so either
A Second In White or The Brook. One of those."
19. I recently read that because of the changes The Joy Formidable
went through, how it "crossed your minds that you may not tour
again." Thankfully though, you turned things around, as you've
noted on many occasions how 'audience connection' is a massive part
of what drives the band, and how the roots of the group, have depended
hugely on the special and caring relationship that you've long-maintained
with your faithful fanbase. With a genuine love for performing live,
thoughtfully determining set lists show to show and the heartfelt sincerity
which you always display when interacting with crowds (onstage and off).
It's obvious that you've never taken people's ongoing support / emotional
investment for granted, and due to the incentive of this 'truthful exchange',
I know that the way in which the messages in your music translate to
audiences, big or small, is also of utmost importance to you! But, at
a guess with your famed incessant touring schedule I wondered
how many gigs you think youve played since you started as a band?
Rhydian: "That would be a good thing to find out!"
Ritzy: "Let's do some basic calculations."
Matt: "We must have easily done..."
Rhydian: "It's definitely over a thousand."
Matt: "Oh yeah (without any hesitation), it's definitely over a
Ritzy: "We've had 7 or 8 years together and we've probably played
at least 200 shows every year."
Rhydian: "There's been some years, where we've done quite a lot
more than 200 gigs as well."
Ritzy: "Yeah, so that rounded up is about 1,500 to hazard a guess.
FUCKING HELL no wonder my arms are falling off (laughs heartily)!"
Matt: "We spent a whole year not gigging as well really (pausing),
well, we did a couple. But, we should try and work it out it
would be interesting."
Ritzy: "That would be quite laborious and I think I'd have other
things that I would much rather do (laughing)."
Matt: "We could force someone to try and work it out (laughs heartily)!"
*At 7.15pm, The Joy Formidable's Tour Manager, Scott, enters the band's
dressing room to let Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt know that their next interviewer
will soon be arriving, but they graciously agree to quickly answer my
20. From personal experience, what is the one thing that everybody
should try at least once in their lifetime?
Rhydian: "Ooh, God (thinking)... I would say dancing. Definitely!"
Ritzy: "Going out into the wilderness and stripping everything
back, so that you really don't need much at all. Getting under the stars,
just being away and switching your FUCKING phone off!"
Matt: (laughs heartily)
Ritzy: "There wouldn't be any signal where I'm talking about anyway.
But yeah, sit under the stars and just reflect."
Rhydian: "Realise that there are so many things that you don't
Ritzy: "Yeah, precisely that!"
21. In reference to a question that I asked you in 2010, about how three-piece
bands (using the classic guitar, bass, drums set-up) are able to deliver
'the purest form of musical expression'. As each of these instruments
continue to play such a key role in TJF's overall sound, from some of
your own songs and from some of your favourite artists / groups, are
there any guitar riffs / solos, bass lines and drum patterns that have
stuck in your head?
Rhydian: "Hmmm... Well, off the new record, the bass riff in Liana.
In terms of other people's stuff, I think some of the bass lines from
Jamiroquai are amazing especially the early player (Stuart Zender)
that they had."
Matt: "Before they sacked him (laughing)!"
Ritzy: "There are so many riffs and solos by guitarists that I
love, but I'd need more time to think of them all really."
Matt: "Yeah, I think I'd need more time to work out some of my
favourite drum patterns as well."
22. Lastly, I know you feel that time truly proves a band's worth.
But what has been the most valuable lesson that you have learnt from
writing and recording songs and do you see yourselves always
making music in some capacity?
Rhydian: "Yeah, and there's plenty that we've learnt. I think with
it being such an intense relationship in a band, you learn to deal with
people and a big part of it, is how to get the best out of each other.
It's not just something that you can leave at the end of the day, if
you want to call it a 'job'. So there's that, and also, it really makes
you think about why are you doing it and what the point of the music
is. You know, we still love music and that's the guiding force for us.
I think it's quite easy to give it up if you don't have that, and that's
been the thing I think that's driven us that we're still
turned on by believing in what we write. Especially for guitar bands,
because it's not the easiest time to be doing it, just to sustain yourself
and like I said, you come across a lot of fucking bullshit, politics
and everything else that you have to deal with. So, it helps if you
like doing it (laughing)."
Ritzy: "Try to never second-guess yourself, and I think it's really
important to surround yourself with people who you love and trust. You
have to be really strong when you're making music and sharing it, because
in terms of staying true to yourself and keeping your integrity, it
can be easily bent and moulded and I think you have to be very hard,
but always keep a softness for the people that you love. Because ultimately,
we're the people who are going to be playing these songs and I don't
have any regrets about any of the music that we've put out, or the albums
that we've released and that takes A LOT of confidence! Music's
such a subjective thing, that you're always going to end up with a lot
of opinions, so you have to really learn which ones to block out and
which ones can actually help you."
A very special thanks to Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt,
and to The Joy Formidables Tour Manager Scott, for all of their
time and help.
Oxford Set List
I Don't Want To See You Like This
Maw Maw Song
The Last Thing On My Mind
The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Brook (acoustic in crowd)
Radio Of Lips
"A New Beginning"
The Joy Formidable - Archived R*E*P*E*A*T Interviews here