The Joy Formidable
An email interview with Ritzy Bryan
by John Noyd
The Joy Formidable
photo by The Joy Formidable
Welsh alt-rockers The Joy Formidable tread that thin line between danger and elation, thrills and sympathy soliciting protection and decadence. On tour or the in the studio, the band fosters a special connection to their fans, offering a monthly music club and playing big and small cities, particularly in the United States, where they’ve played over four hundred shows, including more than a half dozen in Wisconsin. It’s been almost three years since The Joy Formidable’s last full-length American tour and they recently announced a Deluxe Edition of their latest album, “Into The Blue,” citing the album’s live energy and the band’s eagerness to transfer that voracious vitality on to the stage. The trio plays Milwaukee’s Cactus Club September 9th along with Seattle’s art-punk duo Tre Leches and vocalist, guitarist, co-founder Ritzy Bryan was kind enough to set aside some time to answer a few questions via email.
MAXIMUM INK: The Joy Formidable chose four cities on this tour to play a pre-show acoustic concert. How did Milwaukee get to be one of the lucky ones?
Ritzy: You’ve basically got good promoters who made it possible. That’s part of it at least, that and the routing. We have to be a bit smart about energy on some tours & to not stack too many things in the day, but the universe aligned for The Cactus Club & we can’t wait to have that special pre-show moment with you all.
MI: Last time you played Milwaukee the venue was attached to a coffee shop, before that, a former beer hall. This time around it’s at a bar. Does the vibe of a venue factor into your performance – have you ever changed your set list once you see where you’re playing?
Ritzy: We loved that coffee shop show, it was so fun & the audience were lovely. I think the sign of a good gig is that you kind of forget where you’re playing on some level. Whatever the vibe, whether it’s good or bad, you are just so in the moment that you don’t notice the leaking pipes (yes that’s happened) or the exploding electrics (that’s happened too). Zoning out the bad at least, it’s special to take in a scene like The Gorge at Sasquatch for instance & feel the sun on your face in a beautiful setting. I’ve never changed a setlist for a venue, maybe for a really rowdy crowd.
MI: If you could sum up your fanbase in five words, what would those five words be?
Ritzy: Loyal, open-minded, communicative, kind and respectful.
MI: You often have years between albums. What makes you say it’s time to go back into the studio? Was there something that particularly motivated the band to create your latest album, “Into The Blue”?
Ritzy: It often depends on how much touring we do in between albums. Once we feel like we’re ready to stop touring, that break usually becomes studio time, but there’s never a break in the writing. That’s always happening in some way or another & we just feel out when we want to demo or make some recordings. Into the Blue (the album) was starting to take shape in late 2019 but with Covid hitting & all the cancellations, we decided to spend more time writing for the album & our Music Club.
MI: You’ve been performing as The Joy Formidable since 2007. How has your on-stage persona developed over time? More refined? More relaxed? I remember being struck by the instant connection you made with the crowd when I saw you in 2019.
Ritzy: I think it’s hard to say when you’re in it. Every show is different & I love that. I’m generally a bit more at peace with myself & I think that’s enhanced being open & vulnerable in front of people.
Prepare yourself for a super fun night with powerful songs delivered with sensitive intelligence. Tickets for the Milwaukee show are available at www.cactusclubmilwaukee.com.
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The Joy Formidable
CD: Into The Blue Record Label: Enci Records
• Purchase Into The Blue on Amazon