INTERVIEW: Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable talks about the band’s new record, a few Welsh bands we should check out, and more!

My first experience with The Joy Formidable happened at Forecastle three years ago where I had the pleasure of watching them play outside on a hot Saturday afternoon.   The band had an infectious energy about them in their performance that was vigorously emanated through singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan who’s unique charm and voice had me me hanging on every word.  I went into their performance knowing next to nothing about the Welsh trio, but left hungry for every tasty morsel of music the band had released at that point. In particular, I thoroughly enjoy their Wolf’s Law record, an album I absolutely recommend you check out, if you haven’t already.

Three years later, The Joy Formidable has a brilliant new record out called Hitch that furthers the band’s tradition of making some of the most well-constructed anthemic rock songs I’ve heard in quite a while.  Check out a video of the band playing one of their new songs “Radio of Lips” live in Orlando earlier this year:



The band is currently on tour in support of their latest work and will be playing in Louisville this Wednesday, June 8 at Mercury Ballroom (go here for tickets).  To get you properly hyped on the show I reached out to singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan for a quick interview, which she kindly participated in. Read on as we talk about the band’s new record, a few Welsh bands we should check out, and more…

Never Nervous: How did you approach Hitch differently than you did with albums in the past?

Ritzy Bryan: The biggest difference was having our own space in North Wales – the Red Brick studio. It gave us the freedom to produce and engineer this album ourselves. You can hear the room, the takes – this sense of leaving the tape running.

NN: How would you describe the music you make to my 93 year old meemaw?

RB: I like that word meemaw, we call our Welsh grandmothers Nain. I’m not keen on describing music, I’d probably just take her on a good jaunt in the car and blast some through the speakers. See if she wants to keep on riding or get out.

NN: I’m fascinated with band names, and how the people in each troupe comes up with them. Is there ta unique origin story behind the name “The Joy Formidable”?

RB: We were in South London, walking home – dawn a coming, definitely tipsy, that word combination was blurted out, no idea where it came from, but we remembered it the next morning. That was pretty much the only thing we remembered the next morning.

“We were in South London, walking home – dawn a coming, definitely tipsy, that word combination (The Joy Formidable) was blurted out, no idea where it came from, but we remembered it the next morning.”

NN: A friend of mine considers himself to be a super-fan of your band, and he tells me that “The Big Roar” is his favorite Joy Formidable record. He wants to know (as do I) do you have a personal favorite Joy Formidable album?

RB: Not really, I look back on them all with a different type of fondness. All of them are very evocative memory wise – like they’ve freeze framed a moment in time.

NN: Considering that I’ve never been to Wales and don’t know much about music being played there, are there any bands, current or defunct that we should be checking out?

RB: Yes, for sure – there’s a lot of talent coming out of Wales. Here’s a starter list to whet your appetite – Estrons, Chupa Cabra, Mechanical Owl, Denuo, We Are Animal

NN: As an artist from across the pond, what is your immediate impression of Louisville, Kentucky? It’s the fried chicken, isn’t it?

RB: No, I’m a vegetarian, so if you’ve got some good fake fried chicken I’ll go for that! I loved Cherokee Park last time I was in town, and you have some cool cemeteries to stroll like Cave Hill.

“I loved Cherokee Park last time I was in town, and you have some cool cemeteries to stroll like Cave Hill.”

NN: I collect spores, molds and fungus. Do you have any interesting non-music related hobbies?

RB: I saw a Snow Flower today, they’re similar to a fungus, very beautiful – live off the trees in an act of mutualism! That’s a cool hobby. I’ve just started collecting antique wax seals. You get some beautiful designs and I like thinking about the stories behind the initials or the insignia.

NN: Tell us about a couple records that have been blowing your mind lately.

RB: Love the new Santigold record 99c and today I got sent the new Ryley Walker album, so can’t wait to check that out later.

NN: Before you go, give the folks in Louisville one good reason to come see The Joy Formidable at Mercury Ballroom this Wednesday (6/8).

RB: I’m not into the powers of persuasion, if you like music, check out some tracks and if you fancy a night out with three people who love what they’re doing then you’re all welcome. And bring biscuits.