It’s been a long and unconventional road for The Joy Formidable. Since forming in North Wales in 2007, the trio (made up of frontwoman/guitarist Ritzy Bryan, bassist/vocalist Rhydian Dafydd, and drummer Matt Thomas) has toured the globe many times over, been embraced by the likes of Dave Grohl, Passion Pit, and The Temper Trap, and garnered a devout and mighty fanbase that’s as strong stateside as it is overseas. Yet prior to this year, the band had only an EP (2008’s startlingly brutal A Balloon Called Moaning), a live disc, and a handful of singles to their name. On their “proper” debut album, The Big Roar, The Joy Formidable further stretch industry conventions: metal-esque blast beats and big, boisterous electric-guitar riffs mix and mingle with building and buoyant pop-rock anthems, all tied together by Bryan’s powerful, yet undeniably feminine, vocal leaps.
Born following the dissolution of Bryan and Dafydd’s former band, Sidecar Kisses, The Joy Formidable occupies a somewhat tough-to-pin-down spot in the musical lexicon — and, as Bryan puts it, that’s just how they like it. “Rhydian and I had just come out of a pretty miserable musical experience where everything was very much over-analyzed and there was a lot of bullshit and egos and trying too hard. When we left that, I think we were happy to have that sense of freedom — we weren’t preoccupied with the genre or where we would fit in.”
As such, The Joy Formidable’s live show has become a force to be dealt with in its own right. They play hard, loud, and fast, and embrace spontaneity and improvisation, and can just as easily start a dance party as they can a mosh pit. “We like the fact that every night is a new experience,” Bryan enthused. “There’s a very fine line between being a great live band and being so rehearsed and going through the motions, and we don’t want that to ever creep into this band. Without over-thinking it, we do as much as we can to keep people on their toes every night.”
The Joy Formidable plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Tuesday, September 13, at 8 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for info