The Joy Formidable have always produced their albums while on tour.
As the pandemic and lockdowns unfolded, the band, which consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, bassist and vocalist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew James Thomas, were forced to record remotely and to take it slow with their latest release, “Into The Blue.”
“Sometimes the chaos of touring is wonderful and keeps you busy and alive, but other times you’re not sitting with yourself and feeling where you are at,” Bryan said in a recent phone interview.
Now that pandemic restrictions are easing, the band is back on tour and will perform at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles on Oct. 6; Riverside Municipal Auditorium in Riverside on Oct. 7; and Garden Amp in Garden Grove on Oct. 8. The Joy Formidable will also return to the area the following month with shows at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown on Nov. 11; Soda Bar in San Diego Nov. 12; and The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood on Nov. 15.
“Into The Blue” is filled with shoegaze and post-punk guitar riffs that are a pillar of the band’s sound. Bryan’s vocals and lyricism allow listeners to reflect on all the moods they’ve possibly avoided.
Bryan spoke with Southern California Newsgroup about the band’s new album, the music scene in Wales, notable tours and more. The following conversation was edited for space and clarity.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the band’s most recent album, “Into the Blue” and what went into producing it? Are there any overall themes?
Bryan: We had this vision that we were going to make the album in Wales in early 2020, but then obviously lockdown happened. It was also interesting thematically. I was going through something and questioning happiness and all those big questions like, “Where am I at? What am I not facing?” I was wanting to take on more of a growth mindset and embrace change. That was prior to the pandemic and it becoming a huge test for people with the external factors out of their control.
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Q: Do you or other band members come up with the material to use in music videos?
Bryan: That was one of the wonderful things that came with being grounded in one place. It gave us a little more time. I normally have a visual aesthetic, story, place or dream for the songs. Part of the writing for me is to see the visual of the songs in some way. We’ve always been pretty involved in our videos even though we’ve worked with lots of different directors. It was nice to be so involved with the process of those videos.
Q: What differences and similarities does the band feel writing music now as opposed to when you first began?
Bryan: I think every single album has had it’s own approach. We never wanted to be formulaic and that’s the one thing that has been natural. It’s kind of constantly changing but the other really important thing is that we still like creating new stuff. We’re working on a couple of different things like solo projects which is nice because that maybe allows you to explore a different creative side. I like creating records that feel like they take you into a different world. I feel like we’re in a beautiful place creatively where we can turn ourselves into an album and make something that people may not expect from The Joy Formidable.
Q: What is the music scene like back home in Wales?
Bryan: We’re from North Wales and there is a lot more going on now than I’d say 10 years ago. We were in that era where North Welsh bands would go play at one or two of the local venues that weren’t exactly the places you would go refine your sound as a young band. A lot of us would go to Manchester or Liverpool to kind of get out and play at different venues. When I met Matt in London we were in that mood where we just wanted to play and get our sound out there which had an abundance of places to play. Now I think it’s more of an opportunity for bands to play in North Wales but it’s a rural and isolated kind of community.
Q: What are some of your favorite bands that you’ve shared a stage with?
Bryan: We had a great run with Foo Fighters who were just so welcoming. I just loved the family atmosphere that they had backstage. Going out with The Cure was great because I’m such a big fan of them so I tried not to be such a big fan girl. It’s good to tour with good people where you’re actually supporting people. It’s nice to see bands coming out and looking out for each other. I’ve always gravitated towards trying to surround myself with people who are creative and nice to be with.
Q: You’ve toured with the Foo Fighters a couple of times. What was that like and did you ever get a chance to interact with their late drummer Taylor Hawkins?
Bryan: Yes, we did a lot. We were extremely upset at the news. He was lovely and such a sweet person. He looked out for us a lot while we were on the road. We really felt for them because it’s hard losing people but it’s such a unique dynamic being in a band. It’s like being in a family unit. It’s a difficult loss.
Q: What’s next for The Joy Formidable?
Bryan: After this tour we’re going to talk about making more music and some new music coming in September. One of the most beautiful aspects of the band is watching our music evolve. I am excited to keep on growing that and it almost feels like a test to see how touring still relates to this band.
The Joy Formidable
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.
Where: Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever, 5970 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
Tickets: Sold out; some tickets available through third party vendors.
Also: 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. $32.50 at Livenation.com; 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at Garden Amp, 12762 Main Street, Garden Grove. $20 at Ticketweb.com; 8 p.m. Nov. 11 at Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Road., Pioneertown. $25 at eventbrite.com; 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego. $31.55 at sodabarmusic.com; 8:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at The Roxy Theatre, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. $25 at axs.com.