The Joy Formidable are a Welsh alternative rock band formed in 2007 in North Wales and currently located in London, England. The band consists of Ritzy Bryan (lead vocals, guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Matt Thomas (drums, pe...
The Joy Formidable are a Welsh alternative rock band formed in 2007 in North Wales and currently located in London, England. The band consists of Ritzy Bryan (lead vocals, guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Matt Thomas (drums, percussion). The Joy Formidable guitarist Ritzy Bryan performing at Glastonbury in 2011.
Childhood friends Ritzy Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd originally played together as part of Manchester band Tricky Nixon, which later reformed into Sidecar Kisses. After Sidecar Kisses split up in 2007 they regrouped, returning to their Welsh home town of Mold, and formed The Joy Formidable with Justin Stahley on drums.
For six months, the pair wrote together, experimenting with different sonic approaches. As the sessions began yielding signature tunes like "Austere" and "Cradle"—tracks that combined the duo's interest in thick, textured noises with clear, shimmering pop hooks—took form. "We'd always been into writing strong melodies," Bryan says. "The sparks really flew when we started messing with things that were choral and symphonic, mixed with what both of us had already enjoyed separately: dirty, loud, rhythmic guitars and thick bass-lines."
The Joy Formidable released "Austere" as a single in July 2008, followed by "Cradle" on double 7" later that summer, and quickly produced an eight-track EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, which they released themselves in the UK in early 2009. Also in 2009 Justin Stahley was replaced by Matt Thomas on drums. Having relocated to London, the trio quickly earned a reputation for blistering live performances. "We love and encourage the beautiful double-pedal," says Bryan, with a chuckle. "We do lean towards a slightly metal aesthetic when it comes to drums, which makes it very loud and heavy and all the things we want to be as a live entity. The new album definitely explores those elements, and that's because of Matt being in the band."
The trio spent 2009 touring the UK, Europe and Australia with bands including Editors, Temper Trap and Passion Pit, mastering tiny clubs and festival stages alike. Their introduction to American audiences came when Passion Pit invited The Joy Formidable to open a pair of sold-out shows at New York's Terminal 5. In late April 2009, they teamed with a new label started by Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy, Black Bell Records, to release A Balloon Called Moaning in the U.S. In summer 2010, the band signed with Canvasback Records, and released their debut album The Big Roar, on 24 January 2011. The band worked on writing and tracking the material for The Big Roar when they weren't on the road. Dafydd said about the album, "[it] covers a lot of emotional range. It's captured the battle between the eternal optimist and the manic depressive." Their debut was produced by themselves, with help from engineer Neak Menter, and the band traveled to Los Angeles in the summer of 2010 to mix it with producer Rich Costey (Mew, Muse, Foo Fighters, Glasvegas). The first single from those sessions, "I Don't Want to See You Like This", was released in autumn of 2010. Their track "Endtapes" was featured on the The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn film soundtrack.