For the past decade, the power trio known as The Joy Formidable has shown itself to be one of the top indie rock acts in the United Kingdom.
The band has since relocated to the U.S. where they will play for this year’s Savannah Stopover music festival on March 9. The Joy Formidable has enjoyed commercial success and opening honors for mammoth rockers like the Foo Fighters, while also weathering some stormy valleys along their literal and figurative journey from Wales. Through changing band dynamics and record labels, the band has arrived in a peaceful place from which they offer “AAARTH,” their fourth full length record.
“A Balloon Called Moaning,” The Joy Formidable’s first EP, turns 10-years-old this year. It was around this time that Matt Thomas joined lifelong friends Rhiannon Bryan and Rhydian Davies to complete the current lineup.
Bryan and Davies have run the relationship gamut while maintaining the core engine that drives the band’s success. Vocalist and guitarist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan says the two are parts of a formula that has yet to fail the indie-rock project.
“Rhydian and I are the main songwriters and we’ve been writing together now for over 10 years,” Bryan says. “Every song has its own starting point or character that we tap into. We’ve never explored other songwriters for this band. I don’t think it would be a very natural vehicle for that since the heart of The Joy Formidable is maybe something you don’t want to mess with.”
Bryan and Davies’ songs won them worldwide recognition and a deal with a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. The massive label helped release the band’s first studio album, “The Big Roar,” in 2011. The album was successful and kept the band in demand for the next few years.
A rigorous tour schedule continued throughout the band’s second release, “Wolf’s Law,” published in 2013. The band’s second full length album allowed them the means and time to slow down, evaluate, and make choices about the future. A love of nature and the American west brought Bryan from Wales to her current home in Utah.
“I’ve lived in the states for around five years,” Bryan says. “I love my place in Utah. I bought it on a whim after touring ‘Wolf’s Law,’ got myself a little rescue dog called Tony, and thought, ‘this is the perfect contrast to all the wonderful chaos of touring.’”
The band also moved record labels for their third release “Hitch.” It was after “Hitch” that the band began the usual work of touring and preparing another record. It was an unsettling time for the band having changed labels and other parts of the group dynamic. At one point it was unclear if The Joy Formidable was to continue making music together.
“We went into the studio for ‘AAARTH’ in late spring 2017,” Bryan says. “The release wasn’t in doubt because of changing labels, it was more to do with the fallout from the previous album. We got a raw deal on that one, it hurt us financially and hurt the morale. We had a moment where there was a lot going on and it maybe would have been easier to just walk away, but we didn’t and we set to finishing the album instead.”
The indie-rock world was thrilled with the decision. “AAARTH” is a hit among critics and fans, proving the band still has an immense amount to offer.
The Joy Formidable is celebrating its entire career this year, which includes a Stopover performance and a 10th anniversary release of the first EP. Bryan looks for the band to continue to unleash their art to the world while doing what they love.
“We have a lot of musical goals for the new year,” Bryan says. “A new record, and a special re-release of ‘A Balloon Called Moaning.’ We’re putting on a festival in Wales. I want to bask in a really creative year and spend time with people who I love being with."