I always enjoy doing Q & A interviews. Totally fun for me to get to know new people, discover their music and spend some time taking their photos- asking some questions. It’s like putting together a little package I get to send out to the world to share.
On 4.22.17 I had the opportunity to meet up with the fellas of Joy Riding a Philadelphia based band at Creep Records for record store day (it was a blast btw). You should go see them live June 5th at Pharmacy and/or catch their record release show for their record “You’re So Smart” on June 16th at Johnny Brenda’s. If you can’t make that you can pick up their new record digitally on June 2nd.
Ady: Joe! I’m thrilled to be able to have a some time to chat with you and the rest of the guys from Joy Riding. When did Joy Riding form? Did you all know each other before the band got started?
Joe: Hey! Me too! Chatting is good. Joy Riding formed as an idea a really long time ago when my old band stopped. I planned on just making music under the name Joy Riding by myself. I knew Scott (drums), John (guitar), and Kerry (bass) and I kinda figured I’d ask them to play when I got things going. John and Scott were in one of my favorite bands (Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start) so it is/was kind of awesome to get to play with them. Kerry was in some bands and was bandless at the time Joy Riding was getting started, and we’re tight, so it was a no-brainer to ask him. Brian (guitar/keys) just joined the band a few months ago and I’ve always sort of obsessed over his music. It’s really great to have all these dudes. But to answer the original question, we’ve been a band for like 4-5 years now.
Ady: Wait, at first I thought (Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start) was a Mortal Combat combo, but I could be wrong… is that Contra? I digress. Feel free to not answer my childhood video game obsession related question.
Joe: Haha, It’s Contra. Scott can elaborate on this…
Scott: Well, if you want to get technical about it – and who doesn’t? – the code could be used for multiple Konami games. But Contra is the one that was most popular because it was pretty much impossible to play without the code. Regardless of what game it comes from, it’s a terrible name for a band.
Ady: I shouldn’t know those codes regardless (but I do) so you get a free pass on the band name.
Ady: Tell me about your latest release “You’re so Smart”. What was the inception of “You’re so smart” like?
Joe: Aw man! It’s our first full length, which is super exciting. It took us a really long time to make. We had a bunch of recording obstacles and it took a really long time to record – but now that it’s done and ready for the world, it’s really exciting. The songs feel sort of old to us now, I think. But I think it will be neat for everyone else who’s seen us play most of the songs live a bunch to finally hear them on record.
Ady: I have heard other bands also talk about the challenges of recording and getting the full length out there. Glad you guys stuck through the process. What was your best memory of putting together “You’re so smart”?
Joe: Certainly. We definitely went through some shit. The producer (Dave) basically made us re-record the whole record after we got halfway through because he wasn’t happy with how it was sounding – that was such a bummer, but listening back to the first recordings to the final ones, it was definitely the right move. That delayed the process for probably a whole entire year. That was definitely the biggest challenge. As far as best memory, I think my favorite memory was probably recording the song “Hail Mary”. I have this problem where I get attached to my original demos and that one probably stayed the most true to the very first recording I did in my bedroom. That was a fun one to record.
Ady: “Hail Mary”, it’s a good one. It’s catchy, I’ve caught myself singing it in my head a few times since I’ve heard it. What’s it all about? (I love knowing the story behind the songs…)
Joe: That was the last song written for the album and the newest one. It was actually written for the Arbor Christmas record that we participate in every year – but the reception was really good and we felt like it was good enough to be on our album. It’s about the beach and the birds and the baes.
Ady: I love that you wrote a Christmas song about the beach (and the birds and the baes).
Joe: Haha, thanks! The Christmas songs are particularly all over the place because they’re usually crammed and written at the last minute. I do like our Christmas catalog though. They’re all fun.
Ady: Do you have a favorite track on the album?
Joe: The easy answer for me would be that they’re all my favorite – but i’m a #risky guy, so i’ll take the hard route here and say the closer, “Grad School”. At some point during recording, Dave Downham (producer) and I started talking about how Grad School might sound cool as a piano song. We shortened it a bit and recorded just a vocal over a piano with all this noise/feedback that comes in and leads into the ending. We had recorded an early full band version, which I like just fine, but I think the piano version is a much better representation of that song and makes for a pretty good album closer. We actually released the full band version a couple months ago, so at least those early *cut* recordings weren’t a complete waste!
Scott: From a “my favorite song” standpoint, I think it would be the second track, “Suzie Lynn.” I’m typically more into the crunchier or poppier songs we write, so that one hits those key points for me. But I really love how the title track ended up coming out in the recording. I just love the way it sounds and the long solo ending is pretty out of character for us, so it’s a nice change of pace. I think it’s a toss up between those two.
Ady: I can get behind that. I like “Suzie Lynn” too. Ya’ll don’t seem to have trouble creating catchy tunes.
Ady: Does it happen to musicians where they get more attached to some songs rather than others?
Joe: I think so. It definitely happens to me. I feel like when I first finish a song, i’m really into it. And then the band works on it and we play it a few times. Then i’m just over it.
Ady: Are your fave songs also your faves to play live?
Joe: Hmm, not always. We try and throw a cover into most of the live shows and they’re usually my favorite to play. Lately we’ve been doing this Springsteen song that I really like to play. Mostly, I just like butchering it when we introduce it to the crowd. I told the audience in Long Island a few weeks ago that it was by “New York’s own Bruce Springsteen” and we got some boo’s and strange looks.
Ady: Ah, ha ha keep them on their toes Joe.
Ady: Who are your biggest childhood musical influences? Would you say these influences still shine through in your current work? And, I have to ask what was the first album you owned that you actually purchased yourself? Ohhh, and your first concert? These are the most important firsts (in contradiction to what society may think–who cares when we took our first steps or said or first words or whatever!)
Joe: Well, I have two older brothers and when I was a kid, I was pretty obsessed with Kurt Cobain. Like to the point where it was sort of creepy. My two favorite things in life were like Kurt Cobain and the 76ers. My brothers were super into Nirvana and I pretty much just liked whatever they liked. I still love Nirvana a ton. My parents always had pretty cool music on throughout my childhood too, I guess. My dad loves Springsteen, so he was someone that I was always hearing and I still love him. My mom always just listened to pop music, which would probably explain my obsession with Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen. I think these influences sort of shine through in us? I remember getting the first mixes back and listening to “Suzie Lynn” and my brother telling me it sounded like a Nirvana song. I definitely can’t sing like Kurt Cobain though, probably more so Carly Rae. I think the first album that I purchased myself was probably like Dude Ranch. I loved Blink-182 when I was in my teens. I think my parents took me to a Beach Boys concert when I was 4 years old.
Ady: I love it! You’re all over the place with influences and likes. It’s got to be that way in order to keep your music alive and evolving over time I imagine. And Over liking Nirvana is in no way creepy. KC was the best of the best. Talking to a true blue.
Scott: My history with music is a terrible story compared to most respectable indie musicians, I suppose. My parents listened to some pretty lame stuff – The Carpenters, Alabama, Garth Brooks – just the worst. Okay, The Carpenters aren’t the worst. But everything else. And it took me a long time until I realized that. I also have an older brother and he somehow, through sheer force of will I suppose since this was pre-everyone-had-a-computer-and-the-internet days, was able to break through our checkered music past and found out about bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Texas is the Reason and that sort of stuff when I was in my early teens. That led me to find Braid, The Dismemberment Plan, The Promise Ring, all huge influences that I continue to try to rip-off. They changed everything for me. But they can’t change the fact that I think the first album I bought with my own money was Bon Jovi’s “New Jersey” from The Wall in the Ocean County Mall. That’s a stain that doesn’t wash off. But hopefully I get some points back by saying that my first concert ever was to see The Promise Ring on their tour supporting “Nothing Feels Good” (which is an all-time favorite) at Maxwell’s in Hoboken when I was 16. C-clamp and Compound Red opened. It was so great.
Ady: Scott, I think you can release yourself of the checkered music past knowing you found your way. We all do eventually. And we all have those albums we try not to admit we owned (eh hem I think my big admit would be buying my own first cd when cds first became a thing – wait for it- Big Daddy Kane’s “Long Live the Kane” 1988). Oh, and don’t you worry I also had a copy of Bon Jovi’s “New Jersey” and I think I bought the Young Guns soundtrack too (did I just admit that in a public forum?). See, we’ve all got these bones in our closet! I think in order to be a good musician- or a discerning listener you have to be all over the map and know just about every genre you can.
Joe: Shit. I wish our album was called “Long Live the Joy”.
Ady: Perhaps you’ve got your next album name. And I just have to say, after I divulged that info about my first cd purchase I went to youtube and listened to a little bit of Big Daddy Kane and to my shock and confusion I still knew all the lyrics. This journey into Youtube also led me to Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”.
Ady: So guys what’s next for you? When is the next show? Summer tour dates to come?
Joe: We’re playing on June 5th at Pharmacy and then our record release show is June 16th at Johnny Brenda’s. The record is coming out digitally on June 2nd and then all the physical copies will be available at the release show and beyond. The tapes are being released on Black Rd Records and they look super amazing. It’s been a really long time coming so i’m super pumped to see what everyone thinks of it. Beyond that, we’d like to do some touring now that we’ll have our record out. Either that, or we’ll just break up.
Ady: Yes, it’s always a wonderful idea to break up just as you release. I’m KIDDING. It is not a wonderful idea!
Ady: I’m so glad I was able to spend the day at Creep Records to meet up, take photos, and catch you guys live. You are all a fun bunch to hang with. I’m looking forward to seeing you all play again at Johnny Brenda’s on 6/16.
Joe: WE ARE so glad you were able to spend the day with us too! Creep was so much fun! Brian has been talking about that Ol Dirty Bastard record so much since that day. Thanks for having us.
Thanks guys! See you soon!