Putting a band together isn’t easy, but it is a rewarding task. Finding the right people to write and gel with can be an incredible thing, and when music is created out of it there’s really not a better feeling.
Ian Skeans, Chris Kelsey, and Kiah Gerig make up the trio Joyhouse, a local guitar-heavy band that make the kind of fuzzy college rock sound that labels like SST and Sub Pop were offering up in the late-’80s and early ’90s.
Pulling together new music
“Skeans, Kiah, and I have all been involved in our various individual music projects for years now, in one way or another,” says singer/guitarist Kelsey about the beginnings of Joyhouse. “We met through music, and Joyhouse was the natural progression of that relationship.”
Skeans and Gerig played in the two-man Shade for a couple of years before calling it quits due to time constraints. But the draw to make music brought them back together.
About Joyhouse coming together, Skeans explained, “Enough time had passed that Kiah and I started talking about doing music again and I pitched the idea of making it a three-piece and we both instantly landed on Chris. Thankfully, he was on board, and Joyhouse was formed.”
With the band formed, the trio began writing right away what would become their self-titled EP.
“The EP came together really quickly,” Kelsey said. “I’d say we had all the songs written and ready to record within two or three months of us playing together.”
“Chris and I both think very similarly in terms of structure of songs,” Skeans added. “No filler, no fluff, here’s the best parts of this song and hopefully you’ll want to listen again when it’s done. We luckily both had quite a few progressions and melodies in the bank to pull from, and Kiah fleshed them out rhymthically in the magical way he always does.”
All three contributing
The songwriting process is a shared process with all three members contributing riffs, lyrics, melodies, and rhythmic structure.
“Generally, we would come to practice with a chunk of a song demo’d on guitar, maybe with some vocal melodies,” Skeans explained. “There would usually be a week or so to digest it individually and brainstorm where it should go from there. I knew the songs I really wanted to sing and would dive into lyrics and melodies on my own, but quite a few of the guitar parts I wrote I just couldn’t find a vocal part that I liked. Thankfully, Chris is a great vocalist and seems to unlock these melodies I never would’ve thought of.”
“Everything just seemed to come together so smoothly,” Kelsey summed up. “I think that was a relief to all of us, honestly.”
Then the lockdown
Joyhouse was nearly done with the recording process when things went upside down in March. The state went on quarantine, and like everyone else, the guys in Joyhouse were social distancing.
“It was so close to done,” Skeans said. “We actually got together to finish vocals the week before lockdown started, and it just didn’t come together for a myriad of reasons.”
Kelsey continued, “Since I was handling everything on the recording side, engineering, editing, mixing, etc., it gave me a chance to get everything where I wanted it and then walk away from it for awhile, give my ears a rest. Which was really nice because most of the time you don’t get to do that. It’s important to take breaks, but records are hard work and a lot of time you just go and go until it’s done.”
The band was able to finish the album in small increments. Now, the world will be able to hear their debut Aug. 28 when it goes live on all streaming platforms.
Time for a video
Since live shows are still out of the question, the band is hard at work on a super secret music video.
“I’m shooting and editing the video,” Kelsey said. “Usually I’m a pretty regimented guy, but this video so far has all been done free form.
“I think the more relaxed shooting style is working in favor of this video with the vibe we’re aiming for. I don’t think it’ll win video of the year at the VMAs or anything. I just hope everybody enjoys it.”
It’s a whole new world when it comes to bands making and releasing music. Fortunately, Joyhouse seem to have a pretty good handle on this new world.
There could be some livestream shows in their future, as well as just keeping their heads on straight by listening to Howard Shore scores, making dioramas, and playing with cats.
When asked what’s next for Joyhouse in a post-quarantine world, Kelsey said, “Write more tunes, play shows, chew bubblegum, and kick ass.”
Joyhouse will release their debut EP on Aug. 28. Buy it at joyhouse.bandcamp.com or stream it wherever you stream music.
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