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Joy Formidable opens for Front Bottoms at Piere’s

Welsh trio Joy Formidable taking Piere’s stage before Front Bottoms on Sept. 20

The Joy Formidable will perform Sept. 20 at Piere's.

Published September 14, 2022

If you have tickets to see The Front Bottoms at Piere’s on Sept. 20, you’re gonna want to arrive early.

Along with opening act Mobley, the hard-rocking alternative group The Joy Formidable will take the stage.

Back on the road

Formed in 2008, The Joy Formidable have always enjoyed being on the road, but their current tour is their first since December 2019. After nearly three years, the group is back in full force, playing 48 shows between Sept. 3 and Nov. 15.

“It really kind of smacks of making up for lost time,” lead singer Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan told Whatzup. “I’ve definitely missed touring, and I’m looking forward to going back out again. We had touring in 2020 that we postponed, then we postponed 2021, and some other things happened at the start of this year.”

The tour allows the band to promote their 2021 album Into the Blue, which was recorded in a new way.

“Even though it came with its challenges, because we weren’t even in Wales and were without (drummer Matthew James Thomas), so we had to do all the drums remotely, I loved making that record,” Ritzy said. “I felt like I got to step back a little bit more than I usually have, because I love touring so much. Normally, I’m in the moment (in the studio) and I want to make a record, but I’m also thinking about how I want to go play some festivals, I want to do this, so it becomes sort of a weave.”

Fitting right in

Finally able to get on the road, the band are making the most of it, headlining many shows, while also touring with The Front Bottoms, Mobley, and Tres Leches. They will also take some breaks to play at festivals, including Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 17 and Louder Than Life in Louisville on Sept. 25.

The three-piece band, which also features bassist Rhydian Dafydd, have proved they can hang with the heaviest bands out there, but they enjoy playing for any crowd.

“We’ve played Riot Fest before, and they always have a great lineup, and I like being in Chicago,” Ritzy said of the festival that includes the likes of the original Misfits lineup, Nine Inch Nails, Ice Cube, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “We’ve played a lot of festivals, and played some that we really don’t fit in with at all. I like it when festivals pick really eclectic lineups. It depends on what the vibe is for that particular festival, but it’s nice seeing quite eclectic lineup, and kind of challenging people to listen to something that they might not otherwise gravitate towards.”

Doing it themselves

The Joy Formidable have shown they can be something to almost everyone, bouncing from classic indie rock to heavy riffs, getting their start with 2008’s A Balloon Called Moaning. The self-released album was discovered by a label in Japan, who put them on tour, before it gained traction and made its way to the U.K. and U.S., where they signed with Black Bell Records.

“It was kind of an interesting first couple of years, because we did a lot by ourselves,” Ritzy said.

In 2010, they signed with an Atlantic subsidiary and released their official record, The Big Roar, which featured four songs from A Balloon Called Moaning. They have released five more albums on various labels.

“Looking back at all of our albums, I can kind of tell what was going on at that moment that led us to wanting to go in that direction, to make that sound, to make that kind of record,” she said. “I think that’s the lovely thing about the career we’ve had. It’s been quite free.”

On Into the Blue, a return to Wales, where they had not been in the studio since 2016, helped inspire the music.

“It’s nice just be in the moment,” Ritzy said. 

Interacting with musicians

Back on the road, Ritzy says she’s eager to be among other artists, and isn’t worried about who might be getting the top billing.

“I like musicians coming together and enjoying each other’s company, rather than bringing in any kind of ego or competition,” she said.

And at the Piere’s show, there’s really no way to predict what you’ll hear, as Ritzy’s not even sure.

“I definitely swap up the set quite a bit, because I don’t like to get bored,” she said. “It’s been three years since we’ve been out in North America, playing live. We’ve got a set that kind of covers a little bit of everything at the moment.”

The Joy Formidable return to the state to headline a show at the Hi-Fi in Indianapolis on Oct. 31. 

“North America, you guys do Halloween quite well,” Ritzy said of playing the Halloween show. “We don’t really make a big deal out of it in Wales. Maybe I need to think of something. Maybe I need to put it on my radar to make it a big deal.”

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