Behind The Video With The Joy Formidable
There are worse ways to spend a summer than supporting Foo Fighters as they make their away around North America playing some of the biggest stadiums.
The Joy Formidable have always sounded bigger than the stages they play and Dave Grohl has been singing their praises since he first tweeted his love for them in 2011. Quite simply, the two bands fit together well and each show brings new fans into The Joy Formidable family. With their fourth album AAARTH set to arrive in a few months, new video “The Wrong Side” premiered this week and we were on the set at Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas to watch it come together.
I first met the band in 2011 when I flew to Denver, CO to catch a small club gig. While waiting for doors to open, I slipped into a nearby bar for a beer and ended up sitting next to bassist Rhydian Daffyd and singer-guitarist Ritzy Bryan. We talked about the influence of Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen on rock-n-roll. Seven years later, and with several major tours with the likes of Foo Fighters and Muse under their belt, the two musicians are still as unassuming and generous with their fans as they were back then. Arriving early on a Saturday morning in June, the band start to load-in the instruments and gear for the two day video shoot with the creative minds at TRLLM. Surprisingly, a few hours into the day, the set consists of simple green screen and a few lights. The age of massive stage sets with hundreds of extras never made it out of 1989.
Growing up on MTV, the elaborate (and expensive) videos of Duran Duran and Depeche Mode brought the entire world into my living room and I’ve never lost my fascination with music videos. The Joy Formidable have been one of the YouTube generation’s most innovative video bands, finding new ways to challenge viewers and use the art form as something more than a means to a commercial end. Some of their past highlights include the emotionally bare “Silent Treatment” and the innovative performance clip for “Little Blimp”. Eclectic and smart, The Joy Formidable have a playful approach to all that they do.
As the day unfolds, Bryan and Dafydd strategically slip down into the cafe for a quick lunch while drummer Matt Thomas unleashes his thunder in the tiny room upstairs. The video for “Silent Treatment” comes on just as they sit, a coincidence so large that it would be hard to convince them it wasn’t planned (it really wasn’t). Guests from London at the next table swap stories with the band about festival shows in the U.K. and then the band is back to work. The hours move slowly until the neon stars of the Vegas Strip begin to twinkle up and down the street. Breaking for the night, the room sits quiet, wires and instruments scattered across the carpet, and the band heads out in search of adventure.
The next day, the taskmaster they call time begins to breathe down everyone’s neck and the sense of urgency builds like a wave. Lights are re-arranged, drums are moved, clothes are changed, and the cameras keep rolling. As hour twelve approaches, Ritzy finishes her final scene and makes a quick dash to change, eager to hit the road and get home to her dog several hours up the highway. The boys wrap up a few final shots and then everything is put back in cases and loaded into a van. The band has a week to prepare for a heavy tour schedule ahead, including the stadium dates with Foo Fighters, so there is little time to rest.
As a fly on the wall, I have watched hours of filming but cannot picture how it will all look once the creative minds work their magic with the raw footage. This week, the answer arrived with this mind-blowing video: