MUSIC – A band with a Formidable reputation

WELSH rockers the Joy Formidable think Scotland will always have a place in their hearts – because they keep getting lost here.

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The Joy Formidable hope they won't get lost on latest visit to Scotland
The Joy Formidable hope they won't get lost on latest visit to Scotland

The threesome head to Oran Mor, in Glasgow's West End, later this month fresh from releasing their second album Wolf's Law, a thrillingly noisy rock record.

We hope they find the venue because frontwoman Ritzy Bryan admits the band have had some adventures in the past.

"One of our first tours made us bond with Scotland when we were driving ourselves around," she recalls.

"We ended up going to Inverness and Dundee in the middle of February in a tiny transit van, and kept hitting blizzards. We got lost.

"We thought we would go to Loch Ness for a day out but we ended up three hours out of the way. Then we had to flag down a school bus and follow it all the way back."

The band is, thankfully, better with playing rock music than with getting around Scotland. The Big Roar was their explosive first outing and Wolf's Law carries on in a similar vein.

It is also a record with emotional weight, with Ritzy writing about topics such as her estranged father and her break-up with boyfriend, the band's bassist, Rhydian Dafydd.

Yet she rejects the idea that Wolf's Law is a more personal record than their previous work.

"At the moment, with every body of work we make, there will be a strong, personal undercurrent," she explains.

"It should always chronicle a chapter of our lives. When I listen to the Big Roar it really takes me back to certain moments with the band and where I was then individually.

"I imagine it will be the same, in hindsight, with this record, but the albums are not defined by those things.

"Where we are at creatively there needs to be an amount of heart and soul in there."

Having spent a lengthy period on the road, the trio were buzzing to get back in the studio and start work again, which meant they rattled through recording Wolf's Law.

"It was fast and focused. We were fired up at being back in the studio, which is what happens when you have been on the road a long time," adds Ritzy.

"There is variety in that, so we couldn't record fast enough and it was very nocturnal, recording through the night and into the morning."

Fast and furious would also apply to the band's live gigs, which are known for their full-on nature. It's those performances that have helped the group gain a fan base the old-fashioned way, with the band one of the hardest-working groups in the world, touring non-stop.

They have spent plenty of time in America, playing anywhere they can, and Ritzy believes they are better suited to working their way up slowly, rather than being a flash in the pan one-hit wonder.

"We don't define success as playing huge places, we feel successful simply by having creative control and writing songs that matter to us," she says.

"But there is no right or wrong way, that's what makes music exciting.

"Having seen bands play where audiences leave after one song because that was the hit single, and the way that the trend of hyping things up is now so fast so that your five minutes of fame are more like two minutes, that is something we have never been interested in."

Not surprisingly, Ritzy does not have time for people who see music as a ticket to being a celebrity, rather than being a musician.

"If you are getting into this and you are looking for fame, or the chase to be a celebrity, then that feels quite empty to me," she argues. "That is not why we started the band, that is not the push of this band."

The singer looks to more creative acts for inspiration, particularly those who do not vary their style as they go along.

"When I look at artists that inspire me it is the ones who are not scared of chopping things up or being brave, such as Elvis Costello, who can do a punk album then a country album," she says.

"I respect that because it does not seem odd he can turn his hand to different things.

"Whatever gets under your skin you should follow. If you want to go in a direction then you should just do it, there shouldn't be any restrictions when making music."

l The Joy Formidable, Oran Mor, February 26, £12.50, 7pm. Tickets from: www.gigsinscotland.com

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