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Interview: No Joy

Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©

No Joy have been really busy, the Canadian quartet completed a rapid-fire tour in Europe, now they are touring across the states with dream pop heroes DIIV.

For the entirety of October, the indie rock band were booked solid to play shows all across the country, now they are spending a good amount of tour time here in California. This past Saturday I caught the band playing to a sold out crowd of the Roxy Theatre, the four members of No Joy, vocalist/guitarist Jasamine White-Gluz, guitarist Laura Lloyd, bassist Michael Farsky and drummer Garland Hastings all came on the tiny stage to give one of the most incredible sets I’ve seen this year.

Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©

Their live show, much like their three much-lauded albums, is this stunning juxtaposition of unwavering power and ethereal calm, the noise is high, but the music is emotive. It wasn’t exactly easy to cypher White-Gluz’ reverb-laden vocals, but the mystery behind the words adds to their appeal. Even the intervals between songs were replete with feedback, which kept the packed crowd tense, but excited. The songs off of More Faithful sounded incredible in the live setting, “Hollywood Teeth”, a personal favorite cut from the album, got the crowd screaming and moving around. The record itself was a painstakingly crafted treat, every song takes you into this shoegaze reverie they have cultivated in the record but at this show, any DIIV fans that were there that had no knowledge of the opener were immediately besotted with this No Joy’s stunning, unparalleled sound.

Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©

From start to finish, the LA crowd were hooked in and didn’t pull away, a rare moment for one of the toughest markets in the music industry but something to behold nevertheless. At the end of their set they went out just as they started, loud, both guitarists and the bassist bent down to modulate their veritable smorgasbord of effects pedals to finish only in distortion and feedback, no bombast or bulls**t.

It’s easy to allude to bands like Jesus and the Mary Chain when listening to No Joy but no one can match their creativity and work ethic, they have honed their sound incredibly in the six years since Jasamine and Laura first started working on music for the band, all three of their records they have out so far share very little overlap, and each of them have garnered much acclaim from both music fans and critics alike, the music of No Joy is evolving. Surreal enough to be a dream but loud enough to blow your speakers.

Last week I got to chat with No Joy about the US tour underway, recording in Costa Rica and the first time they played in Los Angeles. Tonight they play at Bardot in LA and at the Casbah in San Diego Tuesday.

Read the full interview below:

How does it feel to be here in California?
Jasamine White-Gluz: Yeah, it feels good to be back here. I love it here [laughs]

It seems like you guys are going to be spending the most time in California. What do you like to do out here when No Joy comes out?
JWG: Oh my god, so many things [laughs]. We have a lot of great friends that live here so we like to hang out and I really like Earth cafe, I always go there and we get to the beach somehow, if we can, because Montreal is freezing so if it’s kind of cold in California it’s actually really warm for us.

You guys finished a jam-packed tour in Europe last month, now this month you guys are touring the states with DIIV, how are you guys feeling about this leg of the tour?
JWG: Oh it’s good! We’re kind of in the mode right now because we’ve been doing so long, there was no real break between the two tours so we’re kind of in the thick of it.

Did Nardwuar come out to your Vancouver show this past Monday?
JWG: Oh no, he’s out of town! [laughs] it’s okay, whenever we do see him he’s really funny, he has really weird knowledge about everything [laughs]

Do you guys want to do a Nardwuar interview?
JWG: Somehow, someday we will, we’ll figure it out whenever it will be.

You guys recorded More Faithful in Brooklyn, but also some recording was done in Costa Rica, how did that come about?
JWG: Our producer George is from New York, then he wanted to leave New York… We had him scheduled for recording so we followed him, his family is from Costa Rica so we made our own studio there. His family had an old farmhouse so we set up shop there and did it ourselves.

Did you guys do anything fun out there?
JWG: It was really rainy the whole time so there was not that much to do. We were stuck inside so all we really did was work on the record. We really [didn’t get] to do anything tourist-y.

The record sounds great! How has the songwriting evolved in the past five years with Laura (Lloyd, lead guitarist)?
JWG: It’s actually a very collaborative effort between the four of us coming [together] with different ideas, changing and keeping it interesting.

Do you guys have a future release out of any material from the More Faithful sessions?
JWG: Yeah! We actually just finished mixing two songs that were cut from More Faithful that we want to put out in the next year! We recorded them but we didn’t put them on the record.

What was the inspiration behind the music video for “Judith”?
Michael Farsky: We were kind of hands off for that video. We like it a lot but it was put together by the director.

It seems to have a lot of influence from daytime soap operas like Days of Our Lives, do you guys enjoy drama television?
MF: I think we do, we’re big fans of high drama television. Daytime soap opera stuff I’m not too familiar with, but there are more contemporary, big network shows we like to watch, one is Nashville on ABC, we watched an episode last night, another one is Empire, they’re both about music, big fans!

It seems like Montreal, your hometown, has become a bastion for indie music in Canada, how do you feel about the scene up there?
MF: My opinion is kind of mixed, a lot of great stuff, a lot of s**t, like any city of a certain size I think, but yeah it’s cool that our main export is our young arts culture, that’s people’s first reference point [about Montreal]… Yeah it’s great, we’re definitely coming up there, we’re familiar with how all of the venues have changed and promoters and booking, bringing bands in and people starting bands. It’s cool to know it pretty closely, but we’re also away pretty often so it’s hard to keep on the pulse of what continues to happen.

You guys played in Vancouver on Monday, what is the vibe of playing a show in Canada versus the states?
MF: Playing Vancouver doesn’t feel anything akin to playing a hometown show. It is in Canada and we have to go back and forth through the border, coming from the states, but it is the other side of the continent. It’s more often than not that we have more friends in Canadian cities, some people that may have been in Montreal and moved around so it’s pretty fun to be able to spend time with people we don’t get to see too often.

There’s a bigger audience in the states, for the years leading up to now many people confuse No Joy for being an American band, even though it wasn’t the truth, there are fewer cities in Canada to play, I mean we went across Canada once, played within the prairies and everything between Montreal and Vancouver. Sometimes a longer drive can be a little discouraging and then the cities have less of a makeup of infrastructure for going to shows or finding out about shows. Like here, we’re playing San Francisco tonight, every person in San Francisco who is a No Joy fan knows about the show, if we play in Saskatoon, who knows that we’re out there?

You guys play LA a lot, what do you remember about your first show here?
MF: My first show with No Joy in Los Angeles was at a French restaurant called Taix, it was a part of a festival, I think the crux of the festival was that they had bands from so many different countries, not that it was relevant what type of show or type of bands but the long list of countries the bands were from, so we were paired up with an Australian band, I remember that, and we were playing in the ballroom of the restaurant that was fully carpeted… We were always excited just to be in Los Angeles, in the middle of tour very far from home and it ended being kind of a big, disorganized s**t show and it was more about them trying to sell these vape e-cigarettes that were sponsoring the festival, so it was a lot of hype and then a big realization of ‘I guess this is what the commerce of the concert industry is like’. Not really funny but it did give me, sort of, a dead smile.

Jasamine was telling me about two songs you guys are planning to put out next year as a single combo, what can you tell me about them?
MF: Oh yeah! They are two songs we finished up, some instrumental stuff that was recorded along with the album that we didn’t have the chance to finish, we flushed it out in Montreal, kind of fun to touch up on that music, written and completed months apart, they sound a lot different than the More Faithful stuff I think… As they are, there was no place to stick them in the album, so yeah, standalone two songs.

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