Singer Ritzy Bryan from The Joy Formidable talks tour, fans and where Wales is on the map


Claire Gordon

For the past four years, The Joy Formidable has toured to play their particular brand of brash energetic sci-fi groove that is hard to describe, but easy to love. 


Ritzy Bryan, the diminutive blond guitarist and powerhouse singer of the Welsh trio, called in from Atlanta to talk with The Daily Texan about the tour and why you should know where Wales is on a map.


The Daily Texan: How do you keep your energy up throughout the tour? 


Ritzy Bryan: Well, we have toured a lot.  The live side is a huge part of this band.  I think we’ve found a rhythm.  We have a good pace.  We know how to find a balance.  We have a really good time on the road and just make sure we put on the best possible show each night.  We’re old pros now.  This is our third year without much of a break from touring, so we’ve definitely found our rhythm.  


DT: Do you get a chance to explore the cities while you’re touring?


RB:  We always want to do that before a show, after a show, whenever we can. I’m more of that mindset where you should really enjoy soaking up different places, food and culture.  It makes for a better show, a better connection with the people, playing festivals.  We definitely want to get out on site, see who’s playing, see what the vibe is.


DT: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve gotten from a fan?


RB:  The strangest is when we were doing a show back in the UK, and they had obviously gotten pretty organized, because the first four rows of the audience were actually wearing masks with our faces printed on them.  And no one warned us! None of our crew guys said, “When you go out there, you’re going to be faced with something quite weird.”


DT: A few sites say that you are from North Wales, Ireland (North Wales is in Wales, which is part of Great Britain).


RB: We don’t get too worked up about it, but it is quite nice to be able to put North Wales on the map. All too often, we get questions like, “Is that in Scotland?” or, “Is that in France?” and it’s like, “No! It’s a fucking country, a really old country, and we’ve got our own language.  It’s a very old language.”  It’s kind of nice when you can put it on the musical map a little bit more.  


DT: Wolf’s Law has been really well received. Are you already writing songs for the next album?


RB:  We’ve definitely been writing quite a bit on this tour and over the summer, but we never put any pressure on ourselves to make the next record. We’re very much at peace with our own creativity, and how and when and at what intensity that comes, and it has it’s own natural flow. It’s been a great year for us, releasing Wolf’s Law and touring, and we’re just very excited about the future.



The Daily Texan: How’s the tour going?


Ritzy Bryan: Very well.  We had a little hiccup a couple nights ago. We had to cancel because of the weather.  That was disappointing.  None of us like to cancel shows, but it was out of our control.  Other than that, we’ve made it to Atlanta, and it’s been a really good first week.


DT: What are some of the more interesting things you’ve found while on tour?


RT: Anything and everything. I love nature, so, in any sort of urban setting, I always try to head for the greenery, the open space.  I love being in Austin and seeing the shows and the vibrancy of the city. And, if we’re here for a whole day, I always try to find a moment to go down to the river or see the bats going out. It’s nice to see all the flavors a city can give you.


DT: Which bands are you excited to see at ACL?


RB: I’ve said that this weekend is when we are seeing everyone, because we saw no one last weekend.  We were so busy.  So, I definitely want to see Wilco.  I’m going to get off stage and leg it over to see them.  I really want to see The Cure, and, if we get in early enough on Friday night, I’d love to see Queens of the Stone Age as well.  And, if I can persuade everyone to stay long enough on Sunday, I would love to see Lionel Richie.  It’s a great lineup.


DT: Do Americans mistake your accent for Australian? That often happens to my English friends.


RB: Yeah, actually, they do.  It does happen quite a bit, but we’re very pale, which I would have thought would give us away as not being Australian.


DT: Any injuries yet on tour? You’ve said before you’re a bit clumsy.


RB:  When I’m on stage, I tend to zone out.  I think it’s the sign of a good gig if you end up a little bit unaware of your surroundings, and you get in a trance or a bit of a bubble when you’re performing, but that isn’t always great for my coordination, which, even when I’m paying attention, isn’t always the best.  I’m pretty good at falling well these days.  It comes with the gig, though.  If you have some cuts and scrapes and bruises, it shows you were putting a bit of effort in.