One might imagine the sounds of rural Wales as howling winds across the lonely moors, or the hollow moans of wandering ghosts, or the screeching of myriad seabirds as they whirl eerily above a long coastline. Frequent wet, cloudy weather can make a person ruminate on life and weave stories for entertainment; and a lack of close neighbors is a great impetus to dig out some records and play music as loud as you like.
Such was the experience of Ritzy Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd, the two founding members of The Joy Formidable. They grew up near one another in North Wales, played in various local bands and sometimes worked together. After a brief move to Washington, D.C., Bryan—who studied classical guitar in her youth—returned to her hometown and located Dafydd. The two started writing and recording music inspired by their surroundings. When they got hit with writer’s block, they’d take long walks through the hills.
The Welsh landscape takes sonic form with fuzzy guitar riffs layered over fast, heavy drum lines, while synth melodies and Bryan’s vocals soar over the chaos. The songs are noisy, urgent anthems with pop hooks. Bryan and Dafydd relocated to London and scooped up drummer Matt Thomas, who favors a double-pedal metal drumming style. In 2008 the band released the singles “Austere” and “Cradle,” then followed up with an EP—“A Balloon Called Moaning”—in 2009. The trio spent the next two years playing live and creating songs for their first full-length record, The Big Roar. The album was recorded in the small London apartment shared by Bryan and Dafydd, mixed in Los Angeles by producer Rich Costey, and released in mid-March on Canvasback Music / Atlantic Records.
The Joy Formidable’s U.S. tour supporting The Big Roar includes a stop in New Mexico after swinging by Coachella this weekend—the band brings aural Wales to the Launchpad on Wednesday.