It’s a May Wednesday afternoon pre-soundcheck time but Daniel Armbruster and Sean Donnelly of New York indie electronic band Joywave aren’t displaying any nerves prior to their sold out gig at the Olympia. Supporting Brandon Flowers, and with the release of their full length debut How Do You Feel Now? just around the corner when we speak, the kids from Rochester are in jovial, if somewhat philosophical, mood ahead of their first ever gig in Dublin. Best known for their collaborations with electronic music project Big Data over the years, the release of their debut EP last year really put them on the map but Daniel agrees that 2015 has been their breakthrough point…
“The year’s only half over so we’ll see if we break through more. 2014 was really crazy, we were trying to finish up our record and simultaneously touring so there was a lot of new shit happening at once”.
“2015 constitutes 10% of our existence as a band”, says Sean, “but by far the most has happened this year”.
How does the album differ from some of your earlier work?
Daniel: “Well the four songs that were on out EP () are also on this, so really what we did was just make a full record. They were done as part of the recording process so the label decided to release them ahead of the full length”.
Your earlier remixes and stuff with Big Data were known for their expressionism, any radical experimentation on the new album?
Sean: “I feel like this is a sum of all the experimentation we had done in the first three or four years as a band. All those different tracks on the mix tapes that were ventures into to the different genres we were interested in kinda just all came together to make this one Megazord of an album!”
Daniel: “I always think of it as, like in the US there was a space program in the ’60s where they did all these experiments and different missions to ultimately put a man on the moon, and with us it’s like all the mix tapes and EPs and everything we’d done up to this point, we used everything we’d learned doing all those things on this record”.
Sean: “There were so many years where we were like “Oh, well save that for the full length [album]”. For six years we just referred to it as “the full length” so now it’s finally happened it’s like a crazy, mythical being that’s come to fruition”.
Daniel: “There were also a lot of things that we just couldn’t physically do. Some of the more rock-meaning songs on the record were written like two or three years ago and we didn’t have anything except for a laptop. I mean we were doing all the guitars direct and all the drums were fake, but this time we had a full studio at our disposal so we could actually capture all that stuff”.
Although it was included on your debut EP, were you always sure you were gonna release ‘Somebody New’ as the lead single?
Daniel: “It was one of our favourites and was actually the first song we recorded. We’d been playing it live for a few years before we recorded it as we didn’t have the capacity to record all the rock elements of the song, so that was one of the ones we were eager to get in and do”.
The video pays homage to classic skating games like Tony Hawk’s…
Daniel: “He actually Tweeted the video about a month ago after he saw it saying “this is awesome”, so we were just like “Oh my God!”.
Are you guys big into your skate-boarding then?
Sean: “Well more the video games than the actual skating!”
Daniel: “I can’t actually stand on a skate-board, but I used to love the Tony Hawk games. Everyone else just skated very casually in high school to varying degrees. I remember watching skate-tapes that Joe, our guitar player, filmed with (drummer) Paul [Brenner] when they were in 9th Grade. Paul’s voice hadn’t changed yet and he’d be like (in a high-pitched voice) “Oh Joey do your trick” and his trick was riding over the curb!”
Sean: “Haha, yeah that’s a good trick! I remember there’s a video that me and Lou Giovanni made when we were in 7th or 8th grade, where he’s manualing, like rolling on two wheels instead of four. He did it for like maybe a second and turned around and was just like “DID YOU SEE THAT!” It was amazing! Sorry…just some of our personal anecdotes there…”
Anything else interesting around the corner, any collaborations?
Sean: “We have a remix with Kaiza that’ll come out soon. We’ve one with a girl called Michael Davis who’s a harpist from our hometown, and then there’s the John Cage remixes. To me he’s more of a musical philosopher than a composer and one of his big philosophies was that Silence cannot exist on Earth. He spent most of his career trying to seek out perfect silence, going into sensory deprivation chambers and all that. One of his pieces is a play on that and also a play on performance art where he arranges 4 minutes and 33 seconds of an orchestral piece but no music happens, everyone gets ready to play their instruments and then just sits there in this big theatre while the crowd watches with their jaws gaping, nothing happens, and life goes on. There’s a recording the BBC did of a performance of ‘4 Minutes and 33 Seconds’ so we basically took that and grabbed whatever sounds of the crowd moving there were and basically just built an entire song around silence. It’s fucked up, but that’s one thing that’s coming”.
Daniel: “We also made a guitar pedal that’s coming out soon. We used this prototype, overdrive pedal for guitars on our record that we collaborated with a friend of ours on. We went from the prototype to an actually production unit and that’ll be available in the next couple of weeks. We’re kind of excited about that, we like branching out into areas of things that are music related but not actual music”.
Sean: “And we’re all writing novels too! (Laughs) We’ve a lot on our plate…”
How Do You Feel? is out now on Hollywood Records.