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The Joy Formidable Promise 'Great Guitar Moments' on Next Album

Band gears up to preview new songs, rock for charity

Ritzy Bryan of the Joy Formidable performs at Terminal 5 in New York.
Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com
July 20, 2012 1:00 PM ET

In 2011, Welsh trio the Joy Formidable became favorites of music festivals and tastemakers with their hit song "Whirring" and their debut full length, The Big Roar. Their track "Endtapes" was included on the soundtrack to Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and the group opened for the Foo Fighters on tour. Now, the band is promising to create even more noise with their second record.

"There are certainly some great guitar moments on the record," frontwoman Ritzy Bryan tells Rolling Stone of the forthcoming material. ""There are a lot of tracks on the album that explore greed and materialism and desire." She cites the track "Maw Maw" as a prime example. "'Maw' is a word for [the mouth of] a very hungry, vociferous animal, and there are a lot of tracks on the album that explore greed and materialism and desire. We are looking forward to playing that live – or I am, quite selfishly, 'cause it’s a good guitar moment."

The trio of Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas set out to push their sonic boundaries on the new material; Bryan and Dafydd also produced the album. "We’ve been scoring strings. We both, Rhydian [and I], have a classical background, so it kind of felt like a natural step," she says. "We like to keep ourselves creatively challenged and that’s true for the album we’ve just written in terms of instrumentation and some of the sonic palette in the way that’s expanded."

The album, which Bryan says has a name (but she coyly won't reveal it yet), finished mixing in April. It probably will not be out until next year, though. "It's looking very much like January," Bryan says.

Though Bryan hints at collaborations and new material to keep the band occupied throughout 2012, they are eager to begin promoting the album. "We’re actually gonna be previewing some of the new tracks fairly soon 'cause it feels right," she says. "They’re almost ready to actually debut, so if it’s the right audience and the right time, we’re looking forward to sharing them."

That could come as early as next week, when they headline the Billabong Design for Humanity benefit in Los Angeles on July 25th. They'll lead a roster that also includes Walk the Moon, the Lumineers and Imagine Dragons. "It’s a great lineup; we’re very happy to be part of the bill," Bryan says. The event supports the environmental nonprofit the Cultivate Foundation. "I think the Cultivate Foundation are creating sustainable food and agriculture and I think it’s important as artists to be able to make people more aware," she adds. "It’s important we all challenge the way we live. People can be cynical about how tiny steps can make a difference. We need to move on from that."

The show also comes with a few perks for the band. "I know that they’ve asked us to walk the red carpet, which I think is gonna be a Joy Formidable first," Bryan says. "So we’ll be wearing some fancy clothes for that."

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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