The Joy Formidable is a Welsh altr-rock trio formed in 2007 in North Wales and currently located in London, England. The band consists of Ritzy Bryan (lead vocals, guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass, backing vocals), and Matt Thomas (drums, percussion).
Childhood friends Ritzy and Rhydian originally played together in a couple different bands before forming The Joy Formidable with Justin Stahley on drums. For six months, the pair wrote together, experimenting with different sonic approaches. As the sessions began yielding signature tunes like "Austere" and "Cradle"—tracks that combined the duo's interest in thick, textured noises with clear, shimmering pop hooks—took form.
The Joy Formidable released "Austere” as a single in July 2008, followed by "Cradle" on double 7” later that summer, and quickly produced an eight-track EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, which they released themselves in the UK in early 2009. Also in 2009 Justin Stahley was replaced by Matt Thomas on drums. Having relocated to London, the trio quickly earned a reputation for blistering live performances (which we can definitely attest to). They spent 2009 touring the UK, Europe and Australia with bands including Editors, The Temper Trap, and Passion Pit, mastering tiny clubs and festival stages alike. Their introduction to American audiences came when Passion Pit invited The Joy Formidable to open a pair of sold-out shows at New York's Terminal 5.
In late April 2009, they teamed with a new label started by Passion Pit's Avad Al Adhamy, Black Bell Records, to release A Balloon Called Moaning in the U.S., which is when we got the pleasure of first promoting the band. The EP met with critical accolades from everyone from The New York Times, NME, The Guardian, Spin & Pitchfork as well as heavy rotation on SIRIUS XMU and college stations across the country.
In summer 2010, the band signed with Canvasback Records/Atlantic, and released their debut album The Big Roar, on 24 January 2011. Their debut was produced by the band themselves, with help from engineer Neak Menter, and mixed with producer Rich Costey (Muse, Interpol, The Shins, Mastadon, Mars Volta). In 2011, the band opened up the main stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals In August 2011. They also opened up for Foo Fighters at a secret show at The Metro the night before they played an opening slot at Lollapalooza. On October 7, the band made their network television debut performed “Whirring” on the Late Show with David Letterman.
In October of 2012 it was announced that The Joy Formidable would be opening for Muse as they promote their second full length, Wolf's Law. Again, self-produced, the new album was recorded in Maine with additional orchestral and choral pieces added later in London. This time around the album was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Andy Wallace (Sonic Youth, Jeff Buckley, Nirvana, Bad Religion). The album title is a reference to Wolff's law, a scientific theory by Julius Wolff, which posits that bones may become stronger in response to stress as a form of adaptation. According to Bryan, this relates to one of the major themes of the album which is "relationships on the mend and feeling reinvigorated", continuing that the album feels like the band reconnecting with themselves emotionally and spiritually