Why They’re Called… The Joy Formidable


This week: The Joy Formidable, whose soaring The Big Roar won kudos from SPIN earlier this year. The Welsh trio are currently on a spring tour of the United States.(See past episodes of Name That Band! here.)

Why Joy Formidable: “We came up with the name when we were writing songs together in north Wales in 2008,” recalls frontwoman-guitarist Ritzy Bryan. “To be completely honest, naming the band was never something we were over-occupied with. We were more interested in writing experimental songs. Coming up with the Joy Formidable name was very unconscious. It was conceived very naturally. It was just a phrase that had been floating around. I think I’d written it on a scrap of paper. I was doing a lot of scribbling on loose pieces of paper back then. It’s hard to dissect how you come up with a phrase. It wasn’t tied to anything specific. But when we all started to hear a proper unique voice coming from the band’s writing together, there was a big, spacious, moving feeling that seemed to be repeating itself. The Joy Formidable name seemed to evoke some of the same feelings. So it made sense for it to be our band name.”

Previously Rejected Names: “The Joy Formidable was the only one. I always thought the naming process was a bit of a puffy thing to do. I hear about bands going through dictionaries looking for names. What a load of shit. We would’ve been happy to remain unnamed. I was in a band previously, though. I joined them late, as a guitarist. It wasn’t my outfit. It was called Sidecar Kisses. Please make clear that I was not involved in naming that band. It’s a fucking awful name.”

Best Band Names Ever: “There’s some amazing band names — things like the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. They’ve got a surreal angle that gives you a sense of the band’s meaning.”

Worst Band Name Ever: “I remember for the very first time seeing a listing for the Arctic Monkeys and thinking, ‘Fuck me, what an awful name.’ But ultimately when you heard what they were doing it was really fresh and really good. It all depends on the music doesn’t it?”


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