(Photo: Madison East)
For JOYCE MANOR, expectations are at an all-time high. The band's 2011 debut garnered a ton of critical and fan praise for its raw, real pop-punk sound, and was the catalyst for the band's move to Asian Man Records for their new album, Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired. Due out Apr. 17, OATIWSGT is a nine-song, thirteen minute romp where no breaths are taken and no ideas are rehashed. Joyce Manor take quite a few calculated risks in these new songs, but as you'll read below, aren't worried about alienating fans.
AP chatted with guitarist/vocalist Barry Johnson about the new record, the trials and hiccups writing and recording it, and why they threw a cover of "Video Killed The Radio Star" right in the middle of it. The first single from OATIWSGT, "Violent Inside," is streaming below as well.
Interview: Bryne Yancey
Let’s talk about “Violent Inside” first. What’s it about? What was the experience like recording it?
“Violent Inside” I’d just say is about always feeling angry. It’s like, growing up as a punk kid, things bother you that don’t bother other people. You can’t just check out at the grocery store without being disgusted by magazines and movies and the way the person in front of you is behaving, the cashier—everything bothers you and makes you feel angry and want to act out violently. Of course you never do, but just, you know—that. I have certain friends who feel that way as well and we’ve felt that way since we were kids and still feel that way now. It’s like—here’s a song about that. It’s about people who always feel angry. It’s also about the people who don’t.
Your description of it almost reminds me of that Michael Douglas movie Falling Down where he’s just angry at everybody and just starts killing people for no apparent reason.
Or Larry David [of Curb Your Enthusiasm], where people are like “let it go” and he can’t let things go. [Laughs.] I guess “Violent Inside” just sounds better than “Frustrated Inside.” I think it’s kind of cool how it’s such an angry song [lyrically] in this big, head-bobbing, power-pop salad called “Violent Inside.” It’s nothing like the title inside would suggest.
Lyrically, it’s in there. The outrage is in there, but it’s just kind of in there in this creamy pop song.
What was up with that pre-order on Tuesday? That went a little crazy.
Pretty cool, huh? It just destroyed Asian Man. The label that made me want to be in a band and the kids love him. I would say it got me into punk, but that’s totally not true because it got me into ska. I was like, “I don’t know about all this punk, but man, this ska—this Bruce Lee Band record is killer.” [Laughs.] But yeah, it’s really, really cool how many people wanted to pre-order it. There’s no exclusive color or anything, which is weird, too.
Yeah, it’s just three colors—500 of each.
Yeah, so it’s really cool that people wanted to buy it. Maybe Asian Man’s servers are not that good and it could have been maybe 30 people that were trying to order it. [Laughs.] It’s flattering, but I don’t know. Maybe people just wanted to get an Alkaline Trio patch, too.
So I have to ask you about the cover song—“Video Killed The Radio Star”—on this record. It’s right in the middle of the record. It really stands out. What made you want to cover that song? What made you want to put it on the record, and in that position?
It’s funny; when the band first started, it was just me and Chase—a two-piece acoustic band. That was one of the first songs we did. I had, like, one song written and said, “You know what we should cover? ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ because that’s the best song ever.” There’s actually a demo recording of us of the best song ever. We really, really like that song.
And it’s not some statement about technology and progress and how the more we move forward the more we leave behind—none of that. Absolutely none of that. Not that I’ve never felt that way, but that’s just so corny if that’s what we’re getting at. It’s just a killer song. We were just like, “Let’s kind of make it kind of a skate-punk thing.” It didn’t end up as skate-punk as I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be like a ‘90s punk cover of Lagwagon doing “Brown Eyed Girl” or every fucking ‘90s jam where they covered a song from the ‘80s and made it, like, you know, circle-pit drums and everything else. We tried to do something like that, but it ended up being a little more tasteful than we hoped. It’s still funny, the people saying “How dare you cover this great song so poorly and throw it in the middle of your album,” but that was such a good spot for it. It just hits super hard right in the middle.
One of the reasons I asked is that there’s definitely been some negative rumblings already about this album being only nine songs and one of them being a cover.
People were like “What’s up with that album cover, dude?” and saying I should’ve waited a year to write more songs. It’s like, “Holy shit, you haven’t even heard the record yet. Calm down.” I know you don’t want to like it, that’s fine. It’s hilarious. They haven’t even heard any of it, but they’re like, “How dare these guys.” [Laughs.] With how our first record went over, it was fully inevitable. We’re playing pop-punk. It’s not that rare to—everyone loves a pop-punk band, you know? I kind of saw that coming and I’m glad that all four of us were like, “Oh shit! It’s going to be embarrassing to like our band in about a year.” I knew that was coming. That’s great—that’s fucking awesome. I love it. And there are these dudes that think they are so cool and they can just go onto the next flavor of the month. Whatever punk band they’re gonna get into. It’s cool; I like the backlash. It’s nice there’s something you can count on in this world.