The indie rock band Joywave first caught listeners’ attention when it was featured on “Dangerous,” a 2013 single by Big Data, which made it all the way number one on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. Then, in 2015, it released the album How Do You Feel Now?, which included singles like “Tongues” and “Somebody New”. Now, Joywave has some exciting new gifts in store for fans—its sophomore album, Content, comes out on July 28th, and its tour with Young the Giant and Cold War Kids begins in August.
We recently spoke to Paul Brenner, Joywave’s drummer, to talk about Content as well as Joywave’s past work. Read on to hear his thoughts on the band’s unique recording process, the music video for the single “It’s a Trip!”, and his favorite Disney movies.
TYF: First off, let’s talk about your upcoming tour with Young the Giant and Cold War Kids. What can you tell us about that?
Paul Brenner: Well, I can tell you I’m super excited about it. We’ve been home making our record, so we haven’t been on the road in… almost a year, I think. Maybe a little over a year, actually. You know, we’ve had one-offs here and there, but… [We’re] super excited to get back out. They’re both really great bands, and they’re all really great people. We got a chance to meet them all at Okeechobee. It was a festival in Florida that all three bands just happened to play, so we got to meet up and introduce ourselves before the tour. The bands seem really nice.
TYF: That’s great. Now let’s talk about your new album. First of all, is the name pronounced Content [noun] or Content [adjective]?
Brenner: It’s Content [adjective].
TYF: I heard that you lived in a barn for 4 months to make it. Would you like to elaborate on that?
Brenner: Yeah. Basically, when it came time to make the next record, we knew that the budget allowed us to do something fun with it, so we decided to rent a barn and moved our studio out there. It’s about 45 minutes outside of Rochester, so it’s in the boonies, as they say. It was great. It was unbelievable. The natural old wood of the barn and the shape of it… It was a very open space, and it allowed us to create natural sounds and tones. It was just a blast living out there. Kind of crazy. I’d roll out of bed, and the drum set would be right there, and we’d start recording. (Laughs) It was great.
TYF: Wow. What was an average day at the barn like?
Brenner: Well, it all really depended on what instrument we were tracking. But the day usually started with enjoying some time on the back deck. It was a great view. Then we’d come in, and we’d either be making breakfast or start recording. It was just great. Like I said, it depends on which instrument we were recording at the time. For example, when we were doing the drum set, we’d have to do it late at night because the mics that we were using to track the drums were so powerful that they were picking up trucks and cars that would drive by. So we’d have to do it in the wee hours of the night. It was kind of funny. Sometimes you could hear cars coming in the headphones as it was tracking, and it was almost like when kids are in the street playing hockey. You know, a car comes, and they have to move the goals, and everyone’s like, “Car!” That’s kind of what it was like. But it was fun. The memories… I don’t think I’ll ever forget recording this album.
TYF: The opening lyric of “Content” is, “I’m searching for the difference between/what content [noun] and content [adjective] can bring.” What does this mean to you and the band?
Brenner: Basically, the whole “content” [adjective]/”content” [noun] thing was meant to be a way of… If you don’t hear someone speak the actual name of the album, it’s kind of up to the reader when they’re seeing it on their Spotify or on the album or whatever. And we liked that, and thought it was fun. But it’s definitely meant to be Content [adjective], and be a direct answer to our first album, which was How Do You Feel Now? Our answer collectively would be, “Content.” We’ve been so fortunate in our music career so far. We really kind of have achieved what we all set out to do so many years ago. And it’s kind of that feeling of your dreams coming true, to some extent. It’s almost like, “Whoa, what’s next?” (Laughs) And that’s where the title of the album comes from. As far as lyrical content, that’s more of a Dan question.
TYF: Another one of the singles, “It’s A Trip!”, has a really unique music video. What was it like filming that?
Brenner: It was a blast. It was right there in the Miami Sound, a universally famous spot for music videos—usually rap music videos with jet skis and whatnot. But it was a blast. Imagine being on a waverunner for 14 hours on a gorgeous day. That’s what it was. And then the makeup crew was so incredible. None of us had ever had anything like that done to us. [The makeup artists were] a bunch of guys from The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy. They were this awesome, amazing pro team, and they were all so nice. The directors were also great, and it was just a great environment because everyone was just synced up mentally. We had a great time.
TYF: How did the band come up with the concept for that video?
Brenner: It was definitely a collaboration between the directors, GHOST+COW, and us. Basically, they presented the treatment, if you will—the draft of it—and we loved it from the get-go. It just sounded a lot of fun. It was definitely fun to film, and we figured it’d be fun to watch.
TYF: Last year, you released the remix album Swish. The song titles on that album spell out, “Why be credible when you can be incredible?” What made the band choose this phrase?
Brenner: It’s just a little phrase that we’ve used throughout the years. I think we have it printed on one of our backdrops, too, for our live show. I honestly can’t remember which band member came up with it. It’s just one of those things that we like to say. (Laughs) It also matches our mentality musically, too. We just like to do whatever we want.
TYF: Seeing as you guys sampled some Disney films on your last record How Do You Feel Now?, I’ve got to ask you, which Disney movie is your favorite?
Brenner: Personally? Probably Aladdin. The Lion King, too, though. And then there’s Toy Story… It’s so hard to pick. But probably Aladdin. What about you?
TYF: I’d say it’s probably The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Underrated, but a good one.
Brenner: Oh, wow. You’re right. It’s a great one, but totally underrated.
TYF: It’s been my favorite for a while. Peter Pan’s a close second.
Brenner: Oh yeah, another good one. They’re all so good. We all love Disney movies, for sure.
TYF: Am I correct in saying that there aren’t any samples on the new album, or did I just not notice them?
Brenner: No Disney samples on Content, nope.
TYF: Was there a conscious decision to move away from sampling, or did it just kind of turn out that way?
Brenner: I think it just kind of turned out that way. I don’t think it’s been abandoned, by any means. In the future, we might do it again. I think that was just really fun because it was for the debut album, and when we signed [to Hollywood Records, whose parent company is Disney], we had the option to open the vault like that, to sample the old films. I’m sure we’ll do it again. Who knows? (Laughs)
TYF: If you were to sample something else in the future, what would you think would be a fun thing to sample?
Brenner: I always like it when [artists] sample spoken word stuff. That’d be really cool. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that song “Frontier Psychiatrist” by The Avalanches.
TYF: I am not familiar with that song, but I’ll look it up.
Brenner: It’s a very, very vinyl-sample heavy… It’s so hard to explain, but it’s at least hundreds [of samples], I’d say, and it’s all pieced together like a mosaic to create a song. It’s really cool. But I don’t know, that’s a tough one. I don’t know if I have an answer.
TYF: That’s an acceptable answer. That sounds like an interesting song; I’ll definitely have to check it out.
Brenner: Yeah. I guess maybe a movie or something would be fun. A movie besides Disney. Or some sort of space podcast, Neil DeGrasse Tyson style.
TYF: What songs has the band been listening to lately?
Brenner: That’s a tough one, because we have been on an island here in Rochester, creatively, just practicing like crazy every single morning, getting ready for the tour. I, personally, haven’t been listening to any music except Joywave, unfortunately. I’m sure that’ll all change once we get on the road and have some bunk time, you know?
TYF: Very true. Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers?
Brenner: Thanks for listening and thanks for reading, and we’ll see you in a town near you!