Following a boozy debut visit Down Under last year, Joyce Manor frontman Barry Johnson explains why coffee is more their style in the lead-up to their third LP, NeverHungoverAgain. By Dave Drayton.
Since their inception in the Disneyland parking lot in 2008, Joyce Manor have steadily risen through the punk rock ranks on the back of their short, catchy-as-hell micro anthems. After the success of their 2011 self-titled debut on 6131 Records, 2012’s Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired saw them join the family at Asian Man Records and the next collection of songs has brought them here: Never Hungover Again, the band’s third LP and Epitaph Records debut. While signing with Epitaph hasn’t quite allowed the guys in Joyce Manor to leave their day jobs – vocalist and guitarist Barry Johnson proves his point,
“When you have a good thing going you just Want to go out before anything goes Wrong.” barry johnson
multitasking this interview with a commute to work at a record store – it has meant that their upcoming third album has a Joyce Manor coffee mug amongst the assorted pre-order bundles, so bassist Matt Ebert can take his own cup to work as a barista.
“They originally wanted to do beer koozies, I guess to kind of go with the title of the album, but we thought that was missing the point of what we were going for with the album title – we didn’t want it to be, like, this kind of party record, you know: ‘Oh yeah, we’re getting wasted!’” says Johnson, attempting to muster a suitably fratty imitation. The beer koozies/coffee mug dilemma serves as an appropriate analogy for the band itself, and particularly the themes at play on Never Hungover Again, the cover of which depicts an inebriated Ebert and similarly jovial Frances Quinlan of Hop Along – a paradox of pop and jangly punk, a melodic optimism at odds with the darker lyrical themes often at hand.
“The people in the photograph are pretty obviously intoxicated and having a good time and the title suggests an untruth, you know there will be a hangover after this photo, but it’s like ‘no consequences’, there was something about it. It sounds like a triumph, but I didn’t want to be about ‘getting hungover’ and ‘partying’,” Johnson returns to his imitation, “It’s a nice image, too.”
The recurring imitation reveals another paradox about Joyce Manor – their aggressively sweet anthems possess the Bleed American gene that lands songs at the top of jock playlists – it’s what Johnson’s party persona pokes fun at, and something else the band distanced themselves from with the video for Never Hungover Again’s first single, “Catalina Fight Song”.
The band took a two-hour road trip to a jujitsu studio to get their arses kicked by a trained professional – the resulting 90 seconds, captured and directed by Adam Papagan, mixes the aesthetics of home-movie nostalgia with a butt-whooping demonstrating the demureness of the band behind the enthusiastic noise.
“I wanted to capture us doing something really out of our comfort zone,” explains Johnson. “And to put us in a context to show how whimpy we are – and for some reason I thought that would be a good music video. It suits our sound, it’s a little scrappy, but there was definitely care put into it, it wasn’t HD.”
Being out of their comfort zone is perhaps the most crucial paradox propelling Joyce Manor – navigating anxiety has not only provided lyrical fodder for Johnson, but helped define their approach to short, sharp songwriting.
“When you have a good thing going you just want to go out before anything goes wrong – it comes from being anxious, people tell me all the time, ‘You could just do that chorus again’ and, yeah, but no.”