Matthew Thomas The Joy Formidable
Thomas rocks out in the dining room
Where did you record drums for new record, AAARTH?
“We recorded the drums in a combination of Rizty’s [vocals, guitar] old house, which her dad lives in, and then other parts were recorded elsewhere then sampled and reconstructed. There is a lot of experimentation on this album. Some of the tracks, one drummer cannot do in one take.”
How’d you set up to record in a house?
“We just converted the dining room and went from there. Put mics in different places, had mics upstairs and in the kitchen. There were a lot of times when we were like, ‘What’s that clicking sound? It’s not the click!’ And Ritzy would shout, ‘I forgot to take the clock down in the kitchen!’ So she’d go and grab that. There are a few sounds of cows out the back, because it’s in the middle of nowhere in Wales. There’s the fridge humming, and other things like that.”
Is this material going to be challenging to play live?
“We’ve always layered the drums and all the other instruments, so it’s always interesting to recreate those sounds live. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to recreate the sounds with four limbs. Obviously, you can’t play every ostinato exactly how it was, but through a combination of stickings and picking the bits that stick out, I’ll play a part as close as I can get to the recording. We always try to make the live performance the best we can with the three of us and create a really good show with what we have. There are more dynamics, there’s a lot going on live because we’re quite an energetic band. I put a lot of movement into my playing.”
Is there a lot of jamming?
“We do a lot of improvisation onstage. A lot of times we’re making quite a bit of the set up on the spot, obviously within a given structure but it’s pretty open. Sometimes we don’t even know how we’re going to end the song, we just feel it out and see what happens. For example, ‘Whirring’ – you never know how that song is going to end. Music has to be from the heart and you have to play what you’re feeling. Coming up with a part depending on your feelings is more of an intimate performance, because it’s real. Some of the songs don’t even sound like the recordings when we play live, because we’ve completely fiddled around with the structure. And we’ll do that from tour to tour to keep people interested. They can come to one show and we’ll play a song one way, and then we’ll play it a different way another day.”
Any standout tracks from the drumming perspective?
“‘The Wrong Side’ has some fun things to play in 6, some cool bell patterns, odd tom things and polyrhythmic stuff. It’s not the quickest and hardest of songs, but it’s quite complicated and it shows a bit of dynamics and finesse, instead of just smashing everything all of the time.”
AAARTH The Joy Formidable Out now