The Joy Formidable

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Wolff’s Law is a medical rule written by 19th century German anatomist Julius Wolff.

It states that a bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the weight it’s placed under. Rather than growing weaker, if the load becomes too much, the bone will remodel itself to bear the weight.

The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable

Ritzy Bryan, the singer, guitarist and main songwriter in The Joy Formidable stumbled across Wolff’s Law while aimlessly trawling through pages on the internet one night.

Suddenly, she had a name for exactly how she’d been feeling.

‘It was just as we were releasing The Big Roar,’ she says, referring to the band’s first album, which was released in January, 2011.

‘The idea really struck a chord with me because there had been some degree of healing in relationships in my life.

‘My parents had been going through a long and drawn-out divorce. Basically, they’ve been getting divorced for 10 years, really out-of-the-ordinary stuff.’

Ritzy adds: ‘It’s difficult to deal with whatever age you are, and because of the length of time it was stretched over, I became quitetranged from them.

‘It was a sad time, things breaking down like that, but there had been small steps towards me reconciling with them.

‘And that’s when I saw Wolff’s Law. It was very symbolic and made total sense to me.’

The idea stuck in Ritzy’s mind, and lyrics started to flow. Wolf’s Law (she dropped an ‘f’) was the first song, and subsequently gave the trio the title for their second album.

The band, who are from Mold in North Wales, was formed in 2007. Their debut album, The Big Roar, peaked at number 31 in the UK music charts and at number eight on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in America.

One of the group’s songs, Endtapes, featured on the soundtrack for Twilight: Breaking Dawn.

The three members toured almost constantly in 2012, including a support slot with Muse in the US, which means they’re in perfect shape for their UK national tour.

The band did manage to find time in their touring schedule to record Wolf’s Law. November 2011 saw them escape to Portland, Maine, for a week or two for initial sessions.

Smitten by the setting on America’s north-east coast, they decided to return in January last year.

Drums and strings were recorded in London, mixed in March and done and dusted a month later.

‘It was all so quick,’ says Ritzy, ‘The writing and recording was anyway. I just think we were eager to get back in the studio. We’d been writing on the road for 12 months, and when you’ve got all those ideas, you just want to find out what you have.

‘It’s like unpacking a case, and you don’t know what you’ve got until you get it all out and have a look. It’s varied in its range and the palette between tracks, but it does all belong together.’

Much of the album concerns itself with the preciousness of time, inspired by the aforementioned divorce, and the death of her beloved grandfather.

‘We’d only been in the studio a week and that happened,’ she says, ‘I was so close to him, and he was our biggest fan. He knew more about the band than we did, with his scrap books and cuttings. Typical proud grandad.’

The loss is reflected in the new song, The Turnaround. Tendons, another personal song, is about Ritzy’s long-term relationship with bandmate Rhydian Dafydd.

They had been in numerous bands together in Manchester, before moving back to Mold in Wales and forming The Joy Formidable.

She says: ‘It’s not a conventional relationship, I’ll give you that. Quite bizarre really, but our relationship drives the band in a lot of ways. Music has always been at the forefront of what we do, and us as people, but we have a relationship too.

‘It’s a tricky thing to balance, but he’s my best friend. The creative side is so alive in us, but we do wonder where we’d be without the band and that’s what the song is about.’

The third and final member of the band is Matt Thomas, who replaced original drummer Justin Stahley in 2009.

While Wolf’s Law was written and inspired by testing circumstances, it’s positive in mood and the process of getting her thoughts down on paper helped Ritzy work through her problems.

Other songs on the album include This Ladder Is Ours, Cholla, The Leopard and The Lung and Forest Serenade It’s a stark contrast to The Big Roar, which she says added to real-life tensions at the time.

Ritzy says: ‘Rhydian and I were living in this tiny room in London, working day jobs, playing gigs at night and trying to tour.

‘It was so claustrophobic, and just added to this sense of angst and anxiety. There was no catharsis at all.’

She adds: ‘This time around, having a creative project to throw myself into was really helpful, and properly gave me a new focus. It was very sad, but I’ve come out of it more positive than ever.’

Although they’ve loved touring, the band is glad to be back in Britain.

‘We’ve been all over the US, but it’s always good to get back to the UK. It’ll hopefully be the first tour of many this year.

‘I can’t bear hearing bands whining about how much they’re going to be touring or how much they’re going to be away.

‘Yes, there’s people I’ll miss, but we’ve got jobs we love, where every day is different. It’s brilliant.’

· The Joy Formidable will be performing at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, on Wednesday, March 6, with support from Kill It Kid and Night Engine. Tickets cost £12.50 on (023) 9286 3911.