In the last two years, Joyce Manor have just about everything an up and coming pop-punk band can hope to gain. From putting out a new album on their favorite label, Asian Man Records, to touring Japan and jamming with Conor Oberst on a song they wrote, there's plenty of proud moments to savor.
Recently, on the road with the Bright Eyes front man who brought Joyce Manor on tour with his other project Desaparecidos, Oberst took the Joyce Manor song "Constant Headache" and incorporated it into his set. As far as onstage compliments from one of your idols, it doesn't get much better than that.
"We had no idea they were going to pull that shit out. By the end of the tour we were playing it with them all together on stage. It was a fucking weird surreal dream come true," says Joyce Manor's bassist Matt Ebert.
Sitting in the West Hollywood studio The Lair, Ebert takes a moment away from recording their latest effort to gather himself and look at where he's been in the last year.
Since they started out in Torrance in 2008, Joyce Manor's best quality has been the ability to captivate listeners in the first 10 seconds of each song. Their debut album blew the lid off pop-punk, which by 2011 seemed to be on some sort of revival kick. While bands like The Wonder Years playing songs similar in style to H20 or New Found Glory, Joyce Manor was attempting to play more emotive pop-punk songs that were made popular in the 1990's emo resurgence with bands like early Weezer and Jawbreaker.
"I would say [the new album] is closer to [our first, self-titled album] in the sense that the songs are more straightforward and not so much experimental," Ebert says. "I don't want to say our last record was experimental but it was definitely a studio project."
As a band, Joyce Manor is never one to come-off overconfident or arrogant. When stepping onto bigger stages, they look semi-uncomfortable and often times seem nervous. So when talking about a new album, Matt Ebert jumps to a cliché, but in a way that doesn't reek of pretense, but genuine excitement. He said, "We just wanted to make this our best record. I think we've definitely done that."
While recording his own albums with Algernon Cadwallader, producer Joe Reinhart also put his stamp on albums from emo acts like Snowing, Hightide Hotel, and Hop Along. "He has a studio in Philadelphia but came out here to do the record," Ebert says.
Joyce Manor is working on their album at a fairly unusual place for the band who has up to this point stayed In smaller cheaper studios within their own punk community. This time around, they're recording in The Lair, where everyone from Julian Casablanca and Weezer to Ke$ha and One Direction have recorded.
On their last album, there were songs the band has never, and will never play live. However, they've decided it's a priority that every song they wrote, they could play live. "It's all just us. We tracked the songs live, it's basically just us playing" Ebert says. For a band that has built a reputation as an amazing live band, occasionally the bands frustrations of the crowd seep through. "We've been touring on the same batch of songs for so long now that we're all ready to put new songs in the set list. There are definitely a few songs we're stoked to cut from the set," Ebert says.
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Two years ago, Joyce Manor were playing house shows every weekend. One of their favorite venues to play was an Orange County house called The Cabin. Now the band has a hard time playing any DIY shows even if they are on the opposite side of the country. "We played a basement in Richmond and it was a blast, but you get 10 seconds into a song and then somebody falls into you and all your [equipment] gets knocked over" Ebert says. When they're back in town, they sometimes they try to surprise fans with gigs like the one in Pomona last year, playing VLHS piling 350 people into a small warehouse after less than twenty-four hours notice. However, a few months later the band went even more incognito at a space in LA. "We did it totally unannounced. The house was full but it wasn't too crazy," Ebert says.
Lately, the band has also gained attention internationally. For a band whose draw is about enough to sell-out Chain Reaction in Anaheim, but hasn't graduated to many larger size venues, praise from foreign countries really surprises them. "We did around twoweeks in Australia and then a quick four days in japan. That was the most fun I've had playing shows," Ebert says. When they hit japan they ended up playing a show with a band who two years ago played The Cabin in Garden Grove. "The turnout there was amazing. Just the way they run shows over there is really cool, very organized. We got so taken care of over there," Ebert says.