Q&A: Mt. Joy

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Mt. Joy, the band that “could be your new folk-rock heroes” according to Rolling Stone magazine, is headed to the Cafe Du Nord on Tuesday, April 3. To get a feel for what their live show is like check out their TV debut on Conan HERE. Earlier this month, the group released their self-titled debut LP breaking the AAA Radio Charts’ Top 20 and receiving wide acclaim from magazines like Billboard, Substream, and NPR Music, who called the album “a welcome mix of knockabout likability and roof-raising grandeur.”

We were curious about these guys so we reached out to them to ask them how they first got together, where they draw inspiration from, and what the experience on Conan was like.

How did you guys first get together?

Matt: Sam and I went to high school together outside of Philadelphia, which is where we originally met and played some music together.How’d you come up with the band name what’s the meaning behind it?

Sam: Mt. Joy is a little mountain in Valley Forge Park outside of Philadelphia where Matt and I grew up. It’s a bit of an ode to our hometown and has a nice positive ring to it.

How would you describe your sound?

M: I think we’re a combination of a lot of things but it’s usually boiled down to folk rock. But hopefully, people walk away hearing the different flavors, as well.

Can you describe your songwriting process?

S: Our process differs song to song but generally Matt comes up with the skeleton of the songs or at least has an idea that we then all build around and mess with until we have something we’re all happy with. For the first record, we would write the songs and then rework and experiment with them on tour and see what worked and what needed change, then when we finally felt good about them we’d go back into the studio and record with our producer Jon Gilbert.

What do you draw inspiration from?

M: All over the map. Classic rock stuff, soul music, contemporary stuff too. We all love My Morning Jacket. Paul Simon is big too, might actually get to see him on this last tour which will be incredible.

S: We all kind of come from different musical backgrounds, so the songs end up having influences from all different kinds of music.

You recently made your television debut on CONAN where you played “Silver Lining.” What was that like?

S: It was so surreal for us. When you do Conan you have to get there at 8 am, soundcheck at 10 am, then wait 7 hours to finally play at 5:30 pm. It’s not “live”, but the whole show is recorded as if it’s live. When the song was finally over I was so relieved that we had done it that I forgot Conan comes over after the song and shakes hands and says goodnight so when he did he startled the hell out of me. It all felt like a weird dream.

What’s the music scene like in LA these days with all these clubs closing?

M: If we’re being honest we are pretty new to the scene. We’ve only lived in LA for a few years. But from our perspective, through the lens of our practice space, the scene is dense. Lots of bands making an incredibly wide spectrum of music. It’s really insane to walk through there and hear songs you recognize and see faces you recognize. I think LA catches a lot of flack and some of that’s well deserved, but there are few places on the planet with more talented hard-working artists in one place, all driving the same 3 freeways.

You’re coming to the Bay Area in April. What do you think of San Francisco audiences?

S: Matt and I opened for Jon Russell of Head and the Heart last year at The Chapel and the audience that showed up for him was amazing. We have never played a full band show in SF, but if it’s anything like Jon’s show at the Chapel, we’ll be very happy!

Do you enjoy life on the road?

M: So far it’s been great. We are about a month into touring our first record. Hearing people sing our songs and just the reaction we’ve gotten has been surreal. I think that’s what makes or breaks the experience. And for us, the crowds have been carrying us in a pretty cool way.

Mt. Joy plays the Cafe du Nord with Lauren O’Connell on Tuesday, April 3 // Presented by Noise Pop 21+ // $12 – $14

With a discography that includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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