Joyful.‘s new single, “Miles Away,” is lyrically honest in a way that crushes the heart and reminds us of a time when we could feel so much more deeply than our adult selves may allow. It shows a rawness and aggression that fits the lyrical theme. The song is a lamentation of a breakup after a turbulent relationship that Joyful. captures both lyrically and sonically.
First formed in Chicago in 2019, Joyful. hit the ground running producing single after single. They propel a sound somewhere between pop punk and rock and roll, pairing it with devastatingly honest lyrics. Reminiscent of bands like Taking Back Sunday and Senses Fail, this is the child of the music that raised us, and our hearts don’t forget the feeling of that genre.
Familiar in all the right ways, Joyful. reels us in with a sense of home and then shoots us to the stars with floating melodies, anthemic choruses, and tasty riffs—and then crashes us to earth with their painfully relatable lyrics. Each song is cathartic in its screamability, a merge of melancholy and glory. Their music reminds us of the burden of knowing too much as we grow up while celebrating the beautiful mess of being alive. Timeless in their approach, this band is spearheading the genre into the next generation, and bringing something new and unique to the table with them.
Joyful.’s drummer, Jake Newling, spoke to All The Alt Things about the release, what’s to come, and the joy of working with longtime friends.
What really sticks out to me about your music is the familiarity of it. It feels very reminiscent of mid 2000’s punk, and listening to your singles takes me back to that place when I was young. I think that access to a previous, more vulnerable headspace is really attractive. Did you intend to evoke this familiarity or did this sound come to you naturally?
NEWLING: We grew up and picked up our instruments around the late 2000s, early-2010s, wave of emo and pop punk. We always loved bands like Taking Back Sunday and Jimmy Eat World and Senses Fail, so it was kind of natural to do something like that. It wasn’t intentional to be a nostalgic pop punk band or whatever. I think this sound just comes naturally to all three of us. It’s cool that it comes across to a listener.
I don’t want it to sound like your music is dated because it’s absolutely not. here are just Easter eggs. I’m like, “Oh my god, that sounds like the guitar sound from ‘Dear Maria Count Me In.’” Every song has a little note of familiarity. It’s really fun. I ended up going down memory lane for like an hour. “Reminiscently new” is a good way to put it.
You’ve mentioned that your honest lyrical themes relate to those of Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World, and Grayscale. Why did you decide to take this approach lyrically? Or was it just what kind of came out?
We’re all in our late 20s and maturing as people, I suppose. I guess it just coincided with where we are in life. When you’re approaching 30, you’ve probably experienced loss and heartbreak and all that fun stuff. The way I look at music now, and I think the guys would agree, it’s become a very cathartic thing to do more so than anything. I think that comes away in our lyrics.
A lot of your music, including “Miles Away”, calls back to different relationships and the struggles within them. The lyrics are all too poignant. Are these songs a cathartic release from personal experiences? Or is it a general telling of these things we come to know?
I think it’s a bit of both. I know there are songs where Andy, our singer, has written a very personal narrative of things he’s experienced. And then there are other songs, like “Miles Away,” where we’re taking a vague theme or an idea of something that might have happened to one of us. We say, “Okay, how can we expand on that and try to tell a story through the song?” At the end of the day, it all comes back to the same roots. We’re trying to put some events or situations out there that a lot of other people are going through or have gone through to say, “You’re not alone in this.”
“Marigold” and “Miles Away” both stray into grittier territory. There seems to be something more aggressive about them relative to earlier singles. I’m interested to hear about that progression.
I definitely think that it’s something that happened naturally. We never sit down and say, “I want this to sound like this or that.” I think we’re just progressing more towards a more traditional rock, maybe pop rock sound? There wasn’t any forethought in it, it just kind of happened. I mean, we all love our rock and roll.
Yeah, I mean, you guys have been doing this since 2019, and single releases started in 2020.
Yeah the band started in 2019, but Andy and I have been making music together since we were thirteen. We hadn’t really played a ton before the band started. Once we did, we realized how locked in we were with each other. We can pretty much tell what the other one is going to do. It’s just so fun. It’s truly a blessing to make music with someone for over ten years.
Each single Joyful. has released feels episodic, and “Miles Away” feels like a prologue, the last grasps of the tumultuous relationships and love lost written about in previous songs. Was this story-like feel an intentional decision?
We can totally say it is, we can just roll with that. From the beginning, it seemed like a lot of other artists were releasing a single every couple of months. So, we were just jumping on that train, so to speak. I think it’s a really cool way to release music. You can release something every couple of months and kind of keep people’s interests piqued over a prolonged period of time. We thought about it really innocently in that we just wanted to keep people interested. But I think the next plan is probably to do something longer.
“Miles Away” feels like the end of an era and the beginning of something new. What can we expect from Joyful. moving forward?
I don’t know if it’ll be an EP or if it’ll be a full length. We have about ten songs written right now. I would say I’m 99% sure it’ll be an EP, but we have so many ideas mulling around. At this point, we’ve decided it would be fun if we took a collection and made a narrative or a mood across five or six songs and just put it out. I’m sure we’ll do singles again. We’ve been a band for almost three years. It’s time to do something a little different and jump out of our comfort zone in terms of writing.
An avid book reader, overthinker, houseplant caretaker, and MMO player, Kay loves listening to angry music with as much bass boost as she can manage to balance her otherwise quiet lifestyle. If she doesn’t write about the stuff she likes it will inevitably be spewed forth in nonsense order to whomever will listen. She lives with her partner, an angry cat, and a lazy dog, both of which are named after StarCraft characters.