Joywave wasn't popular in 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013. But when its song "Tongues" hit the Billboard charts in 2014, it was like the flick of a light switch.
"We did everything ourselves for the last four years," said the band's vocalist, Dan Armbruster. "Literally everything." The release of "Tongues" and its growing popularity on blogs and alternative playlists got the band a record deal as well as some fans — and haters.
"I really enjoy this Joywave album (How Do You Feel Now?), but damn if the singer doesn't have the most punchable face of all-time," Armbruster read the bitter tweet in a video clip on the band's Instagram with a cheesy grin. Joywave's guitarist, Joseph Morinelli, edited the clip so it would look like the "mean celebrity tweets" videos from Jimmy Kimmel Live, where the band appeared March 2.
As for all the attention, he explained, "For five years, we controlled where our music went and where it appeared. Suddenly, when you do something like play Jimmy Kimmel, it's like you're invading people's homes at night. Some people are upset because we wear pink outfits on TV or something and then tweet a bunch of stuff."
But that's a price worth paying for taking over the airwaves and even meeting a childhood hero. The band made its TV debut in July on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Armbruster performed "Dangerous," a track by Big Data that Joywave is featured on; and "Tongues."
"It was crazy," Armbruster recalled. "We met Seth Meyers, and he came over and talked to us for a few minutes." When Meyers introduced himself, Armbruster instantly got SNL flashbacks. "He did this weird thing where he started whispering, and that was straight from 'Weekend Update,'" said Armbruster. "As a Saturday Night Live fan, it was an amazing moment. I've watched Saturday Night Live my entire life; it was kind of surreal."
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In fact, the Late Night and Saturday Night Live studios are adjoining, and that got the band curious. "The doors were open, so we just walked in there and were staring at the stage until someone came over and was like, 'Dude, get out of here.'"
Now, with the band's debut LP — How Do You Feel Now? — a followup to its year-old EP How Do You Feel? — due to drop April 21 and a national tour with Bleachers that started earlier this month, the band is ready to show off its sound and push listeners to their limits.
"I don't know if you've ever played the game in middle school where someone was putting their hand on your leg and then they say, 'Are you uncomfortable?'" explained Armbruster. "You say, 'No,' so they'd slide up their hand up your leg repeatedly until you're extremely uncomfortable. That's the idea."
The band recorded its EP and full length as one big picture. "The four songs from the EP are also on the full length in the exact incarnation," said Armbruster. "Now the full picture will be revealed. Anything you thought about the band from hearing only four songs will change drastically. There's a lot more represented on the full length stylistically versus the EP."
The band consists of five members — vocals (Armbruster), guitar (Morinelli), bass (Sean Donnelly), keyboards (Benjamin Bailey), and drums (Paul Brenner) — each bringing their own tastes to the group's sound. Brenner likes rock, Donnelly likes electronic music, Bailey likes classical, and none of the members like country. "I know it's the cliche," justified Armbruster. "But I think that is true for our band."
And they all like the Killers, a fact that made May 2014 a little sweeter for the group, which was asked to open two shows for the band. "That's been one of our favorite bands for like ten years," said Armbruster. "When we came into the arena, they were soundchecking. We kind of heard it as we were entering, and we were like, 'Oh my God.' It was just like an adrenaline rush, Brandon Flowers [vocalist for the Killers] walked by me in the hall, and he was like, 'I like your jacket' and I was like, 'Oh my God, oh my God, Brandon Flowers likes my coat.' It was definitely a fan-boy moment for sure."
Joywave hits Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale on March 24. It will be the group's ninth tour stop out of its 31-show run, with later dates accompanied by the Kooks. "I think almost all of us have been to Florida growing up to visit grandparents and Disney World and stuff like that, but never for a show." Coming from the 40-degree temps in their hometown of Rochester, they're ready to take it on, sans Mickey Mouse or senior citizens.
Bleachers with Joywave and Night Terrors of 1927, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $33.15. Visit cultureroom.net.
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