One year ago, No Joy were putting the finishing touches on their third studio album, More Faithful, in Costa Rica. The Montreal-based dream-poppers had planned for a month of studio time in Brooklyn, their home away from home and location of their label, Mexican Summer. But their producer, Jorge Elbrecht, who’s worked with Ariel Pink, Chairlift, Tamaryn, and more, had to fly back to Costa Rica in the middle of the process. “We had put so much planning into the recording — there was no way we could get it done in the two weeks he would be in New York. So we just decided to go with him to Costa Rica, where his family is from,” recalls Jasamine White-Gluz, No Joy’s lead vocalist and guitarist. “We played at his family’s 150-year-old farmhouse. We built our own microstudio where we did all of the mixing and some overdubs. It didn’t really feel like we were in Costa Rica ‘cause we didn’t really do anything. We just sat there and worked on the record. But we went all the way there to finish it.”
That writing process took nearly ten months, mining the songs for moments where they could add subtle flourishes. “We took a lot of time practicing, took months just sort of laying out ideas and going over them again and again before we actually got into the studio,” she says.
When the LP premiered, the band issued a statement along with it, in which they said the process had driven each one of them insane at different points in the recording. “We really analyzed every aspect of the arrangements and mixing,” White-Gluz explains. “Every single thing that you hear is intentional, so we did go a little nuts listening to every little part over the span.” The dichotomy between More Faithful’s loud moments and its softer ones make No Joy’s songs more dynamic than some of their shoegazing contemporaries, but like the best acts in that genre, the dissonant, abrasive passages have an almost meditative effect.
After touring for the better part of the last twelve months, White-Gluz says these songs no longer taunt the band the way they did when they were still in the throes of writing them. “Now I’m bored of it. Once we held the physical copy of it and it was done and everything was there, and it was exactly what we had planned, it was like, that chapter’s over, what’s next?” White-Gluz recalls, laughing.
The internal turmoil of the creative process was replaced by the outward whirlwind of touring. They blazed across Europe in September with a tour manager that White-Gluz said made the experience a “living Hell.” “Now we’re looking back and we can laugh about some of it, but it was really horrible,” she recalls. “You gotta really know somebody before you get in a van with them for a month. It was a jarring experience for us.” Now back to handling their own tour in the states, No Joy joined up with DIIV and Sunflower Bean for a month-long leg that ends at Webster Hall on November 8. It was a natural pairing; No Joy has known DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith for years, having played with his first band, Beach Fossils, several times. Their much-anticipated sophomore record will be out in February, and they invited No Joy on a tour debuting that new material.
White-Gluz gushes about Sunflower Bean, a newish psych-rock outfit who’ve generated tons of buzz around their debut EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets, as well as their heavy-hitting shows. “They’re really great. They’re super motivated; they’re really hardworking and immensely talented and they’re surprisingly road-ready for a band that’s pretty new,” she says.
When the tour ends, the band is looking forward to writing new songs in Montreal. “I think it’ll be very nice to get home,” White-Gluz admits. “It’ll be nice to have to time to sit with new ideas and write new stuff. It’s really kind of hard to write when you’re on tour, so it’ll be nice to kind of relax for a bit and do that.” After the intensive writing process for More Faithful, the plan is to explore their old method of writing based on instinct. Two singles from the Faithful sessions will be released soon, and White-Gluz says the band wants to do a string of seven-inches before focusing on the next record.
For now, No Joy is enjoying the home stretch of this very long album cycle. Their Halloween show in Austin was especially memorable; as guest bartenders before their show at the Mohawk, they served spooky cocktails to fans, and DIIV dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz. “They rented the costumes but they left Austin with them,” White-Gluz says. “They’ve taken the Dorothy and the Good Witch and the Bad Witch costumes with them and I think they might wear them again.”
No Joy play with DIIV and Sunflower Bean at Webster Hall on November 8.