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Joywave Interview - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

Interview with Joywave’s Daniel Armbruster

It’s pretty cool when you get to chat with one of your favorite bands and they turn out to be very nice people. Such was the case when I got on the phone for an interview with Joywave’s Daniel Armbruster, who – truth be told – I did find a bit intimidating because he is so creative, not only with their music but with all the artistic endeavours surrounding it. I mean, have you seen the completely bonkers video for their new song, “Every Window Is A Mirror” – ??? That’s the stuff of nightmares right there – but… in a good way?

Joywave had to cancel the tour to support 2020’s Possession album several times, so they are taking a cautious approach to getting back on the road. As of right now, they only have three festivals on the schedule: Bottlerock, Riot Fest, and the new Darn Good Music Fest (speaking of bonkers, look that that lineup).

I have been lucky enough to see and photograph Joywave several times, both here in Denver and away. They always deliver an insane show. But for me, it invariably comes back to the music – which if you listen to my Joywave playlist, you’ll see is consistently great across all the moods of their albums. Daniel was kind enough to describe that journey below, as well as answer silly questions from my husband *and* the one that he hates being asked the most.

*All photos by me unless noted

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog


Interview with Daniel Armbruster of Joywave


Aimee:

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I know there’s been a bit of a dramatic change from your first album to Content and then Possession. Can you talk about how that changed over time, or how the themes evolved?

Daniel:

Yeah. How Do You Feel Now?, it was the thing where they say you have your whole life to write your first record and then six months to make all the other ones? That one focuses on the time where, post-college, I graduated into the great recession and it’s how a lot of my life wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. Content is like, okay, I did it, we’re doing this for a career, now what?, and also being gone all the time.

Possession is coming to terms with the idea of control, the struggle for control, kind of. I felt like I really didn’t have it after college and then kind of going outside the system, I don’t need to have a regular job. I didn’t really need my college degree to do the things that I really love. But finding that even in that, I don’t really have control over myself or my life, or much of anything on a grand scheme. Possession is learning to be okay with that.

That’s a three chapter realization of that… and now we’re moving into this new period where the next record is going to be called Cleanse. It’s doing away with everything before and the artwork is this series of car washes. I think of the band as this vehicle, that’s been on the road, physically and metaphorically, for a long time now and washing all of that away and getting ready for the next decade.

Joywave - Every Window Is A Mirro Album Art

by Matty Vogel

Aimee:

Was the album recorded during pandemic?

Daniel:

Yes. Yeah. It was. It’s really not a quarantine record. I’m sure people will hone in on specific lyrics because it’s impossible to not be influenced by that. But to me, it was time I was forced to be home that really made me appreciate all of the times from before. This will probably sound ridiculous to some people, it’s amazing to go see all these places while we toured. I’m from the suburbs of Rochester, New York. Now I’ve seen so many things now that my parents never got to see, no one in my lineage has gotten to see, a lot of people in our community don’t get to see.

But when you’re sleeping three hours or you’re going on flight after flight after flight, you can lose sight of the fact that, “Hey, this is really amazing!” Once that was all taken away and I was sitting at home, I was able to really be grateful and say, “Well, it’s great that I have my routine today and I can wake up, make coffee, and there’s nothing to do, except pet the cat,” but it’s also awesome that I got to do all this stuff. It made me really happy in a way that, I don’t think… I’m only half a really happy person most of the time, to be honest… but that happiness and gratitude was reflected in the lyrics in a way that it hasn’t in the past.

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

by Mary Ellen Matthews


Aimee:

I have to say that I had “After Coffee” on repeat for a while, because it did feel like the good parts of pandemic to me, where you just sit with your thoughts a little bit. I was out photographing four nights a week and then all of a sudden it stopped and I had a panic attack about that. Then you realize, okay, I could slow down a little bit. It felt to me, like OK, there are some good things about this.

Daniel:

No, there’s definitely some of that. This year was obviously so terrible for a lot of people, I can’t say it was awesome because there was so much was wrong, but in my immediate six foot radius right now, I’m still sitting in my studio and I got to do the thing that I love while the world burned around me outside. I was so grateful to have that luxury.

Aimee:

OK. I have to admit I’m a little bit intimidated talking to you because I find the creativity in everything you guys do really inspiring. Especially going into your videos and the website designs, I’ve been following how it changes for years. Where did those ideas come from?

Daniel:

I just love, the thing that makes me feel alive is really just creating something out of nothing. I love just sitting and thinking. Every aspect of the band, down to the marketing too, is pretty well thought out and generally is coming from us. If I was amazing at painting or something, I may choose to express myself that way, or cooking or something. I’m just terrible at almost everything except for music. I’m only even medium good at music, but I’m good enough to create the things happening in my brain and turn them into sounds.

Yeah, but the websites are actually, that’s actually one of my favorite things to talk about. During the Content era, we had this like MS DOS style website, prompts thing where you couldn’t use your mouse, which I love and someone at the record label made us change it eventually, which led to the fake news version of the website that is there now. It’s fun planning all those different little things and it’s not always stemming from one thing.

Joywave - Examples of Website Design

Examples of Joywave website designs


Aimee:

That’s great. I love how clever you are with things in terms of being mischievous and the Content/Content misunderstanding. (Note: The album Content is pronounced like the feeling, but often is said like the media word.) Are there any other Easter eggs that we should know about in terms of the upcoming album Cleanse – or anything playful in there?

Daniel:

Oh man. I have to say the new one is probably the least funny record we’ve ever made. It is a thing that I love to explore because we all grew up in symphonic band, I played a flute and bassoon growing up and I’m not good at either one of those either, but I always loved the idea that the music could do part of the storytelling. If I’m playing the bassoon and it’s Peter and the Wolf, I can be the grandfather and also just little jokes can be made where it’s part of the human experience. We all laugh and humor is a real thing – and it doesn’t mean that you’re Weird Al.

I do love to have a little bit of those things in there, but I have to say on this new record, it was really just driven by that gratefulness of, wow, I’m amazingly lucky to be doing what I’m doing. And I don’t know that without the current situation, I might not have turned around and looked behind me, I might’ve just kept my head down and kept going.

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

The idea of this band, we had had bands before, local bands and stuff, where Joey, Paul and I had this band that was more emo kind of pop punk, mostly pop rock. After a bunch of years of doing that and not really going anywhere, we felt really limited by the fact that we were standing with two guitars, a bass and drums looking at each other going, “Okay, well now what do we do? Well, we already did these chords.”

The genesis of Joywave when we started that in 2010, the rule was, “We’re going to do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it and that will set us up to always be able to evolve.” We’re never committing to anything beyond that, whatever this chapter is. Possession or Cleanse or Content or How Do You Feel Now? –  just taking it one moment at a time. The artists that really inspire us are people like Damon Albarn who had Blur and then Gorillaz … and people who just do what they want when they wake up in the morning and do that for as long as they’re alive.

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

Aimee:

Sure. Actually, OK, I have to say, my husband seems like he has a similar sense of humor to yours. Here’s the question that he gave me for you and I apologize in advance. He said, “If you could be any kind of animal, what parts of your body would you shave off?”

Daniel:

[laughing] If you could be any type of animal what parts of your body would you shave off?

Aimee:

Exactly. That’s what he gave me. He also asked, “What’s your favorite shape?”

Daniel:

What’s my favorite shape? I do terrible with alternate options and also favorites. I have very few favorites. Man. Okay. I would definitely be a cat, but I don’t know what I would shave because my luscious coat would be part of the appeal of being that. Right?

Aimee:

I think he meant more like if a cat was grafted on top of you and then maybe would you shave off your belly? I don’t know. 25 years of marriage and I’m still questioning it. [Both laugh.] OK, I know you only have a couple more minutes, you have some big festivals coming up in the fall. Do you like playing those or do you prefer smaller shows where you are the headliner?

Daniel:

Yeah, I definitely prefer the headline tour experience just because it’s amazing being in a room with a thousand people who care about what you made, that’s a really good feeling. Festivals are a little bit more foreign to me, I didn’t really love them growing up, it’s sunny and hot and outside and I don’t really like outside very much. There’s been some really great festivals that we’ve done. I am excited for the ones coming up-

Aimee:

Yeah. I’m based in Denver, but I was at Bunbury and that’s one of the places I’ve photographed you. Sorry, I interrupted you.

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

Joywave’s backdrop at Bunbury was rotating Google questions


Daniel:

No problem. As far as headline tours, I think we’re going to schedule one around the time that the new record comes out, which is hopefully on the earlier side of 2022. We’re ready to go, it’s just… what does COVID think?

Aimee:

Yeah. That’s the kind of the way the world is right now. Okay. This is my last question and I’m feeling brave enough to ask it. Since I heard you say that this question effectively closes down the interview for you, I saved it for the last.

Daniel:

“What does your band sound like?”

Aimee:

No, where did your band name come from?

Daniel:

Damn it. Well. Thank you so much. It was so nice to talking you you… [laughs]

Aimee:

[laughs] My husband said I should just have hung up after that.

Daniel:

That would have been really good actually! [laughs] I have basically just explained it was it was the least-bad band name we could find. We spent weeks around my mom’s dining room table, trying to come up with a band name and at one point we all said, “Shouldn’t we be practicing or writing music or something?” We were like, “This one is fine.” I said, okay, this kind of matches with what we want to do. Right? We want to do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it and those are the rules and that’s what creating inside of happiness is going to look like.

Aimee:

I love it. Well, it was such a joy talking to you and I can’t wait to see you live again and photograph you again – and, truly, you all are one of my favorite bands.

Daniel:

Thank you so much. I appreciate that.


Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog

Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog Interview With Joywave - Daniel Armbruster - Denver Music Blog


Here’s hoping we can all see them ASAP in 2022.

Read my other interviews or check out my past posts about Joywave!

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