The Joy Formidable, the North Welsh power trio, are truly a band to be reckoned with. They’ve already supported Sir Paul McCartney in Cardiff during his spring arena tour, played to hordes of fans at Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury, and now, are rapidly conquering the world. During their recent stint in the U.S., in advance of their debut album release of The Big Roar, Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas caught up with us just after their New York show and gave us some nitty gritty on everything from their band’s chemistry to Amazonian inspirations and their best fans: rowdy ones. The Big Roar will be out March 15th in the U.S., just in time for their appearance at SXSW 2011 and their next North American tour.

You totally knocked off the audience’s socks at your Bowery Ballroom, NYC show this week. ¬†How does it feel to have built up such a rabid fan base in our finicky city?

It was a great ending to what had been a fantastic tour. The crowd at Bowery were especially exuberant, but we’ve been touched by the response at all our shows and we’re glad that we managed to travel further afield on this tour, play places like Chicago and Washington DC for the first time. Next year we’re looking forward to digging in even more. We’d heard that New York audiences are quite reserved, but that’s not been our experience at all, they’ve been delightfully rowdy.

Ritzy–how long have you been playing guitar and how long did it take you become such a ballsy performer?

I’ve been playing since I was 8 years old, acoustic and classical, and then I discovered the electric guitar in my late teens. I enjoy being onstage, it activates a trance like state, I can lose myself completely. There’s a real, truthful affinity to the songs that we play and that is the key to being a confident performer, there’s no pretending.

As a trio, you pack an epic punch. Do you mind or like the “power trio” tag? Had you decided early on as a band that you wanted to keep the band as a trio and not go on to add a keyboardist or another guitarist?

The chemistry between the three of us is special, we have a great friendship and creatively, it’s the perfect dynamic. Never say never, but at the moment we’re very satisfied. And we can live with “power trio”, there’s a fantastic legacy there, maybe we’ll update it to “mighty triad”, mmm, doesn’t quite have the same ring.

Who are some of the bands that influenced you in your early years?

Lots to list, but concisely… The Smiths, John Martyn, Elvis Costello, Yes, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Wilco and Radiohead.

Have you played any shows with Sky Larkin? That would be a fun pairing!

Only at festivals, we’ve met and they’re a great band; that’s a good idea.

Ritzy–how much did your fascination with the Amazon inspire the upcoming album, at least in name, The Big Roar? Are you not as scared of piranhas as I am?

The phenomenon that is the Pororoca in the Amazon basin did inspire the album title. It’s symbolism certainly strikes a chord with the album we’ve written. I’m not really scared of any wildlife, I can manage snakes, bugs, it’s people that scare me.

Why did you wait to put out your first proper album?

It doesn’t really feel like we’ve waited too long. It was written and then we started working with our label, Canvasback, so it took a little while for us to synchronize things perfectly, to finish the boxed set and get the album mixed by Rich [Costey, known for his work with heavy hitters like Muse, Foo Fighters and Glasvegas]. And then dreadful Christmas gets in the way. We’re looking forward to sharing it.

Will you be back in the U.S. for SXSW or will you wait until later this spring for a longer tour?

We will indeed, and Matt is already drooling at the thought of Texan BBQ. Straight after SXSW, we’ll be heading out on a longer tour of North America, so look forward to seeing you then.

Photos by Scott Irvine