INTERVIEW: Joyce Manor

Published on, June 2015



Creative processes have shifted for Joyce Manor since their inception in 2008, but Barry Johnson tells Daniel Cribb there’s no shortage of punk rock hits in the bag.

A musician should never need to apologise for a sudden burst of creativity or inspiration, but, being the affable frontman that he is, Joyce Manor’s Barry Johnson begins our conversation in such a way. “I did an interview before this and when I got the call, I was freaking out because I didn’t have time to record [the idea] I just had. While I was doing the interview I was just kind of going over the song in my head. Between then and the time I got on the phone with you I just recorded a demo of it, so that’s probably the third song we have,” Johnson says on the band’s next record.

Creativity isn’t as spontaneous as it once was for the vocalist, but when they get together and start jamming, there’s no shortage of quality, as evident with last year’s Never Hungover Again record. “I wish that happened more,” he laughs. “It used to happen to me all the time; I would be at work or something, and I’d just have a melody or something, and I’d be like, ‘Oh my god, I have to record that.’ This is pre-smartphone, so I’d have to call my parents’ house and leave a message on their voicemail and hope they didn’t check it before I got home.”

Never Hungover Again is a record that pushed them further into the spotlight. Having experienced fame themselves, it was an interesting time touring Australia with their close friends in The Smith Street Band back in 2013 as they began blowing up. “It was cool, but I don’t feel like all the members of [The Smith Street Band] were super comfortable with it. I feel like it was a bit overwhelming for some of them.

“Everything’s kind of like a double-edged sword and it’s good to try to focus on the positive aspects of what’s going on, but I could definitely see some uncertainty or just strange feelings attached to it for them, and understanding that having been in a band that’s gotten popular quickly – it kind of put it into perspective for me.”

Johnson made waves within the media last year for calling out stage divers at their shows, but as he points out, it was blown out of proportion – and with DJ Steve Aoki reportedly breaking a punters neck after stage diving at a show recently, Joyce Manor’s stance on the matter seems reasonable. “I think that there’s a totally acceptable time and place for that, and we allowed stage diving and stuff like that at our shows for a long time. At a certain point it just got so crazy that people started getting hurt very regularly, to where once we said something it was immediately way overly politicised and kind of like, ‘Joyce Manor’s mission statement is to end stage diving!’ And that’s not how I feel at all!

“I do want it to be crazy and sweaty and chaotic and exciting and exhilarating for us and the people who are coming, but there comes a point where it’s just like, ‘This is stupid.’ No one should have to leave with a broken nose or a broken neck because someone else wanted to do a front flip off a speaker.”

Joyce Manor support Against Me! around the country this May/June. For all dates and ticketing info, see theGuide or The Music App. Never Hungover Again is out now through Epitaph/Warner.