Joywave Reveal Correct Pronunciation of New Album 'Content,' Talk Hometown Loyalty

Mary Ellen Matthews


It’s a sweltering summer afternoon and Daniel Armbruster, lead singer of the band Joywave, is talking about his formative years in Greece. No, not that Greece. “Greece is the largest suburb of Rochester, New York,” Armbruster proudly explains of the community located upstate, due northwest of New York City. “It’s the kind of place where we have a mall, Applebee's, Olive Garden and Pizza Hut. I didn’t even know what nationality I was until I did three months ago.”

In other words, Greece is an all-American town, which makes sense considering Joywave is an all-American band whose members still record and live in Rochester. “It wasn’t a thing where I couldn't wait to get out of there, but a lot of people do feel that way... a ton of people actually,” Armbruster notes. “I meet people on the road who left and now say they wish could go back because it’s where their friends live or family live, but their job as a graphic designer or whatever does not exist in Rochester.”

The fact that the members of Joywave all still call upstate New York home is a testament to their allegiance to their hometown. Buoyed by the breakout alternative success of their singles “Somebody New” and the KOPPS-featuring “Tongues” from their 2015 debut How Do You Feel Now?, the band has carved a niche fanbase far beyond Rochster thanks to their thoughtfully sarcastic and moderately progressive brand of indie rock, slowly morphing into alternative underdogs. That persona was in full effect last year when people pointed out the high profile art for Kanye West's The Life of Pablo was eerily reminiscent of the marketing for Joywave's single “Destruction” -- color, font, design and all. The group, pouncing on a fun chance for publicity and keen to make a joke, later retaliated by releasing a compilation dubbed SWISH, a rumored early title for Pablo, with eight versions of “Destruction” along with a previously unreleased cut from the How Do You Feel Now? sessions.

But if Joywave is the fun-little-upstate-band-that-could, the same could be said for Rochester. It was a city that was built on a bedrock of film, with Kodak the area’s main employer and namesake of the theater where the band recorded the video for “Content,” their sophomore album’s eponymous single. “Rochester’s entire economy was based around film,” explains Armbruster of the famed company, which famously failed to anticipate how much digital photography would replace film. “Everything got horrible everywhere when the economy tanked in 2008, but here people don't really notice it because everything had gotten bad a full decade earlier.” And as things have started to turn around for Rochester as of late (“there’s lots of amazing small businesses here”), Armbruster’s vision for Joywave has taken flight as well. “We were all in vocal bands before we started Joywave in 2010,” he explains. “Up until that point, nothing had ever worked out for me in life. I had failed in everything I had ever done. I had done so horribly so many times I thought I would never be successful at this, so I should just make something real so I can be happy with myself. We’ve been fortunate in that a lot of people have latched onto that and have shared the experience.”

In following up How Do You Feel Now?, Armbruster and his bandmate and co-producer Sean Donnelly trekked deeper upstate, into the small town of Bloomfield. “It was far out in the country and we were there during election season, so we’d call it Trump Town,” he laughs. “When it came to following up (our last album), I didn’t have time to think about it or psych myself out. We didn’t say, ‘Oh, we need to bring the hits back!’ I wanted to do something different and more cohesive.” For example, right off the bat you’re probably announcing the name of Content wrong. “The record is actually pronounced con-TENT the adjective, but I’m glad people assume that it’s CON-tent. Almost everyone has, which is kind of the point. You need to hear from another human being speaking to know how it’s supposed to sound.” Unlike Joywave’s debut, which was made up of songs brainstormed over the course of multiple years, the songs on Content were built from the ground-up in the intervening time since the release of How Do You Feel Now? “I’m a person who writes constantly,” Armbruster explains of his process. “I’ve been writing since I was 16 and I’m 32 now. When I go a long period of time without writing something or making something I start to feel very down and upset and out of whack.”

The fruits of that obsessive labor led to singles like “It’s a Trip!” which is seemingly a reflection of Armbruster’s former failings juxtaposed with the fact he’s now enjoying his time in a successful band. (Lyrics in its jumpy chorus: “When you’ve gotten what you’ve want... there’s nothing left to want.”) Joywave’s trademark humor shines through as well. “As people, we’re all goofballs,” Armbruster says. “The songs aren’t coming from a funny place, they’re me dealing with the rest of life that I can’t laugh or make a joke about. But there are times things make it into songs that are really funny. On ‘It’s a Trip!’ there’s a bass note which is really stupid and sounds like Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sean, our bass player, was messing around and we were laughing and I said, ‘You know I'm leaving that in the song right?’ You can hear it in the last note after the first chorus.”

Now preparing to embark on a tour that will feature the band alongside Young the Giant and Cold War Kids, Armbruster is perfectly happy, both with the Joywave’s place in the alternative music scene, as well as their little upstate oasis. ”We have a lot of friends and family here in Rochester,” Armbruster explains. “When you’re always traveling, it’s nice to go back home.”

Joywave Tour Dates
* = with Young The Giant, Cold War Kids
** = with Cold War Kids

Fri 07.28 - Rochester, NY @ First Federal Plaza's The Flying Saucer
Wed 08.02 - Louisville, KY @ Palace Theatre *
Thu 08.03 - Sterling Heights, MI @ Freedom Hill Amphitheatre *
Fri 08.04 - St. Louis, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre *
Sat 08.05 - Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Amphitheatre *
Sun 08.06 - Sioux Falls, SD @ The District **
Tue 08.08 - Papillion, NE @ Sumtur Amphitheatre *
Thu 08.10 - Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory **
Fri 08.11 - Seattle, WA @ Wamu Theater at Qwest Field *
Sat 08.12 - Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom (KNRK radio show)
Tue 08.15 - Morrison,CO @ Red Rock Amphitheater *
Thu 08.17 - Albuquerque, NM @ Villa Hispana @ EXPO * 
Fri 08.18 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Pearl *
Sat 08.19 - Reno, NV @ Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra * 
Sun 08.20 - Eugene, OR @ Cuthbert Amphitheatre *
Mon 08.21 - Sacramento, CA @ Ace Of Spades **
Wed 08.23 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren **
Thu 08.24 - San Diego, CA @ Open Air Theatre *
Fri 08.25 - Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl *
Sat 08.26 - Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre *
Thu 09.07 - Cincinnati, OH @ PNC @ Riverbend *
Fri 09.08 - Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheatre *
Sat 09.09 - Chicago,IL @ Huntington Bank Pavilion *
Sun 09.10 - Columbus, OH @ Express Live! *
Tue 09.12 - Providence, RI @ Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel **(WBRU radio)
Wed 09.13 - New York, NY @ Central Park Summerstage * 
Thu 09.14 - Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion *
Fri 09.15 - Philadelphia, PA @ Festival Pier @ Penn’s Landing * 
Sat 09.16 - Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion * 
Sun 09.17 - Atlanta, GA @ Music Midtown Festival
Tue 09.19 - Charlottesville,VA @ Sprint Pavilion *
Wed 09.20 - Charlotte, NC @ The Underground (WEND radio show)
Thu 09.21 - Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live *
Fri 09.22 - Jacksonville,FL @ Daily's Place *
Sat 09.23 - Miami, FL @ Bayfront Park Amphitheatre *
Mon 09.25 - Athens, GA @ The Georgia Theater **
Tue 09.26 - Birmingham, AL @ BJCC Concert Hall *
Thu 09.28 - Oklahoma City ,OK @ Criterion *
Fri 09.29 - Dallas, TX @ Irving Music Factory *
Sat 09.30 - Houston, TX @ White Oak Outdoors *