Italy’s foremost dark-wave exponents, JoyCut, create mesmerizing, primarily instrumental music that’s experimental yet accessible. They interweave electronic, keyboard-driven melodies with percussion performed on found objects from the urban landscape into powerful, haunting sonic tapestries that are alternately biting and mellow. Based in Bologna, the quartet formed in 2001, taking their name from the conceptual conjunction between the Nick Drake song “Joey” and the Pink Floyd album The Final Cut.
Two years later JoyCut released the first of a long series of EPs and compilation tracks leading up to the 2007 release of their debut album The Very Strange Tale of Mr. Man. This was followed four years later by GhostTreesWhereToDisappear, which was acclaimed by critics at home, as well as throughout Europe and England. Joycut quickly garnered loyal fanbases in Italy, the UK and most of Europe touring with acts including The Editors, Art Brut, Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire and Sebadoh.
Ghettoblaster caught up with vocalist/keyboardist Pasco Pezzillo before the band leave for their first major North American tour February through April 2014 in support of their third album (released in September via Irma Records), PiecesOfUsWereLeftOnTheGround. This is what he told us about it.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
We started more than two years ago_ We were not planning any release_ That was a very intense period_ We were only interested in studying and investigating. At the end of the process we can tell this album is very intimate, deep and introspective_ It is the result of our daily inclination captured in these last years_ We have been traveling inside ourselves experiencing hard and reflective nowhere places_ We also visited extreme European locations going on a solitary journey_ At the first sight when we began collecting the first tracks we felt like entitleing the whole work “A Bit Lost”_ That could have been also our way to pay homage to this great young Irish illustrator, Chris Haughton, whose children’s book was always with us_ Then, at the end of the day, we decided for “PiecesOfUsWhereLeftOnTheGround”_
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Actually we included in the album all the tracks we have been working at_ Without changing too much from the initial writing stage_ Perhaps because we recorded as we were going, so the mixing phase has been safe and peaceful with no surprises_That’s the reason why they are fifteen_ We wanted to keep in all the pictures rapresenting our sensitivity through this long period_
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
We came from “Ghost Trees Where To Disappear”, our previous work, which was a song album developed with vocals and standard structure_At this stage we left that education, we dropped out of that modality_ To some degree PiecesOfUsWereLeftOnTheGround is a brand new debut_ We shaked our common usages (habits)_
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
No. We mean they do not know they are in_ There are voices from the London subway official speaker informing about certain train delays becouse of some unspecific strike [in Dominio]_ There are unnoticeable micro cut guitar riffing by Harvey Milk [in Wireless]_ There is a super sort of quote in reference to Tuxedomoon [in Save]_ On the square, no guest musicians on the record but a strong dedication to Domenico Lorusso (a recently passed away friend of ours) and Josè Mourinho (our contemporary hero)_
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
This time we produced the record by our own_ The previous experience (in London at The Premises Studios, with Jason Howes who worked with Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip) was pretty interesting but sometimes you sound like million other else bands and that’s how it goes now and again when you are not that big and a producer comes into your world_
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Since our first album (The Very Strange Tale Of Mr.Man, released in early 2007) we are telling the story of this charachter called Mr.Man_ Mr.Man is an alien with human eyes_ He is a lost guest on our planet_ His name is significant: “Mr.Man”_ It’s like telling us how we (humans) need someone else (someone from outside), to remind us how we are losing our nature of being human_ In the next album his story continues inside the Ghost Forest, apart from those Plastic Cities and that corrupted civilization they symbolize_This PiecesOfUsWereLeftOnTheGround is the time of his departure from our system_ It’s now time for unselfconsciousness and desertion_ Environmental, Economic, Ethical and Moral Pollution, represent a broken mirror where to face our condition_ Mr.Man is leaving ourself to recognize on our own this stage of our evolution_
The Album then consists of fifteen tracks branched into three main sections:
-I Used to Be a Plastic Bottle> explores in depth the concept of “Passage (Transition)”;
-Parerga-et Paralipomena> describes the precepts concerning human behavior in front of the course of the “Events and Destiny”;
-The Last Tree> tackles the theme of “Memory and Future”.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We have already begun_ The Album came out on September 16, the International Day for the Preservation of Ozone Layer, during these months we had the chance to tour Italy and Europe so we raised loads of feedbacks from our live shows_ We can tell that “ChildrenInLove” is one of the strongest part of the set_ Not the most powerful (that is Evil) but the most upbeated and accessible_ Our people love it_ We perform our set with a very few pauses, projecting visual installations and interacting trhough them with fans_ We do not love that much talking on stage_ Music plays totally its part_ But after “ChildrenInLove” we can absolutely feel clapping and enthusiasm_We are now approaching a Northern U.S. Tour so we can’t wait to figure out how Americans will react to our sound_
(Catch Joycut at one of these forthcoming dates:
24,02 NEW YORK (NY) US – Mercury Lounge
25.02 PHILADELPHIA (PA) US – Johnny Brenda’s
26.02 BROOKLYN (NY) US – Glasslands
27.02 TRENTON (NJ) US – Mill Hill Basement
28.02 NEWARK (DE) US – Mojo Main
01.03 YORK (PA) US – The Depot
02.03 ASHEVILLE (NC) US – Emerald Lounge
03.03 ATHENS (GA) US – Caledonia
04.03 ATLANTA (GA) US – The Earl
05.03 PADUCAH (KY) US – Maiden Alley Cinema
06.03 NASHVILLE (TN) US – Rocketown
07.03 SAINT LOUIS (MO) US – The Demo
08.03 KANSAS CITY (MO) US – Record Bar
11-14.03 AUSTIN (TX) US – SXSW
16.03 MARFA (TX) US – El Cosmico
19.03 SCOTTSDALE (AZ) US – Rogue Bar
20.03 LOS ANGELES (CA) US – Los Globos
21.03 SAN FRANCISCO (CA) US – Hotel Utah
26.03 SEATTLE (WA) US – LoFi
30.03 CHICAGO (IL) US – Subterranean
01.04 FERNDALE (MI) – Magic Bag
02.04 TORONTO (ON) CA – The Drake Hotel)