Published Oct 17, 2016Although Torrance, CA four-piece Joyce Manor have been grouped into the pop-punk scene since their inception, they have always found ways to set themselves apart. Their early, rough-around-the-edges DIY aesthetic has tapered off with Cody, their second album for Epitaph and fourth overall, but the band have found plenty of ways to maintain their vitality and urgency moving forward. Singer and guitarist Barry Johnson gives Exclaim! some insight into how they managed to do so.
Three Ways Joyce Manor Break the Pop Punk Mould on Cody:
3. Find new approaches to lyricism.
I try not to think about it too much. I just try to write one line and then the next without really thinking about it, and then step back and look at it as a singular piece. It's kind of meditative in that way or like I'm under hypnosis — I'm not sitting down to get anything off my chest, but I just write while thinking about it as little as possible. Not that it's a stream of consciousness entirely, but in a way it sort of is. It's hard for me exactly to say — like I've had people ask me 'Oh is that line about you?' and I say 'I don't really know to be honest.' When I write, some things become kind of clear, like 'Oh that was on my mind around that time and it showed up in my writing' but I never have something happen in my life and think 'Oh I've got to write a song about this, this is crazy!' that's not really how it works for me.
2. Keep literalism at bay.
Sometimes I'll be going with the flow and I'll feel like I'm onto something, and then I'll hit a wall — I'll usually take some lines out and move some stuff around, until it looks like a good poem. It can't just be fucking nonsense — it kind of has to be curated nonsense, where when you zoom out it paints a picture. I don't entirely know what I'm doing, but I know when I like it and I know when it's wrong. You need a balance — you need a little bit of [ambiguity] or it just sounds like I'm just reading my diary over songs. But it can't just be Mars Volta lyrics, where it makes no sense at all.
1. Drawing influence from a variety of sources.
I got super into Sun Kil Moon, and I think that's what pushed me to be less cryptic. I was listening to so much of it, and I was so moved by it, that I hoped it would rub off a bit on my own work. I think that's the way to get inspired — to be moved by something and have it seep into your subconscious and draw from that without it sounding trite or a like a ripoff. I think musically and melodically I was listening to a lot of Green Day — specifically Nimrod and Warning. And I've seen people comment on that! Like 'Holy shit this sounds like Green Day.' Whether they were happy or bummed about that, I don't know, but it's cool to see that kind of thing turn up in your own stuff.
Check out some the messed up dinner party scene in Joyce Manor's "Last You Heard of Me" video below.