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Joy Formidable creates ‘Hitch’ under changing circumstances

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From left, Rhydian Dafydd, Ritzy Bryan and Matthew James Thomas are The Joy Formidable. (Courtesy James Minchin)

For nine years, Welsh power trio The Joy Formidable — led by commanding guitarist-vocalist Ritzy Bryan — seemed like an irresistible force, sweeping aside obstacles in its path as it grew stronger, smarter and more melodic, from “A Balloon Called Moaning” in 2007 to 2013’s symphonic “Wolf’s Law.” The band’s propulsive new album “Hitch” is full of monolithic anthems including “It’s Started,” “Radio of Lips” and “A Second in White.” But it almost didn’t happen, after the group met an initially immovable object. “We weren’t even sure at one point how, or whether or not, the band was going to function moving forward,” Bryan says.

You’ve stated that “Hitch” is your most dynamic, yet saddest album. Why?

Well, it came after a long period of being on the road, and we’ve always been a band that’s lived for touring. We’ve always found that that’s where the truth lies, because touring isn’t wrapped up in any other kind of bulls—. You’re just getting up there and playing your music. But our first record, Rhyddian (Dafydd, bassist) and I had written before we’d been in a relationship together, and then we split up while we were on the road touring “Wolf’s Law.” So there was quite a change. And we had to adapt to it pretty fast.

How do you adjust to a breakup like that?

Being back home in North Wales, it brought back a lot of buried memories. So we started making this record, just the three of us in a room, and I think it just brought something up to the surface. You start to reflect on the time you’ve had together and where you are now, and a lot of other changes. We switched managers and labels – we have our own label now. And all this made us feel uncertain about what our future held. So we felt really alone, but at the same time really empowered.

Since you no longer lived together as a couple, where did you move?

Back to my childhood home, with my dad, whom I had been estranged from for three years, after my parents’ divorce. Our studio was built as an annex to that house, so all of a sudden, we were thrown into the deep end of living together again. So I kind of see it as closure. We were really nocturnal while recording, and there was a lot of late night, early morning jam sessions, so my dad was a very patient man. But I think we made a really great record, and we finally felt the joy of being a band again.

The Joy Formidable
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. March 30
Tickets: $26
Contact: (415) 885-0750; www.slimspresents.com

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