MT. JOY: INDIE FOLK BAND CHASING DREAMS IN AN ASTROVAN

Posted by Megan Hilario, June 28, 2017
Mt. Joy

Mt. Joy is an indie folk group comprised of Matt Quinn, Sam Cooper, Michael Byrnes and Sotiris Eliopoulos. Matt and Sam began their roots in Philadelphia and met again in LA where they naturally joined forces to pursue their passion for music. Their songs tell tales of pure adventure and whimsical imagination.


How did Mt. Joy start?
MATT: Sam and I were friends that played a little music together in high school outside of Philadelphia. We both ended up in LA after college and got together and worked on and recorded a few songs, which ended up being "Astrovan," "Sheep," "Cardinal," and one other song we haven't released yet.

SAM: Yeah, we put out "Astrovan" last fall, and it began getting some traction almost immediately. Pretty soon after that, we both quit what we were doing to work on the band full time.

What’s the story behind the single artwork, it seems to focus on certain “characters,” do they have anything to do with the songs, or is there a connection between the art and the music?
SAM: My friend Steve Girard does the art, he's a brilliant, interesting guy. We went to college together and I'd always see him drawing these incredible sketches in his little sketchbook that he'd carry around everywhere. When Matt and I needed art for these songs, Steve was the first person I thought of.

MATT: There is definitely a connection between the art and the music. I guess "Astrovan’s" art is pretty abstract to the song’s meaning but for us it’s sort of encapsulates Mt. Joy as a whole on a few levels that are probably better left open to interpretation for now.

"Astrovan" has some fairly whimsical lyrics, what was the inspiration behind the song and the line “Jesus drives an Astrovan”?
MATT: I was working in EDM music as a sort of assistant manager, just trying to get my foot in the door to work in music, but my life was at a crossroads and I wasn’t making any money. I knew I wanted to keep pushing, but really wanted to write my own music cause that had always been the dream. So, the song sort of started as my way of explaining to my girlfriend/mom and all other concerned parties that I’m going to go for this music thing, and it might blow up in my face, but don’t worry this is what I want. So, "Jesus drives an Astrovan" was kind of a joking way of saying if I never achieve fancy cars or wealth I’ll be fine as long as I can feed the music addiction. I’m not a very religious person, so hopefully it’s not too offensive.

Have you ever been to Toronto or Canada?
MATT: I've been to Toronto once when I was 19. We came up with a group of friends in the summer so we could avoid the fascists in America that don’t let you drink in bars until you are 21. It was amazing. One of my favorite trips ever, beautiful people everywhere, I’m excited to come back.

Are there any on-tour rituals you have?
MATT: We haven’t been on many tours since we are such a young band (our first real show was in February of this year) but our last run we found this weird sort of wicker ball in Knoxville and got pretty intense about a sort of bastardized version of hacky sack we made up. We gotta do weird active stuff to keep from going crazy.

SAM: In the short time we've been together as a band we've been able to develop our own little language and dumb games within the band to stay loose, especially before the bigger shows. It's always important not to take ourselves too seriously, and calling each other "dad" seems to help that cause.

What is your favorite song to play live?
MATT: Hmm tough, but I guess I would say "Sheep" right now just because the crowds seem to know it and that makes it fun.

SAM: It changes for me day to day, but right now "Cardinal" is my favorite. On the recording people are familiar with it is a quiet little song, but now when we play it live it's a much larger song sonically than I think people expect.

What’s your dream city and venue to play?
MATT: Well the dream city is Philly. It's where we grew up, and it’s my favorite place in America. As for venue, I don’t know that I really have a favorite venue there, but it would definitely feel like a dream to play in a big room in Philly like the Fillmore or even Union Transfer. But for now it’s amazing to play Johnny Brenda's. We love that place and will be there in a few weeks!

SAM: We just played Bonnaroo, which was a dream come true in itself -- I had always imagined playing Bonnaroo growing up but didn't think it would ever actually happen. We also recently played the Tabernacle in Atlanta opening for Head and the Heart. The crowd was amazing to us, but Head and the Heart had one of the greatest shows I've ever seen a band play anywhere and it had a lot to do with the crowd. A dream would be to go back to the Tabernacle as a headliner and try to experience something like that for ourselves.

If the band could have a dinner party with 3 artists/musicians dead or alive, who would it be and why?
MATT: Hmm...at my dinner party give me Jerry Garcia, Jim James, and David Bowie because I feel like Jerry would just bring the amazing vibes, I’m such a big fan of Jim James and think he is one of the most under-appreciated artists of all time, and David Bowie I feel like could just spend the meal accurately predicting the future. He was so brilliant. Kind of a bummer I can't have that dinner.

SAM: I'll be at Matt's dinner.

What’s your favourite live show you’ve been to?
MATT: There have been a few amazing shows, but if I had to pick one I’d have to say I saw Broken Social Scene in Boston in like 2010. It was a pretty powerful performance, like one of those ones where I remember walking back to my dorm and talking to my roommate about getting serious about making a band.

SAM: Radiohead at Bonnaroo in 2006.

What is your earliest memory of what sparked your love for music and passion to perform and write lyrics?
MATT: Just car rides with my family as a kid listening to all kinds of tapes/cds with my family. I got lucky in that my parents both listen to great music so I grew up on the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Boy Dylan etc, and I just always found something magical about the idea of these creative stories brought to life in music.

SAM:I remember sitting in my mom's car as a kid while she'd run into the grocery store and she'd leave the keys in the car so I could have AC and listen to music with my brother and sister. There was a copy of Paul Simon's Graceland album on CD and we would listen over and over again to that album. Looking back on it, I can't think of many other albums I'd rather have had sitting in the glove compartment of my mom's car.

Catch Mt. Joy filling the Drake Underground with their indie folk tunes and witty lyrics on JUL 14 @ 7PM_$15 w/ Trevor Sensor. Click here for tickets.

Posted in: Music

Tags: drake underground  music