Mt. Joy

Casbah presents

Sold Out: Mt. Joy


Friday, March 9, 2018

8:30 pm

Soda Bar

This event is 21 and over

Mt. Joy
Mt. Joy
"These dreams are more than paper things," sings Matt Quinn on Mt. Joy's infectious folk-rocker "Astrovan," a warm, yearning bit of road-trip philosophy that posits the existence of a Deadhead Jesus cruising the dusty highways of the countryside, nursing a roach on his way to only He knows where. It's an auspicious line from a band predicated on the revival of teenage dreams.

Mt. Joy started off as a rekindling of shared musical ambitions between Philadelphia high school friends Matt Quinn (vocals, guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar). Reunited in Los Angeles thanks to the ebbs and flows of adult life, the pair met multi-instrumentalist Michael Byrnes through a Craigslist ad. They named themselves Mt. Joy as an ode to a mountain in Valley Forge National Park near Sam's childhood home, and together, with Byrnes' roommate Caleb Nelson producing, they recorded three songs and sent them out into the world, hoping for the best. "I knew I still wanted to write songs, but the realities of life made that dream seem pretty impossible," Quinn says.

Much to the band's amazement, "Astrovan" accomplished the impossible. Without initial promotion or fanfare, the song took off on Spotify, racking up 5 million streams to date. "The irony of 'Astrovan' was that song was really about being stuck in a life and wanting to have the opportunity to pursue a dream, and in an instant it gave us that opportunity. " Quinn says. Mt. Joy quickly transitioned from a part-time calling into a full-fledged band rounded out by Byrnes on bass, Sotiris Eliopoulos on drums and Jackie Miclau on keyboard.

Come 2017, Mt. Joy hit the road, and hit it hard: They played tour dates alongside the likes of The Shins, The Head and The Heart, The Lone Bellow, and Whitney, and popped up at some of the summer's biggest festivals, including Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza and Made In America. "We were put on some big shows very quickly," Quinn says. "The growth for us has been exponential - we've really just become a family that's constantly pushing each other and the live show to be great." They eventually caught the attention of Dualtone Records and began work on their debut album.

Steeped in folk-rock tradition and powered by the intuitive creative connection between Quinn and Cooper, the songs on 'Mt. Joy' depict Quinn wrestling with his own conscience, where the mundane and the fantastic collide as he processes tragedy, society, and love. Opener "I'm Your Wreck" describes "monsters in (the) closet, using up the wi-fi" as it cycles from its desperate, spiraling verses to its swinging, stubbornly optimistic coda, while the loping, plaintive chords of "Younger Days" meditate on a frayed psyche and the fear of choosing the wrong path. "Sheep," with its collapsing, hoarse-voiced cry of "freedom was paid in blood," is a post-Trump salvo on the responsibilities of the fortunate to overcome political and social despondency. And on "Silver Lining," perhaps the album's brightest moment, Quinn surveys the damage of hard drugs and the vicious cycle of addiction, as the song's melancholic sentiment kicks into its fervid, defiant chorus, all shout-along vocals and trilling guitars.

Taken together, the self titled 'Mt. Joy' LP is a startlingly open document, wracked with the anxieties and fears that come just as life seems to start working out. It's a natural reaction from a wary band like Mt. Joy - the result of a sort of professional vertigo, as they've gone from virtual unknowns to hot young commodity in little over a year. But there's a sense of hope underlying everything, girded by the fact that the Mt. Joy LP is an impressive, honest portrayal of a young band facing that moment where dreams become reality, and finding beauty in the exhilarating uncertainty of it all.
On the single “Alive,” HAWAI [pronounced huh-why] charismatically carries the chorus, “I want to be alive, here in the darkness, under the stars, there’s only your light.”

It’s more than just a catchy chant for the Orange County quartet—Jake Pappas [vocals, guitar], Jesse “Bumper” Dorman [drums], Jared Slaybaugh [bass, vocals], and Matt Gillen [keyboards, synths]. Rather, it represents the awakening explored on their forthcoming second EP, Hide in the Ocean [Antler Records]. It’s the moment when you realize you don’t know everything. It’s the realization that longstanding beliefs you’ve held onto can change. It’s when you embrace change.

It’s the day you wake up, forget about trying to fit in, and just be alive…

“I had an awakening,” Pappas affirms. “I thought, ‘There’s so much knowledge out there, there are so many beliefs, and there’s so much to discover.’ I was okay not knowing. The song is an invitation asking, ‘While I’m trying to figure it all out, does someone want to come on this journey with me?’ I felt like it was time to go out on the boat in the middle of that vast ocean.”

That boat first set sail in 2015. Formed by longtime friends, HAWAI came together with a pure, passionate, and powerful vision equally steeped in alternative, rock, and pop. Produced by Lars Stalfors [Cold War Kids, Deap Vally], their 2016 debut Working All Night EP yielded fan favorites such as “All Night,” “In My Head,” “Fault,” and more, which cumulatively totaled 1 million Spotify streams. The group’s brand of beach-swept alternative bliss generated a serious critical buzz too. Everyone from Consequence of Sound and Magnet to Indie Shuffle and Alternative Press offered praise, while the boys headlined many shows across SoCal.

Back in Los Angeles, they quietly assembled Hide in the Ocean with the help of producer Frederik Thaae [Atlas Genius]. The new tracks marked a sonic progression. Together, they incorporated more synths into HAWAI’s signature salvo of kinetic guitars. Meanwhile, Jake lyrically cut right to the chase—“getting directly to the point like never before,” as he describes it.

“We had something with Frederik from the very beginning,” the vocalist elaborates. “He helped make things a little more concise. He taught me how to loosen my grip on aspects of the music.”

The first single “I’m Not Dead” illuminated this evolution. Praised by Paste as “the track fans have been waiting for,” it quickly crossed the 100K mark on Spotify in a few months’ time. Awash in fuzzy guitars and warm keys, it encodes a theme within the plea, “Come with me to the ocean. Let’s hide in the ocean.’”

“The concept is to go to somewhere that’s completely undiscoverable,” explains Jake. “The ocean is 70% of the earth’s surface, but it’s uncharted. The theme is wanting company in this unknown place. We’re hiding there together.”

The clarion call and shimmering second single “Alive” tempers an upbeat synth spark and bombastic rhythms with a thought-provoking chant.

“It embodies this image of not just wanting to breathe, walk, and talk, but to really live,” he exclaims. “People say they feel alive, but what does that mean? How do you get there? I want to really feel alive. That’s what I’m crying out for.”

Over the course of Hide in the Ocean, that energy transmits right to the hearts and minds of listeners.

“When people hear this thing, I hope they ask questions,” Jake leaves off. “I started asking questions while I was working on it. That inspired me to dig deeper. If they feel like it sounds rad and it also makes them think, that’d be all we could ever ask for.”

Get ready to dive in with HAWAI.
Venue Information:
Soda Bar
3615 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA, 92104