joan Is Drawing Inspiration From the Past to Create a Uniquely Modern Sound [Q&A]

You can judge a lot from a band based on who shows up to their gigs. Well, considering the cool and energetic crowd at this sold-out NYC show, joan is definitely a band to check out and add to your next playlist. Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford are the two behind this up-and-coming pop band. Their not just any pop band though. 

joan's sound is contemporary yet their '80s influence makes a fair amount of their listeners nostalgic for a time they weren't even alive to experience first-hand.  

joan performed six new songs alongside their previously-released, infectious discography. The crowd absolutely loved their new stuff, many of them somehow already knowing the words. It's evident that joan is exploring new boundaries with their sound, pushing their production to new levels, and proving that they are in this for the long haul.

The guys are headlining their first national tour and I had the pleasure to sit down with them at The Mercury Lounge in NYC before their show.

Ones To Watch: Hey guys! To introduce you guys, who is joan? 'joan for dummies' if you will.

Alan: Well, I'm Alan, hey!

Steven: And I'm Steven, hey!

Alan: We're from Little Rock, Arkansas and we've been a band for three years now. We got together right after [Steven] got out of college just to write and kind of see what happens. We wrote our first single, "Take Me On," and that day we were like, "Okay this is a band," so we then just hit the ground running. We built a team pretty quickly and have been head down, running this whole entire time.

So you clicked immediately?

Alan: Oh yeah! We stopped everything else we were doing right then and there to make this band work.

What were you doing before?

Alan: We were both in other bands. But they were both at a point where they were kind of winding down so it all just made sense.

Back to where you're from, I have to say, your music doesn’t strike me as Arkansas music.

Alan: No, not at all. We get LA, London, New York. Anywhere but Little Rock.

So then what influenced this sound?

Alan: Well we have one big arena, well not big big but an arena called Simmons Bank Arena and we'll get like the Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift type tours. But then our level or the level above, we don’t get a lot of shows to come through because we don't have a 1000 cap venue. So, I guess it comes down to what our parents were listening to growing up.

I definitely hear that '80s nostalgia with a contemporary twist in your music, I feel like that should have been in a movie like 13 Going On 30.

Alan: Exactly it. Wow, 13 Going on 30, we would have loved that!

This is your first headline tour but not your first-ever tour. You've supported a bunch of great bands.

Alan: Yeah! We've toured with Jeremy Zucker, flor, Coin, The Aces, half•alive, really incredible bands. We’ve been really fortunate to get on really good tours.

How much different is it now that you're headlining?

Alan: Well we have a lot more time, that’s awesome.

Steven: We go to bed way later and wake up way earlier (laughs). No, but this is the first time we've had any lighting production and any time we've had to really sit down and say, "Okay we have to fill an hour, how can we make this show special for anybody that comes?" Because it's our show now. It's been different in that way because people who come are hopefully coming for, you know, a joan show. So we really want to make it a special experience.

Alan: For us and our experience with support, we have that 30 minute set to fit in what we consider our most catchy songs to hopefully get people to like our stuff. Now we get to think through transitions, because, when supporting, we would play a song, then play the next song, maybe some banter in between, but now we have to really think through every little ebb and flow. It's a lot more work but it's so rewarding.

What song has been the most fun to play?

Alan: We're playing a bunch of new songs so probably one of those, probably "Try Again" or something.

Ooh, new music! When can we expect those to come out?

Alan and Steven: Oh boy… soonish! Yeah, we're working on that.

You're testing it out on stage first!

Alan: (laughs) Yeah exactly. If there are claps, we will release it. If there aren't, well then I guess we gotta write some new stuff.

Okay, so you're on tour, testing out new songs. What can we expect next after the tour wraps?

Alan: We're working on so much. Definitely going to be new music, definitely going to be more touring. I mean this year will probably be one of our busiest with being on the road and releasing new music. Being a newer band is all about figuring out the pacing with all of this and keeping momentum. I really feel like this year will keep us in a good groove of consistent stuff. Last year was a big testament and this year will be no different. That the most generic answer, music and touring but you know, that's the truth.

Last question, and it's my favorite because I love to know who the bands that I'm listening to are listening to. What artists are on repeat for you guys right now?

Alan: I've been listening to a lot of Jeremy Zucker lately, who happens to be a buddy of ours now from tour, he's a great guy. I've also been listening to Dagny quite a bit.

Steven: I've been listening to Sabrina Carpenter a lot. Post Malone a lot. Also, this band called Sure Sure.

All such good artists. A little bit of everything.

Alan: Yes, indeed all over the place.

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