Wild Joy Keeps Rock n’ Roll Alive in Philly

Featured Image by Mario Manzonio

While indie rock has been all the rage this past decade, Philly’s developed a significant enclave of hard rock and classic rock n’ roll bands from Breaking Benjamin to Silvertide. Wild Joy is solidly part of this scene and is nobly keeping rock n’ roll alive in the City of Brotherly Love. Formerly known as Band of Heads, Wild Joy chose their new moniker only a few months ago. “It felt right, and it’s fun,” says guitarist and vocalist Ali Awan. Rock On Philly chatted with Awan about the convergence of sounds in Wild Joy, some rock n’ roll moments they’ve already experienced, and what’s next for the band.

GypsyHillPhotography

Photo by Gypsy Hill Photography

Rock On Philly: Tell us a little about the genesis of Wild Joy. Are you all from Philly? How did you all come together to start Wild Joy? 

Ali Awan: Yea we’re all from Philly. I used to play in a punk band with our drummer Danny [Polacheck] when we were in our early/mid teens. Dan met Andy [Manuele, guitar and backing vocals] at college, and we met John [Heywood, bass] randomly. He was swimming in Dan’s pool with this girl, I guess Dan and John knew her mutually.

ROP: Your sound seems a little retro, in the best way possible. What are some of the influences behind Wild Joy? 

AA: Thanks. Wild Joy is definitely not a “purist” band, we like all types of music. But the best rock n’ roll band ever is the Rolling Stones, so they have a pretty big influence on my guitar-playing. Blues and soul, power pop, some punk and glam influence. We’re constantly writing while we practice so the sound is always getting tweaked. Besides the classic stuff I’ve been listening to a lot of Eagles of Death Metal lately, The Strokes, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Parquet Courts, Ty Segall, Temples, Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Skulls, Tame Impala, stuff like that…and, also, more local friends like Satellite Hearts, Needlepoints, The Whips, Sheer Mag, Mike Quinn, Meddlesome Bells, Ruby the Hatchet, and The Chelsea Kills. They’re some of the more modern bands and artists that really know how to sound unique while staying true to the real soul and spirit of where it all came from while also having fun, and that’s what it’s all about in my opinion.

ROP: Have you had any crazy “rock n’ roll” moments yet during your time together? 

AA: [laughs] I suppose so, yea. A really hot mom gave me her Bowie shirt straight off of her back after a gig once–that was pretty cool. Fun stuff like that, I wish I could remember them all.

ROP: What do you enjoy most about playing in Philly?

AA: There’s definitely a duality about playing Philly, there’s so many great bands and people in the various scenes that sometimes it’s easy to not know which show to go to on any given weekend [laughs]. The house show scenes around the schools foster some really talented young bands that might not be seen or heard at a bar or club gig. The Philly music and arts scene in general has got a great thing going right now. It can be tough, but most worthwhile things aren’t easy, you know?

ROP: Absolutely. We noticed you released an EP, The Hill, last April. Do you have plans to release new music this year? Any upcoming tour dates?

AA: We’re working on a new EP at the moment, and some dates in Philly in April and May. April 28th we’ll be playing with Satellite Hearts (PHI), the Snails (PHI), and Dr. Boogie (LA) for a night called Guitar Army at the Barbary. The May show is at Kung Fu Necktie on the 4th. We’ve really been focusing on writing and recording again.

ROP: What’s one main thing you would like for listeners to get out of your music?

AA: We just want people to have a good time while listening to our music, and to feel inspired or write their own music. A lot of the great rock n’ rollers are dying, and hanging it up or whatever, and the music business is changing, but that doesn’t mean rock n’ roll itself is.

What do you think about Wild Joy’s music? Let us know in the comments!

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