Joy of Life is a British post-punk band founded in 1984. Their first mini LP, Enjoy, was published by New European Recordings in 1985. The band split in 1988 and reunited 20 years later. I had the opportunity to speak with Gary Carey vocalist and founder of the band. This is our conversation.
Gary, first of all, thanks for granting this interview for your South American fans. Tell us about the origins of your band, how did Joy Of Life come to be? And how did you choose the name?
No, thank you, the pleasure is mine. The band Joy Of Life, as it was to become, started off with myself and Trevor Martin discussing the possibilities of forming a band whilst we were at work. We knew each other from concerts and by chance were later both employed by the same company, where we plotted our future. Trevor knew Kevin Gregory, our drummer, so I decided to learn the Bass guitar. Peter Fordham was the final piece of the jigsaw and, hey presto! a band was born. It was some time before we called ourselves Joy of Life. Early songs were very different from the style we later developed. Then Glenn Fenton joined on Rythm Guitar, which allowed Trevor to lean more on the keyboards which really started to define our sound.
You’ve worked repeatedly with Douglas Pearce. He produced the first LP by Joy Of Life in 1985 (Enjoy) and later you collaborated with Death In June. What could you tell us about those experiences?
I met Douglas through mutual friends whilst attending early Death In June concerts. We hit it off as friends early on, and when Douglas heard I was also in a band he attended one of our concerts. We, of course, leapt at the chance of releasing an EP on New European Recordings (the label of Death In June’s Douglas Pearce a.k.a. NER). The recording was made at Alaska Studios where Death In June also recorded. Ian O’Higgins was the studio engineer and Douglas acted as Producer, helping define the sound of the EP. My collaborations with Douglas just seemed to happen with little prior consideration. I was always hanging around in the studio with him when I had free time. It was through this I was asked if I would like to lend my voice on To Drown A Rose EP and voice/bass on Brown Book. They were great times and I look back at them with great fondness.
Joy Of Life – Liberty (1988)
What sparked the break of Joy Of Life in 1988 after editing two great albums?
We were initially signed to an Italian Label to record the second recording Hear The Children (1988). Unfortunately the label tried to obtain the master tapes from Alaska Studios without paying for the studio time. It was clear from their actions that they were untrustworthy, which left us in a difficult situation. We were therefore left with no other option than to pay a very expensive recording bill. Unfortunately, This started the decline of Joy Of Life. I had to pay the bulk of the money, yet Peter felt that any income should be paid equally which essentially meant that he, Trevor and Kevin got their money back as they had invested very little, but I ended up very much out of pocket. It is at times like these you realize what people are really like, and I decided that I no longer wished to be in a band with Peter. Trevor and I started a side project with other musician friends, but that never really took off.
Joy of Life – Hear The Children (1988)
What did you do during the time the band was disintegrated. Did you make your own music? Did you keep in touch with the other members?
After the band broke up, I dropped out of music altogether. I was also a member of the Territorial Army (a volunteer active-duty reservist force and integrated element of the British Army), and devoted many weekends to playing at being a soldier. I was called up to go to Iraq in 2003 which was fun… I never kept in touch with any of the members as I moved away from London and lost touch. I only got back in touch with Kevin in 2008, when I agreed to perform at the Wave Gotik Treffen in 2008. I also approached Trevor, but he sadly had no desire to resurrect the band.
Then, Joy Of Life has returned with new members?
We have played a small number of concerts in the past 5 years, but hope to build on this. Only Kevin and I remain from Joy Of Life, but we have been joined by others in order to perform live. Including collaborations with Thomas Bojden of Die Weisse Rose, Miro Snejdr, Dev of While Angels Watch, Tom Gregory (Kevin’s son), Eilish McCracken of Sol Invictus and Butow Mahler.
Joy Of Life – Warrior Creed (1988)
How was your experience working in collaboration with keyboardist Butow Mahler, the violinist Eilish McCracken and Brian Collins on bass at the Wave Gotik Treffen 2008?
That was a difficult concert as we were not ready to perform. We only really had one proper rehearsal before we played and I had not touched my bass in anger for 20 years! The audience was very forgiving and the experience at the Wave Gotik Treffen Festival was wonderful.
2008 marked your return to music. Besides the concert, you reedited a beautiful remix of Dear Linn/Heartless with Extremociente, and you participated in a split with Apoptose. What motivated you to resume your music career?
Rudiger from Apoptose is really the person who is responsible for getting me back into music. I had put together a Joy Of Life profile on MySpace and Rudiger wrote to me asking permission to record a version of Warrior Creed. I, of course, said yes and then Rudiger asked me to provide the vocals. I did these in November 2007 and then the next day performed the song live with Apoptose at Wroclaw Festival. That was the first time I had ever performed the song live. The Dear Linn single came about when Joao wrote to me proposing the release of the single. The reason these two tracks were used was because they were extras on the double CD, but had never appeared on vinyl.
Apoptose featuring Gary Casey – Violet Creed (2011)
The band will play at the Runes + Men Festival in October 2013 with bands like Sol Invictus, Sonne Hagal and Naevus. Do you have the set list ready? Are you planning to do something different to surprise your fans?
We will have a couple of songs that people may not recognize, as well as a couple of rearrangements, but the old classics such as Standing, Warrior Creed etc. will still be there. One of the major changes will be the addition of Miro Snejdr on accordion which totally changes the sound of our songs. We will also be joined by the Fanfarhenzug Leipziger drummers for the last two sings.
Do you have plans to return to the studio to record something new?
At the moment there is a strong possibility that we will finally record something new. I spoke with Kevin earlier today and we are going to meet next week to discuss the matter further!
Would you like to send a message to your South American fans via Subte Rock?
I would just like to thank those reading this article for their time and interest. It is great to see the interest that is coming from South America at the moment. It has been a pleasure answering your questions. If anyone would like to know more, just “like” the Joy of Life Facebook profile and send me your questions… I don’t bite!