With a new, socially-distanced tour announced, Mt. Joy plans to perform at the Columbia Speedway on May 15. The Daily Gamecock sat down with Matt Quinn, the lead singer, guitarist and one of the two original founding band members, to discuss what has been going on since the band's tour with The Lumineers was canceled last March.
Q: How has the past year been for you, both personally and as a band, with COVID-19 and everything?
MQ: “It's been a bummer, you know, not to be able to do what we love to do ... Like everybody else, I think we found our groove after a few months of it and put our heads down and have just been writing and writing and writing ... Usually bands like us, we're out on the road most of the year ... It's just exciting to feel like, hopefully, when we come back, there will still be fans, you know, who really want to see Mt. Joy."
Q: With the other bandmates in particular, like with Sam, can you speak on what's been going on with them recently?
MQ: "Sam is living in the house ... where we first played songs together. So, it's really, truly, back to our roots kind of thing ... Jackie is up in Portland, Oregon. That's where she grew up ... I think everyone, with the exception of Michael, is kind of like, you know, closer to home ... the bassist, Michael Byrnes, and drummer Sotiris Eliopoulos both live [in Los Angeles]."
"Since 2016, really, we've sort of cooped up in a — whether it's a van or hotels or whatever, bus, whatever it is — like, we've been together for so many of those days ... it's almost like we're preparing for getting some time apart ... I think everyone's kind of doing their own thing, you know; being creative and finding new hobbies.”
Q: What have you been up to with COVID? I know the last thing you did was The Lumineers tour, and you did a couple of shows in the past few months?
MQ: "Like everybody else, we were waiting around ... Fortunately for us, we were able to do a drive-in, kind of socially-distanced tour ... And it went pretty well ... It took some getting used to, in terms of, there are differences, but the main thing is just getting people out of their houses and gathering safely ... just to see people like sitting by their cars, cracking beers and listening to music ... It's different ways to bring people together, whether it's sports, or music or movies, whatever it is, but to have that back and have that feeling of just having people out enjoying themselves was like — that was the main sauce. And it was cool to have that back."
Q: Personally, has anything changed or been a big part of your COVID-19 or quarantine experience?
MQ: “Right after I got off The Lumineers tour, I had been living in Los Angeles for a while, and long story, very short ... decided to go to New York City ... That was all good and grand until I arrived in New York City in March ... About a week later, it was terrifying ... I was able to move down to Philadelphia after a few weeks because it got really, really gnarly ... I grew up in Philadelphia, so I had a family to move down into Philly. And I've been in Philly kind of ever since."
Q: I know you guys did a sort of charity event through Instagram Live, and there's some activism stuff going on with you guys recently. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
MQ: "We realized, whenever we go on these Instagram Lives, like, a lot of people watch this, and we could just say, 'Hey, we'll play some songs, but maybe you could donate some money' ... We found, just, a good cause where it made sense to us ... We realized that we're super lucky to be in this position, and I think that there's a responsibility if you want to stay in this position, to make sure you make people's lives better.”
Q: Especially with Black Lives Matter and everything going on and having such a large platform and audience?
MQ: “I always think about Martin Luther King [Jr.], who in his letter from Birmingham Jail, talks about the white moderates, and how the silence of people who agree but don't say anything is more harmful than the people who, he says, to quote him, he says are more harmful than the KKK. So, for us, I think it's clear that it's not just, you know, it's not enough to just agree, you have to put your money in bigger words out there and try to make a difference."
Q: With the song, "New President," would you say that was kind of inspired by everything going on politically and socially with 2020?
MQ: "For us, our position is that it's part of white privilege to sit by and not make that song or not make some sort of a statement.”
Q: What are you guys' immediate or future goals or ambitions, as a band or personally?
MQ: “In terms of the band, we're recording, we are hoping to have — start putting together some new music, and I don't know when it'll come out, but we're in the very early stages of that. And then, you know, we get to go out on our little socially-distanced tour here that comes through Columbia. So, the goal would be to be trying out new songs ... We've gotten into this to play music, and to get better at playing music, and, hopefully, one day feel like we're really, really good ... Each show is an opportunity to get better.”
Correction (March 1, 2021, at 1:59 p.m.): A previous version of this article misspelled Michael Byrnes' name.