Idle Joy

Words by Sarah Leighton

Idle Joy isn’t trying to change the music industry, they’re just trying to have fun in the musical space they’ve created.

“The seed was sown with us

[Daniel and Tom] jamming together after work [at Sweetwater],” says guitarist and vocalist Tom Conneely, after the four members came together at Sweetwater Muisic Hall in Mill Valley over their joint love for classic rock. Since then, the band — Conneely, Daniel Lavezzo on lead guitar, Steve Jaeger on bass, and Alex Coltharp keeping beat on drums — has crafted a dynamic mix of styles that enhances the music rather than focusing on what is necessarily right for the current market.

They’re a laid-back, but tight-knit group of musicians, and the way the guys engage with each other is truly like a group of best friends. Daniel mentions: “There’s something about each of the people I’m in [the band] with that I really find to be special.” This became immediately evident as I sat in Tom’s Outer Sunset living room, with the sun pouring in from all the windows. Each of them had a relaxed nature as they each took the piss out of each other — they especially took it out of Alex, who still has not shared the songs he’s been working on with the rest of the band yet. As we sat around laughing with each other, Tom countered in all seriousness that “Idle Joy is equally collaborative.”

What each member brings to the table is as authentic and unique as their friendship. “[Steve is] like a true rock bass player,” elaborates Daniel. “You can’t really find that. There’s very few people who have the breadth of knowledge for different types of ways of playing bass.” He goes on to tell me that even though they were giving Alex a hard time about sharing his written work, it “has rock solid tempo” and a “very special feel.” Last but not least, he mentions that Tom “inspires me to play guitar in a way I hadn’t been playing before. And this goes back to our days at Sweetwater.”

Idle Joy combines the rhythmic and melodic rock of a band like Big Star with the off-the-cuff looseness of a band like the Faces, managing to complete the ménage à trois with the beach vibes of bands like Real Estate. Their new album, Idle Joy, honors both the rock sounds of the past and the chill vibes of more current beach-psych artists. “[The album] doesn’t feel very scripted. It’s not highly polished. It’s more improvisational and an authentic capture of us as a band,” says Alex.

Each song on the freshman album was recorded in one take, resulting in a true sonic snapshot of the band at this moment in time. “[We wanted it as] live as possible. Natural fluctuations and tempo are necessary for that rock and roll,” says Steve. Some of the takes that were chosen for the record even had little mess-ups that the band found “endearing” and made the album feel more “casual,” as if the listener were simply hanging around during a jam session. Their sound is most exemplified in the song “Death by Fire,” from the new nine-track album. “It’s kinda like this rock and roll and country-esque [song], and then it goes into this thing in the end where it is very much like the band that has Big Star kind of feel to it,” says Steve.

What you see is what you’ll get with Idle Joy. Start 2019 off right by checking out the album and supporting the quartet as they play the Knockout next week. You can also check them out on Soundcloud or Spotify, and follow them along on their tour via Facebook and Instagram, too.

Idle Joy, Tong, the Radio Fliers, Adam Spry
The Knockout
January 16, 2018
8pm, $5 (21+)

Raised in the Bay Area and schooled in the mountains of Colorado, Sarah is a lover of live music, ugly dogs, international travels, and vintage treasures.