Mt. Joy, an indie folk band, is reaching new heights.
The quintet was recently placed on National Public Radio’s 2018 Slingshot Artists, they’ve been on Billboard’s top ten list and are slated to open for Neko Case at The Egg on Monday.
The craziest part? Mt. Joy is just over a year old.
“It happened very quickly,” said Sam Cooper, a guitarist who founded the band with vocalist and guitarist Matt Quinn.
The two started playing together in high school, near Philadelphia, but as soon as they graduated the two went off to different colleges and then into two completely different careers. Cooper became a lawyer and Quinn worked in the music industry. But in 2016, the two found jobs in Los Angeles and got back in touch and played whenever they weren’t working.
“We came up with some songs and then recorded them, just as a fun side thing for our parents to listen to,” Cooper said, “We put 'Astrovan' on Spotify, not as a joke, but not very seriously thinking it would actually do anything.”
Within the first few weeks, the EP got well over a million plays and Mt. Joy was born.
During a phone interview with The Gazette, on his way to the band’s next show, Cooper said Spotify played a major role in the band’s success. “We’re not shy [to say] that Spotify is [the] reason why I’m in a van right now and not still a lawyer,” Cooper said.
Mt. Joy’s songs are catchy, blending Americana and rock. Upbeat hooks are paired with fantastical, yet powerful lyrics, that sometimes tap into contentious social issues, like LGBTQ rights and police brutality.
While the initial hit “Astrovan” talks about Jesus being famous in heaven and driving an Astrovan, Cooper said the band’s more recent single, “Sheep,” was initially inspired by Freddie Gray.
“But it morphed into something bigger, both within the meaning of the song and [in] society. When the election cycle of 2016 happened the song took on a whole new meaning,” Cooper said.
“Mt. Joy,” the band’s first album, which will be released in March, is an expansion of the EP.
Cooper said there will be a few love songs and a few other catchy songs, but fans of “Astrovan” will like the new album. Those going to Monday’s show will get a taste of the album and hear some of their initial singles.
While the transition from lawyer to musician hasn’t necessarily been easy — it’s difficult to let go of a carefully curated five-year plan or the regularity of a regular full-time job — Cooper said there have been so many moments that confirm that the band is onto something bigger.
Making it onto NPR’s list of 2018 Slingshot Artists was one, but opening for and touring with other bands who have been in the business for a while has also helped.
“Especially with ‘The Head and The Heart,’ we learned a lot from them,” Cooper said, “Road life was really new to us at that point and just watching them day to day was something we really needed at that point.”
For Monday’s show at The Egg, the band opens for Neko Case, a Grammy-nominated folk/country artist. She’s spent the past two decades in the industry, both as a solo artist and with the New Pornographers. In 2016, she also collaborated with k.d. lang and Laura Viers on “case/lang/viers.” Mt. Joy will be opening for Case for more than a dozen shows in the next few weeks, sharpening their sound and gearing up for their album release
Neko Case, with Mt. Joy
WHEN: 7 p.m., Monday
WHERE: The Egg, Albany
MORE INFO: theegg.org