Interview: Mt. Joy Talk Tour, New Music, and Their Blue Christmas Song “Every Holiday”

Mt. Joy © Andrew Keyser
To celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year,” Atwood Magazine’s Mistletones column features fresh holiday/wintertime tracks and exciting covers of beloved classics. December has a knack for bringing out some of the most poignant, tender, and celebratory music, and we want to highlight that excitement by showcasing new and alternative holiday greats! Spice up your holiday season with songs you can listen to now and cherish in the years to come.
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This holiday season, Mt. Joy are filling our hearts with the touching sadness of “Every Holiday,” an intimate blue Christmas song wrapped in beautiful layers of heavy emotion and folk rock warmth.

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Stream: “Every Holiday” – Mt. Joy

Merry Christmas, babe, I hope we make it through…

For many, the most wonderful time of the year can be one full of loneliness, dread, and depression. The holidays inspire a lot more than joy and good tidings; that constant inundation of familial warmth and togetherness is as much a reminder of what we have, as it is one of what we’re missing. This holiday season, Mt. Joy are filling our hearts with the touching sadness of “Every Holiday,” an intimate blue Christmas song wrapped in beautiful layers of heavy emotion and folk rock warmth.

Every Holiday - Mt. Joy

Every Holiday – Mt. Joy

Every holiday I feel that depression
from all this division

And we don’t care, no we don’t care,
we’re just sitting in my garage

Talking to my aunt about the storm surge,
icebergs, and spring in New England

And a new ring on an old friend
and mothers get impatient
But maybe it’s all worth it
just to see if we can outrun it

And I look at you across the room
Your eyes like sinking balloons
Merry Christmas, babe,
I hope we make it through
– “Every Holiday,” Mt. Joy

Released November 12 via Dualtone, “Every Holiday” is Mt. Joy’s second single released this year, following October’s “Rearrange Us” and the band’s musical return since putting out their debut album in 2018. In hailing the self-titled Mt. Joy as one of the best albums of 2018Atwood Magazine wrote: “Mt. Joy melts passion and pain, pleasure and sorrow into an emphatically expressive outpouring of colorful, catchy and thoughtful indie rock…. Through tussles with love and distance, and gritty choruses brimming with a lust for life, Mt. Joy paints a portrait of lost souls traveling down the open road… Heartfelt and honest, Mt. Joy’s debut is a thing of beauty; its unique blend of rock, blues, folk, and Americana styles allows the charismatic band to introduce themselves through a fully-realized sonic palette of texture and feeling.”

Life for Mt. Joy’s Matt Quinn, Sam Cooper, Sotiris Eliopoulos, Jackie Miclau, and Michael Byrnes has been a seemingly endless series of tour stops since their album release, but that hasn’t stopped them from staying upbeat and motivated, getting together with rising songwriters like Adam Melchor (whose debut EP premiered on Atwood Magazine in 2017), and recording their sophomore album with producer Tucker Martine (Neko Case, Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket).

Rearrange Us - Mt. Joy

Rearrange Us – Mt. Joy

In returning with “Rearrange Us” last month, Mt. Joy injected their familiar grit into a pulsing groove rich with bluesy melody and earnest intent. “We’ve all undergone pretty serious changes in our lives, and this one is just sort of about that change and trying to find the positives,” the band’s vocalist and co-songwriter Matt Quinn explains. This feeling is channeled through down-to-earth lyrics rife with emotion: “It seems like a short life, but it feels like a long time when I remember everything,” Quinn passionately croons in the chorus.

‘Cause it seems like a short life
But it feels like a long time
When I remember everything
In another time I made up my mind
That you were perfect in the flashing light
If I tried I’d make this thing work right
And when the future saw you
I was every point of view
– “Rearrange Us,” Mt. Joy

If “Rearrange Us” displays the breadth of Mt. Joy’s growth as a full band, then “Every Holiday” shows how much more they can do with less. The largely acoustic song finds Matt Quinn and Sam Cooper poignantly addressing loneliness and inner pain around the holidays. The pair hone in on a shiver-inducing sadness that, for Quinn, captures the other side of the Christmas season.

Mt. Joy in concert © Matt Everitt

Mt. Joy in concert © Matt Everitt

“‘Every Holiday’ is a song I wrote in my garage the day after Christmas,” Quinn recalls. “I was just feeling the weight of a failing relationship and what feels like a society that’s caving in on itself. The holidays just juxtapose sadness in a beautiful way. There’s a blue feeling that comes with the holidays; the recognition of loss, unspoken competition / familial pressure, and just the frozen gray landscape of a Philly winter. There’s plenty of joy, but I just was feeling a heaviness in my life, and music has always been the outlet for that.”

And it gets heavy, it starts raining
And I start noticing the placement
f your hand upon my spine

The fading love is the darkest kind
But somehow we’ll forget tonight
And go up on ladders stringing lights
The gutter never shined so bright
– “Every Holiday,” Mt. Joy

Quinn continues, “I took what I had of the song and showed it to Adam Melchor and he added such a beautiful piano part and some gorgeous harmonies, the song just sort of came alive from there. We actually worked on the song in a really magical writing space full of amazing art in our friend Willie’s grandparents house. We decided there that the song would be best just recorded live just the two of us, so we did that in Portland with Tucker Martine. Tucker had the idea to add horns and they did an incredible job. It’s maybe the song I’m most proud of as a writer on the record.”

Mt. Joy strike a stirring balance within the bittersweet folds of “Every Holiday,” a raw outpouring of heartfelt melancholy.

When every holiday I feel that
depression from all of this pressure

And we don’t care, no we don’t care,
we just hope it don’t stay long

Talking to my aunt about the warm earth,
cold words, and men that make decisions

Lying on the TV ’cause the money skips the women
But maybe it’s all worth it
just to see if we can outrun it

And I look at you across the room
Your eyes like sinking balloons
Merry Christmas, babe,
I hope we make it through

Having spoken to Mt. Joy around their album release last spring, Atwood Magazine caught up with the band to discuss touring, musical growth, their new song, and the holidays. Dive into one of our favorite American artists in our exclusive interview below!


Atwood Magazine: Hey everyone! Mt. Joy, you’ve had an incredibly exciting year and we’ve been honored to come along for the ride. Now that December has come, what do you feel and think about when you look back on your 2019 year in music? Did you set out for anything specific? Did you meet your goals?

Matt Quinn: Hey thanks! I don’t know about specific goals other than finishing up recording our record, which we did – so that’s exciting.

Fans got their first hint of new Mt. Joy music with October's “Rearrange Us.” What does this song mean to you, and why is it the first one you returned with after your debut?

Quinn: Yeah “Rearrange Us” is really just about what this whole project has done to our lives. We’ve all undergone pretty serious changes in our lives, and this one is just sort of about that change and trying to find the positives. It was a song that we all collaborated on the arrangement and it felt like a great place to start the next batch of songs for that reason.  Felt like a fresh sound.

How do you feel “Rearrange Us” differentiates itself, if at all, from the songs on Mt. Joy?

Quinn: Yeah, I think it has a nice balance of music and narrative. We definitely don’t ever want to be pinned down in any one place musically so hopefully it feels a little different.

For me, I hear this song and I think about The Rolling Stones' “Miss You” and other songs where the licks really made the track. What do you hear now?

Quinn: Man that’s a high compliment. I don’t know; when I first heard Sam’s guitar riff I definitely heard a John Mayer influence.

What inspired you to write “Every Holiday”?

Quinn: An emotionally challenging holidays last year.

This song is now your second single of the year, and it's one of the first times we've heard Mt. Joy fully stripped-down on record. From an emotional perspective, what was creating this song like? Do you feel this shows more musical growth and variety?

Quinn: It’s definitely one of if not the most emotional song we have ever recorded. It is a deeply personal song, but everyone that collaborated with it, from Adam Melchor to our producer Tucker Martine, just added so much heart and beauty. We tracked it from a live take of me singing and playing guitar and Adam on piano. I think the rawness comes across and hopefully it connects with people.

Every holiday I feel that depression from all of this pressure, and we don't care, no we don't care - we just hope it don't stay long,” you sing. Can you talk more about this line, and how the sadness you felt at the time rings out in your song?

Quinn: Yeah, I think anyone that suffers with any kind of depression or anxiety understands the feeling of just succumbing to the weight of your stress and knowing you’re in pain there’s always just this hope that things will turn around. I think that hope is sort of the human spirit that connects us all, we’ve all got a reason to stick around. See it through. It gets better and those times are worth it.

Every holiday I feel that depression from all of this pressure
But maybe it’s all worth it just to see if we can outrun it
And I look at you across the room
Your eyes like sinking balloons
Merry Christmas, babe, I hope we make it through

Was your intent to pen a holiday song, or did it just so happen that this song ended up having a holiday theme that fits the time of year?

Quinn: I think not really. It was just an intensely emotional time and music has always been my outlet for that.

What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season, and how does this song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Quinn: I generally actually enjoy getting to see family and take some time away from everything. But it’s always been a time that has an underlying sadness to me. It’s cold and gray and often I find myself thinking about how much things change even year to year in life.

Mt. Joy © Andrew Keysey

Mt. Joy © Andrew Keysey

How has your extensive touring shaped Mt. Joy as a band? How do you feel you're different now, compared to who you were when we spoke two years ago?

Quinn: I just think it makes you a better musician in every way. You get thrown in the fire and just have to push yourself to be better. I think we are kind of embarrassed to listen to shows from 2 years ago. We were babies it feels like we have evolved a lot since then across the board.

It really feels like Mt. Joy have gone everywhere these past couple of years! What for you have been some of your favorite, or funniest moments on tour?

Quinn: Man too many to name. Our sound guy once tried a heroic U-turn that parked our van about a foot deep in good ole middle of nowhere Alabama mud. A nice man from the past pulled us out with a rope about an hour later.

Any favorite cities?

Quinn: We’ve seen so many truly great cities, but we all love Philly, Toronto. Canada in general is so good to us.

Has your perspective on tour changed since you started off? Do you feel any different now than you did a couple years ago about the whole process?

Quinn: Yeah, it’s really changed. For awhile it was just us in a van doing it all ourselves. It’s pretty back breaking work that so many amazing bands do. But we very recently were able to get onto a bus with a crew and it’s just made everything more about the music which is a nice shift. We feel super lucky for that.

Mt. Joy in concert © Matt Everitt

Mt. Joy in concert © Matt Everitt

Do you feel like you could have made these two new songs back in 2016/2017 when you were starting off?

Quinn: No, I don’t think so. We have just evolved as band to the point where we can sit in a room and take an acoustic guitar arrangement to what rearrange us sounds like now. Before we just had never played together so there wasn’t that level of continuity. And as for “Every Holiday,” I like to think my songwriting has evolved to that place. And Adam brought beautiful touches to that song too.

I always like to end my chats asking about artists you're listening to, so who do you recommend? Who should we be checking out and writing about?

Quinn: Ahh man, we’ve been really into the new Local Natives and Vampire Weekend. Also Tierra Whack is so amazing. And I got put onto Tim Maia, who is an incredible Brazilian artist.

For fans of Mt. Joy who've loved the band from the beginning, what can you tell us about your future and what we can expect? How does the music make you feel? How is it substantially different from the debut? What's new!?

Quinn: I don’t know – it’s just us evolving and trying to be honest in our music and how we are feeling. That’s been the recipe that got us here. I think having Tucker Martine just naturally brought us to a new level sonically and people can expect one of the best sounding records of the year just on his genius alone.

Because our chat is happening around this time of year, we're also asking everyone to share some of their favorite holidays songs: What are yours?

Quinn: Hmm, well since we just put such a sad one into the universe, I’ll try to even it out with “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder on A Motown Christmas.

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:: stream/purchase “Every Holiday” here ::

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Every Holiday - Mt. Joy

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Coming of Age & Keeping It Real: A Conversation with Mt. Joy


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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com