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Inside the Emo Awesomeness of Joyce Manor’s Barry Johnson

Inside the Emo Awesomeness of Joyce Manor’s Barry Johnson:

When I listen to Joyce Manor, I am instantly teleported back to my youth as an emo-identified adolescent in suburban Connecticut. I rarely related to my peers — instead, a feeling of belonging was delivered to my boxy PC via LiveJournal, where dyed black side-swept bangs and full-sleeve tattoos dominated my feed. I bonded with the anguished crooning of Brand New and Bright Eyes more than I ever could to my Lilly Pulitzer-clad classmates. Taking Back Sunday was my salvation.

Upon moving to Los Angeles, I found a home in my collegiate EDM community. Meanwhile in Torrance, Barry Johnson and Chase Knobbe were keeping the pop-punk dream alive.

Drunkenly conceived at Disneyland, their band Joyce Manor (named for a local apartment complex) has gained notoriety in the age of what critics are calling the Emo Revival. They were signed by Epitaph Records, which reps Weezer, Alkaline Trio, and Conor Oberst’s newest incarnation in Desaparecidos, in 2014, and made their Coachella debut this past April. With songs covering important themes like leather jackets and heart tattoos, lead singer Barry has without a doubt earned his Tumblr fangirl throne.

What was your first encounter with Playboy?
I’d have to say honestly thinking back on it the first real tangible encounter with it would be in my early 20s. I bought some Playboys from the 70s and early 60s from a shop by my house and used them for collaging. They were really, really cool. I mean, I was always aware of Playboy and knew it was like a gentleman’s magazine. But I grew up with the internet, so all my pornography was on the internet. Less Playboycentric.

What’s your pop culture blind spot?
Sports. I don’t know if sports are necessarily considered, but yeah, any restaurant job I’ve had where I just watch other guys there just have such a good time relating to each other about sports and really bonding and getting to know each other and forming a friendship, I just had nothing to contribute. I was like, man. You know. I just know nothing about sports. Any sport. My family are all British so they’re huge soccer freaks. I’ve just never been able to … I have tried to force myself to acquire an interest and it’s never gonna happen. I don’t get it.

What’s the greatest song of all time?
“Nothing Compares 2U,” written by Prince and made famous by Sinead O’Connor.

What did you spend your first big paycheck on?
A bunch of CDs at Best Buy. I bought the first Cake album, I bought the Starlight Mints who are a mediocre indie rock band. What else did I buy? I just bought a ton of CDs and I don’t think any of them were great. It was just stuff I’d been pining for that I was too broke to have. It was like before you could just download albums. There were things I really wanted. I think I actually might have bought Either/Or by Elliott Smith and that was the best of the 3 CDs I went out and actually bought.

What was the best meal you ever had?
There’s this burger I had in Brooklyn that I think about all the time. It had a fried egg, pineapple, and roasted beets. You can’t get anything like it; you’d have to make it. But yeah, it’s pretty out there. A pretty wild combination.

Where in Brooklyn? Five Leaves Cafe. It’s like in Greenpoint. I was like, wow, fried egg, pineapple, and beets? It’s like… I’m typically not that into that but that sounded really good. I think it’s like, don’t overthink it with burgers. Typically, [for me] a burger with barbecue sauce and onion rings is cool. But sometimes it gets to be a bit much. I don’t know.

What’s your least favorite state in the US?
Florida. I moved there when I was about eight with my family and we lived there for about a year and it was horrible. And then touring there as I’ve gotten older it’s still really horrible. Even as a kid I knew it was a really awful place. And these people are horrible. Neither of you are from Florida? You obviously don’t live there now.

textwrap JM

What website do you visit the most?
I’m a big Wikipedia guy. I’m very guilty of watching a movie and looking at the Wikipedia page for it while watching it, you know what I mean? I just wanna nerd out on a movie I haven’t even finished watching yet. I wanna know what critics think this movie means and what kind of symbolism is involved. For that kind of stuff. Or if we’re watching like French horror stuff and it seems like, oh, this seems like it’s influential today. It’s great for someone who likes to nerd out on stuff.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I cannot handle people chewing with their mouth open. I have people near and dear to me who every time I eat with them it’s like you’ve got to fucking stop doing that. I’m going insane right now. It’s huge. It affects my life. It’s not just that gets on my nerves.

I take it personally too. It’s so disrespectful.
Exactly. It’s like we’re both just out, trying to enjoy ourselves, and you’re just really being selfish. I really hope people in my life don’t read that and I just said that.

If you could get away with one crime other than murdering all open mouth chewers what would it be?
I would probably introduce more laws. If I could. I was thinking about this. I would introduce more laws. Like all shirts must have sleeves. For guys. Tank tops are out. All shirts have gotta have sleeves. Just there’s a lot of things I just think, man I wish that was illegal. Like people who listen to music in public, out of a phone or boom box. I think, like if somebody murders you for that, in a court of law that’s okay. They had to go.

What was the first song you knew all the words to?
Oh wow. I actually, my Mom is really good at remembering lyrics, it was really early for me. Probably “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You,” by George Harrison. It came out when I was little and before I could talk very well I knew the words to that song.

What was your first car?
A 1987 blue and wood panel Ford Bronco. And I flipped it. Everyone was like oh, you’re gonna flip that. I was like, I’m not gonna flip it. Because they were famous for flipping. It was my first day of work at Borders and I was opening the store and it was about 4:30 in the morning and I was doing 70 on a surface street. I was fucking with the radio or something and I looked up and the road had curved slightly and I just hit it, I hit the curb doing 70 and bounced, landed upside down, bounced again, landed on the wheels, went back upside down and the whole top of the car was crushed. And I didn’t have my seatbelt on.

One more. What’s the biggest lie you ever told?
When I was in sixth grade, I don’t know if you remember this… Maybe this is one of the worst things I have ever done, actually. Do you remember this Coca Cola game where you open the Coke and if the top came off there was a little pog in there that said you won $100. And like 1 out of every 30 Cokes had it, so Coca Cola was giving out $100 left and right. A friend of mine won and I was so jealous. I stole it out of his backpack. In the morning he was like, it’s gone. I had like snuck out of his apartment where I was spending the night, brought it to my house and hid it in my house and I never admitted to it. I told him I didn’t know what happened to it. I stole $100 from him.

Did you redeem the $100?
I did. That’s the biggest lie I ever told. That’s a really bad thing I did. Even at the time I was like this is so awful. I wasn’t super close friends with the guy but that doesn’t make a difference. It haunted me. I’ve come to terms with it now: You were a little kid and you were sad someone else got a bunch of money so you decided to steal. $100 from a kid. That’s the biggest lie. It was a very serious thing. I stole a lot of money and I bold-faced denied it.


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