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Going “Offline” With Southern California’s The Joy Reunion

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The Joy Reunion is a Country | Americana trio whose band’s name was inspired by a moment in the end of a movie called “Big Fish”. Not to ruin the movie for you, but there is a scene where the main character is passing away, and, in the moment of his passing, he is reunited with every single person he had a memorable experience with in his life, which creates a sense of pure, honest joy for him while passing, instead of fear; it’s truly beautiful.

That scene inspired the band to go back to the beginning of what music means for everyone: joy, power, energy, fun. The Joy Reunion is simple; they have gone back to the source that brings them joy: music they want to make without condition, lyrics they want to sing with conviction, and melodies they want to play with passion.

Robert Easley and Gentry Monreal have been playing together for nearly 20 years as worship leaders at a church called “The Packinghouse” in Redlands, Ca. California based Guitarist Neil Morrison joined the worship team in 2008 where there was an immediate connection between the 3 of them, and for the past 12 years, these three have been inseparable.

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In 2017 The Joy Reunion was formed and is a melting pot of musical influence. Easley, Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist, brings an influence of pop and rock, and melodic influences from the Beach Boys. Monreal, Singer and Songwriter, brings classic country, folk and roots to the table- think Patty Griffin, Bonnie Raitt and Emylou Harris. Morrison, Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist, brings in the blues and southern rock influences of The Allman Brothers Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. Over 7 decades of musical influence from all walks of life build the foundation of this band. The Joy Reunion, life stories told in harmony…

The trio picks a song to cover for their #gettothechorus. As the saying goes, “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” — so they only do the chorus.

What was your favorite indie band/song to cover for a #gettothechorus?

I’d say we had a serious love/hate relationship with covering “Fighter” by the band Joseph. We had only love for the song until we tried to cover it and realized how hard it actually was to execute! Those girls make it sound way too easy! We had fun though.

California indie artists we should add to our playlists?

Well, we’ve been loving us some Lexie Hayden! She is such a sweetheart and so, so talented. Also, the world needs to hear JT Harker, Christie Huff, Honey County, Rob Mayes, Payton Howie and Melissa Farrior. Not only are these people amazing artists but they are also super humble and a joy to be around!

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For each of you, what has brought the most joy to your lives this year with the band?

We get so much joy from seeing the songs we’ve written come to life. The whole process is exciting really, from writing to recording, and then finally getting to release our lil musical babies into the world. It’s been really cool also for us to see the list of goals and dreams for this year already being checked off.

Which leads us to your new song “Offline”. The artwork drew me in even before I listened for the first time. Is the artwork a visual representation of where the song’s lyrics took you?

The artwork is definitely a visual representation.

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Love how the sound instantly captures the fan’s ear to the lyrics that remind us to stay connected to people not the Internet. What was the process like for this song, start to finish, producing, engineering, mixing in the studio, to get the words and music to blend so well?

The process for this song was super fun. Neil, came to the group with the initial guitar lick and played it for us one night while we were rehearsing. We were all like, “Man, that sounds like a laid-back island vibe.”

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The guitar line sets this nice pocketed groove that immediately makes you want to move. It’s funny sometimes you hear a melody and it writes the entire story for you. We just instantly pictured being on a beach somewhere, away from the pressures of the modern world, being attached to our cell phones, being glued to screens. We always joke that we want to go off the grid and start our own homestead community.

So we all could easily imagine leaving reality, throwing away the cell phone and getting back into what matters, connecting with the ones we love. That’s what this song is about!

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We are really proud of this recording, which we tracked, performed, mixed, produced and mastered all at Neil’s home studio. We really focused on getting the bottom end very tight and punchy, we really want to set the groove for the listener. We really had a good time coming up with pedal steel guitar parts for this song, we wanted to try to get that weepy classic country sound mixed with traditional Hawaiian slide sounds, and we were really pleased with how that came out.

Getting the mix right and our vocals right is the hardest challenge, our sound is a little different, in that a lot of times we like to harmonize as much as possible, even on verses. It becomes a challenge to basically blend 3 main vocal instruments that on their own can hold the song together. The balance comes in making each voice heard, but also blending them together to create that quintessential “TJR” sound.

We work a lot with trial and error, adjusting how panned we are in stereo, picking the right eq’s for our voices, compression is our friend and of course some reverb helps smooth things out. It is the never-ending challenge to get a mix right, especially with 3-part harmonies; you want them to be heard, but you don’t want the song to feel like a karaoke track. This song is simply a good time, and we had a good time making it!

“Offline” available Monday, March 30 on iTunes

What do you each like to do when you’re ‘offline’?

We love the outdoors. Boating, hiking, bike riding and we also love doing all of that with our friends and family.

Favorite California spots to go to when you aren’t writing or performing?

Rob really likes Disneyland and being a family man. We won’t let you in on his little “Disney Secret” LOL Neil loves projects such as restoring old boats and building super cool things for his house. Gentry enjoys hiking and doing anything that involves hanging with her kids. Pretty much anything that helps our minds rest from the crazy day to day hustle, we enjoy doing that.

https://www.amazon.com/Youve-Got-Way-Joy-Reunion/dp/B07BG9HS7P/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+joy+reunion&qid=1567723401&s=music&sr=1-1

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