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Drowsy Joy

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Fordham University

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Drowsy Joy

Fresh off a hiatus and ready to get back at it

Cole Coyer

10.12.17

Meet Fordham 's alt-rock quintet, Drowsy Joy. Made up of guitarists Tyler “Newf” Newfell (’18) and Ken Iselhart III (’18), bassist Brian Cullen(’18), lead vocalist/guitarist Sean O’Connor, and drummer Ted Sidiropoulos (’19), the band is coming off a hiatus to write and get their groove on together after the departure of original drummer Mary Munshower. With a restored lineup, Drowsy Joy is ready to bring their music back to the Fordham community.

O'Connor (guitar/vocals), Sidiropolus (drums), Cullen (bass), Iselhart (guitar), Newfell "Newf" (guitar/synth)

Drowsy Joy’s genesis took place at Tinker’s Bar, where Newf met Cullen and Iselhart and struck up a conversation about their affinity towards similar music. Munshower ended up joining under very different circumstances; a mutual friend introduced them during a Loschert fire drill, where she obtained the role of drummer. While waiting in line at Champ’s, the group was having a discussion about their band when an eavesdropping O’Connor approached them and asked about their muisic. The group clicked, and O’Connor joined as the group’s front man. The band was officially formed and begun writing in O’Connor’s basement in Rockland County, New York.

For a band whose name came from scribbling random words on a piece of paper and passing it around in the Caf, Drowsy Joy’s songs are rather introspective, with organic lyrics on top of reverbed guitars, synth driven breakdowns, and a fluid rhythm section. The influence of bands such as Radiohead, Ty Seagall, and The Velvet Underground gives the group’s music somewhat of a punk feel, but their smooth transitions and use of synthesizers and vocal harmonies reminisces Pink Floyd’s song structures and iconic vibe.

Drummer Mary Munshower left the band on good terms prior to the 2017 Spring Weekend Battle of the Bands. Drowsy Joy won the competition the year before (2016) and had the opportunity to open for ‘Matt and Kim’. The band was not as successful in 2017 with vocalist O’Connor shouldering the burden of playing both drums and singing. Sidiropoulos, who was a freshman at the time, had been looking for a group to jam with when he saw Drowsy Joy’s Battle of the Bands set. Impressed by the group’s performance, Sidiropoulos was interested in joining the group as he rightly assumed they needed a drummer to relieve O’Connor of his dual duties. He auditioned, got the spot, and Drowsy Joy began working to incorporate Sidiropoulos' talents into their group.

2016 Spring Weekend

The band took time to work Sidiropoulos’ talent into their style and songwriting. Drowsy Joy’s music has noticeable influences, but they do not chase a certain sound. Their writing process is typical of busy college students, writing individually and then collaborating during jam sessions. Iselhart and O’Connor often work as a unit, but every member contributes lyrics and ideas.

“I tend to write sad songs. Mostly about [my experiences and thoughts]. Pretty standard stuff." -O'Connor

Friends of the band have described the group’s music as “sad” and O’Connor believes this is primarily his doing. “I tend to write sad songs. Mostly about [my experiences and thoughts]. Pretty standard stuff.” Along with originals, the band covers everything from Johnny Cash to LCD Soundsystem. The band’s use of a synthesizer allows Drowsy Joy to venture into sonic areas that acoustic instruments cannot reach. A synthesizer is an electronic instrument that generates electric signals that are converted to sound and can imitate anything from other instruments to natural sounds such as waves or rain. The synthesizer not only contributes immensely to the group’s original content, but also allows the group to spice up covers. When doing an LCD Soundsystem cover, the synthesizer helps sounds like the original tune. If they’re covering Folsom Prison Blues and want to add their own twist, they can turn to the synthesizer.

When you meet Drowsy Joy, it does not take long to notice their comradery. During our photo shoot with the group, Newf joked “Sorry, we’re awkward, so just tell us what to do” and the communal laughter that followed suggested this wasn’t the first time they have acknowledged this. While they may describe themselves as awkward, when performing, they end up producing energy that only can come from musicians making music they love. The group’s aesthetic is crisp, natural and strengthens their image as a unit. It can be viewed as a representation of their classically influenced alternative sound. Whether it be making artistic decisions or dealing with a broken-down car an hour before a show, Drowsy Joy moves forward together.
All current members at a recent Fordham house party

Drowsy Joy’s future is uncertain. Sidiropoulos plans on studying abroad next year and the rest of the members are graduating this spring. But it’s hard to imagine any of these guys ceasing to make music, and one can be confident that Drowsy Joy will in some way preserve the art they create. If you are interested in seeing Drowsy Joy live, come out to The Rival Launch party October 14th, where they will be banging out originals, covers, and tributes to recently fallen icons.

Drowsy Joy is tentatively scheduled to begin their Rival set at 11pm followed by an up-and-coming Fordham DJ Sam Du. Come see these alt-rockers tear it up as the Rival brings in an exciting semester with booze, good tunes, and better vibes. See ya there.

Check out Drowsy Joy's SoundCloud and keep a look out for new music