Old Joy was born out of a new tragedy when Alex Reindl’s close friend and musical collaborator Sean Quinn overdosed and died. Reindl, who also struggled with addiction and going to jail a few times in the past, became even more determined to stay sober, to stay out of trouble, and to share his art with the world after Quinn’s mother told Reindl to keep pursuing the dream he shared with Quinn.
In this way, Old Joy is as motivated by death as by life. Taking the name from the Jonathan Raymond short story, the idea that you can never quite get back the joy you once had deeply moved Reindl. For him, the past taught him friends pass on, girlfriends leave, jobs fire you, and schools drop you, but music is always there.
Reindl wrote a lot of songs in jail and, after he got out, he detailed his life as a struggling addict and as an artist trying to shine in spite of it all. Reindl writes music akin to the 80s and 90s artist that first inspired him — like Teenage Fanclub, The Replacements, or Dinosaur Jr. — his songs are fuzzy, poppy, nostalgic, and, above all, melodic. Old Joy digs deep into the human experience, but still comes out the other side optimistic, hopeful, and joyful.
Trash Your Life is a record more than four years in the making. Reindl is also a member of fellow power-pop band Sonny Falls, and he’s also played with Dogs At Large, Faux Co., Dan Rico, his former band Shiloh, and more.
New Noise Magazine is very proud to premiere the new album from Old Joy, Trash Your Life below:
Trash Your Life will be out everywhere tomorrow, April 2, on Dark Circles Records. You can pre-order it here.
On their new album, Old Joy’s Alex Reind offered the following statement:
Everyone I know thinks Trash Your Life is a cursed record. I started recording it over four years ago now in January 2017.
I had just gotten out of a treatment center I checked myself into for substance abuse the previous November, as Old Joy’s original drummer, Sean Quinn, died on October 15th, 2016 of an overdose. The record was written and rehearsed with our friend and drummers death hanging like a cloud over the whole thing. Sean was a one of a kind guy and really was the soul of the band. I met him in the Cook County Jail the year before, in the bathroom of our jail dormitory. He was humming “Never Mind,” a true deep cut off The Replacements’s 1987 masterpiece Pleased to Meet Me.
I knew anyone who knew that song was someone I wanted in my life. I thought, “Here’s a guy who A) made enough mistakes to end up in jail, and B) really truly loves the Replacements. That’s someone like me.” We made plans to start a band as soon as we got out of jail, and that band was Old Joy. When he died, and our bass player took over on drums, we knew that the record we were making was going to be a record for Sean. It took nearly four years to finish the thing because of my own struggles with substance abuse and mental health, and my band broke up maybe 3 times during that four year stretch. Like I said, cursed.
But on the other hand, it’s also a blessing. It reminds me of my departed friend, and I hope it’s something that he would be proud of. We set out to make a record like Teenage Fanclub, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and The Replacements, which is something I have never really done before. I never set out to make something in an intentional style, but given the circumstances we wanted to hold true to the original vision Sean and I had when we were writing songs in jail with nothing but a legal pad, a safety pen and the brick walls of our cell to pound the beat out on. It’s a record that confronts some pretty difficult ideas — including addiction, grasping desire, infantile romantic notions and extreme loss — but there is a lighthearted playfulness that keeps insisting we don’t take any of it too seriously.
I don’t want to flat out say what all these songs are about, because I think it’s more interesting for people to meet the music on their own terms, and I think everyone will get something different out of it. But I can tell you, vaguely, what each track means to me.
On the first four tracks, I confront what it means to be in love with an idea (Carl Jung would call it “Anima Projection”) as opposed to a human being, and the pain and confusion that can cause to both parties. On track five, we talk about how far you’re willing to follow someone you love down an unhealthy road, and on track six we talk about fake friends, the concept of friendship and what it even means to “be there for someone.” Then we talk about dreams versus delusions, the desire to be the bad guy or “wear the black hat,” dip into the territory of wishful thinking in romance on “I Wish I Loved You (Cuz I Really Like You).” By the end of the record, we realize that the best thing for it is to “Trash your life, because it’s all you got.”
I’m not sure if I can recommend that as advice if you want a comfortable life, but if you want an interesting life I really don’t think truer words have ever been spoken, or sung, as the case may be.
Photo by Vanessa Valadez.