Mt. Joy on the mount for social change

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Photo courtesy of Muriel Margaret m

Mt. Joy lead Guitarist Matt Quinn cites social change as a big part of the band’s mission.

While many of your favorite bands may be laying low during the pandemic, Mt. Joy is letting the creative juices flow.

The band toured with the Lumineers, released an album, rocked via live streams and somehow still found time to stand for social justice. Frontman Matt Quinn spoke with The DePaulia en route to Chicago, where they played a series of socially distanced drive-in concerts.

“We were at a different place in our lives,” Quinn said about recording their sophomore album, “Rearrange Us.” “I don’t know if it was necessarily intentional that we were going to do something different.”

When Mt. Joy released their self-titled debut album, the band had not even so much as played a show together.

“So, after touring together for three years… it kind of brings you to a different place, flying together. I think the changes were more probably attached to that than anything else,” Quinn said.

The band unanimously agreed to not postpone the album and release it during the chaotic time of quarantine, citing the fans as the reason.

“They’re the only people that we’d be holding it back from,” Quinn said. “Certainly, it would be nice to release it when you can tour it, and all the things that come with a non-Covid music industry. But we felt like we owed it to those people.”

That sense of responsibility carries into their social activism and using social media platforms to raise over $30,000 for Campaign Zero, a nonprofit dedicated to ending police violence. In Philadelphia, where the band hails from, they partnered with Philabundance, an organization centered on hunger relief.

“Whenever you can make music and feel like there’s a purpose behind it and that you’re doing something that’s making the world a better place in this wake,” Quinn says. It’s a no-brainer to do so.

Those same sentiments carry into how vocal the band’s been about the need for a new president.

“It would be a privilege for a band like us to not be political,” Quinn said about his anti-Trump statements. “But… we do have a platform and [Trump is] hurting people and really
threatening people’s rights. And I think at a certain point it’s not political. It just becomes a necessary part of… making the world a better place.”

Where many might be scared of the backlash of making such comments, Quinn considers their band fortunate to be “signed to an independent label [that is] politically and ideologically aligned with us on all of these things.”
One can’t help but garner a sense of empathy from Quinn, who was a college law student before dropping out to pursue his music dreams.

“I’m sure it’s a difficult time to be in college,” Quinn said. “And I’m just hopeful that for everyone who is, that you guys get the most normal college experience possible.”

He understands these are weird times to be in, stating, “I feel bad for anyone that’s in that situation that feels like they’re getting that experience robbed from them a little bit.”

The band’s own tour with the Lumineers was cut short due to Covid.

“It was a real bummer, but we were pretty fortunate in the grand scheme of things,” Quinn said.

Having never played in basketball-sized arenas before, Quinn says the experience is surreal.

“It’s a different type of show, to learn how to perform in front of that many people and it’s a great opportunity. The guys in the Lumineers, and girl, were all really amazing and I learned a lot from them.”

Ever looking at the glass half-full, Quinn hopes that things will get more normal. In the meantime, Mt. Joy has no plans to halt anytime soon.

“We’re working on music we’re really excited about,” Quinn said.

The band also plan to continue their live stream shows, having raised over $30,000 for the nonprofits they’re partnered with so far.

“We just figured out that they’re a good way to bring people together, and there’s lots of people in need right now,” Quinn said.

What the world does need is more socially conscious acts who feel it is their duty to speak up. Mt. Joy exemplifies this, and according to Quinn, “I think that’s sort of the reason we’re here in a way.”