Looking back at … The Joy Circuit

The Joy Circuit

There are times when your sanity is put to test because you say you like bands that no one else knows. Are you crazy? Are you making that band up because you feel alone in this world? If you knew who The Joy Circuit was, I can assure you this: you’re not alone or crazy, that band did exist.

It’s like witnessing the presence of a ghost whenever you go searching for this band in the Internet, there’s almost nothing said about them. Maybe it’s because Mr. Jeff Garber (TJC’s vocalist & guitarist, also from Castor, National Skyline and Year of the Rabbit. That’s a CV.) is not that into Internet stuff.

The Joy Circuit was in fact the backing band of Mr. Ken Andrews’ (ex-Failure) project, Year of the Rabbit, a short-lived project that still pounds happily in our ears (certainly does in my iPod – Editor). The band was comprised also of Tim Dow (Drums) and Salomon Snyder (Bass), from Shiner and Cupcakes (and Veruca Salt), respectively. Sometimes it’s just amazing how 3 people can make music so loud (and clear).

Editor’s note: care to listen to one of their songs?

There are times where you only think, what the &@# happened? 3 talented minds that couldn’t make it there in the mainstream? I could utterly say The Joy Circuit really knew what they wanted from their instruments, and gosh, was it sweet! Mr. Garber’s voice and tone are quite particular in this project, it’s like if he was going through one of those difficult phases we all know well and really sang his heart out. It’s not like he doesn’t do so in his current project, National Skyline, it’s just that the music in The Joy Circuit sounds like a pretty painful and confusing stage of his life, if I dare to say.

The Joy Circuit released only one EP, called EP1 (simple, obvious yet original name for an ep) in 2005, which includes 5 pieces of memorable music like you won’t get them anywhere. I’d dare to say also this is one of the most creative bands that I’ve ever listened to, offering rock riffs, 180º twists in their songs (that’s called Creativity and it’s about to become extinct nowadays) and guitar effects that really blow my mind, simple and supportive bass lines, so accurate that would make me think of Mr. Snyder’s as the band’s metronome, and drums, wow! Mr. Dow just makes me want to go and buy a new set of drums and go back to my old drummer phase: flawless syncopation and traces of little jamming in every song, guaranteed! Mr. Garber’s voice is deep, solemn, but still gets the liberty to scream at the exact moment of desperation at the song’s climax, just to make sure there’s something big going on.

From EP1 we get dark, lonely and desperate tunes, 5 tracks that would fill your spirit with unease (not a bad unease), like a spirit under pressure still trying to look functional as the bomb is about to explode. ‘X’s’ and ‘Secret Fires’, track 3 and 5, turn out to be my favorites from this EP.

There’s a second EP, surprisingly called EP2 and for our misfortune, The Joy Circuit disbanded in the making of this. I found out this is actually a demo, a little taste of what it was supposed to be. I’m personally more into EP2, a rare collectioner’s piece and a really hard thing to find in the net. I guess there’re no hard copies of this.

It’s said that every album tells a story. If so, EP1 was the moment before the bomb exploded, self-containment would be the synonym; EP2 in the other hand is a shameless explosion of moods from all the band members. From this phantom-like release, we get tunes as ‘Like a Moth’, the opening tune and blueprint of breakup, screams of confusion and lack of desire to stay here on Earth.

It’s also important to recall the band’s lyrics, so wise, deep and clear that would portray anxiety, sincerity and the things that come to your mouth when you’re alone or facing an uncomfortable situation. Talking about facing, EP2’s second track, ‘Of a Common Age’ is the song where Mr. Garber’s really puts his throat into risk, singing about an obsession, call it a woman, an event, a bad dream: “ (…) holding off a million tears of pain (…) I will make you lie, I will carry on. Of a common age I will make you lie, I will make you love”. There are times in one’s life where not even a word from the person you love the most in this world can bring you up, but this song did the job for me while going through a very difficult season. If defenseless, this song can really make you cry and make you see there’s more to life than this.

In this EP, Mr. Garber’s elegant screams would really feel like a confirmation of his own existence, struggling to stay alive, a connection to reality among the atmosphere this assembly displays, like bare feet on the cold ground.

‘Run in circles’ is another brilliant moment from EP2, and reminds me of his later project, National Skyline, because of the somewhat dreamy atmosphere and guitar riff. The most “famous” song from this EP would be ‘The New Sunrise’, with some people asking desperately for this song in the Internet.

‘Blow’ is a wonderful way to close this spiritual journey and there are two versions available: finished and unfinished. I just love the idea to have the original band’s jam without lyrics: the music can say so much…

If there’s a time to say that the Internet doesn’t hold the universal truth, then this is it. The band’s history is uncertain, no one knows whether the band formed when Year of the Rabbit split, some say Jeff Garber’s voice sounds like Mr. Andrew’s or like Bono’s before going far too commercial, some say this is Mr. Garber’s best project of all, and I utterly disagree with this.

When there are only 10 people in the world who have expressed their admiration for this band in the most famous communication channel nowadays and when there are different versions of the same tale, then you can say you really found a one-of-a-kind band, forged 100% in the indie world. The Joy Circuit was a band made from members coming from unfairly, low recognised bands. They had the raw talent that would accompany me in my very own dreamy and desperate seasons of my life.

I’d really like to thank my friends Emilio el Dese, for introducing this genius band to me, and Sam, for letting me know I had a copy of EP2 in my hands (unlabelled files, sorry).

Words: Tonan.


Last.fm. EP1 at Cdbaby. Year of the rabbit in Spotify.

25 thoughts on “Looking back at … The Joy Circuit

  1. The more I listen to ANYTHING involving Jeff Garber, the more I believe that there is a parallel universe where these bands might not be millionaires, but they get their RESPECT from the general population.

  2. Hey man. This is a great article. Just so you know, there’s a crew of us up here in Canada who LOVE this band. I spread the word everywhere I can.
    That “EP2” floating around is merely a compilation of web demos that were made available by the band over the course of their existence. But all of the band’s material together makes for a great listen. Also, try to get National Skyline’s “The Last Day” EP… I think that those songs were put together in the wake of TJC.

    1. We already are converts of the Gospel of National Skyline, buddy! Anything Mr. Garber has done is highly regarded fro almost everyone in the site. We once had a quick email conversation with him. Genuinely nice fella.

      1. hey mam Ive been looking for the joy circuit first demo eversince my computer crashed and I lost all my files. If you have “new sunrise” “like a moth”, “come of age” and “run in circles” that would be awesome!

  3. Really good stuff. I have been a Castor and National Skyline fan forever, so i just started looking for some of Jeff’s other works. This one is just..wow..a audio assault. So much going on in every song. The main Riff in New Sunrise with hte pounding drums is just so full of energy. I love that the guitar rarely is just playing a chord, or even the same riff as the bass. It really puts some space for those pumping drums. You are right, this band should have been famous. i like it better than anything else that came out around the same time.

  4. Thanks for making this available. I’m a big fan. I’ve always felt there was an entire musical world hinted at by Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored”, and I think Jeff knows how to access some of that. You really see it with this band more than his others (in fact Secret Fires to me sounds like Castor’s Trackstar’s melody + Adored Bassline).

    Its criminal that Year of the Rabbit and Joy Circuit are almost unknowns…

  5. Just wondering if you guys know where I can get Jeff’s older project “Days In December”? Did they release anything besides Main.In.Vine? Thats the only track available in iTunes. There is some british screamo band called “Days In December” which makes it hard to find their stuff. Do you guys know anything at all about this project?

  6. It’s pretty obvious (to me) they took the name from a Gary Numan song called “The Joy Circuit”, which is on Telekon, released September 5, 1980. Most of Telekon is a “fuck you” to the music industry and his record label, which pushed him to churn out music as quickly as possible. Within the span of less than two full years, he had released one album (Replicas, released April 1979) under the name Tubeway Army and two albums (The Pleasure Principle, released September 1979… and Telekon, September 1980) under Gary Numan. The lyrics in songs on Telekon are about his struggles with overnight fame (after “Cars” from The Pleasure Principle), disenchantment with the record company, emotional and physical exhaustion (“Remind Me to Smile”), fear that he wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace or maintain any quality in his music (“Telekon”), and a growing desire to retire from the music business altogether (“This Wreckage”), even though he was still very young. “This Wreckage” is a break-up song with the music industry and the fans. Because he felt himself trapped and falling apart (“Sleep in Windows”)… or crashing like the pilot in “The Aircrash Bureau”. After touring in 80/81, he did retire, though that only lasted about two years. He has yet to regain the level of fame he had back in 79-81, and he even went through a few years of extreme debt, though he climbed back out of debt and still puts out albums. In an interview, he claims that hearing NIN’s Downward Spiral (released March 1994) and Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion (released March 1993) got him out of his creative rut (and eventually out of debt). He had been taking bad advice from others for far too long, and he realized he needs to just make the music he wants to make. I have a feeling the band The Joy Circuit probably built their image and sound upon early Gary Numan songs, like what’s on Telekon. He’s known for strange musical arrangements and syncopations that end up having beautiful melodies.

  7. Is this the same Joy Circuit that comes from Akron, Ohio? If so, they were active as recently as 2021, and they have an album out that was originally made over 30 years ago. They admit on their Facebook page that they were influenced by Gary Numan’s work to form their band back in the 80’s.

Leave a Reply to kuroabybweisse Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s