The members of Joy and Madness break free from the past to forge a new bond with classic soul and funk
When Joy and Madness formed in late 2012, it was the best of times and the most difficult of times for everyone involved. Even before that first practice, its members shared a long history. Six of them had played in the Nibblers from 2009 until early 2012 when the band decided to kick out lead singer Hans Eberbach over personality conflicts.
Not everyone in the Nibblers supported that decision, however, and six months later, most of the band’s remaining members reunited with Eberbach to form Joy and Madness.
“There was all this tension. We were butting heads. I saw the attention for the band growing exponentially,” Eberbach says now of the split.
For the record, Eberbach knows he played a part in the breakup.
“I’m a big personality, [and] I was becoming very vocal,” he says.
At the same time, some of the band members were getting upset at the attention Eberbach received—due in large part to his charismatic presence as the frontman.
“I was the person that people were seeing as, ’Oh, this is Hans’ band, the Nibblers.’”
These days, the former Nibblers look back on the transformation with a philosophical bent.
“Joy and Madness is a really good name to have,” says keyboardist Jeremy Springer. “Of the two emotions that we were feeling, that was exactly it. We were incredibly overjoyed to be back together … knowing we were meant to be, and totally feeling insane by everything that had gone down.
“I came to this realization that I am meant to be in this band with Hans,” he adds.
Joy and Madness played its first show in February 2013, with the band adding longtime local musician Miss Nyxi on bass, and guitarist Bobby G., whose résumé includes stints with Earth, Wind & Fire; Lionel Richie; and Sheila E.
“Everyone’s a partner now. Everyone is like, ’This is my deal,’” Eberbach says.
From that first show, Joy and Madness brought an even higher level of energy than it had when its members performed as the Nibblers. The band credits that to Eberbach’s presence.
“When Hans left the band, it was like this black hole. All of us were like, ’What do we do to fill it?’” Springer says. “It was interesting getting back with Hans after that exodus … [because] the rest of the band had to step up to fill that hole.”
The members of Joy and Madness didn’t want to just perform all the old Nibblers tunes. So, initially, they decided to play only really obscure classic soul and funk songs. Yes, that made them a cover band, but not really in a sense because the majority of the audiences were likely hearing these songs for the first time.
“It’s a no-brainer. It’s [the kind of] music that everyone loves,” Springer says of the choice.
Since reuniting, the band has pushed doing its own material as well, and later this summer will release Down, an EP of originals. The collection reflects myriad influences: Springer is a longtime fan of old soul music, whereas Eberbach’s background is more Beatles oriented. As such, the band’s own songs marry the classic soul grooves and upbeat funk licks with infectious pop hooks.
“After everything went down, this creative spark in me went crazy. I was writing tons. I didn’t even know where it was all coming from,” Springer says.
Since then, Joy and Madness has also started experimenting more, mixing live instrumentation, sampling and writing down-tempo soul ballads.
And, as they continue to play live, instead of polishing their act into a perfect entertainment machine, the members say they’d rather focus on making shows a fun and lively experience.
“When I play … I am on that stage to absolutely lose myself into the communal experience,” Eberbach says.