A COLLECTIVE of songwriters, made up of seasoned performers, aiming to play a non-stop set, having recorded an album in the same studio as Bohemian Rhapsody – let no one say The Joy Hotel is lacking in ambition.

While they may have an admirable set of goals in their sight, the strength of the band’s line-up suggests they have raw materials to do it. With around 35-40 years of songwriting and performing experience to call upon, nothing seems out of reach.

The Scottish music scene has only caught glimpses of the eclectic seven-piece and their potential. They have played one show, which was before lockdown and with only six members, and do not have a formal release yet to their name. However, their YouTube videos are an intriguing insight into what they are capable of.

No two songs sound the same and they are not shy in flirting with unusual rhythms or time signatures. They are, essentially, the musician’s band, but – judging by the output of band members in other projects, there will be plenty for the casual listener to digest and take with them.

Speaking with The Weekender, singer/guitarist/frontman Luke Boyce recalls the genesis of The Joy Hotel and ruminates on their aspirations for 2022. They have already sold out King Tut’s for a show next month, which will serve as a massive boost ahead of their album recording session in Wales.

“It’s definitely been a long road to the get to this point,” he says as he documents the band’s fateful assembly.

Luke and his drummer brother Jack had been long-time collaborators, but the singer had also worked with fellow songwriter Emme Woods on a number of ventures. She invited him out to the States to play guitar and keys for her in a handful of shows, but it was in their downtime that they started to notice a creative spark.

Nevertheless, it would still be years before The Joy Hotel would be ready to welcome guests.

Luke reflects: “After Emme got back from LA, she was booked to play SXSW and I went out to play keys for her. It was round about that time that the idea came about to write with each other. It had become apparent that we were doing something similar on our own in any case,

“That started in around March 2018, and between then and March 2019, we tried to sketch out what the songs would look like.

“We knew there was a musical creative chemistry between us – when we were out in LA, we’d sit and play guitar together on our days off and it just felt quite easy. The style I had developed over the years just matched with what Emme had been doing over the years.

“That was the origins of it,” he adds.” But it was a few years before it became apparent it would be a band. And that’s when we started to take it seriously.”


THE JOY HOTEL: Emme Woods, Luke Boyce, Jack Boyce, Juan Laforet, Jack Borrill, Jenny Clifford and Scott Flanagan.

THE JOY HOTEL: Emme Woods, Luke Boyce, Jack Boyce, Juan Laforet, Jack Borrill, Jenny Clifford and Scott Flanagan.


The Joy Hotel began to take shape and before long Juan Laforet and Jack Borrill entered the fray. The duo had been members of psychedelic-pop band Quiche, who will be performing their farewell gig this week.

Scott Flanagan was then recruited with Jenny Clifford joining after the band played their debut gig at The Blue Arrow in Glasgow.

“There was never the intention to have seven people in the band,” Luke adds. “It all just happened like that.

“I had always wanted a big band, and I always liked the idea of having a lot of people to work with, but I never thought it would have been feasible. But it has worked out that way. And all the people that are closest with me are the ones that ended up with me. It’s just something that has built up over time.

"We all bring our own unique perspectives,” the singer continues. “We all are writers as well. When we first got in the room it was mostly us talking about what music we liked and letting the thing take shape on its own.

“I only had one song and Emme only had one song and we were just feeling it out as we went along. One song led to another and, over time, it started to define itself to us.

“And with so many people in the band we have so many options when we’re writing. “There is such a high standard of skill and experience in the group. We’ve come to appreciate the speed we can write at. Sometimes an idea will be floated in the room and we’ll just latch on to it. We can make ideas come to life very quickly because everyone is just locked in.

“We’ve ended up with a bit of an abundance of material. We put a few videos but we don’t, as yet, have any official releases. That’s something we are, more or less, leaving until later.

“Our show in October at King Tut’s will be the first time the seven of us have performed together.”

For a band that is still, in a sense, finding its feet and carving out its identity, there is certainly no holding back. It is not a group of musicians who will be doing anything by half.

Everything will piece together – although, Luke admits, it may not seem as connected to begin with.

Songs in isolation will have their own strengths and vibes, with the band keen to develop each track in whichever direction it goes. But it is only when their album is completed and released will everything come into focus.

The singer adds: “Everyone is bringing their own melodic and rhythmic sensibility to the band – and that doesn’t necessarily push us in any one direction.

“We have four videos we have out there, and I think, when you hear those songs detached from each other, they maybe don’t have that consistency. But in a live set-up or a full album, it becomes more obvious how they fit together.

“One thing we’ll do with the live set is that it will be an hour of continuous music – we don’t stop between songs. We’ve written the set so that every single song joins together as, essentially, one continuous piece of music. Even though, we are changing style, changing key and changing time signature, it all comes together. There will be a clear development through the whole thing.”


Juan Laforet and Jack Borrill performing with Quiche in early 2020

Juan Laforet and Jack Borrill performing with Quiche in early 2020


Describing the sound of The Joy Hotel is not an easy prospect for the band, but it is clear that the music will continue to surprise and challenge its listener.

Luke continues: “Obviously, we are pretty big on harmonies. That’s something that was always going to happen, I think, with having six singers in the band.

“We’re pretty loose with time signatures as well – one video we put out was a song called Twenty Three (A Comedy) and there are so many different sections, and changes time signature and key like five or six times. We just don’t want to be too restrictive or decide on a format beforehand.

“Songs usually begin as a full song – or about 60-70 per cent of an idea – and it will develop over time. It’s important to keep it free and not get caught up in trying to be a 60s garage band or a 70s revivalist band.

“We just don’t want to be predictable, really. I like that fact there are some consistencies between our songs, but, stylistically, they are quite different.

“With everything we each bring, I think if I were to go down the list of other artists we might sound like then the list would be endless. We’ll sound like everyone and no one.”

In the meantime, the band are dedicating their efforts to their upcoming show and getting their album down. The prospect of further new material is already on the cards as The Joy Hotel aims to stay ahead of the curve.

“We are going to record an album in late October,” Luke says. “We’re heading down to Rockfield in Wales to get that done. If we can get that out of the way then we can start working on new material, and stay ahead. With so many people in the band, there is always something new to work on.

“For the time being, we are just preparing for Tut’s and we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed that nothing else impedes that. No more lockdowns. After that we’ll be focusing on Wales and get that done.”

The Joy Hotel’s upcoming sold out show at King Tut’s is scheduled for October 2.