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American duo joan on creating unique retro pop music, Zack Tabudlo, and 'the biggest show of their career yet'

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Sep 14, 2023 5:35 pm

Four years after their first tour in the Philippines, joan is bringing their infectious indie-pop sound back to the country for a larger concert.

In 2019, the American duo, composed of Alan Thomas Benjamin and Steven Rutherford, visited Manila twice—once for Wanderland Festival and again for a series of mall shows with Honne. This September, joan will embark on their first-ever headlining tour in the country, dubbed "Superglue."

"It’s a dream come true in a lot of ways. We’ve been in Manila now a few times but it's always been either supporting or festivals which are awesome and so good to build fanbases," Alan told PhilSTAR L!fe during a Zoom interview.

"We don’t know what to expect. We try not to pay too much mind to metrics and all that– as much as it’s hard not to. But it just blows our mind that people across the world like our music. So it feels really good to be coming back, it feels really good to be playing our own show, we hope people come out and love it and we can leave them with a memorable evening and make them want to come back the next year," he added.

'We’re very conscious about not sounding like anyone else' 

In the late 2010s, joan formed their band in Little Rock, Arkansas. Inspired by 1980s and 1990s music, they wanted to keep making music that was unique and innovative, hence the mix of retro sounds with modern pop. They said they are "very conscious about not sounding like anyone else."

"We try to make our albums a holistic experience. We want every song to be singable, every song to be like—you can pluck it out of the album but also it can fit cohesively within a storyline, our narrative, just like a tracklist. So, we try to make meaningful pop music," Alan told L!fe

"Our goal was always to make people feel seen and that they can listen to our songs and see themselves in our songs and so, we work really hard to make that happen for every song," Steven said. 

Overall, the two wanted to make a live perspective wherein listeners can feel like they can escape from their world and be themselves through their music.

"We want people to have that freedom through our songs which sounds… kinda weird, kinda cult-y sometimes, a little bit. But yeah, we just want people to kinda feel themselves in the songs overall," Steven expressed. 

'open ears' for music collaboration

When it comes to collaborations, the American pop duo is in the middle of knowing who they want to create music with in the future, but have been working on it for the past year.

"It’s definitely something we’re still trying to build—a list of artists that we want to work with and want to get together with. And so, we’re open ears," said Steven.

Meanwhile, the duo released a new version of Superglue featuring OPM singer Zack Tabudlo last June. They shared with L!fe that Zack reached out to them when he was younger.

"He had reached out to us when he was younger and not really an artist yet, I think he just started writing songs, just to say like 'Hey, I’m a fan, would love to collaborate with you guys someday,' and we had no idea who he was because he wasn’t who he is now yet," Alan revealed. 

The vocalist and keyboardist is also looking forward to more songs to do with the OPM singer. "Fast forward all these years later and we’re like 'collabing' together and we’re hoping to do more together with music in the future."

Philippines is like their second home

As a group that enjoys performing in the Philippines, Alan said they want to continue developing their music there. He even called the Philippines their second home.

"Thank you, all of you, for caring about us. And we hope to keep growing in the Philippines. We hope to keep coming back every year, it’s so special to us to come out and see everyone. It’s a surreal thing to see people singing your songs back to you across the world so we’re super thankful. Thank you for all the support. We truly from the bottom of our hearts love you guys and truly feel like the Philippines is a home away from home, and it always has felt like that, so thank you," he said. 

Steven jokingly said that he is ready to buy a house and move to the country because of the avid support of their Pinoy fans. "I’m ready to buy a house and move in and make the Philippines a real home because it feels like it every time." 

joan is set to perform at the New Frontier Theater in Quezon City on Sept. 19. Steven said that they've been planning the concert since the beginning of the year because they wanted to make this tour the "best show joan's ever done." 

"We’ve been working really hard planning every second of it to make it really special," he said. "The show feels really special to us, it feels like the best thing we’ve put together so I’m really excited for other people to see it."