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Discover "The Simple Joy" of love and the angry heartache that follows with "Unravel".

Updated: Apr 3


Durham, NC-based band
The Simple Joy

"The Simple Joy" is a band of four exceptional musicians from Durham, North Carolina. The band consists of Tuck Satterfield (songwriter), Pam McCarthy (drummer), Michael Lowry (bassist and vocalist), and Stephen Munoz (Lead vocalist and soloist). The artists got together to make original music in mid-2019. The band's name stems from a simple sentiment of producing and sharing music.


"Unravel" is the band's first album, and they have effortlessly brought together various genres. The themes of the tracks mainly focus on melancholy, anger, unrequited love and misunderstandings that tend to be attached to a breakup.


The first song, "Triple-Double", is upbeat and Jazzy with a hint of rock. The simple lyrics are delivered with graceful vocals. "Nobody's Fault" gives off a moody vibe with its lyrics - "Cupid shit his arrow & found its station, but it ended in tears & recrimination. "Circus In Your Head" perfectly exhibits the band's instrumental capabilities. This track talks about the woes of loneliness and how one goes "looking for love in all the wrong places" at a vulnerable time. The vocals hold the background music well and make the song catchy. Pleasing country music and laid-back vibes are the best ways to describe the next track - "Avalon". This song has a soothing harmony in the background with soft acoustic strums. Moving on to "I Would Come Willing" is ethereal with its acoustics. The energetic music will surely make you sway in your seat. "Until" is graceful, and "Over You" has sombre lyrics. The next track, "Vows", will definitely have you tapping your feet to the catchy tune. "Everything But The Cost" has sweet, soothing music yet a sad feeling to it. The guitar riffs in this track are my personal favorite. "Clarksville" is an exemplary showcasing of the band's talents in combining multiple genres in a single song. The simple lyrics grow on you slowly. "If Your Soul Costs Nothing" is another joyful country song. The beautiful vocals and lyricism in "Now I" give off folk vibes. The lyrics of "Haze" are reminiscent of the past. The album ends with the emotionally charged track - "If I Could". The sweet melodies and sweet vocals make this song magical.


I love the contrast between the upbeat yet calming music and the woeful lyrical themes. Hear it right now!


We received an opportunity to interview the artist -

1. How did the band come together? Can you share the story of how you all met and decided to form The Simple Joy?


A. We formed in mid 2019 as a project to play original songs written by Tuck Satterfield. Tuck and Michael Lowry had been in a cover band together, and all four of us knew of one another through various other bands -- but were all looking for an outlet to make original music.

Shortly after starting to get regular gigs locally -- and even a planned mini-tour planned in Virginia -- the pandemic happened and cancelled shows and plans. Thankfully, we were able to continue playing together, thanks to Michael's front porch. We were able to spread out, with two of us at each end of the porch, two of us in the yard, and the PA in the middle. Not only did this allow us to continue to practice and even create new songs through the year or so without shows, it brought some live music to our neighborhood at a time when there was no in-person live music. Neighbors would bring chairs and listen from across the street, and people on walks or bike rides would stop and listen -- even though it was just practice and often we'd be playing the same song multiple times in a row or just working on sections.


2. Collaborative songwriting is often a hallmark of successful bands. Could you describe your songwriting process and how you collaborate on creating music?


And even though it started as a way to play songs that already existed (and even had demo versions), it quickly became clear that the new parts being added by Pam McCarthy (drums), Michael (bass, harmony vocals), and Stephen Munoz (lead parts and solos) made the tunes into something new entirely. Arrangements were radically changed, along with changes to add dynamics and nods to multiple genres and styles. Since those first dozen or so songs, we've created another 30-40 collaboratively, with Tuck still writing the lyrics and basic harmonic & melodic framework, but with the full band collectively deciding how the song "goes" and individually contributing the key parts of the song like drum & bass parts, instrumental solos, vocal harmonies, etc. This journey of building up the song together is a big part of the joy of making our music, and it takes what starts generally as pretty basic folk/blues songs and turns them into tunes that draw from multiple different genres and end up sounding -- hopefully -- somewhat unique.


3. Your music seems to blend different genres. What are some of the influences that have contributed to your unique sound?


We all come from different backgrounds and have differing musical tastes, but they are broad and varied enough that with any given band or song that someone brings up as a comp, at least one other person in the band will know it. Big influences for us tend to be Americana / roots-rock artists like The Wood Brothers, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, The Avett Brothers, John Prine, etc. But there are several older bands that we also owe a lot to such as Rolling Stones, The Cure, REM, Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello, and The Grateful Dead.


4. What do you hope listeners take away from your music?


There are a lot sad songs on this album. Angry breakup songs, dark songs about growing up, lots of loves unrequited or misunderstood. Even some of the happy-sounding songs are sad and/or angry. But the PLAYING of the songs -- along with friends and for friends -- is just pure and simple joy. That's where the name of our band comes from: the simple joy of making and playing music. No matter what the style, genre or subject matter, the joy is still there.


5. Lastly, can you tell me about a musical project that you guys are particularly proud of, and why it stands out to you?


I'm really proud of full album, of course, but the track that stands out to me is Haze, because of how & when it came about. Is based on the real-life story of Tuck and his older sister going down to the James River with their high school cross country team to drink beers and do a bunch of dumb & dangerous stuff. It was written after the whole album was already recorded and mixed & mastered. But something about the song really spoke to Pam (who had started playing ukulele AND drums on it at the same time in our live performances), and she advocated for its inclusion on the record. So we worked on the tune to the point when we went back into the studio, we were able to record that entire thing -- including the multiple harmonies and instrumental parts in a half day. For a song that is ultimately quite sad, the experience of making & recording it together was just a total joy.


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