Unlike most rising bands, joan isn’t looking to fit into the cookie-cutter parameters of alternative music, wanting to make records that anyone can listen to, regardless of genre. Composed of singer-songwriters Alan Benjamin Thompson and Steven Rutherford, the Arkansas duo got their start in 2017 after the release of their single “one more touch.”
“We love any music that is accessible to everybody,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter if you grew up on country, rock, rap, pop or polka, a great melody will make you feel something. So, that’s our aim every time. We consciously try not to pigeonhole ourselves.”
The duo came together after attending Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, often sharing bills during their separate solo endeavors around the state. Eventually, the two grew closer, forming joan and producing “one more touch,” and then other singles in that same year, including “love somebody like you,” which amassed 19.6 million Spotify streams.
A year later, joan was still gaining momentum, creating its first EP titled “portra.” With six songs, the band attracted more followers with songs about love and adolescence, especially evident with tracks like “take me on” and “i loved you first.”
Following the release of “portra,” joan went on its first headlining tour, but with the COVID-19 pandemic’s sudden arrival and negative impact on the touring and music industry, the duo was forced to self-reflect. Yet, this self-reflection only inspired them to tap deeper into their songwriting abilities.
In 2020, joan released another EP, “cloudy,” which saw the duo at their most vulnerable, discussing the state of the world, their mental states and their past and present relationships. Alongside the EP, the duo also dropped the acoustic version of it, called “partly cloudy,” allowing them to continue to use their creative outlet during almost two years of shutdown.
Luckily, things began to look up again for the band with the pandemic slowly improving, and a year later, joan collaborated for the first time with BEKA on “brokenhearted (together).” The band also continued to put more music on display, leading to its first compilation, “HEADLINERS: joan.”
Combining all of its single releases from 2021, joan received critical acclaim over its nine songs, with People saying, “... the dynamic duo have built their empire by putting their music first.”
Two years post-pandemic, joan was finally able to tour again alongside indie bands Sawyer and The Wldlfe throughout February and March, stopping in cities such as Memphis, TN and Seattle, WA. The duo also put out two new singles, “don’t wanna be your friend” and “flowers.”
In terms of the latter track, Thompson said, “You can listen to “flowers” and think of it as dedicated to someone you once loved. When it comes to high school or college friends, you have a feeling it’s going to last forever and your friendship is going to last forever until you die. Fast forward five or 10 years, and you think, ‘I haven’t talked to this person.’ It’s a juxtaposition of what life was and what it is now.”
With the wide success of their various EPs and singles, the duo also traveled outside of the U.S., making stops around Asia to perform for fans for the first time in places such as Singapore and Tokyo, Japan.
In 2023, joan is preparing for its new album, “superglue,” which comes out this month, the title in honor of the duo’s daughters. Thompson said, “As new dads, we were like, ‘What if we wrote this about our girls?’ We want them to know we’re superglue for them. We’re the guys you can run to when you’re sad or you want to rejoice because something happy happened at school. If you’re not a parent, it can be about someone you really care about. We’re singing it to our little girls though.”
Now ready to put their new music on display with another tour starting next month, joan will start in Atlanta, GA, at The Masquerade and perform until the end of June. As the duo continues to play in bigger and better venues than their previous tours, all signs point to its success growing in the next years to come in the alternative scene, even if they are now parents.