Transit: A Deeper Look Behind ‘Joyride’

photo: Mike Silvano

Transit [tran-sit, -zit]: N: The act or fact of passing across or through; passage from one place to another.

The Boston quartet has continued to move forward. Transit’s sound has slowly evolved from emo/punk songs with 2008’s This Will Not Define Us to the recent release of its full-length Joyride, a 12-song album filled with indie rock. Not only has the band’s sound continued to move forward, but Transit is still taking steps even after the departure of founding guitarist Tim Landers, who’s vocal contribution added a prominent element to Transit’s overall sound.

But vocalist Joe Boynton said every year is different for Transit. He sees each year as a new chapter for the band. Something is always changing, even if that means creating a new sound or saying goodbye to an original band member.

“I live in a pretty fast-paced state,” Boynton said. “You have friends coming and going in and out of your life a lot. It is difficult to deal with something like that, but it’s not as crazy as I think it would be to other people. I don’t look at anything going on right now as negative. I love everyone in my band. I think they’re incredibly talented. I love our record and I think this is our best record. I feel good as far as where we’re at.”

TransitWhile Landers did contribute to the writing process of Joyride before he officially left Transit in August, Boynton attempted a new method of songwriting for this album. The band decided to work with Gary Cioffi and Steven Haigler to work on the album, as they did on Transit’s Rise Records debut album, Listen And Forgive. The vocalist said he personally had more breakthroughs while writing the new album than he has had with any other album he has written before.

His new writing method: Write, Reflect, Rewrite, Repeat.

On previous albums, Boynton would look at the final product of a song he thought was finished and kept it at that.

“Before I was pretty nervous about breaking something that I felt worked,” Boynton said. “Before I would be very comfortable. I would say, ‘this song works; it gives you that emotional effect. I don’t want to touch it or mess with it.’”

After what he thought were finished songs, he asked himself, “But what if?” He would sit down and look at the bridge of a song and go through many ideas of how he could change the lyrical perspective, and make it the best that he could. It wasn’t about taking the safe path and being happy with the record. It was about pushing the envelope and going 200 percent.

“With this record, I really got to explore as many avenues as possible,” Boynton said. “I exhausted all outlets, as far as storylines go, narratives and wordplay. You always think that you’ve given it your hardest until you get that next project and it’s sitting there on your desk. You’re looking at the words and syllables and it’s not a finished song and when you have that that’s the scariest moment because you know any decision you make sitting right there will dramatically effect everything that the record will become. We really just tried to amplify everything to be as fun and as filled with life as we could. I feel like we definitely achieved that with this one.”

Boynton had a folder on his computer with categories such as objects, people, places and paintings. He would search things online from old cars to a close shot of shattered glass. While growing up with a deep interest in skateboarding, he often looks to professional skateboarder Rodney Mullen to become inspired to make something pure. Mullen is most known for creating his own flatground tricks, something Boynton is always trying to attempt.

After sorting through 200-300 ideas for each category and finally deciding on the name Joyride, it seemed like the perfect fit. The vocalist said the word is almost a whole other word for their band name, Transit. Boynton said he feels like Transit’s previous albums have been a joyride, a mixtape of ups and downs. Many of their songs go from really abrasive to extremely relaxing.

“The band name has always meant constantly moving, constantly going,” Boynton said. “I felt like the name of the record has amplified the band name. It’s definitely the proudest thing I’ve done so far, as far as anything creative. I can’t wait to see how the meaning of the songs change for me when we play them live.”

Boynton is known for singing up close to fans during live sets and jumping into the crowd. He’s excited to see how the songs will change in meaning to him personally after interaction between his onstage performance and people in the crowd singing along.

“Every time we record and the songs mean one thing to me we’ll play it live and I’ll get the expressions from kids’ faces when they sing and their idea of the song will somehow start pushing itself on me,” Boynton said. “My opinion of the song will change and my overall storyline will change the more kids sing along and the more kids react to certain parts. That’s when I’ll truly know what the record is about and what the record means.”