After playing in numerous indie rock and punk bands together dating back to 2009 with varying degrees of artistic success, guitarist Joey Degroot and bassist Kyle Wilkerson formed Joy Cleaner in 2015. The duo viewed the band almost as a challenge to themselves to take a more mature, accessible and deliberate approach to songwriting. Recruiting Cary Billemeyer on drums, Joy Cleaner began performing live in early 2016 and were immediately praised for their full embrace of pop songwriting while still retaining a scrappy alternative edge, with many favorably comparing their sound to such bands as Teenage Fanclub, Guided By Voices or The Lemonheads.
Throughout 2016 and 2017, Joy Cleaner embarked on many short tours that brought them outside their native North Jersey, playing to audiences in New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Albany, Atlantic City, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia. In July of 2017, their debut album total hell was released through Seattle’s Jigsaw Records and was received very positively, with reviewers noting the album’s “wall-to-wall hooks” and “undeniable melodies.”
Summer, 2018 proved very eventful for the band. In June, the trio embarked on a 10-day tour with their new drummer, Justin Grabosky of Trim Tabs, which brought them to Cleveland, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Boston and New Haven, among other cities. Following an opening spot for Shacks at WFMU’s Monty Hall in Jersey City, the band hit the road for Georgia in August to perform at the annual Athens PopFest. The 2018 festival lineup included headliners Guided By Voices, The Mummies, Dean Wareham and Ex Hex, and brought Joy Cleaner’s music to an even wider audience.
As of September, 2018, the band is steadily working on new music for their sophomore full-length effort, with plans for a 2019 release.