Jake Newling, Andy Hilligoss and Will Garza of Joyful. debut the band's new single “Alive” and its video Friday. // Courtesy of Alex Zarek

Premiere: Joyful. is yearning for freedom in the band’s first single of 2021

“Alive,” the new single by Northwest suburban pop-punk band Joyful., tells a story about breaking free from a bad relationship. But it also can speak to all of us right now on our own terms.

After 11 months of pandemic-induced lockdowns, many of us are feeling various degrees of isolation. But Northwest suburban alternative rock band Joyful. injects some energy into the new year with the rousing pop-punk anthem “Alive,” out Friday with an accompanying video.

What is actually a look at yearning to escape a relationship gone wrong feels like that voice in the back of our heads screaming to bust out: “I just want to feel alive for the first time.”

Video by Alex Zarek

The trio — Jake Newling of Villa Park, Lombard’s Andy Hilligoss and Will Garza from Schaumburg — built Joyful. as another musical outlet in late 2019, planning to use last year as their debut. But COVID-19 had other plans, and the band shifted to virtually releasing singles. According to Newling, the band’s drummer, “Alive” was the first song they tried to write together after the lockdowns.

“This was kind of an interesting test of just trying to write in a new way, because there was a long time where we couldn’t even be in the same room together,” Newling said.

“It was Andy’s idea to have the verses of the song be from the perspective of these two people in this relationship, which we all thought was really cool,” he added. ”It just kind of worked with the chorus trying to break away from this toxic, horrible relationship that this character is in. He was trying to tell the story of a fictional person, but you hear stories like that all the time, though. Maybe people in relationships that are super messed up and toxic and they just can’t break away. They want to get away and live life to the fullest, but they just can’t walk away. It’s an all-too-common story.”

Even though the lyrics are built around feeling trapped by a person (or maybe a virus), musically the song channels some of the most upbeat of influences; the dynamic pop-punk sound blends seamlessly with late-’90s and early-’00 bands such as Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World. And the performance video, shot by Alex Zarek, bursts with color and life.

“Tonally, it’s definitely kind of an uplifting sounding song. It makes me want to just get out and live life,” Newling said. “And I think even if a listener doesn’t really catch on to that it’s somebody telling a story, just hearing that chorus is relatable to anybody for a lot of reasons. Especially right now. It’s going to be a cool way to kick off our 2021.”

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