Local rock band composed of K-Staters releases first single

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Album art for Joy Camp's single, "Eyes."

In 2016, a group of four longtime friends decided to compete in the OPUS Battle of the Bands, a yearly event put on by the Union Program Council. The band formed after the members had known one another for years playing together in church and just for fun.

“We spent a lot of time at the church [back home] practicing music, and a lot of the times we would continue to play long after practice was over,” said drummer Blase Pivovar, junior in marketing. “That’s where all four of us started playing together, just messing around.”

Although the band did the competition just for fun, they had an unexpected result.

“We kind of just showed up and played it as a joke,” said bass guitarist Nate Ward, Kansas City, Missouri, resident. “We had one 15-minute practice before the first Battle of the Bands we played. We ended up doing really well. We won. So, we decided to just keep on writing music together.”

Although the band wanted to continue playing together, they had not yet decided on a name. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Kurtis Blunt, Kansas State alumnus, had heard the words “Joy Camp” and was intrigued by the concept.

The band defined the term “Joy Camp” as when a group of people gather with intentionality to share life together and for an increase of joy and happiness. Joy camps can take place wherever people experience increases of life, encouragement and laughter.

“My word for 2017 was ‘joy,’” Blunt said. “The way that I define joy is it’s an eternal thing, it’s not just a feeling of temporary happiness. It’s an everlasting, ongoing feeling of contentment, fulfillment and carrying a lightness about you.”

Later that year, Joy Camp started playing shows whenever they could find an opportunity. The band have played in Manhattan, Lawrence and the Kansas City area. Its most notable show was opening for Taylor Phelan, who was on “The Voice,” at the Bottleneck in Lawrence.

“There are more bands that we know in Kansas City that we play with,” said lead guitarist Andrew Carnes, junior in business management. “Kurtis has so many different connections, he’s the one that’s gotten most of our shows. We didn’t have any music out and we still were getting shows.”

Joy Camp seeks to spread the joy they feel whenever they play.

“We’re all pretty spiritual guys and have a personal faith with Christ and that’s where we would say our joy comes from,” Blunt said. “We wanted to create an atmosphere wherever we went and played that allowed people to have an increase of joy in their life.”

On Aug. 3, Joy Camp released its first single on Spotify, titled “Eyes,” which was the result of a jam session. After a long process of sending the song to a mixer in Nashville and waiting for it to come out, Pivovar, who handled most of these mechanics, said he felt relieved when he saw the song online.

“It wasn’t until 12:01 the morning of when it supposed to be released that were actually sure it was going through,” Pivovar said.

The track is about Blunt’s warm feelings toward his wife and the span of their relationship from friendship, dating, engagement and now marriage.

“I’ve always just been really infatuated with my wife and I just love cheesy love songs,” Blunt said. “I just think they’re fun.”

Since its release, the single has had over 100,000 listens on Spotify and many more on other platforms. Joy Camp had no idea the song would do so well, and it has given the band members the drive to record an LP this December. While the goal of the band was never to strike it big, the members said they are happy to take any opportunity they get to spread joy to others.

“The whole premise around our band is just to be in community and have fun playing music and doing what we love together,” Ward said. “It’s never been a ‘make it’ kind of thing. We’re doing what we love with the people we love.”

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.