When Barry Johnson, the guitarist and lead vocalist for California-based punk rock quartet Joyce Manor, answers the phone, he sounds positively relaxed. I ask how he is doing with the band's newest album, Cody, just days away from release at the time. "Pretty good, man," he says. "Just got some coffee and now I've got nothing to do."

This would seem to be a new feeling for Johnson. Cody, which is the band's second release for the legendary independent label Epitaph Records, has been nearly a year in the making, making its release on Oct. 7 somewhat of a cathartic experience for Johnson.

"I wrote it in November 2015," he says before guessing that recording began in February 2016. "It took a couple months to record and mix and stuff. I honestly think it came around pretty quick. We finished it in May. So five months is a pretty fast turnaround."

But even if Cody was a quick turnaround, the recording process was the most arduous for any Joyce Manor record to date. The band's previous LP, 2014's widely lauded Never Hungover Again, took 10 days to record, which was the longest time spent on an album by the band at the point. For Cody, the band -- composed of Johnson, bassist Matt Ebert, guitarist Chase Knobbe and drummer Jeff Enzor -- teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer Rob Schnapf, perhaps most famous for his collaborations with Elliott Smith, for two months in the studio.

According to Johnson, Schnapf's touch was felt almost immediately when Joyce Manor began recording.

"The cool thing with Rob was that he didn't say, 'We've got two months,'" explains Johnson. "He said, 'It is going to take as long as it takes.' So the attitude was that if it took five weeks, cool. If it took two years, cool. The album's done when it's done."

Under the guidance of Schnapf, Joyce Manor took a new and detailed approach to recording that they had not previously tested.

"We tracked drums and then we went song by song and finished them each one at a time," says Johnson. "So we would take the songs and do the guitars, the vocals, the harmonies: whatever else it needed until it was across the finish line. You could really focus on what you are doing without worrying.

"I'm impatient," Johnson continues with a laugh. "We'd do guitar and bass one day and then I would want to start doing vocals or something and Rob would slow me down. It was killing me!"

In spite of having to adjust his own personal habits to meet Schnapf's more methodical approach, Johnson felt that the recording process for Cody was the most relaxed he's experienced yet.

"We ended up really taking our time and making sure that what we were doing was good, instead of freaking out and looking at the watch with a 'time is money' vibe," he says. "I didn't have that feeling at all. So it happened to take two months because we redid some stuff and this and that. We just had to get everything where it needed to be and there was no pressure to get it done."

Another new component to Schnapf's presence was the band's first attempt at pre-producing a record.

"We had never actually done pre-production before," Johnson explains. "I remember last time, Joe Reinhart [producer of Never Hungover Again] kept asking me to send him demos and I just never did. I was always reworking and rewriting stuff, so I didn't want to send him a demo of something that wasn't all the way there yet. And when I felt like I had it finished, I wondered why does he need to hear a demo? It's done, so what can he really say? 'Cool song'?

"So Rob said we'd be doing pre-production and I was excited to do it for real this time," he says, taking a moment to say hello to his cat before continuing. "Joe is a really talented guy too, and I should have done what he asked me to do. I think it was because we were peers, whereas as Rob is wise and has more experience. With him, I was like, 'Alright, whatever you say.'"

Working with a producer such as Schnapf forced Johnson and his bandmates to adapt as the long-time professional offered extensive critiques and suggestions as the group worked through their new material.

"We went in with the songs and then he'd sit in rehearsal with us and have us play the song. Then he'd say, 'I don't like this part, I think it gets boring right here,'" Johnson says with a little chuckle. "And that was cool, but it was also really strange. My thing has always been to trust my gut. In my gut, if I feel that something is right, that is when it is done to me. This time, I had things where I had that feeling and Rob would say, 'I don't like this, it isn't right.' So I would groan, but we had worked so hard to get it to that point that I felt like we should keep going. So we would change stuff that I felt really good and confident about and I would feel really weird about it. I was like, 'Hey man, you're ruining my song.' But then I would step back and see that he was totally right and made it so much better. They were usually problems I didn't even notice in the songs that he totally addressed and helped to make them better songs. That was eye opening. You can't always rely on your gut and its good to get other people's input."

For Johnson in particular, this kind of revision process was fairly new to his songwriting process.

"A lot of times, I'll bring something to practice that I'm stoked on and I can just tell my bandmates aren't really feeling it," he says. "That's a way of seeing what works and what doesn't. But for someone to really sit down and pick apart a song and have ideas for how to make it better...that was totally new."

But while getting to the final product was done through a new and novel formula, the spate of songwriting that became Cody followed the same path it always has for Johnson.

"My process is really kind of the same," he tells me. "I find that the kind of songs I want to write for Joyce Manor are songs that are really dictated by the vocal melody. A good vocal hook and strong lyric are generally what guide the songs. Everything else is just serving that.

"So you can't really sit down and write a good vocal melody, or at least I can't. It is typically the kind of thing that just pops into your head like, 'Oh shit, here's a song.' It is not exactly waiting around for that to happen because I find that I have to be in songwriting mode for those kind of things to pop up. But that process is consistent throughout all the records. If I try and sit down with a guitar, it is bad. It just has to happen naturally. But a good vocal melody that comes with some lyrics or the beginnings of lyrics are all the most memorable songs I've written. They've just kind of shown up like that."

He also explains that most of the songwriting for the record occurred in one fell swoop. "I had a hot streak in November. I wrote three songs in one day and two of them made it on the album. One of them was really bad," he laughs.

"I was just writing crazy amounts of songs in November. Some of them were pretty good and didn't make the album, but what the album was going to be just kind of showed up. There were a couple of songs I had written before, but the vibe that makes this album new and different just kind of appeared that month. I wrote 'Fake I.D.,' 'Over Before It Began' and some other ones."

The latter song was a particular point of pride for Johnson.

"With 'Over Before It Began,' it felt like my first grown up song," he says with pride. "It has a maturity to it and is vulnerable. I think I would have been more afraid of that when I was younger, but now I'm happy to know I have that in me instead of being a cold-hearted bastard."

Part of what makes Cody such a strong and cohesive product is Johnson's ability to narrow in on the problems that he has experienced and is likely to share with the band's (largely youthful) audience.

"The second song, 'Eighteen,' is about not romanticizing being young and how horrible it can feel to be young and hopeless," he says. "I don't feel like that anymore but I felt like remembering it was important and it is done in a really sweet and comforting way, I think. It is meant to comfort a younger person."

When I point out one of my favorite lines from that song -- "I feel so old today" -- Johnson cannot help but exclaim: "That's such a brutal line."

When asked about the increased cohesion and emotional poignancy of his lyrics, Johnson points to two major influences. The first: Green Day.

"For this record, I listened to a lot of Green Day," he says with a little surprise in his own voice. "I was never a big Green Day guy. But then lately, I got really into Nimrod and Warning-era Green Day. The song craft is so good. I think I was subconsciously striving for that. Really simple, timeless rock songs."

But while a pop punk-style band like Joyce Manor taking cues from Green Day isn't an extraordinary revelation, Johnson's second influence was a bit more surprising.

"I also listened to a lot of Sun Kil Moon. Big time."

While initially a bit unexpected, Johnson's penchant for vivid vignettes and the level to which they've improved speaks to his burgeoning love for the music of Mark Kozelek.

"He was another person I was never really aware of, but then a friend of mine asked if I had ever heard of them," Johnson explains. "Then he told me to go home and check out 'You Miss My Heart' and said I would love it. When I put it on, I was like, 'Where the fuck have I been?' So I got really sucked in. There is so much great material to go through. With Red House Painters, I haven't fully taken the dive. But the old Sun Kil Moon stuff is great and I love his new stuff. I'm totally about that stream-of-conscious stuff."

One of Kozelek's underappreciated songwriting talents that Johnson zeroed in on was his sense of humor.

"It is super funny and super refreshing," he says. "I think a lot of younger bands are afraid to put themselves out there and be judged. So to know that somebody who has been doing it that long is still finding things about themselves to say is really inspiring to me. It made me realize that I need to put telling things about myself on this album. I don't think I did anything to the extent of Benji, but it did inspire me to get vulnerable."

Johnson also attempted to emulate Kozelek's ability to use small details to show a much broader picture. "I think when you zoom out of these new songs, you will see a lot more. But again, nothing quite to the extent that he does. Our stuff tends to be more melodic, but he even has the pretty melodies too. He has written fucking perfect pop songs. 'Carry Me Ohio' is so beautiful, they should have just stopped fucking making music after that song. To know that he can do that and this breathtaking stream-of-consciousness journal entry rock, you just can't help but be amazed this is the same guy. It was really inspiring. I tried to push myself without devolving to Mark Kozelek worship."

While Johnson tried to keep his Sun Kil Moon inspirations beneath the surface, he does say that it bubbled to the top on one overt occasion.

"I think the only point in which it becomes very obvious is on 'Last You Heard Of Me,'" he says. "There is one line where I kind of sing it like Mark Kozelek. I think you will hear it now if you put it on. The way I sing 'unless' at one part is exactly like a Mark Kozelek impression. I was just listening to so much of it! But I'm still really proud of that song, I wrote it in like five minutes. So I wasn't going to change it to cover my tracks.

"The funny thing about that song is that in Kozelek's songs, the idea is 'go somewhere.' But nothing fucking happens in 'Last You Heard Of Me.' It is so boring. Musically nothing happens, lyrically nothing really happens. I just really like it. Something about it made me really proud. It sounds like I wasn't trying and I wasn't. But I came up with something. I like the melody, I like the guitar line. But there is no reason to like it. But for some reason, it is really special to me."

But beyond influences, Johnson is most proud of the totality of Cody. Front to back, the album is an exhilarating listen with no filler, nothing that begs a listener to skip ahead.

"I work really hard to make it a full product," Johnson says. "Maybe a couple years from now I'll reconsider, but I can make it through the last two records and feel good about it and not skip anything."

When I ask him how he feels looking back at the band's earlier material, he wastes no time in pointing out weak moments or areas that made him want to grow.

"I don't really like 'Ashtray Petting Zoo' on the first record [2011's Joyce Manor]. I think 'Call Out' is a weaker song. I like the second half of it, but the first half is like...what is going on with that song? It isn't bad, but we were still finding who we were as a band. And that guitar riff is fucking nonsense."

Perhaps to the surprise of some, Johnson's biggest frustration is with the band's 2012 breakout LP, Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired.

"With Of All Things, I just think the whole album is a little overcooked. I was freaking out because it was the second record and people were actually going to hear it," he tells me with his voice picking up speed as he revisits the making of the record. "The first album came out and eventually gained speed, but I didn't think anyone was going to hear it. But that time, I knew people were paying attention and I got in my own head and it fucked me up. So that record is hard for me to listen to. I think that whole fucking record is skippable actually. It just stresses me out to think about it. If I see the album cover, I get stressed. It was just so stressful to make. I had to go through that though."

But now, four years removed from the experience of that LP, Joyce Manor has released what will surely be their most successful album to date in Cody. And the band is now plenty far removed from their days performing in houses and living rooms, instead playing to sold out theatres around the United States. I ask Johnson if he misses the intimacy of house shows and small venues.

"It was more interesting," he says. "Each show was more memorable. It wasn't always the same kind of shit and it was very unpredictable. But the lows were fucking low. You would just find yourself at some fucked house with some fucked people with some fucked neighbors and it made me just want to go home and see my cat and never go out again. But there were times where it was fantastic too. I do miss it, but I did it.

"Now, I'm just really grateful that we get to do this kind of thing."

Joyce Manor's new album, Cody, is out now.