London trio Happyness are a charming prospect. The trio have a sound that’s uniquely theirs yet there’s an air of familiarly about it also. They are a band that take influence from the melding of slacker rock with smatterings of jangly ambient atmospherics and the occasional tendency to break out into all-out noise.
Happyness recently dropped their début album ‘Weird Little Birthday’. An album that is as melody-rich as it is refreshingly witty and original. The band is gearing up for a huge autumn tour around the UK, so keep that in mind and for a full list of dates, head here.
We caught up with the band to talk about the journey so far, recording the record, first gig’s and more.
Welcome Happyness, thank you for taking the time out to speak to us. Can you give us a few words to describe each of your band mates?
Ashley mostly plays drums. He has brown eyes and curled hair. Jonny played all the xylophone parts on the record. He has hair. Benji has the usual number of fingers and toes. He has hair and brown eyes.
I love the artwork for ‘Weird Little Birthday’ what was the thinking behind the idea, can you tell us a little more about it?
Thanks. There was an over-zealous kid and a box of matches on a pebble beach in Kent and a person with a camera (needless to say). I guess we just thought it was a good picture.
How does it feel to have released your début album, to have it out there in the world and it being taken so kindly to?
Everything we make we get this real fear that something terrible might happen which would mean that it will never be finished. Like one of us getting kidnapped or hit by a car or something. So it’s a good feeling to know now that the album physically exists in the world rather than just in our heads. It’s nice to know that some people enjoy listening to it.
Having self-produced the album do you feel that it has given the record another element to it because it’s completely yours? Is it like you’re giving away a little piece of yourselves?
I guess so. We were kind of adamant that the record would sound the way we wanted. It’s kind of easy for the original feel to get lost along the way between starting a band and finishing a record, so at least while we were starting out it was really important for us to come off how we imagined it.
We bought an 8 track recorder and some mics and moved a lot of dusty furniture out of an old carpentry warehouse. We spent a while getting all the recordings together, but we owe a lot to Adam Lasus too, who mixed the record over the interweb and Parcelforce.
Is there a particular track on ‘Weird Little Birthday’ that you hold especially close to your heart? Can you tell us a little bit about the track and why it’s so special to you?
“Lofts” was the first song we wrote as a band and the last song on the album to be finished. Some of the vocals are from the original demo (the first thing we ever tried to record). Nostalgia’s good.
How was the process when working on ‘Weird Little Birthday’? Did anything surprise you?
We had to stop recording in the evenings because the studio isn’t sound-proofed. But we’d kind of sit around at night when we couldn’t make a lot of noise and then get stuff down during the daytime. We’d listen to a lot of records at night and talk about stuff. We had a kibbutz of butterflies come out in the summer and fly around while we were recording – that surprised us.
Music often speaks to the listener prompting thoughts, feelings and a deep connection to be made with the song. Music sometimes sparks imagery and colours in my mind, which we might associate with the words being sung or the melodies being played. Does this happen in your mind when you’re working on a song? Can you give us an example?
I guess we have certain things in our minds when we’re making the songs. “For Refrigerate Her” it was locking your lawyer in a fridge. “Orange Luz” is about an allergy to celeriac.
I’m always fascinated by song lyrics and phrases, your band are particularly good at writing the perfect lyric. So I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written?
I don’t really know. Something I like that someone else wrote is the TV dinner line in “Goodnight Ladies”.
In ode to your band name, what makes you happy?
Do you remember your very first gig together? How did it go?
Yes. The bands before us were much heavier, so when we played “Weird Little Birthday Girl” the room cleared apart from a young couple who slow-danced for the whole 9 minutes. We’ve tried to rework that moment a hundred times but people aren’t used to dancing like that anymore.
How do you feel the band has evolved since taking those first steps on to a stage?
Like a swimmer who can do a length if they’re allowed to grab onto the side every so often.
What was the first gig that you personally went to yourself as a punter? Do you think your first live gig experience had any influence on who you are today – did it spur you on to start your own band?
The first show I was at was a children’s birthday outing to Blue at Wembley Arena in front of a big video of Stevie Wonder on a roof. Not really.
Are there any bands that you would love to join for the day, just to get to hang out with them?
We saw an interview Bo Ningen did about lazy British people. So maybe them.
I know there are moments when I hear a band name that I’m either blown away by or just completely underwhelmed. But are there any band names that you’re particularly envious that they got there first or any band names that you just love?
There were so many words getting thrown around when we were getting a name it got kind of disorientating. We’d say names of bands that we loved and not realise it for a few seconds. ‘Television’ happened once. I think they’re probably the top of the pyramid scheme of having a band name.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?
Like us and buy our stuff.
A special thanks to Happyness for this interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below: