"Cowboys, pancakes, kissing and holding hands" Happyness talk to Soundblab - Interviews - Soundblab

"Cowboys, pancakes, kissing and holding hands" Happyness talk to Soundblab

by Rob Taylor Rating: Release Date:

South London Trio Happyness have received praise, including The Sunday Times nominating their album, Weird Little Birthday, as one of the best of 2014, and being in NME’s Best Newcomers List. They are in the midst of a tour of the United Kingdom at present (tour dates below) and will shortly travel to the USA for SXSW and a March/April tour. On March 30 they release new single ‘A Whole New Shape’.

The lads took time out to speak with Soundblab.

Reference points for music can be a bit tiresome, so sorry to do this to you, but in your music I’m hearing all the watershed bands of my youth, the laidback but tonally interesting Grandaddy, Pavement, Sparklehorse, Dinosaur Jnr., and Slint. What are your influences?

(Apology accepted) Yeah we're definitely into all those bands, and particularly Sparklehorse was a big catalyst in terms of our decision to make the record like we did. Wilco are high up the list too for us. They were definitely the band that took us out of our Libertines-crazed little 14-year-old worlds and kind of blew the idea of music wide open for us.

More recently we like Club Gaga, The Glands, Ought. We saw Pere Ubu in London a couple of months ago, they were really great.

Given that your music appears to draw influence from 1990s off-kilter American indie, what kind of crowds are you playing to in the UK?

It kind of depends but there's definitely a noticeable difference between the people who were into a lot of our favourite bands back in the day, and people who are discovering a certain thing now.

What are you expecting on the US tour?

Cowboys, pancakes, kissing and holding hands.

The band name Happyness is deliberately misspelt. Is this so people don’t take you for God-fearing hippies? Then again, there was the movie by Todd Solondz called Happiness, where the general tenor was one of unhappiness and dismay beneath a veneer of happiness. Are you too being ironic, or am I being cynical?

Neither of those really. It's probably more of a 'satisfied with the quality and standard of...' kind of happy. Like Happy Shopper.

[Interviewer’s note: Apparently Happy Shopper sells self-branded home products to independent stores, and I have no idea what that means as a measure of happiness] 

Your promo sheet contains this existential biographical snippet: “After forming in early 1973, the band went on hiatus pending their births, and the sufficient progress of the affordable digital audio interface market…” Are you comfortable then with the modern realities of being a band in the age of Spotify and iTunes Radio?

At times in the past, we've definitely taken it upon ourselves to be unhappy about the internet, but that's such an easy reaction. Things are the way they are and we don't exist outside of that.

As far as iTunes Radio is concerned I didn't know what that was, so I googled it. That exists. I'm comfortable with that. Not that I know anything about it. Other than that it was announced at the June 2013 WWDC Keynote Speech.

Streaming services and social media is not the sort of engagement with fans that budding young indie stars really want. Do you guys have groupies, and do you flog vinyl, t-shirts and other fashionable ephemera at your shows?

We definitely had to adapt to the whole social media thing. It took us a while to reconcile the music we wanted to make and the idea of flapping it around on the internet. When we first started we were so out of touch with all that stuff that we didn't really know how to approach it, but obviously it massively helps people hear our music so it's not necessarily a terrible thing. (That's not to say it doesn't breed a lot of them).

What do you want people to know about Happyness?

[Interviewer’s note: What you're about to read is the answer that Happyness gave to that question. Make of it what you will. 80s popstar Belinda Carlisle has said her favourite meal was salmon caught from a stream outside Kildrummy Castle in Scotland. But then, so fucking what?]

The Salmon by Belinda Carlisle

There once was a salmon - I don't know when. She was born in a stream that became a river that became an ocean. And it was this progression she would trace - forth and back. She was not a big salmon, yet not so small as to be unusual. She was a usual salmon. And each time she ebbed and then flowed back to her birthplace she would pass other creatures: great quakmaking mantis shrimp and squat clumsy crabs, silked conger eels and frantic lobsters, gormless prawns and clever eyed sharks, bearded fish and fish with legs and fish that glowed inexplicably from deep within like jellied televisions.

Three times she returned to her stream. And she grew strong and big. And it pleased her to see the muscular zeppelin of her shadow slide off the rocks as she passed. And still she saw the wonder of the creatures around her. Her mind was a cushioned shrine to their majesty. The great noble sea snails and the angelic rays had unwittingly entered and remained preserved in the smooth blue helmet of her head.

Soon the time came for her next return. She surged from the ocean to the sea and into the fresh cool of her river. She glided, tensely effortless against the current, sensing the river narrow inperceptibly as she sailed. It was as she rounded a bend, glossing herself around the sandy bank, that she looked. And the jigsaw of the world was shaken in it's box. And as she glided up the unfamiliar river that she knew so well, she heard the other creatures crying to each other wild histrionic howls of glee that was heard and not felt. And she knew that she could not know that which she most desired to know. And as she sailed she ignored the bright tethered flies and the murk clad legs. And she felt very alone. And as she hovered up her stream she felt the banks revolve and she witnessed the unhinging of heaven. And she passed between them and was never seen again.

'A Whole New Shape' can be streamed here: https://soundcloud.com/happyness-4

Tour Dates

Date Venue City
Mon 23 Feb 2015 The Wardrobe Leeds, UK Tickets
Tue 24 Feb 2015 The Cookie Leicester, UK Tickets
Thu 26 Feb 2015 Guildhall Gloucester, UK Tickets
Fri 27 Feb 2015 Sunflower Lounge Birmingham, UK Tickets
Sat 28 Feb 2015 Queens Social Club Sheffield, UK Tickets
Tue 03 Mar 2015 Epic Studios Norwich, UK Tickets
Wed 04 Mar 2015 Heaven London, UK Tickets
Fri 06 Mar 2015 Manchester Academy 3 Manchester, UK Tickets
Sat 07 Mar 2015 The Institute Digbeth, UK Tickets
Sun 15 Mar 2015 35 Denton Festival 2015 Denton, TX, US Tickets
Tue 17 Mar 2015 —
Sun 22 Mar 2015
SXSW 2015 Austin, TX, US Tickets
Tue 24 Mar 2015 Hi-Dive Denver, CO, US Tickets
Thu 26 Mar 2015 Treefort Music Fest 2015 Boise, ID, US Tickets
Sun 29 Mar 2015 Burgerama 2015 Santa Ana, CA, US Tickets
Mon 30 Mar 2015 Bottom of the Hill San Francisco, CA, US Tickets
Wed 01 Apr 2015 Mississippi Studios Portland, OR, US Tickets
Fri 03 Apr 2015 Sunset Tavern Seattle, WA, US Tickets
Sat 04 Apr 2015 Stage 112 Missoula, MT, US Tickets
Mon 06 Apr 2015 Turf Club St. Paul, MN, US Tickets
Tue 07 Apr 2015 Gabe's Oasis Iowa City, IA, US Tickets
Wed 08 Apr 2015 Subterranean Chicago, IL, US Tickets
Thu 09 Apr 2015 Unknown venue Cleveland, OH, US Tickets
Fri 10 Apr 2015 Wesleyan University Middletown, CT, US Tickets
Sat 11 Apr 2015 Baby's All Right Brooklyn, NY, US Tickets
Sun 12 Apr 2015 The Cakeshop New York, NY, US Tickets
Thu 23 Apr 2015 La Flèche d'Or Paris, France Tickets
Thu 14 May 2015 —
Sat 16 May 2015
The Great Escape 2015 Brighton, UK Tickets
Fri 15 May 2015 Bremen Teater Copenhagen, Denmark Tickets
Sat 16 May 2015 Pop Revo Festival 2015 Aarhus, Denmark Tickets
Fri 26 Jun 2015 —
Sun 28 Jun 2015
Down the Rabbit Hole 2015 Beuningen, Netherlands Tickets
Fri 04 Sep 2015 —
Sun 06 Sep 2015
End of the Road Festival 2015 Salisbury, UK

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