Posts Tagged ‘Weird Little Birthdays’

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On the surface, Happyness seems like just another band cashing in on the resurgent popularity of softened indie rock. They do have a familiarity in their music in that they incorporate Pavement’s wit, the pop sensibilities of Neutral Milk Hotel, and the soothing, moodiness felt in many bands of the genre (Sparklehorse comes to mind). While they’re a young band, the London-based trio has an uncanny ability to take you to a completely different frame of mind like the sun-setting easiness that is “Orange Luz.” One thing is for sure, with Happyness you’ll enjoy the journey.

“Our setup consists of a pretty mismatched patchwork of stuff. We self-produced our album Weird Little Birthday using a bunch of cheap gear (a Roland Octa-Capture 8-channel digital interface, an Aria semi-hollow that has this cool, brittle, biting tone and when you drive it, it sounds raw as fuck) and then messed around with various 4-track tape players. For the most part, we just use whatever practice instruments we have lying around and it’s kind of the same attitude live—working with what we can afford that doesn’t suck like crap. That all being said, my main onstage guitar is a 1971 Gibson ES-335 and I also play a Fender American Standard Telecaster to save time changing tunings, so I’ll bounce back and forth during a set depending how we have songs/tunings lined out.”

Our main guitar amps are a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and a Blackstar HT Stage 60 combo, but somewhere along the line we picked up a collection of 15-watt practice amps—like a cheap Marshall combo and a Roland Cube—that we run vocals through when we’re doing stripped-down gigs. We’ll run those practice amps and the front-of-house sound guys hate us when we turn up those combos and insist on running vocals through them. The distortion sound we use for our vocals is a General Motors 1971 Alternator running through a Toblerone box.”

“My favorite thing on my pedalboard has to be the Danelectro Cool Cat distortion pedal—the red one. They’re super cheap and have an awesome, tacky distortion sound that’s really compressed and kind of harsh. We’ve run vocals through it—think: Satan-shouting-through-a-supermarket-PA—and we used it for loads of the distortion sounds on the album. The orange pedal on the board is a JHS Pulp ’N’ Peel Compressor that’s awesome. I keep it on throughout the set and it just softens everything a bit and warms stuff up—like a microwave. Other stomps I have on my board include Electro-Harmonix’s Holy Grail Plus, a Line 6 DL4, TC Electronic’s Vintage Tube Primer and PolyTune, and a Pro Co Rat.”

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Ultra-lo-fi, but Happyness’ ‘Weird Little Birthday’ is nonetheless stuffed full of rich melodies and arch lyrical observations. The band Happyness are a 3 piece band from South London, formed of multi-instrumentalists Ash Cooper, Benji Compston and Jonny Allan. After forming in early 1973, the band went on hiatus pending their births and the sufficient progress of the affordable digital audio interface market. Regrouping in 2013, the band spent Saturday nights playing under a railway bridge in Bermondsey. By mid-2013, having written “most of an album” they rented out an unused church with the intention of setting up a studio and finishing the record there. That ended after less than a week with only one song tracked – they were driven out by “the bitter cold and an unconvinced congregation of the dead”. (Unintentionally significantly the song was “Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)”).


Relocating to their affectionately named “Jelly Boy Studios” (a one-time carpentry warehouse and butterfly commune an hour or so outside of London), the band self-produced their debut album and the songs that would become their debut EP.
Before the recording sessions, the band had played a handful of shows under a variety of names (“something to put on the flyers”), but the name Happyness wasn’t used until November 2013, when the band started playing live in the build up to the release of their eponymous EP – mixed by Ed Harcourt.

The album – “Weird Little Birthday” – was mixed by Adam Lasus (Yo La Tengo, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and features Ed Harcourt singing on “Pumpkin Noir” and was released to great acclaim in the UK in the Summer of 2014. They have made various attempts to spread the rumour that Jonny Allan is the forgotten son and heir to the Terry Richardson empire, but those have all failed pretty conclusively. Their approach to writing and recording music means that roles within the band are fairly fluid, but Jonny Allan and Benji Compston do lead vocals and Ash Cooper does drums.

The band Happyness is three guys from London with a breathtaking range of sounds, like Wilco crossed with Sparklehorse, Pavement and gritty garage rock. With lyrics that are unexpected and dark, but also humorous, Happyness takes us on a bright but twisted trip on this song “Naked Patients.”

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Happyness have been one of my favourite new bands over the summer festivals great songs with great guitars, prolific songwriters from London the band released a brilliant album “Weird Little Birthdays” this year ,