I first saw Happyness down in the basement of The Shipping Forecast as part of Liverpool Sound City. I referred to their set in my review of the festival saying that, “Happyness are harnessing a growing reputation for their pavement like stoner fuzz punk. And in this basement tonight they show they’ve got the tunes to back up the talk.”
They’re a band that I’ve followed with interest since. It’s somewhat strange that I’ve yet to feature them on Sonic Breakfast.
A couple of weeks ago now, I popped along to Leicester’s Cookie to see them support Slow Club. Their growing confidence in performing live; an increased swagger that never once erupted into arrogance was more than evident. In a packed room, they indulged in a brotherly hug and then launched into their bass thumping buzz of an opening tune. A year earlier, the Pavement comparisons were hard to avoid but now they appear to be drawing on a wider set of influences. Wilco come to mind.
“This mic smells really strongly of rosemary and thyme“, they say. I find myself wondering who might have used it before. “Anybody know Slow Club? Because they’re playing after us”, they comment. The audience cheer. They play ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’ making no reference to the fact that part of the lyric is NME award winning. They crumble into a sweat-laden bundle on stage; solos are played from the crouched backs of other band members. It’s all laid-back, laconic slack from a band on the up.
Before the gig, I’d sent Happyness some questions. Here are Jonny and Ashley’s answers. With references to bearded ladies and tanning pills within (do follow my link to check out who Jane Barnell is), you suspect that Happyness are no ordinary band. You’d be right – there’s something extra-ordinary here.
2014 was the year that many people became aware of Happyness. Was there a point in the year that you thought, ‘Shit, this stone is really beginning to roll’?
It was nice releasing our music into the world after spending a while recording ourselves and not showing anyone. We’re still surprised when people say they have our album. There wasn’t a point as such, although since our label deals maybe some people think of us as validated. But from our viewpoint not too much has changed.
For those readers of Sonic Breakfast who might be still to experience the delights of Happyness, what would be your elevator pitch?
Don’t try and be brave just press the alarm button and wait for emergency services.
You’ve been touring with Slow Club. How’s that going? What’s been the highlights and lowlights? What’s your favourite Slow Club song?
It was kind of Slow Club to have us follow them round. I think the highlight and lowlight had to be explaining to a Slow Club fan that there was a support band, which would mean he would not be home for Question Time (because Slow Club would be on later). He spent our whole set asking for a refund.
Who are the bands that you simply must tour with in the future? And conversely, which one (or perhaps two) bands would you refuse to tour with?
The Glands, but I don’t think they tour as such. They play shows around the place.
And there’s not a single band on the planet we wouldn’t tour with for the right fee or personal favours.
You get to curate your own festival. Who would be your headliners (alive or dead)?
Pere Ubu, Randy Newman and Mariachi El Lemar
Which joke brings you most happiness?
There are two whales and one whale says to the other whale “[whale noise]”.
Who would play you in the film biopic of your career?
As you’re a trio, let’s play one of the best ‘threesome’ games that there is.. Shag, marry or kill.. (Snog, marry, avoid for adults).. Your choice is between…
(a) Madonna (b) Lana Del Ray (c) Lady GaGa…
Obviously Lana Del Rey and Madonna would never have sex outside of wedlock so this whole question is impossible to answer. And avoiding Lady Gaga is not difficult.
What are you most looking forward to in 2015? What will a successful year look like for Happyness?
Canthaxanthin on tap