If rock bands in the mid ‘90s were playing pop songs from the late ’60s, The Happies’ new record, If We Were Really Here, would be leading the pack. It sounds like Jason Lytle of Grandaddy singing for Fountains of Wayne in a Stereolab tribute band playing at Stephen Malkmus’s birthday party. The members of The Happies have created a way to collect the best parts of the best bands and fashion their own sweet-tempered pop songs.
To begin a long push for its new collection of catchy tunes, the Salt Lake City local band will celebrate with a CD release party on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Kilby Court.
Miles Biddulph and Ki Mickelson are the two main writers of this five-headed power-pop band, with more songwriting credits to Linwood and Nathan Biddulph. “The band started as me in my bedroom with a drum machine and some songs,” Miles said.
The band’s new guitarist, anKi, has brought a greater ‘60s influence to the band with a wall of wax ranging from Belle and Sebastian to Miles Davis. “Everyone gets to write their own parts, but the whole song is structured as a band.”
The band members explained this arrangement while sitting behind the drum set in The Happies’ living room jam space. They have come a long way, trading in their drum machine and lo-fi bedroom mixes for a real drum kit and all the time they want in a quality studio—even though they got kicked out of Audio Space and had to move across the street.
Working at a studio on this record made If We Were Really Here more cohesive, showing off the thick keyboards, harmonizing vocals, rippin’ guitar leads, solid rhythm section and even a few guest musicians playing the trumpet, steel guitars and violin. Linwood, the youngest of the three Biddulph brothers, said, “Having Jason Meyers produce the record really helped it sound more glossy.”
With four songwriters on the record, you would expect a certain inconsistency, but each song backs the last one up by colliding chunky guitars and catchy sing-along choruses. Standouts include sultry, tripped-out lullabies like “Everything’s Fine, Cover Your Eyes” and “It’s Only You.”
The album starts out by pushing your toe-tappin’ button and then slowly switches and becomes the Ritalin with tasty lap steel for your A.D.D. in “Eleven.” The final two minutes sound like a destructive score to a chaotic battle on planet Hoth.
The CD release is only the start of the band members’ busy schedule. With the aid of their manager, they keep busy with a long agenda filled with interviews on KRCL, Fox 13, Park City TV and shows at venues from Urban Lounge to The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Wendover. They are planning their coast-to-coast tour for the summer and hope to get their songs stuck in people’s heads all over the U.S.