Interview: Happyness

In the back of Heaven (the venue) we sit surrounded by Spice Girls paraphernalia covering the walls like a wall of old school fame. More like a Spice Girls shrine. Jonny admits it was the only film he and his three sisters would agree on watching. What the four of us also agreed on is that every tour bus should have a swing. Just like the Spice Girls’ bus in the movie.

Happyness’ memory of the Spice Girls movie is impressive. Almost as impressive as their new music, they rerelease their debut album ‘Weird Little Birthday’ at the end of this month. And it’s deluxe. Woah. (They’re also interested in a McDonald’s sponsorship… So if you’re reading this Ronald, Happyness want Happy Meals.)

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On that Spice Girls note, how was your tour with Slow Club? And now you’re touring with JAWS.

Jonny: Fun. Playing shows. Urm.
Ash: Drinking beer.
Jonny: Sometimes drinking other things. We got a nice smoothie in Liverpool. Or somewhere else.
Benji: That was nice. Got a half price deal at a local restaurant in Liverpool, that was very nice of the internet to give us that. Tour was fun. Only done one show with JAWS, that was fun. This is our second. Hopefully it will continue to be fun.

Have you played Heaven before? Actually no you haven’t, because we were both waiting outside not knowing where we were. 

Jonny: We were lost together. And then found together, isn’t that nice? Like St. Paul. Heaven.
Ash: We had trouble finding it, then we had to park the van.
Benji: I’ve been to this room before as a person, but not a band person.

‘A Whole New Shape’ has been around for a while now, but it takes a slightly different direction from your older stuff. Was that a conscious or a subconscious change?

Jonny: Kind of subconscious. We’ve had that song for quite a long time now, we’ve been playing it live for about 4 months or something.
Benji: It changed quite a lot in the studio from how we were playing it live. We took it into the studio with it being one thing and it came out as a slightly different thing.

And that’s coming out as part of your rereleased album ‘Weird Little Birthday’? What’s different?

Jonny: The artwork…
Benji: Four bonus tracks.

A deluxe edition.

Jonny: It’s the album max.
Ash: It’s Weirder Birthday 2.0.

Is it a weirder smaller birthday? Or maybe it’s a weirder bigger birthday?

Benji: A slightly bigger, more normal birthday.
Jonny: Four tracks at the end chronologically from the history of the rock band Happyness. Like a documentary.

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You won the ‘Best Lyric’ NME award for Montreal Rock Band Somewhere – “I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair/There’s a scalpless singer in a Montreal rock band somewhere.” Who got the middle finger?

Benji: We don’t get a real one. We’re a periphery award.
Jonny: We didn’t even get a mention.
Benji: We don’t get a finger. I got told by an NME journalist we might get a chocolate finger if we were lucky. Still waiting, but it would be very kind of him.
Ash: Hypothetically, if we did get the finger, who would take it home?
Jonny: I think probably Benji because I think you wrote that lyric.
Benji: That’s very kind of you. I get to take home the hypothetical chocolate finger. But I think we could all share that finger.

Cut it into three.

Jonny: If it was chocolate, we’d hope we’d get more than one.

But also, that lyric, as well as some of your others, they’re a bit nicely-twisted-esque? If that makes sense? Do you enjoy that part of writing?

Benji: It’s definitely fun writing those kind of lyrics I guess.
Ash: They don’t come from a necessarily twisted place.
Jonny: We kind of wrote the whole album and when we were in the studio we were all kind of having a slightly happy, not necessarily happy… We were feeling very fulfilled and having a good time. Then it kind of came out and everyone kind of went “oooh”.
Benjji: We were isolated from a lot of our friends at the time so I think we slightly lost touch with what you can and can’t do.
Jonny: The real world.
Benji: I think at the time it all felt very like it’s own thing. If that makes sense. 

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Why is there a ‘Y’ in Happyness? And are you bored of people asking that yet?

Jonny: Yes we’re bored…
Benji: Nooo. We can deal with people asking us that for a little bit longer.
Jonny: Because of Happy Meals.

Do you eat a lot of Happy Meals?

Jonny: We did.
Benji: On Free Fruit Fridays. It’s because of that.
Jonny: It’s because of Free Fruit Fridays that we put the ‘Y’ in Happyness. It’s part of an endorsement deal we have with McDonald’s. Go to McDonald’s, eat their burgers, eat their chicken.
Benji: Go to their website.
Jonny: Drink their milkshakes.
Benji: Free range eggs.
Jonny: They use them.
Ash: Good potatoes.
Jonny: They cook their chips in rapeseed oil, which isn’t that bad for you. and as far as I can tell they make a fucking killing so if they can give us anything for free that would be very nice.
Ash: After we named ourselves after their product…
Benji: One of their most famous products.
Jonny: Like Paul McCartney named himself after the Big Mac.
Ash: I remember when a Happy Meal was 99p. Those were the days.
Benji: Showing your age here Ashley.
Jonny: I remember when a Mint Humbug was 3p…

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What makes you happiest? Apart from Happy Meals. 

Jonny: Playing a venue that has been graced by such performers as Victoria Beckham.
Ash: One Direction.
Jonny: With cake.
(They say whilst looking at the Wall Of Fame).
Benji: Louis, Harry, Liam and Harry. And Niall.
“What cakes you beautiful” that’s a good pun.
Jonny: Do they have a song called ‘What Makes You Beautiful’?
Yes.
Jonny: Well that cakes a lot of sense.
Benji: So this hall of fame makes us happy. Being able to do our thing in the steps of these.
Jonny: Billie Piper has had a nip slip here.

Are you going to have a nip slip later?

Jonny: We’ll wait and see. It’s gonna be embarrassing for everyone. The paps are going to love it. You’ll see it on the front page of the papers tomorrow.
Ash: And of course they’ll put it on the wall.

Next to Billie Piper. You’re about to go to America to do a tour. Have you been over there before?

Benji: We have, in October of last year. It was fun. We’re playing SXSW.
Jonny: They’ve got a McDonald’s in Austin, we’re going to Daniel Johnston’s McDonald’s. We can share a Big McCartney.
Benji: We’re going to a nature reserve.

Is that what you want from your trip?

Benji: Kind of actually. Although I don’t like snakes but I think some of them might live there.

I picture butterflies.

Jonny: That’s nice. I’m sure they’re there too.
Benji: My girlfriend hates butterflies.

I don’t like them either, I think they’re irritating.

Benji: Are you my girlfriend?

Yeah, I’m just dressed up.

Benji: Shit.

Sorry.

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Would you rather have a third eye or a third arm?
 

Jonny: Third arm.
Ash: Third eye.
Benji: Third arm. Why would you want a third eye? It would mess with your perspectives.
Ash: On the back.
Benji: I wouldn’t want that.
Ash: It depends where you get the third arm.
Jonny: Although three hands, think about that.
Benji: I’d be 3/8 of my way to being an octopus. Do octopuses have 6 or 8 arms.
Jonny: They have six arms and two legs.

Would you rather be as tall as you are wide or as wide as you are tall?

Jonny: If I was as tall as I was wide I’d be this big (not very).
Benji: I’d probably be as wide as I am tall.
Ash: Yeah I think so.
Jonny: I think I’d just be as wide as I was tall. Although would you be a square or a perfect circle?

You’d be like Violet Beauregarde.

Jonny: I think I’d take that. People could just roll me around.

Would you rather your flight be delayed 8 hours or lose your luggage.

Unanimous: Flight be delayed 8 hours.
Benji: There’s a lot of fun things you could do in an airport for 8 hours.
Jonny: Also if we lose our luggage we lose our gear.
Ash: And it’s irreplaceable.
Benji: Some of it…

Would you rather only ever be able to listen to Justin Beiber again or never listen to music?

Jonny: Never listen to music.
Ash: Never.

You’re about to go Justin Beiber…

Benji: I was about to go Justin Beiber, but now they’ve said that. I think I’d probably learn to love his loveable little hairless chest.
Jonny: You’d go and eat your own shit and pulling your eyes out in a month. I’ve seen it happen to people. I did medical testing. They just played Justin Beiber to me in a room. I used to have three arms.
Benji: What they said then. Use their ones.