“A lot of the songs are about just coming to terms with yourself.” We chat with The Happy Fits
The Happy Fits, an alt rock trio from central New Jersey, are, fittingly, quite happy. The band’s single ‘Hold Me Down’ just cracked the top 40 on the US alternative rock charts and has top 10 chartings on both Billboard’s Alternative New Artist list and SiriusXM’s Alt Nation. Also, they count 42 million video views on YouTube and 525,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
And then there was National Public Radio’s take on their latest album, What Could Be Better. Rock critic Ken Tucker compared the band to The Turtles AND Paul Revere & the Raiders AND The Beatles.
Yes, THOSE Beatles.
“We definitely cried a lot … It still feels like a dream,” says drummer Luke Davis. “He is very honest how he feels about music. It was our first big name reviewing our music. Nationally people listen to this guy.”
The Happy Fits are drummer Davis, guitarist Ross Monteith and cellist Calvin Langman. (Yes, that is a cello in place of bass guitars.) All three share vocal duties. Together they deliver well-crafted, irresistible and foot-stomping music, and it’s hard not to quickly fall in love with their enthusiastic and fun sound. Tucker called The Happy Fits’ melodies “sharp and snappy … quick and concise.”
Despite the band’s name, the songs on What Could Be Better aren’t all sunshine and light. Langman, who writes most of the band’s music, says he tries to add a happy-sad juxtaposition to his songs. Listen beyond the exuberant melodies and strong choruses to fully appreciate Langman’s very personal lyrics that often detail his experiences as a 20-something making his way in a challenging world.
When performing, “I am literally screaming about my problems or my past problems to people. And because it is in a happy melody, it’s actually a really cathartic feeling,” Langman says. “A lot of the songs on What Could Be Better are about coming to terms with grief in the past, or coming to terms with anxiety, or just coming to terms with yourself.”
The three bandmates met in high school and were influenced by the music of The Killers, Royal Blood and Mumford & Sons. Each started college - and each dropped out to pursue his musical dreams. They founded the band about five years ago, performing at venues near Rutgers University, soon building a fan base that led to larger stages. They cold emailed former Passion Pit member Ayad Al Adhamy to produce their first record, and he agreed to become their producer and manager.
What Could Be Better, their second full length with Adhamy, was released last August. Their big, happy hit ‘Hold Me Down’ is actually a song about loneliness. On ‘Get a Job,’ Langman laments about how he doesn’t want to go to a paying job but at the same time he is anxious about affording dates with his girlfriend. And ‘Moving,’ their song that has an unmistakable Beatles feel, is about uneasiness in a relationship.
The latest single, ‘The Garden,’ is a ballad about Langman’s troubled relationship with his father. He explains that he felt his father had more of a passion for gardening than parenting. “Definitely there were a lot of times when my siblings and I would have recitals and important events, and he would rather stay home and garden. So the idea behind ‘The Garden’ is juxtaposing how outside of the house there was so much love and life.... But inside the house it was always lacking.
“I‘ve definitely come to terms with it now. We’re on way better terms than when that song was written,” he says. “But it definitely felt good to put that into a song.”
The cover of What Could Be Better features a slice of grapefruit spinning on a record player. The band explains that they chose this image as a metaphor for their music:
“It definitely goes along with the happy-sad theme,” Langman says. “The outside is like really bright and you think it’s going to be something really sweet, but once you open it up, it’s a little bit more bitter.”