WRITTEN BY: Rae Burach
The makings of the appropriately named Happy Fits began in 2014, when guitarist Ross Monteith and cellist Calvin Langman decided to combine their talents. Once drummer Luke Davis filled the need for percussion, the NJ-based indie duo quickly became a successful trio.
The Happy Fits were discovered by the band’s current tour manager, who was a stranger living in Arizona at the time. When looking for the Spotify-curated playlist entitled “Happy Hits,” he made a typo in the search bar. He liked what he heard and shared it with a friend that worked at Spotify. The band’s song “While You Fade Away” was put onto the app’s “Fresh Finds” playlist, and the rest is history.
An EP, an album, and several tours later, The Happy Fits are continuously growing. An unpredicted part of this growth? The Coronavirus pandemic. The guys didn’t expect this to be an element of their journey, and neither did any other artists.
Before the virus put a stop to large gatherings, The Happy Fits had a North American tour lined up for the spring. Simultaneously, they were going to open up for The Frights on much of their “Everything Seems Like Yesterday” tour.
The band had played three headlining shows before everything was cancelled. They were able to open for The Frights in Arizona, but it was the first and last show they played with them.
“We’re just kind of rolling with the punches right now,” Luke Davis said. “When all this is over… we’re one hundred percent coming to headline all the places that we said we were going to. Do a full North American tour, maybe a few shows in Canada too.”
Davis said that The Happy Fits have rescheduled with The Frights, but nothing is guaranteed yet because of the virus.
“It’s a bit of a bummer,” he said, “but everyone’s going through this. There’s only so much you can do.”
Like many artists during their time at home, The Happy Fits are doing live streams to keep in touch with their fans. It’s certainly a different way to experience music, but hundreds of people are tuning into each one of The Happy Fits’ thrice-weekly virtual concerts.
“It’s definitely interesting,” Davis said. “It’s a big change… But, I mean, for the circumstances, I don’t mind it at all. I think we all love it.”
Before The Happy Fits hit the road for their tour, they were in the studio for six weeks recording their second full-length album. They’re using this down time to assure that LP number two is solid, focusing on final mixing and album art designs.
Davis said, “Right now, we’re just trying to keep the fans occupied, but at the same time, we’re trying to expand and obviously make this album just the best it can possibly be.”
The album release has been pushed back because of the virus, as the band was planning on shooting music videos for certain singles. They’re still going for a summer release, though, and they’re excited to share new music with their fans.
The Happy Fits’ first release was their 2016 EP entitled Awfully Apeelin’. Their first album, Concentrate, came in 2018.
“The [new] album is shaping up great right now,” Ross Monteith said. “I feel like we took a step forward in terms of production. The new person that’s mixing it for us – his name’s Jim Stewart – I think he’s doing an incredible job. When we got our mixes back, they sounded more professional than our last album.”
He said, “I think the songs are a lot more complicated and more mature from a musical standpoint. They’re a lot more challenging for us, definitely. I’m proud to feel like we’re able to move forward and not be in a similar place as the last album.”
Aside from The Happy Fits’ unmatched energy and clever melodies, the cello is what makes them unique. DIY indie groups are a dime a dozen, but how many of them have upright strings at the helm? Davis said that, on the new album, the band has perfected how to use Langman’s orchestral talent to define their sound.
“It really just speaks to who we are and what we’re trying to portray,” Davis said. “For Concentrate, all the songs were just totally different songs. With this [album], I feel like they’re all cohesive. We have our sound. We finally found what we want to bring.”
“Calvin and Ross are just such good writers,” he said of his bandmates. “There’s a lot more harmonies. There’s a lot more involvement with all three of us blending together.”
The Happy Fits owe the quality of their coming release to their fans. Because of their budget for the second album, they reached out to fans for donations in order to release independently.
“We felt really bad asking people for money,” Monteith said. “We tried to do it in a more personal way where we did merch sales [with] hand-written letters. If they contribute $100 or more, they get their name written on the liner notes of the album. Our fans are very supportive. They’ve been going above and beyond. The amount of donations we’ve received is incredible.”
Davis said, “It means the world to us and definitely takes a lot of stress off our shoulders.”
It’s no secret that the music industry is struggling because of the pandemic. While The Happy Fits’ spring tour and their openings for The Frights were more about exposure than profit, they, along with so many other artists, are taking a hit because of the current situation.
The Happy Fits said they’re lucky enough to still be making an income from streaming. Although it’s not substantial, it’s keeping them afloat. They’re trying to help out their fellow artists, too.
“We’ve been trying to stream their music and buy their merch – supporting them in any way that we can by spreading their names,” Monteith said. “People are pushing very hard to help other musicians out, so it’s very cool to see everyone doing that for each other.”
While the music industry catches its breath, keep an eye out for The Happy Fits’ new album coming this summer, as well as rescheduled tour dates in the near future. Their music is available for streaming on Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, and Bandcamp.
Supporting up-and-coming artists costs no more than a few clicks and a couple minutes of great tunes. During uncertain times, every stream counts!