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What Is A Happy Death?

Questions of life and rock

You must experience A Happy Death to really know this Portland band. Photo courtesy of Facebook

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Dear reader, would you indulge me in taking you behind the curtain for a brief moment? You see, I've been writing about bands for about four years now, and there are certain things that I've come to enjoy about the process, and certain things that I tend to avoid. Most often, I like to interview bands over the phone - mostly because it enables a natural conversation, and thus leads to natural quotes. Though it may sometimes be easier, I tend to avoid email interviews.

Mythology-building, while a common and sometimes amusing practice with rock bands, is ultimately useless when it comes to actually writing about a given band. Yes, I know, you ran afoul of the devil, and he let you go by the skin of your teeth, but not before imbuing you with the unholy power to shred so hard that panties simply disintegrate in your presence. Yes, your mother was a maniac and your father was the kid Jimi Hendrix used to beat up in school, and yes, your guitar mastery is the ultimate payback. While it's all a tantalizing story, it doesn't do me a favor in relaying you to other people.

Enter A Happy Death. Due to scheduling conflicts, this Portland band and I had to do an interview via email. When asked how their band was formed, here's all of what drummer Mathieu Lewis-Rolland said: "A Happy Death was formed in the basement of a ghost house with the intent of creating a rock 'n' roll death wish to make all our wet dreams come true."

This is undoubtedly true. Of this, we can all be certain. Done and done.

Oh, but we could also talk about the music. Why don't we accept, for this moment, that A Happy Death is a band that burst out of the firmament and exists only to impregnate your girlfriend. How do they sound?

Though they have a song that's explicitly called "Surf Rock Band," it would be a mistake to call them one. A Happy Death plant their feet firmly in the court of garage-pop madness, seemingly content to thrash away in blissfully psychedelic, noisy bliss, while never crossing the threshold into noise-rock or brain-melting chaos. Mostly, reverb is utilized to create a haze of '60s revivalism, though it finds itself imbued with a sweetness frequently found in the hordes of garage nostalgists.

On a side note, A Happy Death is also the name of a novel by French philosopher Alert Camus. In it, Camus explores the idea of willing oneself to happiness. Given that we were communicating via email, I took the opportunity to ask A Happy Death about the will to happiness.

"Some people are fortunate enough to be in a situation where happiness is attainable beyond necessities such as food, shelter and water," says Lewis-Rolland. "We fall into that category. As an artist, there is no alternative to pursuing your passion. You will die inside if you don't. This doesn't always produce happiness, yet not creating art or pursuing your instincts is a sacrilegious failure to yourself and leads to a miserable existence of the human condition. Happiness is a subjective experience; it comes and goes just like everything else in life."

What is this band called A Happy Death? What do they sound like? What are they all about? What articles like this always come down to is the necessity for you to experience this band for yourself. All I can ever do is make a compelling argument for you to partake in these bands. But the winning argument has been in front of you this whole time: music is made to be experienced. Convincing needn't be necessary.

A HAPPY DEATH, w/ Thunders of Wrath, Our Burgundy, 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, O'Malley's Irish Pub, 2403 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, no cover, 253.627.9403

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