The Happy Fits shook the stage of the Granada last Sunday with an electric, and citrusy, set. It isn’t every day you see an alt-rock band whose lead singer shreds on the cello, but lyricist Calvin Langman makes it look like second nature. Promoting their 2022 album, ‘Under the Shade of Green,’ The Happy Fits delivered an unforgettable night of fan favorites and new twists alike.
The Happy Fits is a three-man band, formed by Calvin Langman and Ross Monteith, with Luke Davis joining as the band’s drummer after the release of their first EP, ‘Awfully Apeeling’. Though Calvin is the only one of the original three playing on this current tour, the enthusiasm of the touring group did not disappoint. One of the guitarists, Nicole Rosey, had some particularly fantastic vocal parts, along with a back-to-back shredding moment with Calvin. With new, four-part harmonies made specifically for the tour, the set included unique vocals that brought something special to songs fans already knew.
There were two openers for the show, the Hot Freaks and Winsor. They both delivered in amping up the crowd and making a name for themselves, with enjoyable music that was similar stylistically to The Happy Fits. The Hot Freaks included two songs in collaboration with The Happy Fits, one with the band singing background vocals, and the other with Calvin on cello. Both of their performances left me adding new songs to my playlist. The band has a unique sound, with upbeat songs like “Mary” and “Go Dumb”, along with more laid-back hits like “Best Tears” and “Little One”. Though most songs have a lot of energy to them, there’s also a chill vibe woven throughout their discography. Fans of bands like the Hot Freaks (who opened for The Happy Fits on Sunday), Autoheart, Violent Femmes, Saint Motel, and Jukebox the Ghost would enjoy The Happy Fits.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Calvin Langman and one of the touring guitarists for the band, Nicole Rosey, for a quick interview.
Who are The Happy Fits? What kind of music do you make? “Fun, upbeat, indie rock with dark undertones.”
Can you tell me a little bit about each member of the band and their role within the group? Alternative touring group as well.
Calvin: “Well, right now The Happy Fits are on the road. It’s me, Calvin, I play cello and I sing, and we got,”
Nicole: “And Nicole. I play guitar, and I also have been singing.”
Calvin: “And then the two people not with us: we have Trevor Hogan on drums. He’s an amazing drummer from New Jersey, also in this band called Wall Carpets. And then we got Raina Mullen, who plays in a band from Philly called Ghostlight. So when the band started it was me, Calvin, and then we had Ross playing guitar and Luke Davis playing drums, and they’re both on a mental health break right now. So that’s why they’re not on the road, but they’re doing well back at home.”
One of the more unique elements of your band is the use of a cello as a key instrument, which I know you play. Was there anything that drew you to the cello, or what led you to incorporate it into your band? Calvin: “I just never learned how to play bass, and I grew up playing or listening to a lot of indie rock music, so that was the kind of music that I really wanted to write. And when we released our first EP, I just played the cello parts and no one told me that it sounded bad or anything. And yeah, people just seemed to like it, so we just kept going with it.”
Ever since Awfully Appealing came out, there’s been a theme of having fruit on all your album covers. What was the reasoning for this, if any – are there any other fruits you could see yourself using as album art?
Calvin: “Okay. Yeah, I can’t spoil any fruits in the future…Only very few people know the password to that vault. But yeah, the fruits just started – It was just a silly joke. The first EP cover for Awfully Appealing, you can find it on Google somewhere, I made it on MS Paint. It was horrible.”
Me: “MS Paint?”
Calvin: “Yeah, MS Paint. It’s actually one of my favorite programs in the world.”
Me: “Of course, it’s iconic. Photoshop, who needs it?”
Nicole: “Yeah, MS Paint is where it’s at.”
Calvin: “So yeah, the first album, I just had that image of an orange being plugged into an amp, and after that hit with the fans, we were just like, we should keep this up. So we decided to keep doing fruits for album two and three, and we just put a little more thought into what fruits we wanted. So it wasn’t just random punnery.”
(A/N – you’re welcome)
Your music videos have also been a point of interest for many fans, including entire songs recorded in one shot, and several videos with puppetry and beautiful sets. The concept of pineapples becoming some kind of black market commodity is absolutely wild, and I was wondering if you could speak more on the creative process for these videos. Calvin: “We collaborate with a lot of great directors. Some we self-direct, like the puppet ones and the backwards ones. The black market one we did with a good friend Jolie, who’s actually on tour with us doing video. So he helped film three music videos, the dancing one for She Wants Me, Around and Around and Do Your Worst. But there’s other great directors we work with like Raheel Ashraf. He did our pickleball music video for Get a Job and also our What Could Be Better music video. We’ve worked with a lot of great animators too, and it’s just a whole collaborative process. Everyone just brings fun, quirky ideas to the table and we try to all execute to the best of our ability.”
The original trio of you, Ross, and Luke later on was established in high school. One of your songs from Concrete – Best Tears – seems to tackle some of the darker themes in the high school experience. Was this song inspired by any of your direct experiences?
Calvin: “Yeah, it was definitely inspired by my experiences in high school. I wasn’t, you know, bullied much or anything, but it wasn’t the healthiest environment to be in all the time. So that’s kind of what inspired Best Tears, is to kind of poke fun at public education.” Nicole: “Just adding in, because now I get to play all of his music now, that one is a particularly fun one to play. And I feel like it gets the people going, especially the younger crowd.”
The Happy Fits are currently on tour, and I’d imagine you’re a little over halfway through. What is your best story from touring?
Calvin: “Oh, boy. I mean, we’ve been doing this pickleball tournament in a bunch of cities, and the last one was in Santa Ana. We had 50 kids come out and they all played pickleball against me. I got my a** whipped by this mom and her son. They were really, really good. But yeah, it’s just been a really cool and unique way to get to know the fans throughout this entire tour.”
Me: “Okay, that’s hilarious, because my next question is actually about that:”
Other than performing, you’ve decided to engage with fans on your tour in a more hands-on way: on the pickleball court. At four of your stops on tour, you’ve invited fans to sign up for a pickleball tournament with members of the touring crew, yourself included. I have to ask – where did you get the idea for this, and more importantly, are you a pickleball pro? Nicole: “Yes. He’s so good at pickleball, it hurts my feelings. Yeah, it’s crazy.” Calvin: “I get intense with pickleball. I just played a lot of ping pong growing up, and I started playing pickleball last year to just try and get more exercise in my life, and it’s become my favorite thing to do now when I’m not touring.” Me: “So I noticed, I think you posted two days ago a bracket for your pickleball. Like, how have you guys been doing? What’s the what’s the ranking?” Calvin: “The first one I won. Nicole-” Nicole: “I got into the finals. Yeah, I came in second place. The second tournament I didn’t play, so that’s why I didn’t make the finals.”
Calvin: (joking) “Yeah, sure, okay.”
What would you say is the hardest song to perform from your current setlist on tour?
Nicole: “Mine, it’s gotta be Changes. I love Changes, but there’s a part where Calvin messes with me and I mess up my part. But I still love that song.” Calvin: “Changes is very involved, that could be the hardest…They’re just nonstop, they’re like marathons. The parts are not very consistent.” Nicole: “It’s really fun when you nail it though. You have that accomplished feeling.” Calvin: “That’s why we redid (the music) with four-part harmonies, like for the whole thing. Because Nicole, Raina and Trevor, they all sing and they sound so amazing. It’s been fun to feature some new arrangements.”
On Instagram, you posted on your story that if anyone could beat the amount of calories you burned during the show, you would give them a free shirt. I’m just curious, has anyone taken you up on this offer?
Calvin: “Not even close. No one has. It’s tiring, and keeping up – that’s a whole other battle. It’s really fun though. We all watched “Stop Making Sense” the other day. We saw it in theaters, the Talking Heads documentary that they just rereleased, and I feel like everyone’s been individually inspired to get a little more dancey and loopy.”
What’s next? Do you have any plans for a new album, any new ideas, or hints at things for fans to look forward to?
Calvin: “All I’ll say is I’m a creature of habit, and we release an album every two years – starting in 2018, and the last one came out in 2022. Next year is 2024. I’ll let you do the math.”