Happy Fangs ‘Love Seeing Big Emotions’ at Their Live Show
When we first came across Happy Fangs, they were a frisky pop-punk duo that made us think about what would happen if Christmas and Halloween joined forces. Now after a year or so, Happy Fangs are back with a bigger sound, a new member and a new album, Capricorn, that just hit the streets last month.
Composed of singer Rebecca Bortman, guitarist Michael Cobra and drummer Jess Gowrie (who co-founded Red Host with Chelsea Wolfe), the San Francisco-based band mixes a garage and punk rock sound with strong melodies and stellar vocals, creating anthemic soundscapes that will get you dancing -- even if you tend to be a wallflower.
Aside from "Hiya Kaw Kaw" and "The Truth," which appear on 2013's self-titled EP, all the songs on Capricorn are newly written pieces that combine each member's strengths. The band took some time to chat with us about the new disc, their favorite Bay area spots and sounds, and what we should expect when we catch them in their live setting.
Let's start at the very beginning: How did the band get together?
Rebecca and Mike met while playing in San Francisco bands that had one thing in common -- Room 13, a practice space in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. We started out as a two-piece with a drum machine but soon realized we wanted a live drummer to help kick up the energy. We searched so far that we ended up all the way out in Sacramento where we found Jess Gowrie, the best drummer in the world.
So you were in other bands before creating Happy Fangs. How did your previous experiences influence the style and sound of the band?
With Happy Fangs, we’ve really focused on developing a sound only the three of us can make together -- utilizing each person's strongest skills and personal philosophies to create something unique. We all come from very different backgrounds, and while you can hear us in each of our previous bands, none of those have sounded like Happy Fangs.
What's the story behind the band name?
Mike’s legal last name is Cobra, and Rebecca is known for being giddier than a cheerleader. So ...
Did you approach Capricorn differently than your EP?
Aside form the two songs that we pulled over and re-recorded from the EP, all of the songs on Capricorn were written with all three of us in a room together jamming. We had to learn how to write together after adding Jess to the fold; we did that through playing and writing together as a band.
We're really digging "Contagious" -- can you give us some background on that tune?
"Contagious" is an ode to the awesome people around you. In [Rebecca's] case, it's my bandmates. They are incredible musicians, and I hope it's rubbing off on me. Please sing it to the people that rock your life daily.
Aside from that track, what's the song that you think everyone should listen to?
Anyone who's ever wanted to yell into a pillow should listen to "Lone Wolves."
Being from San Francisco, who are some of the local bands that you enjoy?
What are Happy Fangs' go-to spots in San Francisco?
Rebecca, you have some pretty epic wings going on as your stage outfit. What inspired that?
My limbs can't fully express all the moves I want to do on stage. I need to be bigger, more likely to take FLIGHT!
For those who haven't gone to a Happy Fangs show yet, what can they expect?
The perfect Happy Fangs show is one where everyone can feel Jess' drums in their bones and Mike's guitar tone breaking your brain in two -- all the while you're howling along with Rebecca. Dance. Rock out. Sweat. We love to look into the audience and see big emotions back at us. We also write a song onstage at every show based on a suggestion from the audience. We’ve written songs on the spot about Lazer Bears, Jeff Goldblum, Krakens, plus many others about food and sex.
What are your plans for 2015?
We’ll be releasing multiple music videos and issuing Capricorn on vinyl, touring the west coast in March and the rest of the U.S. this summer. Always expect greatness.