"I want to open up a conversation where if our fans are struggling everyday to figure out who you are, then so are we on a different level"
Happy. are gearing up to release their new album 'Imposter Syndrome' this Friday (October 30) via Rude Records.
A sun-stained ode to pop-punk past and present on one hand and a stark look at the parallels between band life and mental health on the other, it's a fascinating, infectious and interesting journey into the mind of the band that will make your foot tap as much as your brain tick.
We jumped on the phone with vocalist Tate Logan to chat about what inspires him, both musically and emotionally, and what effect having Happy. in his life has had...
What do you feel has changed for you, both on a personal level but also within the band, between the recording of your debut and this record?
“It feels like a different world! It’s really funny, everyone has a different journey about how they become a musician and how their band rises to success or whatever. I was going to college to be an entertainment manager for bands are artists. I worked at a radio station and I played drums in a band and was just messing around a bit. I was writing a lot at music at the time and just thought, ‘I’m going to try and front a band’ because I thought it would be a lot more fun. Six months we got signed. I was so new to actually being a band and writing actual music that out debut record was more of a collection of songs that I had written form when I was 15.
“So when I first went into the studio I had a couple of guys come in to play guitar and drums. Then we made the record, got signed and started touring, all within a year. A lot of times people figure out who they are, who their members are and what their sound is over the space of a couple of years before they hit that momentum. It happened differently for us, so within that first year we were still trying to figure out who we actually were.
“Sean [Bowick, drums] and John [Palmer] are the other two guys in my band and we’ve now been playing together for two years now. So with this new record, I sat down with the two of them and we all decided that we wanted to write ten songs that actually had something to do with each other instead of just ten songs that we liked. I think that was the beginning of the journey of ‘Imposter Syndrome’. What do we actually want to say this time that’s different from a lot of fun, which is what our first record was. We’re proud of that and I’m glad that was the first impression that we made on people, but this time we wanted to say something deeper that was masked by fun songs. I like to think that’s something that we’re good at.”
What were those conversations like then? What was it like opening up about these more vulnerable parts of your world?
“Well, first off I would just like to say, if people didn’t know, that I’m trans. I’ve been out and the way that I am for the last five years, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that was a big part of the record for me. I don’t talk about it a whole lot, not because I’m ashamed at all. I’m in a band with two straight guys, so it’s really important to me that the world understands that all three of us worked really hard on this project. I don’t want it to become my identity and what people talk about, if that makes sense? There are a lot of LQBTQ+ kids out there and I want them to feel like they have somebody to look to that’s doing this, but at the same time I want people to come to our shows and listen to our lyrics and pay attention to all of that because we have so much more to say than, ‘Hey, we fall into this spectrum’.
“But yeah, that’s just a part of my identity. I have always been quite insecure in approaching music in a way where I think, ‘This is going to work for me’. I think that even though I have had this crazy burning passion for it, I was afraid to just be me. When I was playing drums that was before I came out. When I decided to front a band, it was the first band I had ever sung in as a man. It was weird how quickly it all started working out because it was such a confidence boost for me and my identity.
“So, when we were writing we had a couple of songs ready already. One, which was ‘Sick In The New Sane’, was about how the internet makes me feel. It’s such a hard balance where I feel like I owe so much to our fans and I want to talk and engage with them and feel appreciated and then feeling like you’re behind and if you’re not posting 24/7 nobody cares about you anymore. The reality is that I should be putting that much effort into my real relationships in real life with the people I love. After putting that together, it felt like we could expand on this feeling of what it feels like to be in a band in a way that people don’t usually talk about. I think that most of the time artists in our scene try to create a façade that we’re all super rich and famous and everything is cool. It is like that for a lot of bands, but it’s not like that for most. We want to be honest and vulnerable about that. I want to open up a conversation where if our fans are struggling everyday to figure out who you are, then so are we on a different level.
“So on the record you’ll find songs that are about addiction and depression and anxiety. There’s a song about the loss of a friend to suicide. But then there are also songs about touring the country and being the happiest I’ve ever been in my life and meeting other bands and playing sold out shows. I think that causes a weird thing to happen in our brains. To go from being in front of a thousand kids screaming at you and taking pictures to then going home and reading mean comments about you on YouTube. I feel like people don’t talk about the effect that has on you as an artist with any sort of platform. Everybody at some point experiences imposter syndrome and we just took apart what that means for us.
“The record may have a darker element to it, but we absolutely love being a band. We love this more than anything in the world. We just felt like we had to make a statement on what we haven’t seen talked about yet.”
The reality is that you starting up a different conversation like this will have almost a domino effect. By taking those steps you’re opening up a whole different avenue…
“Absolutely, and another thing is that when we were talking about being so vulnerable and open, that has to bleed into every aspect of the record. It can’t just be in the music. What we decided to do was design absolutely everything else around this record. We designed all of the merch. We took all of the photographs for the album art. There was just something about how personal all of this was. All of the photos we have used have a story behind why we have used them. We knew exactly what we wanted the merch to look like, so let’s just do it.”
Before you had Happy. as an outlet, what did you have in your life that allowed you to talk about all of these things?
“To be totally honest, I don’t think I had one. That’s why I needed Happy. so badly. Back in my other band, I was still ‘the girl’, which was so weird for me. Back then I just wanted to be included in the scene in anyway that I could though. When I first decided to start taking hormones and actually be me, that when I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to front a band’. Then with Sean and John coming in and respecting me and treating me like any other dude in a band, which is what I am, is where we were able to hit the ground running. I also think that’s why Happy. is so important to me. It’s like my baby.”
So now that you’ve managed to harness this side of what you’ve wanted to say, what do you feel is next? What have you got in mind for the future?
“Who knows what we will do next, but as a band we’re always looking at our five-year plan as much as our tomorrow plan. When I was 13/14 my parents would take me to every show I wanted to, and I’m still here because of that. I was a total Stan back then, and now I’m here doing things that the teenage version of me would lose their fucking mind about.”