There he is, writing songs for Jamie Cullum and Sophie Ellis Bexter and the chick from Atomic Kitten and I was thinking, ‘what are you doing? You're Andy Partridge from XTC!'
Our Christmas record was significant. John Peel flipped out and played it on daytime BBC and that was a huge thing for us. This one feels like we took a bigger chance and some people might not like it. That to me is satisfying.
I'd prefer to keep people guessing.
We had to prove to ourselves that we wanted to make this kind of record. It was made in a studio situation that wasn't “live”. In the past we all played together. With this one we laid it down, part by part. And you can hear the space that ensued through the recording.
The whole way we live at the moment… I mean I hope we are typical of people our age. But you can't help but notice at present things like the media and politics and the environment; the whole way the upper echelons of the word works; its really scary to our generation and in some ways it seems to need fighting against, counter-defining for ourselves.
Of course we are out on a bit of a limb in Kendal, musically and culturally, so we encourage all our kin to exercise their will to be weird. Not in a contrived way. But us country folk have got a pagan duty to uphold… and dancing like a fool in an open field has never quite tallied with urban notions of nightclub cool… so why fight it?
But then again what's interesting about American culture is that whatever is the most subversive is what becomes the most American. That is how America defines what becomes popular, by co-opting what is subversive.
The Happy Band of Japan will go on for years. We've no plans to quit and become landscape gardeners or anything like that.
This month we caught up with Dan, from the The Happy Band of Japan, who make sensationally skewed pop. Here's what he had to say.
IN: To start with, you could tell us about how the Happy Band came together. Indeed, what is the happy Band of Japan?
I was going to say that I really hate cover bands, but seeing as Cox plays in a cover band I had better not say that too…
Apart from looking after Shack we discovered a unique band from Kendal, in the Lake District called Seven Seals.
I had to pretend, on numerous occasions, to be in the Bunnymen. We would hear a rap on the door and it would be the police. I would run downstairs and switch Teardrops' keyboard player Paul Simpson's organ on and say I was The Bunnymen's keyboardist.
She just runs her finger up and down a string, any string she fancies. One finger chords. When I come to the end of a song, I nod then she stops.
There are a million haircut bands out there, on local scene's everywhere I'm sure everyone knows exactly who they are as well, the bands that three years ago sounded like Franz Ferdinand last year sounded like the Arctic Monkeys. This year they'll be chucking about glow sticks at a ‘rave' no doubt.
For years I tried to make my writing more contemporary, but really my natural style is in a much older language and dealing with nature and not dealing with modern objects and things…
Well it's going to interesting with our next record because we are a six piece band now and it's going to mean a new way of working.
The first record was made with the thought that no-one was listening, and that it was just something to put out in Minneapolis, with absolutely no sense of anticipation.
I met Johnny Marr (guitarist of The Smiths) recently, in Portland. He has joined a Portland band, so I met him at a BBQ, fucking Johnny Marr!
"I want to put the person who's listening to it in the situation and the mind space that I was in when I was writing it."
"I once opened up for Ryan Adams. It was a terrible, horrible experience."
"The songs on the album are from a long period of time…the oldest song on the album's about 5 years old so to us it's not any zeitgeist-surfing thing. It's what we've been doing for quite a while."