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Growing despite chaos: The Happy Fits' 'What Could Be Better' album

The Happy Fits are a Jersey-based band that recently released its latest album "What Could Be Better" in late August.
Photo by Courtesy of The Happy FitsThe Happy Fits are a Jersey-based band that recently released its latest album "What Could Be Better" in late August.

The Happy Fits are a New Jersey-based alternative band that your Rutgers bestie may have forced you to listen to. It's one of the bands of New Brunswick-basement scene lore, known for the unique sound that’s built upon catchy tunes and, oddly enough for a rock band, a cello.

We interviewed The Happy Fits members and asked them about their latest album “What Could Be Better,” their evolution as a band and what the future holds in store for them.

Calvin Langman, Ross Monteith and Luke Davis, the ever-smiling and fun-to-be-around guys that make up the band, have a natural chemistry that is shown through their work and radiated off the Zoom screen. Dressed in a bright yellow shirt reminiscient of their "Concentrate" days, a blue Kona Ice work uniform and Metallica band tee, respectively, the guys launched into the tale of how they met. Somehow between Latin class, a coffee shop gig gone wrong and a $70 "scam of the century" to look for a drummer, The Happy Fits were home grown out of the great Garden state.

Moving from a Microsoft Paint-covered album to "What Could Be Better" took a lot of hard work and commitment. Langman and Davis described how difficult it is to have to put the band first all the time, even ahead of their long-term relationships, and they all discussed how they have to work other jobs to ensure they have an income.

Swapping smiles across the screen and typing excited notes on our shared Google Docs, Eli Horowitz, The Daily Targum’s assistant video editor, and I couldn’t believe our luck — not only did we score an interview with one of our favorite bands, but they were also apologizing to us for “talking too much,” as if we wouldn’t be excitedly telling all of our friends about this for months. Their gratitude, repeated “thank you's” and the fact that a 30-minute interview turned into an hour-long conversation just showed how truly down-to-earth the guys are.

Much of The Happy Fits’ latest album “What Could Be Better” came from the trio's experience of not knowing whether they made the right choice in quitting school to dedicate themselves to their band. Davis said, "A lot of this album is asking the question of ‘Are we doing the right thing?'"

The album explodes immediately with the song “Go Dumb.” It’s an instant bop and certainly one to dance along to with your mic and screen turned off during Zoom lectures when you need to take a break from those damn breakout rooms. The next song, “No Instructions” is one that ties in a lot of the themes the band has previously explored: growing up and not having a single clue how to do that.

My personal favorite is “She Wants Me (To Be Loved)” because it’s a sort of ode to a girl that wants nothing to do with a guy that’s interested in her — reminding me of all of the nice, well-meaning boys that I might’ve unintentionally led on.

“I’ll pick you flowers, while you count the hours / ‘Til you can go home and watch drama TV” is a line that makes it hard not to feel a little bit sorry for this guy and really happy for this powerful queen that has this guy so whipped. The self-awareness of the song makes it funny instead of an annoying complaint about being stuck in the friend zone. "

Get a Job" is a mantra to the anxiety-inducing nature of working endlessly and still not being able to afford a healthy lifestyle, let alone time for loved ones. "I got the world on my shoulders, and I just keep getting older," is a relatable one-liner for all of us.

So many people romanticize being in your 20s and exploring life — but very few can capture how truly terrifying it is. It’s honestly agonizing to think about. There are so many life-altering decisions that have to be made about everything, like career choices and relationships with different people in your life that all come to a head during this decade. The album serves as a commentary of our generation.

As late-millennials and Generation Zers are struggling to navigate the murky waters of our futures, it doesn’t mean that we're not going to turn up on the boat while doing it. Like, yeah, this is all really scary, I'm working myself to death, but I'm going to have whatever fun that can be mustered in the middle of this anxiety-inducing time despite all of it.

Their new album is one that can only have been created by the epic combination of Capricorn (Langman), Cancer (Monteith) and Virgo (Davis) energy — I mean, how else could you be listening to songs about the gripping fear of what it’s like to transition from young-adult to adult-adult and dance along? The cosmos definitely had its hand in creating this masterpiece.

Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease pandemic, the band has increased its social media presence, which is something they hadn’t previously focused on due to their love for live performances. If you’ve gotten the chance to see them in person, you’d know why. They’re insanely talented, can easily make a room full of people sing and dance and walk off stage dripping in sweat.

While there's no hope for a live performance from them any time soon, fans can expect more at-home videos, social media posts and livestreams from the band as they continue to devote themselves to their craft.

It doesn’t always have to take a national tour, plans to travel with a well-known band and a devoted fanbase — which The Happy Fits have under its belt — to know that you’ve “made it.” The knowledge that you’re considered legends in one of the places where you first started out is testament enough to your hard work. It's undeniable: Even if these guys never attended a single class at our University, they make up a good portion of Rutgers—New Brunswick history and culture.

There’s just something about roaming around New Brunswick, riding on buses, walking to class (or now more recently, scootering across campus) and streaming The Happy Fits that just feels right.

Make sure to check out the full-length interview podcast on our Soundcloud for a good laugh and to find out more about the band.