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April 2nd, 2014 ANDREW STEINBEISER | Music Stories
 

Introducing…: A Happy Death

music_ahappydeath_4022A HAPPY DEATH - Image courtesy of In Music We Trust
Who: Ryan Joseph Lella (vocals, guitar), Mathieu Lewis Rolland (drums), Jaclyn Hardin (organ) and Michael McInerney (bass).

Sounds like: A beach party hosted by surfers with a studded-leather jewelry fetish.

For fans of: The White Stripes, Wolfmother, Radio Moscow, the Seth Rogen movie This Is the End.

Why you care: Why worry about mortality when there’s still plenty of beer to drink before the end times? This “Animal House meets the macabre” sensibility defines Portland psychedelic warriors A Happy Death. For every electroshock scream that leaps from Ryan Joseph Lella’s throat, there’s a shimmering guitar lick to simmer down the fire drill. The reverb is so raw it’s bloody, making for a darkly playful take on vintage rock. If only the world didn’t think the quartet, with roots in Brooklyn, is a bunch of cultists. Even if the music couldn’t be farther from hell’s depths, the group still messes with people’s expectations, employing satanic imagery and giving songs titles like “Nazi Zombies.” “It’s sort of a satire, but I don’t think people got that,” says group founder Matthew Lewis Rolland. Case in point: New album Introducing: A Happy Death begins with voicemails Rolland received from a stranger asking him to join the Illuminati. Candid moments such as those are Introducing’s calling cards. The live-concert enthusiasts recorded each song in real time to replicate the unpredictable zaniness of their stage shows, which often include sporadic guitar improvisations, smoke machines and T-shirt cannons. “There are a lot of dramatic, emotional changes,” Lella says. “When it’s over, it’s like you got smacked in the face with a door.” But with the neck-snapping tempos, getting punched in the face by Satan may be a more apt analogy—even if at the end of the day, A Happy Death is really “just kind of laid-back dudes playing music and broing out,” Rolland says. “We’re not a cult.”


SEE IT: A Happy Death plays Firkin Tavern, 1937 SE 11th Ave., with Mister Tang and Cambrian Explosion, on Friday, April 4. 9 pm. Free. 21+.

 
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