Feature: Embracing the End Times with The Happy Fits’ Dynamic, Feverish & Charged Third LP ‘Under the Shade of Green’

The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff
The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff
The Happy Fits dive into the depths of their radiant and feverishly charged third album ‘Under the Shade of Green,’ a passionate, boisterous, and spirited rock record that finds a light in the darkness and keeps finding reasons to soar.
Stream: “Around and Around” – The Happy Fits




It’s just the madness of reality is that nothing really matters,” The Happy Fits’ Calvin Langman sings fervently on the band’s third album, dwelling in a particularly emotional moment of turbulence. It’s hard to stay positive when the world gives you so many reasons to be negative: From personal loss and turmoil to greater, rampant disenfranchisement, violence, inequality, corruption, and more, there’s a lot to get angry and upset about.

And The Happy Fits are paying close attention. Attempting to balance a creeping sense of abject nihilism with their charismatic drive and unabating optimism, steadfast hope, New Jersey band still do manage to find the light in the darkness throughout Under the Shade of Green – and we’ve all come to know darkness quite well over the past few years. “So through the chaos sing your melody; let it out,” Langman concludes, resolving his cynicism (for now) on an uplifting, reassuring note: “You’ll find everything you wanted.” Radiant and feverishly charged, The Happy Fits’ dynamic third LP is a passionate, boisterous and spirited rock record that sees life for what it is and keeps finding reasons to soar.

Under the Shade of Green.- The Happy Fits
Under the Shade of Green – The Happy Fits
I got a funny feeling
We keep going around and around, and I
I think I’m gonna be needing
A little stabler ground to hold on
‘Cause I can’t keep thinking about it
Keep thinking about it
Can’t be still anymore
No, there’s nothing so simple about it
Nothing simple about it
Can’t be still anymore
I can’t be still anymore

Released August 26, 2022 via AWAL, Under the Shade of Green is a resounding achievement for Calvin Langman, Ross Monteith, and Luke Davis, who for six years now have been spreading good vibes through their charming and heartfelt high energy indie rock n’ roll.

The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff
The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff



Following 2020’s acclaimed sophomore album What Could Be Better – praised as “a spark of bright euphoric light” upon its release – Under the Shade of Green presents The Happy Fits at their most critical, self-reflective, open-eyed, and self-aware.

Impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the “colossal systemic failures throughout the world” in recent years, the band’s latest music is more shrewd and visceral than their past offerings. Langman and co. stay true to their signature vibrant hooks and cinematic, buoyant melodies, all while delving into the often dismal depths of life in the 2020s.

Now another year comes, another year goes;
Suited up children making their foes.
How do we stop the murder machine?
Maybe it’s you and maybe it’s me.
So, we’re all going nowhere
And this life is so much better with you.
So, we’re all going nowhere
And this life is so much better with you.
– “Place in the World,” The Happy Fits




As Langman tells Atwood Magazine, this album and these songs created a space for him to better understand his role in the world.

“This album is how I’ve been processing the trauma of the past two years, from the pandemic, to climate change, to the rise of fascism, to BLM, to finding my place in this broken world,” he explains. “As there aren’t many who are left unshaken, I hope everyone can find something dark in here to relate to. A lot has happened over the past two years, and like everyone else, I’ve been trying to make sense of it all.”

The Happy Fits have managed to incorporate their increasingly mature lyricism into their art without sacrificing any bit of their melodic prowess. Sonically, Under the Shade of Green is undeniably a Happy Fits production: Their trademark charm and candor radiates throughout.

“I think we go into every record with the goal of just writing the best songs possible,” Langman reflects. “I’m a sucker for a good chorus and I think I try to keep that at the core of what we do. Since we had nearly six months to record this album, I think what sets it apart from our other work is the complexity of the layers in each of the songs and our experimentation with synths. In our first two records, we tried to be practical in our arrangements as we could only bring so much on the road when we performed. Knowing our live show was going to be bigger gave us the freedom to beef up these songs to our hearts’ desires.”

“Whereas our first two albums were extremely introspective, I think this album tries to emote what’s been going on in the world,” he adds. “Instead of honing in on social anxieties, it hits on the generational anxiety us and Gen Z have for the world and where it’s headed. The one thing that’s come very clear to me in the past few years is that money is the root of all evil. As our planet hurls into the 12th hour, it’s become clear that those who will be free from climate change’s negative effects are those with wealth and money. Ironically, it’s the same the unregulated wealthy corporations that caused such irreversible planetary harm that won’t have to reap the consequences for their actions.”

As he so ardently sings on the spirited “Place in the World,” “You and I, we’re just fighting for our place in the world.”

The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff
The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff




Highlights abound through the twelve-track album, with driving opener “Around and Around” setting the scene with high-energy beats and a sense of lost purpose in these chaotic, modern times:

I don’t know what I’m seeing
When the world keeps spinning around my eyes.
I think I lost my meaning;
Just another day to survive.

Still, The Happy Fits give us innumerable reasons to smile: Whether we’re dancing alone to the groovy “Dance Alone,” reeling through life’s unpredictable “Changes,” or trying to find the light in “Another Try” (whose moving lyrics are mentioned at the top of this article), our favorite NJ band make even the worst moments worth singing along to at the top of our lungs.

“‘Little One’ will always have a special place in my heart,” Langman says on the topic of favorites. “I was very inspired by Tom Rosenthal’s work and how much he writes about his daughter. I think I view ‘Little One’ as a message to my future children that no matter what happens in the world, they belong and there will always be millions of people like them.”

See the storm. Let it come rush in.
Little tear left your eye running.
There’s a place in the sky said to have all that we need;
That emotional right to belong.
Little One, we’re alone on the face of the Earth.
We’re just floating in space with the millions like us, dear.
You belong.
Little One, we’re alone on the face of the Earth.
We’re just floating in space with the millions like us, dear.
You belong.
– “Little One,” The Happy Fits




When it comes to lyrics, these songs are rife with catchy and memorable gems: Be they little moments of clarity in our uncertain environment, or intimate personal anecdotes that help him express himself, Langman has outdone himself on this record.

“I just love [the lyrics to] ‘In The Lobby,'” he says.Rap artists have been glorifying fame and fortune for so long, so it was nice to make my own tongue-in-cheek version of that. The chorus goes: “There you go again, talking shit; helter-skelter politic. Hide under the shade of green; I can be a Kardashian.” It’s insane to me that it’s literally people’s jobs these days to peddle disinformation and keep the electorate in a false consciousness. It’s hilarious, horrifying, and overwhelming.”

For all their reckoning, aching, turmoil, and admittedly worthwhile protest, The Happy Fits’ music still feels like a larger-than-life celebration. Maybe, at the end of the day, we’re just happy to be alive and seeing through to another day; maybe it’s all about the silver lining. As Langman sings in “Long Way Down,” “Atom bomb, atta boy; only gods can change the weather. Apathy over love; it’s a long way down together.” Yes, we’re going down, but we’re all going down together.

And being together is always better than being alone.

The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff
The Happy Fits © Rahil Ashruff



If you happen to catch The Happy Fits at a show this year, you’ll be joining them for an uncompromising, unapologetic party at the end of the world.

Instead of drowning in sorrows, they’ll be smiling in the face of armageddon.

“As always, I hope our music can offer comfort and companionship to anyone who listens,” Langman shares. “My music to me growing up was my secret best friend; every time I’d put on those headphones I’d feel a sense of warmth and understanding I couldn’t get anywhere else in the world. I want people to feel that way when they hear our music and I want people to confide their anxieties inside these songs. I’ve taken away a desire to be understood and a desire to not feel crazy for wanting the world to be a better, more empathetic place; I just hope other people feel that way, too!”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside The Happy Fits’ Under the Shade of Green with Atwood Magazine as Calvin Langman goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s third LP!

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:: stream/purchase The Happy Fits here ::
Stream: ‘Under the Shade of Green’ – The Happy Fits



:: Inside Under the Shade of Green ::

Under the Shade of Green.- The Happy Fits

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Around and Around

I spent the majority of the pandemic living in our old practice space in Pittstown, NJ, a one-story, one-room 500 sq ft flat. When you work right next to where you sleep and eat and workout, time starts to play tricks with your mind. I had a “funny feeling” like every day was monotonous and blending into each other. Yet at the same time, I felt like I could barely keep up with the world around me; I’d constantly reflect on how much had happened since the beginning of the pandemic and before that, and I would feel extremely overwhelmed like I was falling behind and becoming out-of-touch somehow.



Dance Alone

This song went through three different transformations since its inception and has been around since demoing our second record What Could Be Better back in 2019. Our producer Ayad Al Adhamy made us see the potential of the verse melodies by taking the song out of its laid back jungle beat roots and replacing the old drum beat with a pretty square drum machine loop. Once we heard what the song could be, the chorus literally flew out of Ross’ mouth all within the same 10 minutes of changing the beat. We figured there were so many lonesome nights during the pandemic that the sentiment of not wanting to dance alone would really resonate with everyone.



Changes

Changes was the first song I wrote after moving to Brooklyn, NY last April to demo and record Under The Shade of Green. There was something about the hustle and bustle of NYC that got me in the headspace of analyzing how everything is constantly changing. Living in NYC is such a funny thing- you see so many people in your day to day and while it’s so inspiring to be in that environment, it’s also kind of overwhelming. I wanted Changes to center in on the fact that it’s a constant inner struggle to keep up with the changing world around us, and staying afloat requires daily practice of looking inward to find love for ourselves and the world around us.



In The Lobby

Other countries call it corruption, we just call it lobbying. Over the pandemic, we all really watched our country’s political system fail itself time and time again. It is just sad watching the constant, unnecessary, and inhumane gridlock of our congress, the rise of populism, fanaticism, and fascism in our elections and electorate, and the overall stranglehold lobbyists and special interests have over us. Money truly is the root of all evil, and watching it corrupt every nook and cranny of daily life is demoralizing, mind-boggling, and terrifying. I put all my hope into Gen Z as I feel like we’re mostly the only generation left with the ability to be guided by empathy and altruism, and I hope this song can serve as a protest song for anyone looking for that in their music. Sure, we could all be sleazy lobbyists that serve to protect our own interests, but the longevity and sustainability of our planet and future generations is far more meaningful.

Little One

Watching the rise of fascism in our country is both disappointing and scary. I wrote ‘Little One’ for anyone who needs to hear that they belong and they are not alone in this world. The message is so simple yet seems to be so lost with so much of the country.

Sweet Things

‘Sweet Things’ is perhaps one of the oldest songs I’ve written. Over the pandemic, we got an offer to write an 80’s style love song for the new Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and I felt like this idea could really work. We didn’t get the commission, but we ended up with a demo after a decade of it rambling in my head. It’s one of those songs where I’m super proud of the melody and I hope it gives people the chills when they hear it.

Another Try

The madness of reality is that nothing really matters, so it really is up to oneself to choose how to live your life. I love that new Daniels film Everything, Everywhere, All At Once because it really hones in on this idea. It can be world-shattering when you get caught on the negative end of realizing the pointlessness in everything, so it takes work and surrounding yourself with people who you care about to build up your meaning of reality and humanity.

Cold Turkey

Some songs I write, and others the melodies just write the songs. I was in Swainsboro, GA visiting my girlfriend when this melody popped into my head one night. I thought it was like a mid-2000s Dr. Dog song until I realized it was original. I was so stoked on the chorus that the rest of the song just wrote itself. I couldn’t escape the fact that the chorus melody just crooned to be an unrequited love song, so I went with it!



I’ll Be Somewhere

Somewhere along the line of adding one too many synths on this album, we were like “should we try writing a song like A Flock of Seagulls?”. I did 5 years of hefty long-distance “relationshiping” with my girlfriend Adele before finally moving in together this Summer. This is a song about those “last nights”, when I would have to leave her the next day and not be able to see her until after the tour or after I could afford another plane ticket.

Long Way Down

This was the last song written for Under The Shade of Green in July of 2021. Adele turned to me one night and out-of-the-blue said “do you ever get the feeling like the world is ending?” For sure, she’s a woman after my own heart! Adele is the last person you’d expect any existential dread out of, so I figured if she could feel that way, anyone could. The idea of there being a “long way down” to the end of humanity was greatly inspired by the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s pitched as a brief history of humankind and BOY is it depressing as s***. One key pattern was the migration of humans to any location would ultimately lead to our surroundings being wiped out and pillaged. The book offers little to no hope of this pattern ceasing, so the only silver lining I could think of was at least we’ll all go “down together.”

Place In The World

There’s no better way to describe this song than the chorus: “we’re all going nowhere, and this life is so much better with you”. The thought may be painfully naive and idealistic for some, but my hope is that boosting this sentiment into the world will bring some comfort to anyone who needs to hear it.

Do Your Worst 

At the beginning of 2021, I was in a dark place. I had recently cut off a very close person in my life due to their ongoing struggle with addiction, as it started negatively impacting my life. It’s such an awful feeling having to cut off someone you really do care about and I couldn’t help but feel like I was weak for doing so. This song was so cathartic to write and offered me quite a bit of healing.

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:: stream/purchase The Happy Fits here ::



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Under the Shade of Green.- The Happy Fits

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📸 © Rahil Ashruff

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