Interview: The Happy Curmudgeons

Hello everyone and welcome to How have you been?
We have all been well. We played our first live show of the year in July and it was great. Being able to interact with people and play new material was fantastic.

You just released the new single “I Know How You Feel” Can you tell us a more about the song?
I Know How You Feel was written by Jeff Warner. Dave Hamilton helped with the music, but Jeff had the song down as a solo piece initially. Takashi Iio, a multiple Detroit Music award winner, played stand up bass on the track and it all came together. So, the song has just three people on it – Jeff Warner, Dave Hamilton & Takashi Iio. Mark Byerly did a great job producing the track and the song was mastered at Third Man Records in Detroit.

“I Know How You Feel” has some simple yet very clean production going on. Where did you record the song and who joined you in the studio?
We record at our producer’s studio, Longview Studio. Mark Byerly is not only a great producer, but a fabulous musician. Mark has been on tour with Bob Seger and Justin Timberlake. Bill Skibbe at Third Man Records in Detroit has mastered all the new tracks for the 2nd Chances album.

We’re big fans of Third Man Records and it turns out they are doing the mastering for your tracks. How did that relationship come about?
Third Man Records is a great company started by a local guy, Jack White. Dave Hamilton stopped by Third Man Records since they still press vinyl. The Happy Curmudgeons are considering doing a small batch of vinyl pressings for 2nd Chances. Dave was also lucky enough to meet Jack White at a fundraiser and was able to discuss the band’s plan for the next album. Third Man does mastering and it was a natural fit to keep everything in the community. Bill Skibbe has done a wonderful job mastering the new tracks.

What role does Detroit play in your music?
Detroit is an interesting town with a lot of rich musical history. You can go down to Grand River and visit Hitsville U.S.A., the home of Motown Records, for inspiration. Those groups recorded in a converted garage and made music that is still influential. The members of the Happy Curmudgeons hail from metro Detroit. The music scene here is great and people love live music in the area. We enjoy hitting the road and playing in new towns and places, but it always great to have a show in your backyard.

I read you were working with producer Mark Byerly. How did that relationship come together and what was it like working with him in the studio?
We worked with Mark Byerly on our first album, Meant 2 Be. He was a co-producer on that album. We talked to Mark when we were ready to record new material and wanted him to be the only producer. He understands us and where we are coming from with our musical perspective. He took the time to see us play a show at Founders in Grand Rapids and expressed interest in working together. We are very lucky to have him working with us. He is a great guy and a instrumental part of the Happy Curmudgeons.

Who would you say are your biggest influences and have they changed over the years?
We all have different influences in the group. We do have some in common, so that helps us explore different genres. Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richards, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ray Davies, Grateful Dead (& Robert Hunter), Warren Zevon, Bob Marley, Donald Fagen, Tom Petty, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Graham Parsons, John Fogerty, CSN and of course Bob Seger, Jack White and Grand Funk Railroad. It is a shame that Grand Funk Railroad is not in the Hall of Fame.

Somewhat related, are there any dream collaborators you’d like to work with?
We have been very lucky to not only work with Mark Byerly, but Jim Moose Brown from the Bob Seger Band. Moose appears on 2nd Chances and Jack Russell. He is a truly gifted keyboardist. I had the pleasure of playing with Bobby Balderrama (the original guitarist for Question Mark & The Mysterians) on a new track called Rustic Glory. So, we have collaborated with some great musicians already. We are open to working with anyone who is committed to making music that has soul and spirit. Look for Vaughn Mortimer on the new album. Vaughn plays Jeff Warner in a group called The Outfit. They fit into a bluegrass genre and all of their members are very solid musicians. Vaughn wrote a track for our new album called Only A Song. I hope we can get some additional special guests as well.

What impact (if any) did the pandemic have on this release?
The pandemic halted the recording efforts for our second album, 2nd Chances. We were able to release 2nd Chances and Jack Russell before everything shut down. We did record I Know How You Feel after the vaccines were released. We are finally getting back to the studio when we can and hope to have the album completed by the end of the year.

What’s next for The Happy Curmudgeons in 2021 and where can people find out more about you and your music?
People can check us out at our website – and on Facebook. We also have a page on Reverb Nation and Bandcamp. Our music is available on You Tube, Apple Music, Amazon, Pandora and Spotify. We appreciate everyone that takes the time to listen to our music. Thank you for this opportunity and we are glad that we could do this interview. Peace & Love


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