Formed in early 2009, unkempt, slightly androgynous Austin rockers the Happen-Ins rapidly gained cachet in their hometown. Born out of the remnants of the Dedringers by Sean Faires and bassist John Mike Schopf (Hayes Carll), with Ricky Ray Jackson (Phosphorescent) and Houston drummer Paul Valdez (The Mastersons, John Egan), they began drawing comparisons to the ragged-but-right vibe of the Rolling Stones and Faces almost immediately.
The group's covers of Detroit and New Orleans nuggets often lay on that thick soul-glo R&B sheen the Stones always used so effectively. Last year's debut LP The Happen-Ins garnered wide praise for its straight-ahead Chuck Berry-ism. With Valdez on tour with John Evans in Canada and Schoepf in Europe with Roky Erickson, Chatter caught up with Faires in Austin as he munched chips and queso.
Chatter: It must be hard to keep momentum and focus with your rhythm section touring with other bands.
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Sean Faires: We don't really try to play constantly or tour all the time. We've built up a decent following in Austin so far, but we try not to play so often that people get bored with it. So we work with other people some.
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C: Austin gives the impression of being mostly an alt-country, singer-songwriter kind of town, but you guys are anything but alt-country. How does that choice of direction work or not work for you in Austin?
SF: Sure, there's a major alt-country scene, but to me that scene is kinda dorky these days, a little boring. It has these automatic expectations and habits that come with being in it. We pretty much avoid that scene as far as gigs go.
C: Where have you had your most success?
SF: We've built up a pretty good crowd at the Scoot Inn. We concentrate more on little East Austin places like that than the traditional Sixth Street and Red River-area club scene.
C: What's been the best thing that's happened for the Happen-Ins lately?
SF: We just did two weeks in the Northeast opening for Roky Erickson, and that was great exposure that fit into our overall strategy.
C: What's that?
SF: We've pretty much decided that, rather than just get in a van and drive all over, we like to go to a major city and camp for a few weeks, just hunker down and play as many gigs as we can and try to connect with a following.
We spent a couple of weeks in New York last summer, just crashing with friends and playing places like Lakeland Lounge. We seemed to be accepted pretty well. Now we just need to figure out when to get back there.
C: What's the next city you're going to camp in?
SF: We'll probably head west in the spring, go out to L.A. and hang for a couple of weeks. California is so big, and we don't want to get into a deal where we're driving all the time up and down the state. We'd rather just stay close to L.A. and try to develop something there.
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1. R. Kelly, Love Letter
2. Slim Thug, Tha Thug Show
3. Charlie Wilson, Just Charlie
4. Keyshia Cole, Calling All Hearts
5. Jaime Foxx, Best Night of My Life
6. T.I., No Mercy
7. Paul Wall, Politics as Usual
8. Michael Jackson, Michael
9. Yo Gotti, Cocaine Muzik 5
10. Ron Isley, Mr. I
1. The Avett Brothers, "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise"
2. Kings of Leon, "Radioactive"
3. Tired Pony, "Dead American Writers"
4. Cake, "Sick of You"
5. The Black Keys, "Tighten Up"
6. Shawn Mullins, "Light You Up"
7. Mumford & Sons, "Little Lion Man"
8. One Eskimo, "Amazing"
9. Jack Johnson, "At or With Me"
10. David Gray, "A Moment Changes Everything"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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