Happy Abandon
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Happy Abandon

Chapel Hill, NC | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Chapel Hill, NC | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Indie




"Happy Abandon Debut Lush Single "If I Stare""

"Happy Abandon debuts their luscious new single, "If I Stare," today as they gear up to kick off a lengthy East Coast tour this week. The group made up of Peter Vance, Justin Ellis, Jake Waits and Alex Thompson, have been creating quite a stir in the Chapel Hill, North Carolina scene, and now are taking over the world, one note at a time. "If I Stare," sets the stage for Happy Abandon as a groundbreaking group.

"The inspiration for the song ‘If I Stare’ comes from the question of what makes someone happy, what makes someone scared, and how the two are related. It is human nature to fear death. Time ticks in one direction, and we can’t control that. We all want to feel accomplished before time undoubtedly stops, but what if you don’t know what you want to accomplish before that happens," says singer Peter Vance. "The fear of never finding out can ultimately prevent people from ever finding out. It creates this sort of feedback loop where one is using so much energy, but never actually accomplishing anything. So instead of looking forward at the unknown, people find comfort in looking back at what has already been set in their own personal timeline. I feel overwhelmed by this idea all the time, and it’s exhausting. I feel like I have to be someone I’m not just so I can be as present as possible."

Charming and brilliant vocals are prominently displayed within the piece, with a blissful and enchanting bed of music that is layered throughout. Picking up in intensity, the song entices your ears with elements of classic Indie nostalgia, with a sugary, unique twist and Pop sensibility. Echoing harmonies are laced with a haunting string section which will make you fall in love. "If I Stare," is a breakout single for the band, as they put their name on the map as a noteworthy and unforgettable musical force." - Paste Magazine

"Record review: Happy Abandon's Heavy Lines EP"

Heavy Lines, the debut EP from the quartet of UNC grads known as Happy Abandon, begins sparse and slow, with just a twinkle of keyboards and guitars. But "Severed Seams" builds dramatically toward a lush surge, its ebb and flow not unlike the patterns of a banjo-less Mumford and Sons. Sighing, melancholic verses explode into a rousing instrumental coda that pushes into post-rock. It's a fitting introduction to Happy Abandon's entire approach, which attempts to shape glimmering tunes from familiar sources. The quartet has more audacity—and, in most places, better execution—than might be expected from a band that's only one year old.

Having Grammy-nominated producer John Custer, best known for his work with Corrosion of Conformity and Cry of Love, working the boards certainly helped Happy Abandon with this polished pop-rock. Custer, for instance, envelopes Peter Vance's gauzy vocals in reverb, while layer upon layer of bright guitar and coruscant keys add texture around it. Occasional orchestral additions conjure a sweeping sense of melodrama, indicative of the members' theater backgrounds.

Vance's lyricism is often rich in imagery and alliteration, whether the meaning is as obscured as his vocals or when his confessionals are direct and emphatic, as on the title track's tale of an abandoned lover. Despite the narrator's sense of regret, "Heavy Lines" soars with a crescendo of chiming guitar and stormy percussion. Pared back to acoustic guitar and atmospheric embellishments, "Window" follows with solemnity.

By the EP's end, or on closers "Clutter" and "Love, Like Language," Happy Abandon actually seems capable of forging its own identity. The former's busy arrangement lives up to its title, shedding the measured austerity of its predecessors. The incredibly memorable "Love, Like Language" pits a propulsive bass line and fat, fuzzy synth against dreamy vocals.

Actually, the strength of "Love, Like Language" shows the weakness of its companion tracks; though melodic, many of them lack the hooks to stick as well as the kicker. But as a dynamic first statement, Heavy Lines makes a case that Happy Abandon could break through to the big stages its idols occupy, however slowly the start. - INDY Week

"Happy Abandon Breakout in 2016 with New Single and Tour"

Happy Abandon is breaking through the masses with their new single, “If I Stare.” Recently I had the honor of catching the band play at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City, which they tore up the crowd with tracks like “Love Like Language,” “Heavy Lines,” and a cover of Sylvan Esso’s “Dress.”
Together the band proves to be an unstoppable force. Hailing from North Carolina the group have been steadily on tour throughout the Summer, and are picking up where they left off this Fall. Forming last year in 2015, Happy Abandon have already garnered critical acclaim and have been playing along Indie heavy-hitters such as Widowspeak, Vacationer, Rubblebucket and more; carving their own name into music history. They’ve been compared to artists such as Local Natives, Mumford and Sons and Alt-J, while adding their own unique essence to the mix.

Happy Abandon consists of key players Peter Vance on guitar and vocals, Jake Waits on drums, Alex Thompson on keyboards and programming and Justin Ellis on Bass. Together Happy Abandon create an explosive sound that brings a whole new generation of Indie music to life.
With a new LP and a West Coast tour in the works for early 2017, we can’t wait to see what the band has to offer next! - Music Existence

"Happy Abandon Shreds Onstage at Bourbon and Branch Philly"

Happy Abandon took to the stage the evening of August 14th, on a hot Summer night, to offer up a heavy dose of cooleness. The indie quartet has been challenging the spirit of rock n' roll with a unique and updated twist on the genre. During the show at Bourban and Branch, this was my first time witnessing the band live. Their single, "I Stare" which has steadily gained attention this Summer, has really opened my ears to the genre, as the band exploded with sound on stage. In the live setting, the group takes their music to a whole new level.

Their rock n' roll demeanor is one a band wise beyond their years. Singer Peter Vance's voice echoed and howled within every song the band played that evening, as it was brought full circle by the heavy rhythm section of Jake Waits and Justin Ellis, and the keyboard stylings of Alex Thompson. Happy Abandon was an absolute delight to see on the stage, and it will brought their recorded music into a new light. No matter what your choice of musical taste is, Happy Abandon will fulfill your appetite.

Happy Abandon is slated to hit the road again this Fall. For dates check: http://www.happyabandonmusic.com/


Wednesday October 19th - Carrboro, NC - Second Wind (acoustic set)

Thursday October 20th - Raleigh, NC - NC State Fair, Waterfall Stage (11 am - 1 pm)

Thursday October 20th - Richmond, VA - The Camel

Friday October 21st - Rehoboth Beach, DE - Dogfish Head Brewpub

Saturday October 22nd - Philadelphia, PA - Doug Dimmadome's Dimmsdale Dimmadome (House Show)

Sunday October 23rd - New York City - Pianos

Friday November 4th – Brooklyn Arts Center – Wilmington, NC

Sunday November 6th The Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC - NO Depression

"Interview: Happy Abandon"

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Happy Abandon: Hey! We’re good but busy. This is our second tour this year and we’re about halfway through. We just had a couple days off in Montreal so we’re feeling refreshed.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “If I Stare”?

HA: If I Stare is one of our more theatrical/ dramatic-sounding songs, and our first release as a four-piece. In addition, many good friends lent us their talents on various orchestral instruments or behind the scenes. We’re extremely proud of it and the reception thus far has been extremely rewarding.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Peter Vance: There was no one specific event that inspired this song, but rather an accumulation of events that put me in the state that this song encapsulates. The song came to me during a time in my life where there was very little structure. I was subletting a room after a big change in my life, feeling pretty down. But the place I was subletting had a piano. This was the first time I had lived somewhere where I had access to a real stand up piano at all times. I would spend hours just sitting there, trying to mess around with the keys, as piano is not my first instrument. Eventually that main riff that occurs at the beginning of the song came to me. The words started to just come out, and I knew that they were real or they wouldn’t have come so easily. This is the first song that I’ve written on piano, and though I’m very proud of that, I still opted for Alex to take over the piano part as he is a much more affluent pianist than I am.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

HA: We’ve discussed it and have been approached by some videographers, but nothing is in the works quite yet.

How was the recording and writing process?

HA: Peter came to the rest of the band with a pretty much finished song, but we had a collaborative arrangement process; the goal was to accent the highs and lows of the song while also matching the emotion of the instrumentation to the lyrics. We did this by incorporating flutes, cellos, violins, 5 voices, various guitar pedals, bowed cymbals, pianos, and some sonic experimentation. The four of us and our producer (Brett Scott at BNB Audio) approached every idea with an open mind and a few months later we ended up with something we can all stand behind.

What role does NC play in your music?

HA: Our identity as North Carolinians was pivotal in the formation of this band. The four of us met at UNC about six years ago, and the bands we all used to play in back then played shows together, both on and off campus, breaking into the NC music scene separately. When we formed this band a year ago, we already had four years’ worth of connections, so this project gained momentum fairly quickly. We also got invited to play the NC State Fair this year as well as three benefit concerts to fight against HB2 – so we represent North Carolina in several ways in the best ways we can.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

HA: Yes – we are currently in the planning and writing stages of our first LP and are currently scouting producers, studios, and labels to make the best possible album. We’ll hopefully start tracking this fall and release sometime next spring.

How is the current tour going?

HA: It’s chugging along – this is the longest tour any of us have undertaken with any of our previous bands and we’re playing a new city every night that are all new territories for Happy Abandon. But friends from UNC are coming out of the woodwork to attend the shows and give us floors to sleep on and we’re making some new, valuable friends everywhere we go. And the audience reactions and show attendances have been very strong for the most part. We’re about to play a show in Montreal tonight, which marks our first time performing outside of the US. It’s a very exciting time.

What else is happening next in Happy Abandon’s world?

HA: In addition to recording the upcoming LP, we are finishing a second single and hoping to release a video for it in November. We’ll also be playing several high-profile shows around NC this fall including three day parties at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh in early September. We’ll also begin planning a tour to the West Coast early next year. - Vents Magazine

"NC’s Happy Abandon Announce Extensive Tour"

Earlier this year the Blurt gang was suitably blown away by Chapel Hill’s Happy Abandon, who played our annual day party at Austin’s Ginger Man pub during SXSW. The orchestrally-inclined indie rock band — Peter Vance, Jake Waits, Alex Thompson, and Justin Ellis— previously released a well-received 2015 EP Heavy Lines (listen to it HERE), and they’re also about to hit the road for an extensive East Coast tour that will also find them dipping into the Midwest and Canada. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to check ‘em out.

Tour dates are below, and you can hear plenty of music over at their official website. Check out this live video from last November as well.

Thursday August 11th – Raleigh, NC – The Pour House Music Hall

Friday August 12th – Washington, DC – Rock and Roll Hotel

Saturday August 13th – Rehoboth Beach, DE – Dogfish Head Brewery

Sunday August 14th – Philadelphia, PA – Bourbon and Branch

Tuesday August 16th – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

Wednesday August 17th – Newport, RI – Jimmy’s Saloon

Thursday August 18th – Lowell, MA – LBJ

Friday August 19th – Burlington, VT – Foam Brewers

Sunday August 21st – Montreal, PQ – Le Divan Orange

Monday August 22nd – Toronto, ON – The Central

Wednesday August 24th – Chicago, IL – Quenchers

Thursday August 25th – Cleveland, OH – Barking Spider Tavern

Saturday August 27th – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall

Sunday August 28th – Brooklyn, NY – Sunnyvale

Monday, August 29th – Asbury Park, NJ – Wonder Bar

Tuesday, August 30th – Highlands, NJ – The Chubby Pickle

Wednesday August 31st – Baltimore, MD – The Wind Up Space

Friday September 2nd – Wilmington, NC – Rat House

Saturday September 3rd – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 - Blurt Magazine

"SXSW 2016: The Triangle's Watch List"

Young, mod Chapel Hill indie rock band Happy Abandon issued its Heavy Lines EP in January. The group, whose hooks suggest The Fray, could benefit from a producer with big issues. Perhaps they can find one in Texas? - INDY Week

"Album Reviews December 2015; Happy Abandon "Heavy Lines""

Five new songs comprise this EP from a North Carolina outfit (with local connections through singer Peter Vance) featuring a former member of the Clockwork Kids and Color Exchange. There is a strong spirit of dream pop embedded in a gutsy indie rock sound. They achieve a big sound as the production is strong as the guitars ring out steadily. It is the lead vocals that resonate profoundly, as the singer pulls and pushes his words with a dramatic flair with no shortage of grace. This is smart music, well produced, and with lots of heart. I fondly recommend it and am curious as to how it will turn out live.

And if you want to join me in that quest, you can catch the band live this Saturday, January 2nd when they play the Rock’n’Roll Hotel. - DC Rock Live

"Happy Abandon: A Band for Everyone"

Combining genres is common in the modern world of songwriting, but very few bands successfully blur the boundaries so well that it is nearly impossible to comfortably label them.

Meet Happy Abandon. A four-piece indie dream from Chapel Hill, NC, their five-song EP, entitled Heavy Lines, is so well composed, you’d expect the band to have been together for decades. Although they formed in early-2015, Happy Abandon’s resume is quite impressive thanks to their touring record. The guys have been on an 18-date tour of the Southeast and Midwest, including six showcases at SXSW 2016!

“It was absolute madness in the best possible way,” remembered frontman Peter Vance. “We played six shows in four days, and when we weren’t playing, we were seeing and hanging out with bands that we were listening to while on the road between tour stops, like Mothers, And The Kids, Girlpool, Diet Cig, and more.”

Various social media accounts state their influences include Death Cab For Cutie, Alt-J, Queen, and Bon Iver, but as soon as you hit play on Heavy Lines, I think you’ll agree that there is no one word to describe their sound; I mean this in the best way possible. I can hear various influences from the bands listed above, as well as some not listed, but songs like “Love, Like Language” and “Heavy Lines” leave me simultaneously confused and obsessed. I want so badly to give Happy Abandon a genre but it’s just not possible!

Currently, the four piece is working on their first full-length album, as well as gearing up for a busy fall tour. Prior to the creation of their next release, the band went out on an 18-show tour and learned just what it means to be a band.

“Our tour to SXSW and back was an amazing experience for all of us; none of us had ever toured through Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, Nashville, and most of the other cities before in any of our previous bands,” said Vance. “It was the longest independent tour any of us had ever been on. Every show was a success, both from an attendance standpoint and from how well the other bands fit with us musically and as friends. We made new fans and friends, got some great hometown press for going to SXSW, and after a few days home we couldn’t wait to go back out again.”

As they get down to business in the studio, Vance claims that the writing and recording process feels like anything but work. Happy Abandon is currently recording with Brett Scott, a former bandmate of bass player Justin Ellis. Scott and the band have been friends since the start of Happy Abandon, so “recording with him… [feels like] just five dudes making noise and having a good time.”

According to Vance, Scott has pushed the guys outside of their comfort zones and perhaps expanded their working knowledge of the recording process. With “crazy guitar pedals, amp combinations, recording a harmonium with two players at the same time, [and] recording a real piano as well as a synth orchestra,” Happy Abandon’s unreal sound is about to redefine what you know about music and genres.

It’s bands like these that keep me on my toes when it comes to the NC music scene. Although the Tarheel state has an abundant and diverse music scene, Happy Abandon will happily fit in and stand out wherever they go!

Check out their current dates here. - Shutter 16 Magazine

"Venturing Into New Music Depths: Happy Abandon"

I ventured to downtown Raleigh on a beautiful Saturday morning to conduct an interview with Happy Abandon, an up and coming orchestral rock quartet, the members of which are all UNC- Chapel Hill alumni. It was warm Saturday in early April, and they were setting up to playing a sold out show at The Pour House. The members of the band are:

Justin, the bass
Peter, the guitar/vocals
Jake, the drummer.
Alex, the keys and the programmer.

Unfortunately, Alex Thompson, was unable to perform at The Pour House or participate in the interview due to his role as Associate Music Director in a theatrical production of Sweeney Todd in Chapel Hill. Yes, I know that sounds awesome.

In his absence, the band members articulated much appreciation and reverence of Alex’s vast experience as a musician and a programmer.
To cope with Alex’s void, the band “stuffs Alex’s soul” into their laptop and must time themselves to match Alex, as he plays through the laptop. The laptop recording is used mostly to maintain their collective sound. To execute accuracy the band must rely on the tempos and signals of one another because in music and in life, timing and teamwork are everything.

Looking on the bright side, Jake, the drummer, recounts that Alex’s absence has pushed the remaining band members to experiment with different instruments and techniques.

They also, quite endearingly, place a framed photo of Alex on stage and introduce him to the audience before they tear into their set.

We talked over burgers at Chucks, a nearby restaurant, while Happy Abandon described their one year band history, meeting each other through past separate projects and various local music scenes and then finally coalescing in 2015, producing their first ever collective EP, Heavy Lines.

I also asked them a few wonky questions, to which they kindly obliged, outlining their experiences as aspiring musicians, the intent and structure behind their music, and their debut at the annual 2016 SXSW Music festival in Austin, Texas.

Below are the highlights of the interview.

Are the songs on “Heavy Lines” a catharsis for any of you? Do they allow you time for self reflection?

Peter: That’s a good question for you two.

Justin: For me it does. I was a lead singer in a band for a long time, and this is my first time playing in a band where I can just focus all my energy on bass. I don’t have singing or lyrics to convey how I feel; I only use my instrument and my pedals. So I play very aggressively when the song is really angry.
My favorite song to play, “Clutter” because---

Peter: Because of that bass riff?!

Justin: (chuckling) Yeah! And I have so much fun playing because it sounds so twisted and dark, and I’m just angry when I’m playing it. And it feels really great.

Peter: To me “Clutter” is one of those songs where the lyrics and the music match perfectly. That was something I was really proud of when I first started writing that song and I write all my music on a basic guitar scale, so when we put [the lyrics] in an environment that is more Happy- Abandon sounding, it just made complete sense.
I mean, it’s called “Clutter”, we talk about frequencies in the song, and it’s about getting all that stuff out of your head, so you can appreciate what’s around you.
When it comes to the actual song structure and the music itself, it plays with all of these weird dissonant chords, or all these dissonant notes, as well as a weird beat, that like makes sense, but is a bit off. It’s not my favorite song, but it’s definitely one of the better composed songs on the EP.

Jake: It’s a song for musicians. I can understand why someone would listen to it and think, “wow” there is too much going on. But if you’re a musician you can really pick apart the song. There is a lot of subtle pieces to it.

Peter: Yeah, and the lyrics, too. If you listen to the lyrics, they are definitely relatable to anyone.
That’s the thing about writing songs; finding the balance between what I normally go for in my lyrics, and something that is unique and accessible. For example, you can hear something totally accessible, but it’s mundane or repetitive, or can have something unique and hard to listen to.

Jake: Yeah, like if you hear something and you have no frame of reference.

Peter: Yeah, and it’s so hard to find something new, because music has been around for so long. But you want to create something that’s unique, and something you can also jam to! One of the most frequent thing people say about our live music performances, is that they are really tight, which is reassuring. People also say there is nothing they can compare us to.

Jake: Yeah, It’s funny the range of bands we get compared to.

Listen here: https://happyabandon.bandcamp.com/releases

Does music have power?

Justin: Yeah. Always.

Peter: Power? One hundred percent. I think that’s one of the most powerful things in the world. Especially for anyone who is willing to be vulnerable emotionally. Really any art form, but music especially. Like one of my favorite bands, and one we get compared to a lot. Sigur Ros, an Icelandic post-rock band, who sing in Icelandic, or just sing random gobbledygook in a made up language.
Like I have no idea what they are saying, but they affect me emotionally - more so than a lot of bands I listen to. That’s the point.

Jake: Sometimes lyrical content muddies the emotional meaning of a song. Not in Peter’s lyrics, but sometimes it’s like, I don’t know, if you just listen to the sounds, they evoke emotions on their own, without the words.

Peter: And that’s powerful, it’s weird, that somehow related frequencies can affect you emotionally. And that can be dangerous.

What do you mean, dangerous?

Peter: All art can be dangerous because it can make you aware of yourself and things in yourself that you weren’t aware of before.

Justin: Yeah, and you’re not prepared to handle it (those emotions).

Peter: If you go into music, or art knowing that it is going to affect you emotionally, then you’ll be fine. It’s healthy, it’s good, it makes you more complex as a person, but sometimes it can break you.

My dumb ass: Yeah I wonder, if that’s why a lot of musicians commit suicide?

Peter: Yeah, I didn’t want to say that, but I do think that has more to do with the artist's own underlying emotional issues and stressful times.
Like Elliott Smith, an example of someone who wasn’t afraid to be truthful and blunt about how sad things were or how shitty things were.
But sometimes you just want to listen to music and jam to it. But I guess I respect music that has an emotional affect on me a little more.

How did you guys run it to Grammy Nominated John Custer, aka “The indestructible Godfather of the North Carolina Music Industry”?

Jake:. Through a mutual friend. And she was showing him a few CDs from around the area. Well, we met before we were actually a band.

Peter: But he was aware that we were all musicians. I think he saw potential in us as individual musicians. Actually he kind of pushed me and Jake to start this project.

Jake: Yeah we got together in December of 2014 and ordered a demo. And then we took it to Alex Thompson and asked, “What can you do with this”? We wanted him to do a whole layer of like sound scaping.

Justin: Alex has a really big background in film school and production and doing music for plays. But he’s never been in a regular band before Happy Abandon, especially for this long.

Jake: Yeah I was trying to get him for a while, and he played with me once, awhile back, and he was basically like: I, don’t have time for this….

Peter: I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out with this band. We are able to work really well with each other. I just have so much respect for them as musicians.

Peter: Honestly, Jake, the beats you create are exactly that balance between unique and accessible. The beats you create are spot on.

Jake:(Jokingly): I like wet beats. Hahah But….Computer songwriting gives me that opportunity, because it gives me that very uniquely shaped canvass. As I paint rhythms, (Justin laughing) on this uniquely shaped canvas, by the end of it is still a uniquely shaped canvas.

Justin: I hate everybody in this band.

Peter: Noooooo!

Jake: Awwwww!

Jake: There can be no structure without destruction. And Justin just comes in and destroys all the hard work that Peter and I do. (Justin laughing) We write the most beautiful songs and Justin is just like: (unintelligible harsh bass imitations) Bnnn-nunnn Bnnnnnn Bnuuunnuunn!

Peter: But it makes for a good show.

Justin: Yeah, that’s why they keep me around.

Peter: The whole reason we can do this stuff independently is because we can all come together professionally and treat this band like something that we are crazy enough to do as a profession. Because that is insane to want to do that. Instead of having just far-out dreams we are actually putting in the effort to making that happen.

What was your experience at SXSW?

Peter: Without Alex, we had 17 chances to practice, [with the laptop version of Alex], and before that we practiced, like, only a few times.

Justin: We sometimes play in weird rooms where we can’t hear each other. But we got compliments on how big our sound is. We all sing, and rely on laptops, and with only the three of us, it means a lot.

Peter: Yeah, that’s why I mention the use of the laptop in some of our performances. It is of course accurate, but it doesn’t bring the energy that Alex brings to the stage.

Justin: Yeah, playing at SXSW was awesome! We did six shows in four days. Two of them were put on by our good friend Steven Judge, owner of Schoolkids Records, who invited us down to do those shows. When he invited us initially he told us it was only a possibility and that they might not work out.
So what we did is, we booked shows all the way to SXSW in Austin and all the way back. We figured that worst-case scenario, we get no shows during SXSW, but at least we see Austin and get to check it out and figure out what we should do to participate in 2017. And then we found out that we got not one, not two shows, but six shows in Austin. Which is why we had 13 shows in a row before we had a day off in St. Louis! But it was wonderful.
Some of it was lots of NC connections, and some of it was just finding random show opportunities on various websites. But somehow, with only a few months to do it we got a show in every single town we wanted to play in. The thing I loved about SXSW, I mean the weather is gorgeous, the food is amazing, and the people there are all so helpful, and they get it and know what it’s like to be on tour. People we never met let us stay in their apartment for two nights, and gave us keys to their apartment! Yeah, and it’s just that kind of spirit everywhere. It was… oh my god...I loved it. I can’t wait to go back!

Peter: And having that many shows, 13 days in a row, just really showed us that holy moly, we can do this, and we have the stamina and the drive to make these shows successful.

Justin: Especially because this was our first tour as Happy Abandon, and we didn’t know any other local bands who went out on tour that long or played any of these towns. It was completely uncharted territory for all of us and, it was awesome..

Peter: I cannot wait for the next one! I am itching to start touring again.

Justin: It’s weird, we’ve only been home a week since the tour and it feels like forever. But at SXSW every show was packed and we met people and bands from all over. Like, we’re now friends with a band from Colorado called Tyto Alba that we met playing a show with in Oklahoma City. We had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country. It’s crazy. It was so cool to just triple the amount of musical folk I know outside of North Carolina. I loved it. And we’re going on tour again for about 24 days this August!

I’m excited to see what these intelligent and talented dudes come up with next! I hope we’ll continue to tune in as Happy Abandon’s music careers blossom. So if you’re an aspiring musician, take heed: there appears to be some self-reflection involved, a lot of shows and tours, experimentation, and experience that goes into this whole music career thing! But the rewards of community and doing what you love seem to trump the sleepless nights! To the listeners, I encourage you all to run a hot bath light some candles, smoke a doobie, if that’s your thing and let Happy Abandon’s melodic dissonant sound take you to the depth of your being, or just enjoy the damn songs as you please! - InMind Magazine

"Our Favorite Releases of 2016 so far"

The band describes themselves as a “project dedicated to collaborative self-expression” and features members from other notable Chapel Hill bands including Morning Brigade and The Color Exchange. Happy Abandon has defined its identity as something else entirely, delivering meticulously arranged lush pop tunes that set them apart in a crowded music community. - Croquet Records

"Happy Abandon: Heavy Lines"

Heavy Lines is the debut EP from North Carolina band Happy Abandon. With traces of Mumford & Sons and Noah and the Whale, the five tracks blend orchestral touches and shoegaze influences into an EP that builds sonic goodness with each note. The band of Peter Vance, Jake Waits, Alex Thompson and Justin Ellis unleash strong songs, ethereal vibes and well crafted musical lines that mark a super strong debut. Steam and download Heavy Lines at the link below. - Floorshime Zipper Boots

"SIMGE On The Scene: Cooke, Happy Abandon, & This That and The Others Played Happy Mondays"

I have been jamming on North Carolina’s Happy Abandon for a couple of days now, and probably will be for the rest of the week and beyond. The quartet stopped by Happy Mondays on their way back south after hitting up some northern areas during a short tour. The band creates a sound that is quite relaxing, but also very mesmerizing. Their songs are filled with clean guitar work, flowing keys and punctuated with sharp breaks that elevates you invitingly into their creative journey, and you will find yourself gladly accepting the offer. I certainly have. Happy Abandon is a very fitting name for this group. - Speak Into My Good Eye

"Happy Abandon and Invisible Homes at Foam Brewers August 19, 2016"

I had a great time seeing music last night at Foam Brewers. It was a lovely evening to walk down to Burlington’s waterfront and I had not been to the brewery bar yet. The sun was almost ready to set as I made my way past the outdoor seating and walked in the door. The stage was directly to the left and I immediately ran into Sean Witters and Shawn Connolly and chatted a little about their performance on my radio show on WBKM the night before. I got a beer from the bar, said a quick hello to Justin Ellis and soon enough it was time for his band to play.

Happy Abandon are a four-piece from Chapel Hill North Carolina and are about a third of the way into their current tour. With a singer/whistler/electric guitar player, a keyboard player/backup singer, Justin playing bass and singing backup and a drummer, they played an hour full of beautiful hard rocking songs. As they were tuning up something about the sound reminded me of Nous Sommes Du Soleil. The sound turned a little shoegaze as the song began then it added in some jangle guitar then it just rocked hard. I was in heaven from the first note. The second song started a little jazzy but rocked hard in the middle. This set the pace for the night. Each song used a various style of music then was placed into a pop context and rocked hard. The bar was mostly full of beer aficionados but the band caught the attention of several people. The third song had a little jazz feel, and with very little guitar leads, the electric piano sounding keys lead the song. After a bit it turned into an epic rock jam too. I couldn’t tell if the fourth song was really long or it was just played into the fifth, but it started by sounding like a lullaby, went into a nice hard rocking section, then went back to the lullaby. It drifted for a moment then ascended into a huge over the top epic. I think that was the point where I wished I had pushed all of my friends to see the show. So many of them would have loved it. They played a few more songs, all of them good and ended the night with Heavy Lines, the title song of their EP. I am so thrilled that I was able to hear them play.

It took a little time for Invisible Homes to get set up on the small stage but soon enough they began with the gorgeous Little Song. Sean sang and played electric guitar and keys, Shawn played electric guitar and sang, Patrick Ormiston played bass and some keys and effects, Simon Plumpton masterfully played the drums and Deva Racusin filled out the sound with bongos, various other percussion instruments, sax, and his strong voice. The sound is art rock and pop and whatever else they can weave into the mix. Early in the set they played a song I’m beginning to love called Pale Rage and followed it by the soaring Above The Frequency. They jammed out the title song from their first album, Song For My Double then turned a little Crimson for All Your Basis. Shawn’s guitar work had a lot of discipline. The next song was a Floydy prog song and they followed it with a Caroline Rose song. The newly recorded Company She Keeps followed and had a smooth rock sound and ended with a wicked Sean guitar solo. The next song was a new one about turning into animals and serving our robot overlords who have come to destroy. It ended with an instrumental breakdown that flowed into a rocking version of This Machine. They closed the night with Sean singing a great Tom Waits impression on Tango Till They’re Sore.

After they wrapped up I said a couple of quick goodbyes then took the long walk home, blissfully happy with all that I got to hear. - Tim's Triangle Tribune

"Just Press Play: Rafael Barker offers up some magic"

Described as lush indie pop rock, Happy Abandon first came onto my radar during a concert this spring at Cat’s Cradle, a stellar listening room in Carrboro, North Carolina.

They opened for Elephant Revival, and their sweet lyrics and percussive rhythms worked well with Elephant Revival’s driving folk tunes.

This song, off a new EP they’re finishing up, stood out because I hadn’t heard a band before with this specific sound. Plus, with lyrics like the ones in this song, which feels like an experience or moment we can all recall, it felt like this was a young band worth following. - Charleston Gazette-Mail

"UNC alumni band Happy Abandon headline Local 506 show"

Despite their name, Happy Abandon isn't straying from their roots. The up-and-coming indie rock band will be performing at Local 506 tonight. The four-person band, which is comprised of UNC graduates Peter Vance (lead vocals, guitar, lyrics), Jake Waits (percussion), Alex Thompson (keyboards) and Justin Ellis (bass), will perform tracks from their newly released EP, Heavy Lines, as well as some new songs and older covers. For tonight's opening performances Happy Abandon has pulled talent from the local area by having the groups XOXOK and Sister David perform, whose members are all UNC students. Happy Abandon will also be performing with two guests, fellow UNC graduates Nick Johnson, who plays violin, and Emily Pate, who plays flute and sings backup vocals. “I think it’s a very strong lineup and a really great show and venue, so I think there will be a lot of energy,” Pate said. Although the road to Happy Abandon’s formation has had its twist and turns, the band has already experienced successes within their first year. For the band’s first performance of 2016, Happy Abandon visited Vance’s hometown of Washington, D.C. and played for a crowd of more than 200 people. The band also got to work with Grammy-nominated producer John Custer for Heavy Lines. All members of Happy Abandon were involved in different musical and theatrical groups throughout their UNC careers such as the Marching Tar Heels, the UNC Walk-Ons, UNC Pauper Players and the larger local music scene, which has helped shaped the band into what it is today. “All of us have theater background, which I think communicates in the music,” Vance said. “I think having that experience and understanding how important rehearsals and schedules are makes it more professional. It helped us not just be musicians but also performing artists.” Happy Abandon’s members bring their own talent and interests to the group, which Vance said creates a unique sound. “Musically, I think this band is inspired by pop-rock song construction but post-rock envelop," Ellis said. "By that I mean it’s very layered and textured and there is lots of reverb and vocals." Vance, who writes lyrics, is inspired by artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird and Conor Oberst, who he believes use music to talk about difficult subjects both on a grand and personal scale. “Music is important because it’s supposed to promote personal growth,” Vance said. “I like literary artists, artists that spend a lot of time with the content of the song and also how to present it, because putting work into that stuff goes a long way.” Happy Abandon will be performing a release show in Raleigh and an acoustic show in Durham, as well as a tour in the southeast and the northeast. Whether touring around the U.S. or writing new songs for their first LP, Happy Abandon has stuck to their musical roots. “It still seems like (UNC) is still a part of who we are," Ellis said. "Playing at places like Local 506 just make it feel like home." - The Daily Tarheel


HAPPY ABANDON. These Chapel Hill boys are turning heads right now, and rightfully so. Detailed, intricate, orchestral indie rock at its finest. There is just too much talent here in NC, it’s astounding – and it makes my job very easy, and even more fulfilling. - Deep South Entertainment

"Happy Abandon (04 September 2016)"

Happy Abandon recently stopped by to play a couple of songs and have a live in-studio chat with Megan O’Shea. - 90.5 The Night Brookdale Public Radio


Still working on that hot first release.



The stage is awash in deep red hues, splashing an ominous glow on the walls surrounding the band as smoke billows from the floor and begins to fill the room. The band members’ silhouettes cut through the density and they begin to play, creating an environment that is ornate and almost tactile, one that requires almost all senses.

 Happy Abandon trade in high drama. From soaring songs to string-laden production, the aforementioned light and fog that accent the mood and set the scenery for their live shows, to the way singer/ guitarist Peter Vance, bassist Justin Ellis, and drummer Jake Waits talk about their music – with determined passion, vivid detail and engrossing vigor - they bring with them a sense that much more is at stake than just writing and playing songs. There is something deeper at play here, something far more important.


Forming in early 2015, the members of Happy Abandon were hardly strangers. Operating in the same circles that are the cogs of any small, tightly knit scene, Vance, Ellis and Waits had known each other for years before as students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Within a few weeks of first playing together, they worked their way onto bills at local shows and by year’s end Happy Abandon was hitting the road, touring through nearly every state east of Texas and Canada. It was at SXSW that the band initially hooked up with North Carolina music denizen and future label head Stephen Judge, playing multiple slots at his annual SXSW party. From there a relationship was born that would eventually lead to Judge’s offering Happy Abandon a recording contract via his freshly rebranded label Schoolkids Records.


The band continued to write, to tour and to fine-tune their performances when, in late 2016, they suffered the unexpected loss of three dear friends in three separate incidences.


In dealing with these heartbreaking premature deaths, in concert with the trials and travails of everyday life, the songs began to pour out en masse, with subjects ranging from personal loss to abandonment to homelessness – which singer Peter Vance suffered for a stint – to heartbreak to the indomitable power of will.


It was through this lens that the band began to see this new set of songs on a grander perspective and began to realize that the wider concept behind their music was the idea that a person needs to feel life, to experience it in every facet, to feel as many emotions as possible, to completely immerse themselves in whatever emotion they may be experiencing and how, in an effort to protect ourselves, we all tend to hide behind masks, or more appropriately, some kind of facepaint.


Vance, who readily admits that he slips behind his own masks on a regular basis, began to see these songs as a vehicle by which to reveal what’s behind his facepaint.


Writing furiously, Happy Abandon soon found themselves with a batch of the best songs they’d yet written and soon decamped to the tiny hamlet Macon, North Carolina (population 116) where Jason Merritt’s lake house studio sits on the shores of Lake Gaston to create their album.


Within a week they emerged with the ten songs that would become Facepaint, their debut long player, and found their brand of genre bending art music with deep-rooted pop sensibilities more finely honed than ever before.


Working with Merritt acting as co-producer, Jamie Candiloro working as mixing engineer and frequent collaborator Alex Thompson handling keyboards and string arrangements, Happy Abandon captured at once their high flair, their foreboding sensibility and their warmth in a record that is at-once propulsive yet patient, dark and distant while warm and engaging.


Vance’s voice, a tinny yet warm throat-yell which bears an eerie resemblance to Jeff Buckley, sits astride Happy Abandon’s intensely emotional music, which owes as much to the members’ experience in theater, marching bands and orchestras as it does to their myriad musical influences such as Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird and The National.


While full of songs about loss, Vance is quick to point out that Facepaint is not a breakup album.  Rather, if the album were to have a subject, it would be the relationship a person has to loss and loneliness, which can manifest itself through breakups, homelessness, familial abandonment, and death. These relationships provide the outline for Facepaint, from the emotions they conjure to the settings in which they exist and the facepaint we all hide behind to make those heartbreaks a little more palatable.


written by Michael Venutolo-Mantovani


Band Members