The Happy Bullets
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The Happy Bullets

Dallas, Texas, United States | SELF

Dallas, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Pop Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Popping Up"

With concurrent CD releases, these fun-loving bands are on similar tracks
05:43 PM CST on Thursday, March 24, 2005
By HUNTER HAUK / The Dallas Morning News
Dallas bands the Happy Bullets and the Tah-Dahs will put out CDs March 29 on Undeniable Records. They share more than just a release date, though. Through their support for each other and affinity for smart pop music, they hope to make a lasting impression on the local scene.

'Ministry'of pop
The Happy Bullets' six members have so much fun performing live that their sets often seem like parties. Friends, including the Tah-Dahs, sometimes find the sudden inspiration to jump onstage and join in. Their avant-garde pop mixes humorous and absurd lyrics with bombastic, catchy arrangements. That's the dominant sound on the new CD, Vice and Virtue Ministry, but a few slower tracks show the band's willingness to experiment. Jason Roberts and Tim Ruble take care of most of the lyrics and vocals. Mr. Roberts, 30, says the two started the band after finding they shared similar musical tastes. "Tim and I both worked at an art gallery, and we just started swapping CDs and eventually shared demos of songs we had written," Mr. Roberts says. "We realized we had a great collaborative relationship." The lineup also includes Kris Youmans, Josh McKibben, Rhett Jones and Andrea Roberts, Jason's wife, whom he calls his muse. As intricate as some of the arrangements on the new album are, Mr. Roberts says the group's musical mission remains simple. "We really just try to make good pop. Good songs never go away in people's minds. Like some of the greatest bands around have done, we'd like to start out poppy and get more experimental as we go."
Good 'Fun'
The three guys in the Tah-Dahs share the pop sensibilities and lyrical wit of the Bullets, but their sound is more straightforward. The new CD, Le Fun, consists of fast, infectious ditties about love and attraction. Instantly familiar, the songs could whip any pop-loving crowd into a frenzy. Lead singer and guitarist Roy Ivy, 30, says many of his songs stem from interaction with the opposite sex. "The way I write, it's all about what's going on with me at the time. I can have a crush on some gal, and I'll write all wooing songs." It was a similar crush about three years ago that brought on the desire to form a band. "It started as a complete lark, with me writing some songs for a girl who now hates my guts," Mr. Ivy says. "But then I found James and Charlie, and the songs took on a life of their own. I can write something on my guitar, and when they get in on the process, it becomes a different creature." James Porter is the drummer and Charlie Papathanasiou is the bassist. Mr. Ivy says he couldn't be happier with his two band mates. "We know each other's heads – we got a chemistry thing goin' on."
Come together
The same kind of chemistry exists between the Tah-Dahs and the Happy Bullets. Mr. Roberts asked the Bullets' record label to consider releasing the Tah-Dahs' CD along with their own because he felt the Tah-Dahs needed the boost. "They were just like us, busy and poor. They had this great album sitting on the shelf, and we just wanted to help them put it out," Mr. Roberts says. Mr. Ivy says the support from the Bullets was just what his band needed to get out of a rut. "Le Fun took two days to record and two years to put out. That was mostly due to laziness. But getting it out has lit a fire under us." Mr. Ivy says the Tah-Dahs have already begun working on a second album, which they'll start recording in April. "We're plotting it out like a prison break," he says. For both bands, the album releases are the beginning of a new movement in Dallas music. "We want to foster a scene here in Dallas that embraces nutty, pop stuff like both our bands put out," Mr. Roberts says. Mr. Ivy wants the same kind of movement, but he's happy just spending time with the Bullets. "We have a great relationship. Being creative with them is effortless, kind of like an old shoe." Sample songs from the Happy Bullets' and the Tah-Dahs' CDs at
CD-release party for both bands: April 2 (time TBA) at Good Records, 617 N. Good Latimer. 214-752-4663. Free. CD-release show: With the Tah-Dahs, the Happy Bullets, the Theater Fire, April 8 at 8 p.m. at Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St. 214-747-4422.
- Dallas Morning News - Hunter Hauk

"Live New Orleans Review"

The Mermaid Lounge
July 31, 2004
Before I went inside to catch The Happy Bullets, someone told me they sounded like a cross between They Might Be Giants and another band. After hearing the set, the TMBG reference point was good enough. The rock quintet from Dallas made joyous music Saturday night at The Mermaid Lounge. Their tall, bald keyboardist was giddy like how I hate people to be when I’m in a bad mood. But, I was at a rock concert—a perfect spot to be molded. So, the keyboardist’s smiles and hops were infectious, and soon enough I was dancing and smiling too. Props go to opening band The Tah-Dahs for creating an atmosphere for this to happen easily in. It was a great time in the midst of well-crafted pop/rock. The four guys and a girl and a pizza place(remember that show?) heralded their happiness with a trumpet and tambourines. Except for one song, their music was mid-tempo and straightforward. The songs were quirky, but their style and structure wasn’t as diverse as TMBG. The whole band was talented, and they all had a great stage presence. They looked happy to be there, even though there were only ten people in the room—tops. During one song, the keyboardist warned the audience of an upcoming three-guitar attack. So, I summoned the spirit of The Drive By Truckers and survived. In the middle of a song, Paradise Vendors drummer Elzy Lindsay leaned over to me and said, “Places Ray Davies should have been.” I agree. I don’t see how the former Kinks front-man would have disliked this band, considering The Happy Bullets were obviously influenced by The Kinks. I’m just not sure if Mr. Davies feels safe walking around the city anymore after his gunshot wound. It’d be nice to see him out supporting the scene, though. You hear that, Ray Davies? I’m calling you out. Next time The Happy Bullets are in town, we’ll…meet. That’s about it. I’ll be happy to meet you, and you’ll be like, “Who’s this dork?!”
- Live New Orleans

"Album Review"

The Happy Bullets, out of Dallas, play well-orchestrated pop that sounds sort of like an American Belle and Sebastian. When I say well-orchestrated, it's because their "Blue Skies and Umbrellas" album contains instrumentation as varied as toy piano and Irish whistle to a nine-person choir. The core of the band itself is an ample five-person line-up consisting of Jason Roberts (vocals, guitar, keyboard, banjo), Timothy Ruble (vocals guitar, keyboard, horns), Josh McKibben (guitar, trumpet, vocals), Andrea Roberts (vocals, bass), and Rhett Jones (drums). Back to the American B and S reference: They have the same sort of mid-paced pop songs laced with melancholy sentiments. They also have a sense of humor, as illustrated in the raggy-feeling "Cigarettes in Bed". The Happy Bullets mark their own style with electronic nuances, like the fuzzy keyboard that loosely follows the melody in "It's a Perfect Day." The vocals remind me of Neutral Milk Hotel, as well as local indie outfit Metered Spirits. The band cites Olivia Tremor Control and Magnetic Fields as influences.

- Pop - Norman Transcript - Josh McGee

"The "Vice and Virtue" of The Happy Bullets' New Video"

No, this isn't the new Modest Mouse video -- which is to say, the old Modest Mouse video. Rather, it's the latest short from going-for-baroque Dallas-based pop-rockers The Happy Bullets. Titled "The Vice and Virtue Ministry" -- an MP3 of which the band's offering here, absolutely gratis -- the clever and beautifully animated video was directed by Nader Husseini, a graphic designer outta North Carolina State University currently pulling down his paycheck at Reel FX Creative Studio on Crowdus Street. The song, nominated as one of the best in the 2006 Dallas Observer Music Awards and one of our fave recent releases, comes from the 2005 Stuart Sikes-produced album of the same name, which is available here or on iTunes.

The band also has some new high-profile-ish members. For their names, though, you'll have to check out our sistah blog, DC9 at Night. Speaking of DC9, Andrea Grimes provides a very lovely recap of the Ryan Adams show at McFarlin Auditorium Friday night -- some of it real, some of it imagined. --Robert Wilonsky - Dallas Observer blog - Unfair Park

"Detroit Metro Times"

10/05/05 Detroit Metro Times - "
When is the Pas/Cal-Happy Bullets double bill? Like Detroit’s own nattily attired pop outfit, Dallas-based Happy Bullets write baroque pop songs done up in Kinks and Nilsson finery that nod also to moderns like Belle & Sebastian or the New Pornographers. On Vice & Virtue Ministry, they view suburban life through a looking glass, twisting Pleasant Valley Sundays into quirky tales of hallucinatory housewives, suicides hiding behind serenity, and worker bees who dream of an aristocratic future. As Jason Roberts sings in "The Disquieting Letter," "Perfect isn’t very perfect anymore." Happy Bullets definitely owe their influences a drink. But they also understand what pop like this requires, and that’s verve and wit. Fuzzy keys whir through "Drinkin’ on the Job," "Don’t Wait Up" begins with a spot of parlor piano before becoming a dreamy march, and "Sex and Valium" filters in from across the universe. "Good Day!" and "If You Were Mine" are pure pop attended by handclaps, trumpets and charmingly twee lyrics. "If you were mine we’d make hearts and rusted bedsprings sing in three-four time." In a world where the Arcade Fire is huge, it’s a crime that Vice and Virtue Ministry and its mirthfully sweet title track aren’t.

- Johnny Loftus

"Entertainment Weekly"

Their name was inspired by drive-by shootings, but The Happy Bullets aren't that hardcore. Still, the literary-minded indie group hits its target on ''The Vice and Virtue Ministry.'' Download it for free at the Happy Bullets site

- Download This

"This Weeks' Findings"

"The Vice and Virtue Ministry" - the Happy Bullets
Intertwining guitars, at once loopy and dainty, set the stage for this brisk, assured, and endlessly delightful tune. I am especially taken with lead singer Jason Roberts' fetching falsetto leaps--I love how his voice just flies upward at the end of a few key phrases, most of all when it happens so much in the middle of a lyrical line that he has to drop again as quickly as he went up. A five-piece band from Dallas (which includes Angela Roberts, Jason's wife, on bass), the Happy Bullets made the happy decision to work with producer Stuart Sikes (who has worked with Modest Mouse, the White Stripes, and the Walkmen, among others), whose sure touch enlivens this song in many different ways. I am unaccountably charmed, as an example, by the subtle acoustic strum that leads into the second verse (at 0:39), arising out of a maracas-like shaking sound just introduced out of the original loopy guitar line. And then of course there's the brilliant infusion of Kinks-ish spirit on display throughout. Being influenced by the Kinks is (praise the lord) no longer a novelty on the rock'n'roll scene, but I don't know that I've heard a 21st-century band take Ray Davies so delightfully into the here and now as these guys do. This isn't an homage and it's not nostalgia; Roberts doesn't even sound like Davies in any particular way. And yet this song so thoroughly embodies some key Kinksian vibe that if Davies had come of age in the '00s rather than the '60s his band I think would sound something very much like this. "The Vice and Virtue Ministry" is the title track from the Happy Bullets' second CD, released regionally in March on Undeniable Records; the album is set for a national release on November 1. The MP3 is available via the band's site.
- Fingertips


It seemed as though all hope was lost for lovers of '60s-style psychedelic pop music. The Elephant Six Collective was one remaining bastion for this lost genre of music. But as the '90s moved forward, the E6 stronghold lost its grip. The Olivia Tremor Control, other than releasing a highly overrated debut album, has been dormant. They recently resurfaced to schedule some tour dates, but God knows when they'll produce any music. The other big act from the collective, Neutral Milk Hotel, released an album that's still popular with the indie kids of 2005. But that was seven years ago. Elf Power and Sunshine Fix are pale imitations of greater E6 bands, and Of Montreal seems to be the only member of E6 to release albums consistently. And even they have moved away from the tripped-out The Gay Parade and Coquelicot, switching to electronic beats and simplified chord progressions.

So where is the loyal psychedelic pop lover to find his or her next catchy goodness? Try Dallas, Texas. Texans the Happy Bullets churn out excellent pop music worthy of Elephant Six (hell, it's better than anything that group has released recently) or the British Invasion. Writing about the bourgeoisie and rifle companies, the Happy Bullets conjure images of posh English country sides and colonial America. In their attempt to compete with the Flaming Lips for the trippiest, longest semi-science fiction song title ever, they include "A Momentary Vision of the End of the World as Seen Through the Eyes of a Suburban Housewife". This is pop music as God intended. It's infectious. It's psychedelic at times. And boy is it good.

Their aesthetic borrows from the barely arranged brass sections in many Neutral Milk Hotel songs. But the Britishness comes through most frequently in the lyrics: "At the Vice and Virtue Ministry / You'll earn your etiquette degree / Climb the ranks and join us here amongst the bourgeoisie". It's a mix of foppish clichés and hundred-year-old British culture as viewed through the eyes of American college graduates with no background in history. But it's incredibly funny and witty. While mocking the people in the penny seats, members of the Vice and Virtue Ministry wear monocles and "Quote articles from Tennyson and Keats". If there were space, I'd quote the entire title track.

Each song inhabits another nook of pop goodness and cleverness. Voices change from song to song, and arrangements and styles vary wildly. The title track has a sublimely caterwauled falsetto note that recurs throughout. "Mr. Gray" is a lost Kinks or Herman's Hermits song. "A Proper Rifle Assembly" powers along with a military drum sound. The only time that the preciousness wears thin is on "Weights and Measures", a simple song with a nasally delivery that devastates an already weak premise.

With co-songwriters Jason Roberts and Tim Rumble trading off on the lead vocals, bassist Andrea Roberts gets her lead vocal shot on "If You Were Mine", an up-tempo sing-a-long with shamelessly precious lyrics: "Who waxed the floors and opened the trap doors / Because I'm falling". Lines like this remind me of Of Montreal (Nick Hornby warned us about beginning titles and names with prepositions), but without the coy French names and sometimes overwhelming absurdity. Instead we're left with songs that teeter between nauseating and exhilarating. The fine line is masterfully straddled by the Happy Bullets.

The Vice and Virtue Ministry closes appropriately with "Good Day!", a track dedicated to making the coming 24 hours pleasant. It sums up the album perfectly. Trudging along in your boring life with your boring job and insufferable significant other, the Happy Bullets are dedicated to making your day a pleasant one. All you have to do it start up the CD player and live amongst Big Ben and the Tower of London.

- David Bernard

"Pitsburgh Post Gazette"



A throwback to the golden age of album pop, the Happy Bullets never stay in any one box long enough to earn a label, shifting gears abruptly from the melancholy understatement of the lead-off ballad to a quirky title track that mocks the upper crust with weird falsetto vocals, faux-baroque guitar and horns. It's like a quirkier Decemberists. For a song. And then, they're onto something else again, whether bringing Grandaddy-esque keyboards to the wistful "Drinkin' on the Job," recalling ELO's post-Beatles chamber pop on "Mr. Grey" or going straight-up jangle pop with female vocals on "If You Were Mine."

There's a hint of the Kinks' middle period work, complete with horns, on several tracks. And like the Kinks, what really separates this record from the pack of new pop classicists is the lyrical content, spinning tragicomic tales of desperate people stuck in lives they didn't choose, from the factory worker resigning himself, with a sigh, to the fact that he'll just have to learn to love his co-workers, to the office worker who's constantly drinking on the job while writing little poems she tucks inside her head where no one ever goes. But that's to be expected from a band that would actually title a song "A Momentary Vision of the End of the World As Seen Through the Eyes of a Suburban Housewife."

-- Ed Masley

- Ed Masley

"Pheonix New Times"

Using the B-word when describing a new young band can be the kiss of death, but the sonic palette Happy Bullets use on The Vice and Virtue Ministry brings to mind a psychedelic-era Beatles album as produced by Ray Davies and recorded on an indie rock budget. Strong melodies, lush vocal harmonies, a sunny Britpop vibe, and plenty of hooks make for tracks that embed themselves in your mind after a single listen. The band's songwriters, Jason Roberts and Tim Ruble, have a disturbing sense of humor, and produce lyrics peppered with surrealistic images and lyrical absurdities. "Sex and Valium" is a moody dismemberment of a relationship that's been spinning its wheels for decades. "If You Were Mine" is a bouncy, over-the-top ode to true love and excess, while "Good Day" is obviously the disturbed child of "Good Day Sunshine." The Bullets' balance of the serious and whimsical mark them as the most dangerous of creatures: pop musicians with brains.

- J. Poet


Blue Skies and Umbrellas - LP 2004;
The Vice and Virtue Ministry - LP 2005;
Vice and Virtue Video - October 2007;
Hydropanic at the Natatorium - LP 2010



The Happy Bullets are nothing less than a sunny yet deliciously weird pop band. These euphoric and whimsical popsters got their start from the union of singer/songwriters Jason Roberts and Timothy Ruble in 2003.

Their obscure yet similar album collections brought them together, and the collaboration quickly led to recordings being passed around among friends. Since the recording of their first record, they have turned a two piece home collaboration into a five piece energetic live performance.

Fusing their modern take on 60’s pop psychedelia, The Happy Bullets second record, The Vice and Virtue Ministry, was recorded over several months with Stuart Sikes (Modest Mouse, The Walkmen, White Stripes, etc…). Stuart inserted a polished vision of the Happy Bullets’ sound, and the end result is one of the most symphonic pop records in recent memory.

Their third record, Hydropanic in the Natatorium is due for release in December of 2009.

Since their first shows, they have incorporated a variety of fresh sounds including horns, three part harmonies, cello and various members of other local bands as part of their show. They have played with Mates of State, Holly Golightly, Architecture in Helsinki, Of Montreal, Pleasant Grove, Deathray Davies, the Tah-Dahs, Centro-Matic and many more.