The new song, beautiful on its own, serves as an exciting preview of what we have to look forward to on the NYC-based band’s upcoming LP
I spent most of Wednesday evening sitting on my bedroom floor, my butt growing increasingly numb and my old mac overheating on my lap while I listened to the yet-to-be-released Sooner song on repeat, typing/typing/typing, deleting/deleting/deleting and trying to do the beautiful song justice by writing something brilliant (while somehow managing to consume an entire tub of brownie batter in the process).
I’ve been stoked on Sooner since catching their show back in November with Jelly Kelly and Atlas Engine—basically my Brooklyn dream bill—at The Gutter. It was there and then that I fell in love with the group and, drunk on the music (plus maaaybe a few bottles of Miller High Life), approached Federica Tassano and John Farris of the band after their set and cordially invited myself to kick it with them at their favorite Brooklyn bar.
Fast-forward to January and the five of us—Fede (vocals), John (guitar), Tom Wolfson (drums), Andrew Possehl (bass) and I, along with our beverages and a big pile of coats—were wedged into the corner booth of George & Jack’s Tap Room on a Sunday afternoon, discussing Sooner’s favorite Brooklyn spots (coming soon!) while the bar dogs barked, the free popcorn popped and we totally took for granted the cozy, casual intimacy that comes with having a conversation while sitting six inches—rather than six feet—away from one other.
Along with a list of Sooner’s favorite BK bars, a cheap prosecco buzz and a major fondness for the four lovely individuals, I walked away from that interview with the definite sense that the members of the group were all seriously stoked on each other, the music they’d been working on together and the LP in progress.
Now, having spent the last couple days with just one of the songs on repeat, I totally understand why, and while—several paragraphs into this write-up— I’ve yet to think of the right words or a totally HOT TAKE on the track, it doesn’t really matter because I’m just incredibly psyched (and honored!) to premiere it.
Introducing “Happy Sometimes”—the brand-new single from Sooner!
“Happy Sometimes”—which follows Sooner’s 2018 Stranger EP— is the band’s first release with this exact lineup, which has origins in both college and Craigslist.
A brief history:
After going to school together, John and Tom both eventually ended up in NYC together, where—after hearing John playing a handful of songs countless times in the next room—Tom realized he’d pretty much learned them by osmosis.
“Johnny comes over to hang out one day… and pulls out a guitar and starts playing one of those songs. I sat down at the drums and I realized that because I’d heard him play those songs over and over again, I knew where all the changes were. And so we played through one of the songs… and it was like we’ve been practicing it for a year.”
“We were just instantly a band,” John said. “One practice and we had three songs done.”
As for Fede, who answered an ad—
“Within about 30 seconds of hearing her, we were like, done,” Tom remembered.
“Same with [Andrew],” added John.
“I remember when we played ‘Dust’ for the first time and we finished it, I was just like… well, we’re a band now,” said Tom. “It felt like we almost didn’t have a choice.”
Along with being the first release the foursome has written and released together, “Happy Sometimes” is also the first single from the band’s forthcoming full-length album, which they’ve been working on and workshopping rigorously with Jennica and Digo Best of Colatura at the partners’ UWS home + recording space Tessatura Studio (a significant step up, production-wise, from the previous Sooner EPs, which were recorded while “racing the clock” in one-day studio sessions or in the band’s own space and “limited by [their] own skills”).
“Most of our songs have little things about them that could totally be improved. And having an outside voice help us helping us arrange is an absolutely essential thing,” Tom said.
“They’re a great team,” John agreed. “We’re just really excited about it. The scale of the project is just so much more than we ever imagined going in.”
But back to the point (this particular release), for which I’ll offer this perhaps unsophisticated but def very honest and enthusiastic review—”Happy Sometimes” is a gorgeous song and I really, really love it—before passing it over to John, who, via email, offered us details on the track, the process and how it plays into the band’s big picture:
“This track started when I wrote the chords to the verse, but would strum them and play it really slow. [It] had a completely different feel than it does now. It stayed unfinished for a while, but Tom’s always been really been into The Sundays and other jangly alternative rock stuff from the ’90s and heard some potential in the chords, so we played with the arrangement until it evolved into this uptempo/arpeggiated riff, and it ended up being one of our more… kinda ‘pop’-influenced songs… while keeping some hallmarks of our otherwise more moody sound.
I feel like this track evolved our songwriting a good amount, and now we’re sitting on a full LP of demos now that continue to play with that balance of light/dark. This is also our first recording with Andrew on bass, who’s brought a ton of energy and creativity to the band, so we’re excited to finally release something with him on it.”
(Andrew’s take, from January at G&J’s: “Everyone comes with their own influences… I think we all love playing together and bring something unique.”)
As for the lyrics, that’s where Fede comes in:
“This song talks about my fluctuating moods, the rollercoaster of emotions that I normally go through. There are days when ‘I can’t follow the beat,’ but nonetheless, ‘I am happy sometimes.’ And it’s also about the consequences of those ups and downs: poor choices, broken friendships, missed opportunities… Despite everything, ‘I finally sing this sad song’ – meaning I have music, I can sing, and with that I can exorcise my fears, blow away my anxieties and try to accept myself.”
As COVID has delayed Sooner’s recording process, the LP release won’t be happening exactly when planned, but we’ve certainly got a lot to look forward to, and for now I’m very happy to continue listening to “Happy Sometimes” (out everywhere tomorrow!) on repeat as I get more and more excited for more new music from the band…
Hopefully Sooner rather than later.
Artwork: Photo by Lindsay Farris, Text by Adi Dabush, Design by Andrew Possehl // Instrumental Tracking: Duane Lauginiger at Time Castle Studio // Mixing/Production & Vocal Tracking: Digo Best at Tessatura Studio // Mastering: Jennica Best at Tessatura Studio
Follow Sooner at @soonersounds, listen to the band on Bandcamp and Spotify and find all things Sooner at sooner.band!
Photos: Keira Zhou