Happy Fangs is San Francisco’s black & white warpainted duo of Mike Cobra of King Loses Crown & Rebecca Gone Bad of My First Earthquake. Combined with her high-energy vocals and his grit-pop guitar. A year after their formation and first live shows, the duo released their debut self-titled 7-song EP in October 2013, which is a strong set of angst-driven songs dealing with heartbreak and the task of moving forward. Upon listening to this duo its easier to compare them to the full rock bombast of AC/DC verse the lo-fi functionality of fuzzy duos. Happy Fangs are clearly new to the scene but with their murderous rok and go get em ‘tude, these San Fran rockers should be chewing out anthems for years. We recently chatted with Mike and Rebecca about their launch onto the scene..
You mentioned that most of your songs were written during practice as impromptu jams and that certain things come out during the subconscious that otherwise wouldn’t. What track is the best example of this approach and what lyrics came out that surprised you the most?
RB: “ Hiya Kaw Kaw” would definitely be the best example of that. We were rehearsing for a show and I just yelled “Hiya Kaw Kaw” and Mike started playing a riff and within a few minutes it came out: a song fully formed. We were both like “Should we play this tomorrow night?…Ummm, yes!” I can’t actually reveal what Hiya Kaw Kaw means exactly but I can tell you that Mike lives Kung fu and my dad’s a birder.
The San Francisco Chronicle described your sound as “if Bikini Kill and the Beach Boys were leveled to synth pop, it would probably sound something like Happy Fangs.” What two bands would you most describe as helping to form your sound?
MC: Bikini Kill and AC/DC. There’s no synths in our band.
RB: Joan Jett & The Ramones!
As a band coming out of San Francisco – what advantages and disadvantages does the Bay Area offer for young unsigned bands? Obviously the cost of living makes things difficult, so what advice would you give to other musicians trying to make things happen there?
MC: There’s a great deal of camaraderie amongst SF musicians. It’s unspoken that if you’re a musician here you’re devoted and working hard because you can’t sit back and take it easy to make it happen here. The best advice I could give, in SF and out, is to not let things get in the way of making music. Get involved, start making music, play out and help others and it’ll all start coming together.
RB: In the words of Belle & Sebastian: “There’s a lot to be done while your head is still young!”
Would you describe Happy Fangs in any way as a San Fran band? Do you feel connected to a scene there or play any type of venue regularly?
MC: SF bands as a whole tend to focus on having a unique or blend of unique sounds. I don’t know that there’s a specific scene as far as sound goes but we’re definitely connected to a scene of musicians, all working hard to do their unique thing and that feels uniquely San Francisco.
RB: yes! A scene might bigger than just a music scene! I feel like Happy Fangs is one duo of a giant culture that is so SF!
There are many duos out playing these days and it’s no longer as unique as it was ten or so years ago. Where do you think Happy Fangs biggest strengths are and what sets you apart?
MC: I think our strengths are rooted in our differences. We both started out in other bands that were very different, Rebecca in an indie/pop band and me in an hard rock/electro band. The combination of both our styles has created something loud, fun, hooky and edgy all at the same time. We work really well together and speak the same language. And, we’re both willing to take risks, make ourselves vulnerably and go with the moment when we’re performing.
What records from your listening past would you also categorize in a similar way as your debut EP and what do you hope to construct when you go into record your debut?
RB: 180 by Palma Violets. Turn it up and enjoy every song! In our debut album, I hope we can capture magic moments that both start dance parties and and cause emotional epiphanies. No pressure!
MC: When we record our debut I kind of want it to feel like The Pixies, Nirvana, AC/DC and The Flaming Lips got together and wrote a soundtrack for an 80’s John Hughes film.
For people not familiar with your music, how would you describe what the band goes for creatively lyrically verse musically? Do you find lyrics to be at the forefront of your sound or most serving as another sound in itself kind of complementing the energy of your urgent sound?
MC: We definitely focus on creating songs you can sing along too but that still have some raw power behind them.
RB: I’m glad you think so, Mike! I try to never write or sing a lyric that isn’t worth our listeners’ time!
How has your live show grown from its beginnings to what you have gong now?
MC: Our live show has had minor additions but largely is the way we started. We spent a lot of time before we played our first show trying to figure out how we wanted to present ourselves and the music. Everything since has been a refinement of those original ideas.
RB: Mike is being modest: we are a black & white warpainted flurry of energy on stage. You won’t believe there’s only two if us.
What are some of your more memorable live performances to date?
MC: Playing the basement of a bar in LES Manhattan to a rowdy crowd and playing in the same building as a candy rave people in giant fox costumes.
RB: I never told I’d play for candy ravers but those kids really know how to mosh!
You perform one song each show with the help of the audience- what are some of the most improvisational exciting things that have resulted from this collaboration?
RB: People love to suggest food and sex at shows for song subjects. At a show at SF’s Cafe du Nord, a person suggested “cracker” which I misheard as “cracken” which resulted in our best insta-song ever: “My Boyfriend’s A Cracken”. There is internet proof out there of how well that went.
What else do you have planned in 2014?
MC: We’re writing a new album, working on videos and becoming a trio.
RB: We want to paint the world with warpaint!