After having said my goodbyes to Evan, Brette and Aaron from the Parson Red Heads, I took to the road to make my next appointment. I was due to meet the Happy Hollows, who I had first heard during the same month I was first introduced to the Parson Red Heads. Sarah Negahdari’s seemingly boundless well of energy meshed so well with the pulsating, borderline-hardcore rhythms of bassist Charlie Mahoney and drummer Chris Hernandez that I had to meet this band.

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On the day we shot this interview, there was much excitement in the air. The Happy Hollows were not only preparing for an appearance at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, they had also been feverishly working on recording new songs for an EP to be released in the wake of their SXSW gigs.
Still 33
Chris was the first to show up at the band’s L.A. practice space, arriving at about the same time I did. Charlie and I had worked out the schedule the afternoon before when I was perched over at Tsunami Coffe House. He tends to be not as talkative as Charlie and Sarah when the three are together, but his smile is just as big and he’s always a joy to hang with.

Once Charlie and Sarah arrived, we got down to the business of setting up and filming. Sarah’s vocals weren’t coming through the PA as loudly as we would have liked, but I think the feeling of a Happy Hollows live performance still came through pretty clearly. This one flaw aside, the band was as electric as ever on camera.

Off-camera, it’s not much different than what you see here. Charlie is probably slightly less animated, and Chris is often off to the side somewhere, while Sarah is *on* pretty much all the time. Last time the band played San Francisco, at the Hemlock Tavern, Sarah was generously dedicating songs to friends in the audience, and even played “Lieutenant” for me, knowing that this is my favorite Happy Hollows tune, and the one that solidified my love of the band during that first show I saw in the SuStill 34mmer of ’08 at the Hotel Utah.

The EP the band was preparing never did come to pass, and a record deal they were trying to secure at that time eventually fell through. But finally, after having signed on with a new manager, Steve Nice (Starsailor, Idlewild), the album to which the band alludes in this interview will be released on October 9 of this year. Spells includes a clear, beautiful studio recording of “Monster Room,” as well as the reprise of “Lieutenant” (called “Second Lieutenant”) which Sarah had mentioned in her Popdose interview last year. It’s a fitting culmination of three years of work for the Hollows, and fortunately the wait was worth it. They’ve achieved a sound on this record that captures the band’s live energy, as the free Imaginary EP hinted at last year.

The Happy Hollows – “Monster Room”

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The Happy Hollows – Lieutenant
The Happy Hollows – Labyrinth

Buy Spells (released October 6, 2009)
Buy Imaginary

About the Author

Michael Fortes

Michael Fortes began writing for Popdose upon its launch in January of 2008, following a music writing journey that began with his high school newspaper and eventually led to print and web publications such as Performer Magazine and Born and raised in The Biggest Little State in the Union (otherwise known as Rhode Island), Michael relocated in 2004 to San Francisco, where he works as an office professional during the day, sings harmonies in Sugar Candy Mountain at night, and religiously supports the local San Francisco Bay Area music scene nearly every chance he gets.

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