Voted 'Favorite Local Band' - the Daily Tar Heel, Spring 2010!
For the members of Chapel Hill, NC band Tripp, recording their new album "We Are Happy Here" was, simply put, complicated. Songs like "Don't Change" and "Now & Never" would make one think the whole process was effortless, with its layers of vocal, guitar, piano, and rhythmic hooks. The infectious funk of "Reputation," the swing of "Ragdoll" and "World Inside Me," the bare-bones of "Annie" and "Crazy": a listen to any of these would not belie the fact that making this album was a four year process. That kind of delay usually leads to songs saturated with bitterness. While they won't deny that there were dark moments, the members of Tripp can honestly say that, yes, they are happy, indeed beyond happy, with where they are and what they have done with this record.
It wasn't long after the 2008 release of their debut "Good Boy Charm" that things first fell apart for Tripp. The band and guitarist Hugh Swaso parted ways the next year, and plans for recording and touring never materialized. In early 2010, Tripp made a determined comeback, writing new songs and returning to playing locally and regionally. That summer, they began working with producer Jeff Crawford of Arbor Ridge Studios on what would become "We Are Happy Here." Jeff's work with bands like Mandolin Orange, Roman Candle, and the Tomahawks was the sound and feel that Tripp wanted for this record: honest, warm, the sound of something familiar but new. Recording began in August 2010 but soon hit a snag when a technical mishap resulted in the loss of all the recordings. Undeterred, the band and Jeff started over, taking the next 16 months to record, tweak, and just listen to what they were making until they were happy with every track.
In the meantime, while Tripp took a hiatus from performing live, its members hit the stage time and again with other projects. Paul, Charles, and Alex W. put together an Elvis Costello tribute, This Year's Models, with Robert Sledge of Ben Folds Five and Seamus Kenney of SNMNMNM. Alex Van Gils and Charles took part in Big Star Third Live, featuring Jody Stephens of Big Star, Chris Stamey, Mitch Easter, members of R.E.M., among many other renown musicians. Paul recorded and played with Wylie Hunter & the Cazadores and Skylar Gudasz & the Ugly Girls. Alex Van Gils headed to California to pursue his PhD in music composition. Charles headed to New York City to play with acts like Hotel Lights. Usually, such diversity of activity, especially having half the group move out-of-state, sounds the death knell of a band. But every few weeks a little more work was done on the new Tripp record until, suddenly, almost
four years after their first album and nearly two years after they began recording their new album, Tripp held copies of "We Are Happy Here" in their hands.
Yes, it took time. Yes, making an album of pop songs can be complicated. But you wouldn't think that listening to "We Are Happy Here." Instead, these are songs that radiate fun. And your reaction won't be complicated. Instead, you'll find yourself singing along, tapping your fingers and toes, maybe even dancing a bit. Simple things.