Photo by Space Craft/Sam McJunkin

Music in Motion

Seattle’s HTST Wants Your Head and Your Heart

Perpetual motion is behind the music of Don’t You Want to Dream Again?, the new release from Seattle rock quartet Happy Times Sad Times. “I’m a runner and used to race road bikes, so that forward motion and tempo is pretty ingrained in how I operate,” says HTST drummer, percussionist and lead vocalist Jacob Tice. 

HTST shows are kinetic, and the band wanted to capture that energy on its record. “Our shows are really cathartic for people,” Tice says. In fact, the bassline and drum part for the song “Sunday,” a propulsive four-chord ripper, came to Tice while he was running.

“It was still in my head when I got home, so I figured, if it can stick in my head for an hour while outside with city distractions and city noise, it was worth bringing to the group,” he says. “As a drummer that’s always been my goal, just to make the audience move — ideally jump — and figuring out creative ways to do that.”

For all the energy and happiness in HTST, there are down times too, like in one of the album’s best songs, also called “Happy Times Sad Times,” in which Tice sings, “I’m feeling everything” in the song’s central refrain. 

HTST is at their most battle ready when all four band members’ voices join as one, as they do in the song “Bombs,” singing: “I want your head, I want your whole heart.” 

Overall, HTST is as rock ‘n’ roll as you can get without being punk, Tice says. They play loud, chunky and fuzzy post-Built to Spill and post-Modest Mouse Northwest indie rock, with elements of ’60s garage rock, surf rock, The Pixies and even bands from the recent Bay Area psychedelic rock revival like Oh Sees.

“We’re not straight punk or a garage band,” Tice says. Perhaps surprisingly, Tice and Roger Hutchins, lead guitar and vocals, are suckers for heavy ’80s and ’90s house music, Tice says. 

“While you probably can’t hear an obvious dance music influence, I made sure you could feel it — builds, breaks, pulse and pop hooks. We put it all together and this is the stew we cooked,” he says.

The band rose as a two-piece out of the ashes of another project about four years ago. Their first show got a positive response.

“We had that punk rock energy. We got a lot of comparison to the Violent Femmes,” Tice says. It wasn’t long before the band expanded to a four-piece, adding Aniela Sobel on rhythm guitar, keyboards and vocals, as well as Evan Captain on bass and vocals.

Tice remembers both Sobel and Captain dancing at HTST shows. 

“Now they’re doing the same thing, just on stage, and making the crowd do the same thing,” he says.

Happy Times Sad Times plays with Eugene’s VCR and Surfsdrugs 10 pm Saturday, July 27, at the newly remodeled Luckey’s; $5, 21-plus.

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