My Inspiration: The Happy Now? | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Jon Goodwin, The Happy Now?, by Alex Goodwin

Having come back to his love of music after some time away, Jon Goodwin joined forces with similarly music-obsessed pals to create a new project, The Happy Now?. Also comprised of Phil Tyler, Bill Waugh, Nick Jones and Graham Thompson, the group find common ground amongst bands like Bilge Pump, Paper Cut Out and Unit Ama. Their new release, entitled Spoilspore and featuring tracks Wallsend & Hebburn/Haus der Sonnenaufgang, is out on 1st May. Here, Jon tell us a little about the inspiration behind the release.

I’ll start with honesty: Spoilspore is primarily inspired by convenience. I’m lucky enough to have a soundproof-ish garage big enough for a couple of amps and a drumkit, and this makes writing songs and practising incredibly straightforward. David Thomas from Pere Ubu once said “Rock music is mostly about moving big black boxes from one side of town to the other in the back of your car” and I’m so glad that’s not true for me anymore.

My next big inspiration is the people I spend time in that garage with: Phil Tyler (of ‘Cath and…’ fame) and Bill Waugh, who plays in a great band called Breadcrumbs. Phil and I had been trying for more than a decade to start a guitar-and-drums band but it was only when Bill started playing with us in 2021 that it started to make sense. I’m quite unimaginative and tend to play the same thing over and over and so its absolutely Bill’s creativity and Phil’s flexibility that make The Happy Now? an interesting listen, along with our revolving door approach to vocalists. In that regard we were joined for our first EP by Nick Jones, who used to sing in my old band Sailors, and for Spoilspore by Graham Thompson, who plays/played in loads of great bands like Hozomeen, Ballpeen, Jinn and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaind. Both of these men have inspired me for decades now so let’s add them to the list. 

Everyone involved is closer to 60 than 18 so another huge inspiration is the ‘long-haulers’; people who’ve been doing this sort of thing for twenty years or more and who maybe only now are getting some of the credit that they deserve. Locally I’m thinking of The Unit Ama and Richard Dawson but further afield I mean bands like Bilge Pump/Objections, Charlottefield/Sweet Williams, and Hey Colossus, all supported by long-haul-labels like Gringo and Wrong Speed and festivals like Supersonic and Boundaries. 

I guess all those bands are musical as well as philosophical/motivational influences too, though I should also mention the likes of Kogumaza, Lungfish, Can, Sonic Youth, the Fall, and Blur as bands that I’m thinking about when we’re playing. 

Spoilspore’s cover photo was taken by Joanne Burke (another inspiration!) and is reflective of my local environment as a huge influence on all of this. I live in a house on the site of the old Rising Sun pit in Wallsend, where my grandfather worked in the 60s. On my lunch break I can go for a wander amongst the mushrooms on the spoil heap, think about new growth from decaying Wallsend waste, and write some new songs accordingly. 

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