As always, the subject matter might be confrontational and challenging, but the music is always catchy as hell, now more than ever. Inspiration developed over two years, largely inspired by events that unfolded over that time – from Istanbul’s Gezi park protests (“All Equal”), the jailing of the founders of Pirate Bay (“Free.mp3”), the Syrian refugee crisis and Europe’s shameful response to it. More kindred spirits in the music world have jumped on board, with guest appearances by Manu Chao, Benji Webb from Skindred, Punjabi singer BEE2, Catalan ska-rumba band La Pegatina and trumpet player Dzambo Agusev from Macedonia. Songs are in English, Spanish, Italian and Punjabi.
What is a Happy Machine? A Happy Machine is, simply put, a Balkan moonshine contraption. This local firewater, called rakija, is distilled all over the countryside throughout the region. Grandfather has his own secret recipe, grandmother has her glass every morning for her health. Drinking fresh-hot rakija straight from the Happy Machine is known to cause instant happiness and other effects similar to an LSD adventure (exemplified in their music video “No Escape”). Yet, this age-old practice has been banned by the EU in recent years, requiring special permits even for producing small qualities for non-commercial domestic use. And has turned normal families into outlaws. “We thought it would help if we spelled out how to assemble a Happy Machine, so we put the blueprint on the cover.” Happy Machine is rant on the freedom of everything – speech, movement, ideas and knowledge, and the struggle of ordinary people trying to protect these freedoms from the relentless soul snatchers. “If we fail at that, at least we have the happy machine to drown our sorrows in.”
“There’s fiery polemic in the lyrics, but it’s all wrapped up in a frantic joie de vivre that’s as infectious as it is unique.” – Kerrang! – Paul Travers