The first time I watched the music video for the Happy Children of Normal Parents’ single, “Honest Boy,” I was immediately hit with a nostalgia for memories that I didn’t even have. Amidst the screaming and dancing and clips of established friends flashing by, there’s something about it that makes you long for your teenage years, wanting to cling to your youth and love and support your friends fiercely.
Behind the band are local creatives Caleb Hinz, Mitchell Seymour, and Judah McCoy, who all went to high school together at Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts. With Hinz on lead vocals and guitar (a 12-string, in fact), Seymour on vocals and bass, and McCoy on drums, the Happy Children are making waves in the local scene.
Hinz started Normal Parents as an independent clothing company, currently based here in Minneapolis, and it has gained popularity within the past year or so. The Happy Children, in a way, blossomed from that, and thus they introduce themselves as the Happy Children of Normal Parents.
With some help in the beginning from their good friends, Hippo Campus, the band have gained a faithful following here, now headlining their own shows with support from local favorites like Good Luck Finding Iris, Early Eyes, Why Not, Snake Posse, and Ayvah. On Saturday, Happy Children will open for the first of two sold-out Hippo Campus shows at First Avenue.
After having enough of the monotony of college and life in Olympia, Washington, where Hinz says, “people accept sadness and nothing as their nothingness, so they do nothing,” Hinz and Seymour started writing some music to pass time. The two began to get homesick and question what to do as their boredom in Olympia continued and they watched from afar the success of their friends Hippo Campus back home.
Hinz and Seymour made a big decision: dropping out of college to move back to the Twin Cities with the intent on creating something a little more serious, enlisting the help of their friend Judah McCoy who is “the best drummer [they] know,” said Hinz. Each member of the band cites a wide variety of influences, from Death Grips, Low, and Radiohead to Lil Yachty, though they all share an admiration for the Dillinger Escape Plan.
When it comes to writing, it started with just Hinz or Seymour coming in with the basis of a song written on guitar, but has slowly evolved into a more communal process involving all three. Their songs combine elements of rap, indie rock, and punk music with the incorporation of danceable beats, jangly guitar, and angst-filled scream-singing.
As they began making more music together and the Normal Parents company became larger, the name the Happy Children came to be a part of this “world of home,” as Hinz explains. “This normal parent, happy children, false family that you see, that you love, but you know isn’t real. Actually, my dad came up with the slogan, the Happy Children of Normal Parents, and that just fit.”
The Normal Parents branding has helped immensely in the recognition of the aesthetic and ideals the three are trying to convey. “I really like the whole thing all together: the Happy Children of Normal Parents — They Have No Power. There’s some quality of it that automatically makes it empowering, but it’s also versatile in a way that people can interpret it,” explains Seymour.
Their feelings on Minneapolis’s local music scene are split. They love it and they appreciate the support, but at the same time, they feel there isn’t enough competitive push for new creativity. “Since everyone’s your friend, there’s no trying to take them down. Do something I’ve never seen before and I will give you a hug!” says McCoy.
Anyone who has been to one of the Happy Children’s shows knows that they’re full of youthful energy. At shows, fan favorites are “Honest Boy,” “Hail Mexico,” and “Came and Went,” which all happen to be some of their rowdiest tunes, inducing these crossovers between a punk-show mosh pit and eagerly gleeful dancing. Angst has never felt so good.
Maia Jacobson is a student at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities.