Written by Sheldon Hubbard
Photo Provided by Happy Heartbreak
The video opens with the band and some of their friends enjoying a dinner after playing shows together for an entire week. They are sitting amongst each other in the chaotic Old Quarter; the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam. The parenthetical title for their new single, "NMS (Hanoi)," isn’t just a metaphorical filler for their time spent there performing. Singer Craig Suede and a fellow guitarist actually lived there for a brief spell.
“The song, like all Happy Heartbreak songs, is very literal. I was living in Hanoi” - yes, I indeed sang that to the tune of the song as I was typing it – “the last half of 2017. The lyrics are about moving back to Seattle and comparing those two very different lives financially, personally, and mentally.”
I was told by Craig that NMS was a daily inside joke between him and his best friend while they lived in Hanoi. He said that “everyday something crazy or out of place would happen that would be normal in our Hanoi lives but would never happen in our American lives.” This bred the saying NMS (which stands for Nothing Makes Sense). Lyrically, Craig speaks of how expensive it can be at times to live in a city like Seattle that is vibrant with an ever-evolving lifestyle. Opposed to the more simplistic movements of life in a place like Hanoi. Craig details how Happy Heartbreak found their way over to Vietnam in order to play for Quest Festival in November of 2018. While they were grabbing some meaningful Go Pro shots for their music video, they were playing some notable venues in Hanoi, the likes of: Hanoi Rock City, The Sidewalk Beer and Grill, Solist Pub, The DeN Bar, and Pirate’s Den. Those places may not mean anything to most people but for Happy Heartbreak and the people who enjoy their music, they are treasure troves of good times made through the world’s most renowned form of interpersonal contact: music.
Besides the meaning of the song being so well placed in relation to what it is like to be a travelling musician, there are a couple instances in the video that I would like to highlight. Just after the first chorus hits, at about 1:10 in, there enters a guy dressed like Freddie Mercury and he has his arms up dancing and jumping to the poppy, driving rhythm. I love this moment in the video not only because this person is visibly enjoying themselves, but because their excitement and vigorous hop times perfectly with the editing of the video. If a personification of how this band’s music makes me feel exists, it is in the form of that particular Freddie bouncing about to Happy Heartbreak’s performance.
I asked Craig about the instance in the video where he points his fingers together and does a “cha-ching” motion with his arms after connecting them (something else that seems to sync up well in the editing). He said that that is “just something he does when playing another song, ‘Again Again,’ live…and the cha-ching was an on-the-fly response to his fingers actually touching without him looking.” I thought he was saying something specific to the crowd, and the motions had something to do with it but he was just relaying the lyrics like normal and happened to share a small moment of success with an exuberant crowd.
Without a doubt, do not miss the new single and music video, "NMS (Hanoi)," from Happy Heartbreak. If you want “happy sounding sad songs” that are honest about the ways and woes of life and deliver it in the form of electrifying emo-alt-rock, you CANNOT pass up this bunch. They very well could be the next favorite band you have been waiting for!
With a life-force of heartfelt intent and a sound that makes you wanna feel good while you may not really feel so good, Happy Heartbreak goes above and beyond to express to all their audience that you are not alone in your adventure called life. You may break hearts and become heartbroken yourself on the journey to achieving your dreams, but don’t let anyone tell you that your goals are unattainable. That is the whole idea when it comes to pursuing your passion, you have to go for it no matter whose heart is on the line. Those golden individuals that you collect memories with along your pursuit are the ones who will understand that to the fullest. This truth resounds in the bridge to the first round of the chorus of "NMS (Hanoi)": “I take and take, and give and give. When you live like this, a heart breaks in the end. Yours or mine, it’s the same difference.” This lyric is not only an homage to the band’s name, I feel that it also exemplifies the very core of what this group is about: never losing your shine and never giving up hope no matter how sad life can be.