When it comes to playing music, especially rock and pop, drug addiction and drug addiction are so much a part of the landscape that they are occupational hazards.
Like so many musicians before him, songwriter Adam Fenton discovered it the hard way. Getting high in punk rock shows as a teenager ultimately led him to a very dark place, and in 2019, Fenton, now 25, moved to Wilmington for treatment.
He’s been there ever since, and in August, Fenton’s band Happy Pill released their debut album. “Decent Descent” is a cool and catchy mix of rock and pop, and even jazz and folk, which tends to obscure the album’s lyrical themes, which explore, in a manner that is both poetic and understated. , not only Fenton’s new sobriety, but also hot topics like grief, hope, and regret.
The band didn’t play a ton, but on Saturday November 20, Happy Pill will perform at Bourgie Nights in downtown Wilmington with soul / rock singer Rebekah Todd and the Odyssey.
Fenton, who is laid back and friendly, with an easy laugh and painted fingernails, said his sobriety brought a kind of introspective clarity that has found a place in his tunes.
“I don’t have much else to write,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t have much else to do. Girls. Sometimes my political views creep in.”
Fenton grew up in the Washington Heights in New York. When he was 9, his father died and he moved to Connecticut with his mother. Many other movements would follow. At the age of 11, he was living in Raleigh, then graduating from Chapel Hill High School in 2014.
This is a subject he addresses in the beautiful and touching song “My Life Story”, which is sung on the album by Julia Rothenberger, friend and companion of Fenton.
“I’ve never had stability in my life before, ever,” Fenton said. It wasn’t until he moved to Wilmington, a city he now associates with his sobriety and what he loves: playing music.
“I love it here,” he said. “I’ve never got drunk or high here, and I’ve always been able to make a living here.”
Fenton is a music teacher and he also plays a number of cover gigs, which he said his youngster would never have envisioned.
“Sobriety has helped me, in terms of attitude, not to be so bitter and jaded,” he said, “I don’t mind selling. I think selling is punk rock … Everything about this album, and everything I’ve done with Happy Pill, is genuine and honest. “
The lyrics aren’t exactly on the nose, so much so that if you didn’t know Fenton’s story, it might take you a while to figure out where he came from. The songs reveal more with repeated listenings, and Fenton said he wanted there to be “something under the aesthetic” as opposed to “all frosting and no cake” music.
Still, “I really want to write catchy music above all else,” he said. “I enjoy music with hooks in it.”
Her song “Stain Room”, also sung by Rothenberger, is a hopping and stripped-down dreamy pop with the centerpiece lyrics “I’m staying home tonight”. Fenton sings the bittersweet “All I Find”, which has more of an indie folk vibe and comes across as a low-key hymn.
Fenton said he doesn’t mind playing for crowds of drinkers, and he’s actually the only sober in his group. What matters most, he said, is cleaning up allowed him to focus on music.
“I’m good at one thing,” he said. “The Lord gave me one thing.
Want to go?
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, November 20
Or: Bourgie Nights, 127 Princess Street, Wilmington
Info: $ 10 in advance, $ 15 at the door.
Contact John Staton at 910-343-2343 or John.Staton@StarNewsOnline.com.