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Beat Happening

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Olympia, Washington, United States (1982 – present)

Beat Happening is an American and band formed in Olympia, Washington, United States in 1982. Calvin Johnson, Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford have been the band’s continual members. Beat Happening were early leaders in the American and movements, noted for their use of primitive recording techniques, disregard for the technical aspects of musicianship, and songs with subject matters of a childish or coy nature.

Though not officially broken up, the band has not performed together in public since the early 1990s. In 2005, they were invited by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse to perform at All Tomorrow’s Parties but respectfully declined the invitation.

The band met while attending The Evergreen State College and began recording in 1983. The band’s basic lineup was drums, guitar and vocals, though when they formed their only instruments were a pair of maracas and a Sears Silvertone guitar purchased at a thrift shop. Heather once joked in an interview that the history of the band could be told through a list of the various people they’d borrowed drums from. Heather and Calvin had been members of a previous band and approached Bret, who had no musical experience at the time, saying they ought to start a band and go to Japan. Indeed, it was on a trip to Tokyo that the band members recorded Three Tea Breakfast, an EP that established the band’s reputation.

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