If you enjoy listening to classic rock reminiscent of the 90s and 00s, then Tom Tikka’s album, “This Is My Happy Face,” is destined to please you! Tom’s journey is explored with an array of ten dynamically strong tracks, ranging from upbeat to mellow, with hard-hitting lyrics that are both exciting and heartfelt. His musical journey began at a very young age, and ever since then, he’s been writing songs. As a guitarist, singer and the frontman of multiple bands, his experience as an all-round musician can be well appreciated on this album. Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps have released three albums under this alias so far, including “Working Class Voodoo” and “That’s What Winston Churchill Said,” which have fared very well commercially.
This Is My Happy Face Album Tracklist
The album begins with a melancholic yet slightly aggressive track, Bullet In The Head. It is clear that Tom is coming from a dark place, and his vocal delivery carries the haunting feeling well. – “Woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed / Woke up this morning, my mind was filled with dread..”
Heart’s On Fire features a very different sound – string arrangements, catchy top lines, a great intro and an intense instrumental interlude! Tom’s signature voice works well with upbeat melodies and the groovy rhythm. It’s amazing how he has conveyed the versatility of his sound in just two tracks!
Track three, Space Cowboys, has a very Bowie-like sound right from the start, mainly because of the chord progression and the lyrics – there’s a psychedelic vibe to them. Tom’s guitar riffs and runs are outstanding throughout every song!
Doormat features playful lyrics, groovy melodies and excellent guitars. This track has rich harmonization and exhilarating choruses that might just remind you of an upbeat rock concert! A suitable song to have on loop in your playlists.
There’s no doubt Tom is a fantastic guitarist. On (i Wish I Could) Fly To The Moon, he introduces interesting patches and tones that spice up the slightly sentimental track quite well. His lyrics explore his wishes, and are relatable. – “I wish I could kill the difference, because people need harmony”. Outstanding writing!
Sweet Jesus!, has a sound that’s similar to Doormat, coming from the groovy guitars and upbeat rhythm. The nuances in the production of the songs on “This Is My Happy Face” are what aid to the listening experience, making it all the more engaging and intriguing. The bongos add a nice touch to this one!
With Eyes Closed has an instrumentation that’s mainly oriented around strings with a melodies that are reminiscent of classical music. A very unique sound as compared to the other tracks in the album so far. A subtle guitar riff plays on the electric guitar that’s only introduced during the second half of the track. If it doesn’t have a guitar, it isn’t on “This Is My Happy Face”!
On Hunger Lines, the band have gone for a more faster paced, rock n roll sound that will transport you right back to the 90s. The lyrics are heartfelt and the acoustic guitar adds to the emotional feel of this track.
Title track, “This Is My Happy Face” features the usual ingredients that make Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps’s songs fun to listen to – hard hitting drums, playful lyrics, aggressive guitars, strings and a lot of harmony! A catchy chorus sung with a lot of confidence by Tom.
The final track of the album begins with an intro that’s over a minute long – gospel voices introduce a deep bass along with an electric guitar lead, setting the soundstage of Garden of Judas. It’s clear from the tracks of this album that the band is very experimental when it comes to producing their songs. Although most of the tracks are based on elements of rock we know and love, there’s a modern touch that makes them more appealing.
He focuses on wide array of topics on this album and we were fortunate enough to get an interview with the man to talk about how it all came about.
Q1 – Title track “This Is My Happy Face” has unique and exciting lyrics! What inspired the lyrics to this track?
Well, thanks. I tried to make the lyrics a bit more artsy and exciting on that one. “This Is My Happy Face” is basically an anthem for each and every male out there who has it tough and feels that being a man in the modern world isn’t as easy as it is depicted to be. We are so concerned about everybody else’s rights and wellbeing these days that we’ve sort of forgotten to look after ourselves, and it’s a pity. I often feel that it isn’t politically correct to bring up any defects in how men are treated in society, which I find a bit unfair. In a divorce situation, for example, the courts and social workers usually automatically rule in the favor of women.
Having gone through a divorce a decade ago, I received a rude awakening to what an uphill battle proving yourself as a father is when the chips are down and the custody issues are on the table. And please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that all focus should be shifted on men. Having always been a staunch supporter of equality and human rights, I know there are far more pressing issues in the world that require our immediate, constant and full attention. I’m just saying check on how we are doing every once in a while. Don’t assume that men are strong and never need support or help because it simply isn’t true.
Another issue the song tackles is this modern infatuation with happiness. Everything has to be wonderful and upbeat all the time. People just want constant sunshine these days, don’t they? Most don’t want to talk about real issues or have deep discussions on life’s challenges anymore. Social media is filled with posts and stories that give you the impression everybody lives like a movie start and is on top of the world. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how pretentious such posts are. “This Is My Happy Face” was written to challenge the social media façade of perfect life. Hence the lines, “Happy face is all the rage, everybody’s got to have one.” None of this is to say I don’t like things that are nice and light, because I do. It’s just that I also like to live in reality every once in a while and acknowledge that life isn’t all beer and skittles.
Q2 – Who are your musical influences and how has listening to their songs translated in the creation of this album?
I love the music of the sixties and nineties. The former is my parents’ era, the later is mine. If you ask me, the best music was made during those two time periods. The early seventies was not bad either. I love early Uriah Heep, for instance. Ken Hensley is one of my favorite songwriters in the world.
My influences do show, I think, and sometimes I go to a lot of trouble to assure that they would. I wrote “Space Cowboys” as a homage to David Bowie, and “This Is My Happy Face” is very much in the vein of Ray Davies and The Kinks. “With Eyes Closed” was done to see if I could make a song work with just classical orchestration like The Beatles did with the help of George Martin.
Anyway, sometimes I have a band or an artist in mind when I sit down and write, sometimes I don’t. But I suppose the two musical eras that I mention above probably come through in what I am doing, even when I think they don’t. With this new album, I wanted to go a bit crazy, especially with the arrangements. I just did whatever felt was right and obviously was very lucky to have Janne Saksa and Michael Stover helping me with the arrangements and the production.
Q3 – “Garden of Judas” has a really haunting yet captivating intro! What would you like listeners to take away from the final song of the album?
That’s the epic track on the album, which was inspired by John Fogerty and CCR. I really love the extended jams those guys did on songs like “Ramble Tamble”, “Born On The Bayou”, “Suzie Q”, “Born To Move” and many others. I love the solos and the mystic/apocalyptic atmosphere on those tracks. So, I wanted to end the album with something like that. You know, my version of demonic blues.
The cool thing about recording an album in a relatively short amount of time is that you don’t have to just write and record singles or potential singles. In fact, as soon as we had “Heart’s On Fire” and “Doormat” I asked my label head Michael Stover if it was okay to play a bit more with the rest of the album. He thought it was a great idea and that’s exactly what we did from then on. ”Garden of Judas” and ”Space Cowboys” are my two favorite tracks on the album. They were the most fun to record. There is so much texture to them, all these little bits here and there. Also, I feel that those two songs feature my best guitar work to date. I’m proud of those solos and licks.
Q4 – “This Is My Happy Face”, being your debut album (with the current collaboration), must have been an exhilarating experience! What could you share with musicians who are just starting out in the scene and want to put out their music?
Yeah, it’s weird that it took me this long to release a solo album but the time wasn’t really right before. By the way, The Missing Hubcaps don’t really exist. I play and sing everything on the record. Janne Saksa shares the instrumental duties with me on “Doormat” and “Heart’s On Fire” but other than that it’s me on everything. One could argue that “This Is My Happy Face” is a true solo album in that sense.
Yet, half the songs were co-written either with my wife, son or brother Lappe Holopainen. And as I mentioned, I got a lot of help on the production front from both Janne Saksa and Michael Stover. So it’s not all me obviously but the record was completed in accordance with my artistic vision and that bit truly felt exhilarating! It’s hard to dish out advice to musicians who are starting out because the road is bound to be different for everyone.
I guess the best piece of advice I could possibly give is to stress how important it is to believe in yourself and what you are doing. You can’t please everyone anyway, so you might as well please yourself. Make the music you love. The rest you cannot control. Fame and success will come your way if it’s in the stars for you. Don’t worry about that aspect at all. Rather, worry about honing your craft.
Q5 – How long did it take to compose and record the album? What can we expect from Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps next?
It took about a year. I wrote and recorded fifteen tracks for the album and we ended up using ten. It was hard to decide which tracks to leave out. Thank goodness Michael Stover had strong opinions on this issue. As far as I’m concerned, a songwriter isn’t really the best judge of these things.
These fifteen tunes were all my babies and I loved them equally. I really did not want to be part of that choosing process. I probably would have chosen the wrong singles and the wrong tracks anyway. Now as it stands, we got two #1 iTunes smashes and one iTunes #2, so I can’t complain. Next, I will start work on The Impersonators’ second album with Antti Autio and Janne Saksa. It’ll be pretty damn good. The songs have been written and half of it’s recorded already. I’m really looking forward to finishing this record. In terms of my solo releases, there will be a New Year’s single out on December 3rd titled “By 2022.” The music video for that turned out really well. Well, at least I think it’s cool. Be warned, my thirteen-year-old son just told me a few days ago that I am not the bureau of standards when it comes to coolness! He’s right. Hence, I’ll just say that I hope you like the new track.
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Discovered via http://musosoup.com