SlapHappy isn’t a typical a cappella group.
The band, which is composed of Matt Bell, Mark Arand, Gabe Harshman and Cameron Gray, has been performing their signature act, which Bell describes as “30 percent funny, 30 percent cool and 30 percent pretty,” for 10 years.
The comedy a cappella group formed during backstage preparations for “The Music Man,” a show at the Porter Building in which the then-teens were all performing. Bell recalled that the original foursome, which then included Jared Moore, “randomly” began singing “Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys when fellow actor Orson Ossman casually suggested the boys should form a band. By the time Ossman returned from getting his makeup done, Bell recalled, SlapHappy had been created.
“It just took off from there,” said Bell.
According to Bell, the band name has become a sort of Whidbey-famous brand, performing at venues from Choochokam to a Langley pub and Whidbey Children’s Theater. Although there have been a couple of changes to the group’s repertoire, a goal to appeal to all age groups has remained largely consistent.
As the years have passed, the guys have each become more knowledgeable and artistically versatile, Bell explained, saying that now the group is capable of performing “pretty much anything” and has a repertoire of about 70 songs.
Bell explained that most of their songs are covers from groups such as Weird Al, Lonely Island and Da Vinci’s Notebook, although they occasionally toss some originals—and some Taylor Swift—into the mix.
“We don’t just sing barbershop, or do what you’d expect. There is a joke between every song; we do a lot of skits…most of our songs are funny. We have a pretty firm rule that at least one-third of our music has to be a joke or funny song for us to do a concert.”
Bell said that the set for their 10-year anniversary will include a lot of old favorites like “Zombie Jamboree” as well as some new tunes including one from Lonely Island and what Bell described as a “surprise song involving instruments about ‘Game of Thrones.’ ”
“It’s pretty crazy. We’ve made it an annual thing for the last six years to say ‘This is probably the last concert we’re ever going to do,’ ” Bell said. “We’d find a way to put together a show for the summer before everybody left the island again and we’d… get all emotional about it, and somehow there was always another show. At this point we just assume there will be more SlapHappy. It’s really cool that the community has supported us.”
The group will be celebrating their decade-long run with an anniversary performance at 8 p.m. Aug. 21 at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15.