Happy Meal were a punk band active between 2004 and 2009. Formed in Watsonville, they advertised themselves as being a bad trip, every time. "The Meal" comes from the convergence of ex-Doldrums and Violent Profanity players, the brothers Harinjneesh Al Chone (bass, electronics, voice) and American Cream (guitar, synth, voice), and Hum Ping (drums, ex-founding-member of Watsonville group Fubar). The Meal came out immediately following the demise of The Doldrums, who had played extensively in Monterey County and in the Santa Cruz Big Bang in 2003 at the Santa Cruz Teen Center. The Meal masked their revolving cast of contributors with nicknames and comic back-stories. The Meal's primitive rhythmic noise has polarized audiences all over the west coast, at once condemnation and cartoon. The band often wore flags, gabanes, costumes and streaked war paint, and hurled spit, beer cans, instrument butts and shreds of debris at the audience. Their sound involved hard homophonic beats offset by hard ostinatos and polyrhythms, glam rawk guitar inherited from 60s and 70s rock, punk instrument textures, and piss and vinegar vocals.
Their first EP, "Huckapino" was recorded with Silent Planet owner A. Ron Emmert (then a member of Sad Monsters) in 2004. Emmert also played drums for the first months as "Lovebrain." Later that year the Meal were written up in Your Music Magazine, which included an interview with Harinjneesh Har Chone, who discussed briefly their plans to found the Pajaro Sound Foundation. They also began playing once a year for Chris "Merlin" Bushman's Idle Hands Show on Santa Cruz public access cable. The three shows recorded between 2004 and 2006 reportedly play often in the middle of the night. They also experimented with a fan club (which worked well) to whom they sent the "fan club only" EP 'The Golden Dome/The Diamond Center. They planned to send out fan club packages regularly (which didn't work).
In 2005 The Good Times' writer Damon Orion interviewed them for an article "5 Bands You KNow Nothing About", ultimately warning countywide readers not to make eye contact with the Meal if not prepared for what the band calls "ultimate wastation." That summer the Meal released their first full length CD, "Matarte," which is a Spanish verb and preposition meaning "to kill you," recorded down the street from their band house in Watsonville by Dan Alvidrez (See Alvidrez Brothers). Extensive local gigging earned the band a following in 2006, and the band rewarded their following with a live CD, "Las Cortas Noches," recorded at the Blue Lagoon (at which they had become somewhat of a house band thanks to Keith Thompson of El Sonido and The Groggs), which they hand out for free at shows. Hum Ping left to pursue school, and Cinnamon Beard joined on drums, sharing duties with A Fashionable Disease and his own project, Foldis. They performed two shows in 2006 as Maxi Meal, with A. Ron Emmert drumming and his brother (and Mammatus fellow) Nick playing second guitar. The Meal gradually added live improvisations to their sets and have shown influences from Fela Kuti and Selda buried in their thrash/krust/blues. They made their own CDs by hand and bribed wary fans into buying albums by including comic sketches from the bass player's collection. In late 2006 they briefly toured the pacific coast with The Broads and released their second CD, the much more developed and thematically bleak "You're All Dead" in 2007. Due to financial difficulties, "You're All Dead" remains out of print, and is distributed for free as the band can make more copies in an effort to further subvert and demoralize the culture of selling music. "You're All Dead", engineered by A. Ron Emmert, is markedly heavier than "Matarte" due to the group's evolved vocal performances and the addition of Webb's explosive drumming. The songs condemn the American values of consumerism, materialism, absentee parenting, democracy and individualism with a confrontational humor; a more bleak, spastic version of Dead Kennedys or Big Black.
They met Matt "Dr. Deathrock" Flynn from San Francisco, who enthusiastically had both the Meal and Dead Daughter play shows in San Francisco in 2008.
The band had shared stages with other local acts like New Thrill Parade, The Broads, Mammatus, El Sonido, The Skeleton Poppies and Zdrastvootie, as well as many touring bands. They started their own local venue at the Cabrillo Lanes Bowling Alley's bar in Watsonville on a hand shake in 2005, an alliance that would only last until the band lost its center in Watsonville due to the members all living in separate nearby towns.