Interview: The Happy Pill Academy - The Dragon EP

One song reimagined in seven different ways, ‘The Dragon’ takes its listeners on a journey through multitudes of genres and styles, forever underpinned, however, with The Happy Pill Academy’s dark humour and mystical traits. I caught up with frontman Matt Ibbs to find out more…

Interview by Annie Rew Shaw

Discovered via


Annie) Hey Matt! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Matt) Hello readers! My name is Matt. I'm The Happy Pill Academy's frontperson and only surviving member from the most passive-aggressive breakup a band has ever been through. 

It all started when the drummer ate the bassist's Muller Fruit Corner out of the fridge (even though it was clearly labelled). The guitarist and keyboard player got involved. It got heated. Someone called someone else a ‘hipster’. There was some slap fighting. My favourite coffee mug got chipped. Since then, I've been largely a solo project with collaborative efforts such as ‘The Dragon EP’ being relatively new. 

Why ‘The Happy Pill Academy’?

It's actually what my father wanted to call me when I was born; until my mother talked some sense into him and they called me Matthew. My mother stated, quite correctly, that you shouldn't really start a child's name with a definite article. I think he was secretly very happy when I chose that name for the band because he stared up at me from his Iron Lung and a single tear rolled down his cheek. It was a good time for all involved. 

You’ve just released your new EP ‘The Dragon’. It’s quite a musical journey. Can you tell me a bit about the writing / recording process?

OK. In all seriousness… 

The original idea for the song came to me in a fever dream. I was on my deathbed with a  particularly serious case of man flu. I dreamed that I was a fantastical, scaly beast roaming around the countryside, burning all the peasants and stomping their peasant houses. Fortunately, a mere illusion. I awoke and realised that I didn't want to be a dragon. Nothing against dragons, you understand. I'm not Dragonophobic. Some of my best friends are dragons. 

I digress. 

In a fit of pique, I roused my writing team from their eternal slumber and set them to work creating my magnum opus. But it wasn't enough. So I crafted a choir from discarded plush beanbag toys and commissioned several remixes from wandering mendicants that frequent my manor grounds. I recorded all of the instruments in a pit, and indeed a feeling of despair. You know, to really capture that feeling of… um… metaphor. 

Years later it was all ready. All I had to do was copy the 4-track recording on to some blank tapes I'd bought from the local petrol station. I was informed that time and tide had not waited for me and there was a concept called ‘streaming’. And now here we are. 

Who are your main musical influences?

Oh, you know, the usual. Sir Philbert von Website – the famous 18th-century classical composer and Queen's Consort. Largely known for his earlier works centred around his love of goldfish. 

Jonathan Muntjac – the First World War poet who was almost single-handedly responsible for the downfall of the German aristocracy. 

Slayer. Tiny Tim. Kate Bush. The Ruttles. Classics, one and all. 

What’s your favourite track on the EP and why?

I AM NOT A DRAGON. Technically it's the only song on the EP. I could tell you which is my favourite remix but I'd upset the other remixers. 

If you could tour with anyone in the world, who would it be?

If I could tour with anyone in the world it would be literally anyone in the world. Because I've never been on tour and hardly anyone has seen me play live. So even if there were only a few people at each gig, it'd still be more than I usually play to. 

Have you got any live shows coming up that we should watch out for?

I've just finished a busy gigging period. Where was this question a month ago when I had loads of stuff to talk about? :D