Meg and Dia Frampton were once staples of the rising pop-punk scene of the mid-aughts. Forming Meg & Dia, the Utah native sisters took on the heavily male oriented scene with their own blend of alternative and indie-rock, oftentimes inspired by literature. Their song “Monster” became a popular choice for fan-made videos on Youtube and Tumblr.
It’s been eight years since the release of their last album Cocoon, and much has changed for the Frampton sisters. After coming in second on the inaugural season of NBC’s The Voice back in 2011, Dia began pursuing a solo career. While Meg signed on to play guitar behind her sister for a brief period, the experience ultimately created tension between them before their decision to break up the band. After a few solo records and various entrepreneurial ventures, they began missing both the music and the sisterly bond they shared.
Meg, who had moved back to Utah to open a coffee shop, began visualizing a reunion between the sisters and the band just before it actually took place. “I started getting the itch to perform and play music again,” says Meg. “I started thinking about Meg & Dia and how fun it was and I kind of wanted to recreate those feelings of excitement and feeling alive.”
Earlier this year, they announced that they would reunite to perform a string of dates on Vans Warped Tour, the traveling music festival that helped jumpstart their career back in 2006. On July 26, the sisters surprise dropped happysad, a new pop-oriented album they spent the last year working on privately. “It was kind of nice to write it and prepare it in secret because it gave Meg and I time away from people watching us to decide what we wanted to say or what we wanted to do,” says Dia.
“I think we needed that time to figure out who we were musically and together in our relationship,” Meg continues. While it was easy to romanticize on the good times, Meg & Dia had to work on rebuilding their personal relationship before they could really move on.
Taking wisdom from the documentary of the also recently reunited Jonas Brothers, Dia says her new focus is on making sure that the people in her life feel appreciated. “It’s really easy to underappreciate people when you see them every day and you feel like they’re family, so they have to be there.” Taking the time to learn how to communicate and work together more effectively helped the pair come together to craft a new album that highlights the influences of both sisters.
“Dia brought a lot of that practiced lyrical expertise to the table and I brought a lot of the weird, kooky guitar riffs and weird lyrics and things that didn’t really make sense,” says Meg. “I think mixing the two of those things together was instrumental in our sound that we created on happysad.” The new record is a clear departure from their old sound but, it also brings forth a new level of maturity to their catalogue.
“We’ve just grown so much as people and we weren’t really writing that kind of rock anymore,” says Dia. “We didn’t sit down and decide to write a pop record, we really just got together in a room with people we love and producers we love and we just started messing with sounds.” While happysad is definitely the most pop-leaning release from the sisters to date, it still holds true to the quirky, poetic lyricism that made them stand out in the mid-aughts.
“It really happened organically, it’s been 10 years and when we listen to our old records, they are very dear to us but they sound like a nostalgic time for us,” says Dia. Bringing each of their unique experiences of their time apart to the table, Meg &a Dia are deeply grateful for the journey. The lead single from the record, “American Spirit,” captures the ultimate meaning behind the reunion: How far can you go when you’re searching for yourself?
The music video, directed by Saman Kesh, sees the sisters reuniting on the set of a futuristic music video to be filmed by a high tech . The AI camera quickly turns on the sisters, ultimately forcing them to admit long-held feelings and apologize for old conflict.
The rest of happysad shines a light on the newfound wisdom of the sisters. Songs like “Koala” and “Happy” carry the fun, lighthearted whimsy of the album and capture the best parts of a reunion. “Better at Being Young” is a gentle nod to their early career but is a mature take for the band as they move further into adulthood. The final track the record, “Dear Heart,” ties it all together as a letter to self, telling the listener that you can always apologize and move forward.
With the band back together, they will be heading out on the road for a headlining tour in September. After all of the time they spent growing apart, Meg & Dia are ready to relive some of the best memories they have from the beginning of their career. They look forward to long drives in the van between shows, just like old times.