The chances are you’ll already be familiar with Glass Animals.
The Oxford band’s 2014 debut album ‘Zaba’ racked up a stunning volume of digital streams and they’ve never looked back since; touring relentlessly over the years in America, to Australia, and everywhere in between.
Now, they have turned their attention to their second full length release, entitled ‘How To Be A Human Being’. The album is inspired by their conversations with people met whilst touring, and sees them retain their unequivocally unique style, fusing gorgeously textured hip-hop influenced beats with drums, guitars, synths, and lead singer Dave Bayley’s woozy falsetto.
If you aren’t in the know then now’s a good time to take notice. Clash caught up with Dave Bayley and drummer Joe Seaward before their listening party at London’s Sonos Studio, to discuss their new album, life on the road, and the people who helped inspire ‘How To Be A Human Being’.
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So let’s get straight into it, the new album is inspired by your travels, right?
Dave: Yes, we were travelling a lot, speaking to people and they all had amazing stories, it’s wonderful. So I took some cheeky recordings and one day listened back to all of them. I thought it would be fun to take all this stuff I noticed and make some characters up based around these stories, that’s the people on the album cover.
What sort of stories did you hear and where do these translate to being on the album?
Dave: So I was in a taxi driving through Atlanta. We drove past a strip club and the taxi driver turns and says, ‘I’ve got a good story about a strip club’. She explained she used to be a long haul truck driver, and, to get her jobs done faster, used to take crystal meth to keep her awake. She wouldn’t have to stop once for a week. One day she took too much meth and blacked out, and woke up in a strip club having no idea where she was, she even had to ask the stripper what state she was in.
Basically this poor lady, the taxi driver, she’d blacked out for a month. She didn’t what state she was in, she didn’t know she had blacked out for a month, didn’t know where the truck was she was driving. And she woke up knowing she’d done something really truly awful. She thinks she murdered someone. And she will always think she murdered someone and feels incredibly guilty, but there’s no way of knowing, she’ll never know. That weird feeling of not knowing and never being able to know something I wrote about in a track called ‘Mama’s Gun’.
That’s an amazingly personal story for someone to share with you.
Dave: I think people tend to open up more sometimes to those they don’t know.
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What’s the inspiration behind spoken word track, ‘[Premade Sandwiches]’? It’s definitely very different in length and style to the other 10
Dave: When I came back. You can do little things on the road, little bits of production and little parts of writing but not for big ideas, at least that’s how it is for me anyway. I feel like this album was quite a big concept, those things need a lot of time and consideration, so we waited until we stopped touring in December.
A lot of people struggle writing their second album, but you seemed like you had little difficulty?
Dave: It was quite lucky. I sat down for a few weeks when I got back and things were just writing down. I wanted to write these vignettes, these characters. I had it all in my head and when you have that end goal, it’s easy. You start writing the lyrics and the story and it actually makes the music part of it very easy as well. You know about this person’s life as well, what they’re doing in their spare time. For example, in ‘Season 2 Episode 3’, they like sitting watching TV and playing video games, someone who works on the arse crease of the sofa, that’s what they do. So it was a case of making a soundtrack to their life.
How did you link up with Joey Bada$$, and how come the track didn’t feature on the album?
Dave: We heard a rumour he liked some of our music and we definitely were fans of his, especially his ‘1999’ mixtape. He actually had a hotel room next to mine in Australia and had some massive party! Anyway, we went and watched him live that day and as we had a mutual friend, asked to link us up when we were next in New York, so we went to his studio in Brooklyn. It was amazingly quick and natural. It was very lucky, I’ve done sessions like that before and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.
Joe: It’s already been out in the world for quite a while now – I think that’s cheating. For us, Glass Animals records are always going to be just Glass Animals, collaborations should happen outside of that.
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You’re heading back on tour soon right? How are you finding rehearsing the new album, any difficulties?
Dave: Of course! It’s a case of working out what bits are the important bits and if you need to really change the arrangement, really change the structure. It takes a bit of time but once you have kind of settled on a vague arrangement and instrumentation then you can change the skeleton of it every night. On the new record there’s a lot of vocal range on it, some really low stuff and some really, really high stuff so that’s tough. I’ve had to take good care of myself, which I’m not very good at.
Joe: On tour things go wrong all the time, I mean that’s live music, that’s what it’s all about. I think one of the things I’m learning is that when stuff goes wrong, really brilliant musicians have the ability to turn this into something interesting and unique. I think good people in any sphere of anything know how to deal with problems, how to take it in your stride. We are learning this by touring, by being put in these positions when we need to focus and deal with it.
Thanks for your time. Finally, what animal do you think best embodies the sound and style of the new record?
Dave: Half-tiger… half-hummingbird…