“Last time it started with electronics, this time we started with words and stories…” - hmv.com talks to Glass Animals
As they prepare to release their new album How To Be A Human Being, we sat down with indie experimentalists Glass Animals mainman Dave Bayley and drummer Joe Seaward to find out how it all came together...
It’s been just over two years since your first album, were you always keen to get back out there quickly?
Joe: “We set ourselves a deadline, it didn’t mean much to anyone else, but we kept it sacred. That stopped us messing around too much and meant we had to streamline the way we worked.”
How did the process compare to making Zaba?
Dave: “It was much quicker. Writing for the last record was different, last time it started with electronics, the beats and the production, this time we started with words and stories. It was much easier, when you’ve got a story you need the music for that, it’s like writing lots of theme tunes.”
What was that something you decided to do before you started writing? Or did it just work out that way?
Dave: “The whole idea of the album was to write about people. I wanted the lyrics to be far more down to earth this time, the last record was quite abstract and strange and quite difficult to get your head around, so I wanted to focus more on people.”
Having played live so extensively over the last couple of years, did you write more with that in mind? Create arrangements that you knew you could recreate live?
Joe: “We tried quite hard to not do that, if we had an idea that was mad and we knew there was no way we could play it live, we’d still put it in. It was more of a question of what could make the song as good as it can be. Some of it is mad and we’re learning it at the moment, there’s lots of it four humans can’t do it, so it’s a challenge, but a great one.”
Did your touring have any impact?
Joe: “Definitely. The energy and the spontaneity you get from live music definitely fed into making this new music. When you’re playing live s**t goes wrong all the time and you learn that the only time it’s a mistake is when you get embarrassed about it. We took that into writing and we didn’t polish everything to within an inch of its life, which we definitely did on the first album.”
You’ve said that the album is about people, is there a common theme or an overriding concept?
Dave: “There are definitely themes in the sense that it’s about people and what they have in common, but every song is a different story about a different character, none of whom know each other. I think concept albums are a bit limiting, maybe we’ll do one someday, but I think they put up too many boundaries."
Paul Epworth was the executive producer on your first album, did he do the same this time?
Dave: “Sort of. He was there in the background.”
Joe: “It’s his label so it’s more like A&R, he’s a sounding board and he gave us his studio, so that was pretty cool. He’d pop his head in now and then, but he mainly allows us to do what we want. Having someone like him around is incredible, he’s made so many records we loved.”
When did you settle on the title? Do you tend to leave things like that until the last minute?
Joe: “We’re more of a no titles band, until we absolutely have to. We pretty much got told ‘Give us a title, we need one’.”
Dave: “It came really late on, after everything was done, I woke up one day and it was in my head. It fitted really well for so many reasons, but it was lucky, really lucky.”
Joe: “It feels familiar, I was convinced he’d stolen it from someone, I was sure I’d read that book, but I hadn’t. I like that feeling.”
What are your plans to take the record out live?
Dave: “We’re putting it together now, everything will tie together so we’re working on a big new stage design, hopefully for some bigger venues. The set will be a blend of old and new.”
As for new material, will you keep working as you tour?
Dave: “Album three already! No, I really struggle to write on tour, it’s too busy, writing albums for us is a big undertaking and I don’t like approaching things in pieces. We’ll finish touring and then attack the whole thing.”