INTERVIEW: Glass Animals

GlassAnimalsLiamCushing

In little under a year’s time, Oxfordshire-based indie quartet Glass Animals are making their return to Australia. Their first ever Australian tour in April was brief but was met with warm welcomes and sell out shows despite having only a handful of songs released at the time.

With debut album ZABA now out, Glass Animals’ drummer Joe Seaward says they’re more than excited to be returning and ringing in the New Year at Falls Festival. Reflecting on their last time out to Australia, he says that it was the first time that touring really shocked them, ”…I mean to go to Australia is kind of amazing for a small band like us”.

Glass Animals are currently booked in for three music festivals as well as their own headline sideshows over the summer; it’s quite the achievement for this “small band”. Not to mention that they’ve since been labelled as one of the buzziest bands of 2014 and are often compared with fellow UK art rock trio Alt-J by the blogosphere.

While it’s hard to pass up on the hype surrounding Glass Animals, Seaward isn’t letting that get to him. “The hype comes from outside. I guess it’s a great thing to have, it means that people are excited and listening, but when we were making the record we just wanted to make a record that was true to ourselves, that we were really proud of, instead of going on and try to second-guess what people wanted,” he explains.

With this in mind it’s all the more interesting to note that ZABA charted extremely well in Australia, the highest in the world in fact at number 12 on the ARIA charts upon its release in June. That news came as an amazing surprise to the band. “I can’t understand it,” Seaward laughs, “I’m delighted that it’s gone down so well. I’m not sure why it’s connected so well in Australia, but I’m definitely not arguing with it at all.”

All the more reasons for Glass Animals’ quick return to our shores, though he admits that there is pressure on the band to perform well at these upcoming shows. Especially considering the band’s new special connection with our audience, but Seaward sees it on different terms.

“We’re coming out from a long way away, so it would be really sad to get anything wrong. But I think probably there’s more excitement than pressure to play for people that we’ve been wanting to play for since we’ve basically left,” he says, “and we’ve got a whole bunch of new material which we didn’t have last time we were there, so I think it’s a really kind of exciting opportunity…it’s more exciting than terrifying”.

Translating Glass Animals’ silky smooth production on the record to the live stage presented a challenge for the band. “We had to sit down and think about what we wanted to get across in our songs, what were the key bits, what’s the point in them. And then build the live show around that,” he says.

“Some songs are based off the production that’s smooth and quite electronic at times with the bass and synths. And then there are other songs that rely on more live raw instrumentals. [Our] set is not just electronics; it’s a combination of both those things”.

While Seaward describes working through the recording process as a long “infuriating but exhilarating” experience, filled with “all the emotion you could have” both good and bad, the band can now finally perform these songs live as intended. “Instead of [the songs] being the same everyday, we can put more energy into them or less energy, or we play faster or turn the bass up if we’re playing in a club. We fiddle and tinker with these bits to make them interesting.”

Glass Animals’ last tour left a particularly memorable impression with their now very popular cover of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown, as performed for Triple J’s Like A Version. Their unique take on Love Lockdown has since become a staple at their live shows and proved to be popular enough to be included as the B-side on their Pools EP.

Seaward explains that lead singer Dave Bayley’s idea to cover Kanye West came spur of the moment as they were asked relatively late on their tour to perform on Triple J. “The original version is great, I love that song but the production is very simple; in a cool way. And I agreed with Dave, it kind of was crying out for someone to take the song…to paint this simple pop song in a bluesy direction and it worked really well.” Hence its popularity amongst Glass Animals and Kanye West fans alike.

And just for the record, Seaward prefers crunchy over smooth peanut butter (vibes), “but I think I’m in the minority of the band on that one” he laughs.

Glass Animals’ debut album ZABA is out now.

Glass Animals’ Australian Tour 2015

Friday January 9 – The Hi-Fi, Sydney
Saturday January 10 – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne

Glass Animals are also appearing at Falls Festival, Field Day, and Southbound Festival.

Partaker in dance offs, making playlists, and partying hard front centre of gigs. I like music.

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