Hearts of Glass

 
 

From medical textbooks to Paul Epworth’s recording studio, Rebekah Rennick chats to Dave Bayley of Glass Animals about their Oxford musical upbringing and eating Annie Clark’s dinner

Glass Animals fall into the mystical category of musicians that appear to have materialised overnight. This Oxford quartet have quickly evolved from the condensed, trembling cauldron that is their bubbling debut, and as the telephone clicks to connect with lead vocalist Dave Bayley it’s clear that they certainly have, and continue to connect with us from an elusive place; somewhere on the cusp of the Canadian border to be precise. “It’s quite beautiful except the fact I’m standing in a Walmart parking lot!”

While it appears that these four childhood chums have descended upon the musical hemisphere in one massive gloop of whimsical indie-rock, Bayley didn’t fine-tune his musical inclinations in the classical sense at university. He, instead, spent many sleepless nights during his medical degree bringing alive the melodies that were circling around his head “It was kind of impossible for me to avoid it. Once I started making music and thinking about music I found myself having ideas. The ideas wouldn’t really stop, I couldn’t get a break from the them” he explains.

Bayley’s husky vocals give Glass Animals’ tracks the grainy texture that rustles and whispers in your ear, while his lyricism slithers and oozes, dripping with obscurity at the best of time. Otwo wondered did his medicinal background seep into his lyrical structuring in any way? “Making music is such a different process. I kind of feel music is about breaking every single rule and doing Medicine is about following every single rule that you’ve learnt. The lyrics, yeah it definitely played a part in those.” He contemplates “I was really interested in psychiatry and how the brain works so I spent a lot of time speaking to patients who had quite severe mental disorders and they always had acute perspectives on the world. I was always trying to get into their heads to see how they viewed the world. I guess those stories definite play a part.“

Growing up within the cultural and influential hub of Oxford instinctively played an important role in shaping the band’s early ideas of music “I think the music scene in Oxford is kind of dwindling a bit now. There was a great club called ‘The Zodiac’ that was owned in part by Radiohead & Supergrass. They’d put on some local band almost every single night. I don’t really know how they made money because sometimes there used to be just four people in the crowd. We’d go there every night no matter who was on and that’s how we came to love live music and that a live show could be something really different” he muses.

One particular performance sticks out, not just for the electricity that projected from this now reputable quintet but the impression it left upon their minds “I remember the first time that we saw Foals and there pretty much was only twelve people in the room; like Foals, us and some drunk guy. They still had all of this energy and doing these extended groove tracks and it taught us a lot about live music and that particular scene.”

Since then, Glass Animals have continuously returned to music throughout their the years; “We always kept calling each other about new music and we’d always go visit each other. I remember going to visit Joe in Brighton a lot; there’s a really great music scene down there, and he’d come up to London quite a lot and we’d go clubbing and see dance music.  We never played until we got a bit bored at university”

And following an unexpected appearance by renowned producer Paul Epworth at one of their London shows whereby Bayley made a lasting impression; “I walked on stage, tripped on a cable and smashed my face on the ground. I had already broken the ice by making a fool out of myself.” these group of friends suddenly found themselves no longer rehearsing in a shed in Oxford, but exploring the musical playground that is Epworth’s recording studio in London. “I think I was a bit nervous for about the first two minutes, and then I got really excited by all of the new toys” says Bayley.

What has surfaced from that experience and Epworth’s mentoring is a swelling eleven-track hazy cocktail of prickling guitar and black treacle-like groove that will have you melting into your seat before you hit the half-way point. ZABA is a polished piece of work that swells and gushes like a beating heart.

Since the release of their debut, Glass Animals have been on a steady trajectory of success, not to mention touring with the queen guitar shredder that is Annie Clarke of St. Vincent. However, their journey thus far hasn’t been without a few hiccoughs. During the tour with Clarke not only was their equipment stolen, but Bayley made the cardinal sin of munching on someone else’s dinner “I made a big mistake and ate some of Annie’s dinner. I found the plate of food. I was really hungry and I asked our tour manager if it was going and I ate it. I don’t think she was really happy, her tour manager came in like ‘Where’s the food?’ and I was just putting the last bit into my mouth and he just went white.” He laughs “I didn’t think it was that bad, but I got her some champagne and we’re friends now, it’s cool.”

Undoubtedly it’ll be interesting to see where upon their debut takes Glass Animals, and so long as they stay away from the prepared meals of acclaimed musicians, Otwo anticipates that it’s going to be quite far.

Glass Animals play The Academy on March 15th

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