Glass Animals | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, July 17th, 2024  

Glass Animals

Covert Operations

Nov 21, 2016 Issue #58 - The Protest Issue Photography by Ray Lego (for Under the Radar) Bookmark and Share

The genesis of U.K. quartet Glass Animals’ sophomore album, How to Be a Human Being, is one of the more offbeat origin stories you’ll read. The 11 tracks which comprise the record began as secret field recordings made of the people the band met on tour; snippets of dialogue clandestinely taped, at first, “for kicks” but later found to be a major source of inspiration.

“All of these amazing people had these really incredible stories,” explains vocalist Dave Bayley. “Some very twisted, dark; some very beautiful; some very heartwarming; and some very heartbreaking stories of crazy lives.”

As he listened and re-listened to the tapes, he began to create his own tales and characters inspired by the words he’d anonymously captured.

“You ever play that game where you sit on a park bench, or at an airport, and watch people go by, and you wonder what their story is?” Bayley asks. “What they eat, what they do, where they live and what their house looks like, and what they wear when they’re having funthat kind of stuff? You create stories for them. I was having fun with all of that, and eventually I realized I could turn these stories into lyrics and put music behind them.”

Bayley compares the instrumentals that Glass AnimalsBayley, guitarist/keyboardist Drew MacFarlane, bassist Edmund IrwinSinger, and drummer Joe Seaward-paired with these lyrical stories to “theme music.” The framework provided by the album’s cast of characters facilitated a quick recording process, as the band “had an end goal in mind.” Their experience making the first album was another huge assist, as Glass Animals entered the studio this time knowing what they wanted from their recordings.

“None of us had really made music before, aside from Glass Animals,” Bayley says, describing their feelings while assembling their lauded 2014-released debut, ZABA. “We were self-conscious. We were shy. We were worried what our friends would think of our music. Because of that, I think everything is quite polite on that first record. It’s safe, and quite tame at parts. It’s nice and ambient, smooth, but with this record we knew a bit more about what we were doing. We’ve been touring and playing music every single day, and listening to music every single day.”

How to Be a Human Being may at first surprise listeners expecting a direct sequel to ZABA‘s weird, enticing grooves; it’s a bolder, more focused collection of songs. Glass Animals fed off the energy of the crowds they encountered touring the world. Bayley feels the transformations they caused are reflected in the album’s bold, hip-hop style drums; the increased bounce in the distorted bass lines; and the “high-end excitement and sparkle” audible in the guitars. Most notably, however, their lyrics feel less esoteric-you can paint a crisp mental portrait of many of the characters they’ve created here.

“We weren’t going for the smooth sound we had on the last record,” he says. “It was all about telling the story in the best way possible.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s August/September/October 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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