Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Glass Animals tell us all about their new album: "All sorts of weird sounds are on there..."

17 May 2016, 10:00 | Written by Laurence Day

Glass Animals speak to Best Fit about their newly announced album How To Be A Human Being and its first single "Life Itself".

The track and LP news arrives after a brief tease last week sent pulses racing - they'd been touring the world solidly up until only a few months ago, so a follow up to 2014 debut ZABA scarcely seemed possible.

"Life Itself" is by far Glass Animals' biggest pop moment to date. Primal percussion pierces through their signature brew of lush textures and off-kilter layers - everything's suddenly clearer, scorched by blazing hooks and warmed by sunlight. The jungle canopy has fallen, and Glass Animals are strutting out with a contender for Song Of The Summer. This is a game-changer.

The Oxford-based quartet play London's ICA on 15 June and Berlin's Kantine Am Berghain on 20 June.

Could you tell us a bit about "Life Itself"?

It's slightly hints at what else is coming... we've been playing a lot of live shows and we've been feeding off of the energy that's been coming off the crowds. They've been getting bigger, and a bit more feral, so it's all just got a bit wilder live - we've tried to put that onto tape. This is the first thing people will hear from that.

What's it about?

The whole album is about people. It's a human album, where the last one was really abstract and quite fantasy - it was a made up world last time, and this one is more about real people and real things that have happened. This song in particular is about a strange guy who's grown up in the suburbs and made himself stranger by not socialising very much; because he's a bit weird he can't get a job, and because he can't get a job he becomes weirder, and he forms a horrible cycle he can't get out of. He finally realises he has to break this cycle - the song is him deciding he's going to become... not normal, but he wants to go out into the world.

You've toured a lot since the release of ZABA - how did you find time to make an album?

We did a lot of touring. We finished at the end of December, and I was so ready to get off the road and go back into the studio - I actually got a taxi straight from the airport to the studio which wasn't too far away. I started writing and didn't stop for about a week and a half. I was so enthusiastic that I managed to get the skeletons of everything, like all of these characters on the record, and write most of it really quickly. It was lucky that it came together so quickly - we could've easily been slamming our heads against a wall for months! After all that writing it was just about refining and making sure all the parts were structured perfectly and all the sounds were polished up.

It's been quite a contrast to the making of ZABA then?

I sort of knew what I wanted to write about before going into the studio, and that helped so much. I knew that I wanted to use that theme of 'people' and make it really human and have real stories that I've heard on our travels. Having something I knew I wanted to write about made it easy. Whereas with the last record... [laughs] yeah. We were still learning how to write, how to play our instruments - we hadn't even played any live shows. It's been a very different story this time.

Around ZABA you worked with a few people, such as Tei Shi, Rome Fortune, and Joey Bada$$, is that something you've brought into the new album?

I love collaborating with other people, especially people that do what we will never be able to do - I'll never be able to rap like any of those guys, although not for lack of trying - but I always feel that a Glass Animals record is me, Drew, Ed, and Joe. It's just us on the record, and it'll probably always be like that. But on B-sides and things? Who knows what's gonna happen.

ZABA is a dense, cryptic record in places - were you conscious of making something more accessible?

Yeah, it was a conscious decision to go that way. I think part of it has been that when we were writing that first record, we were living in the middle of nowhere in Oxfordshire - like we'd go out at 4am and rehearse in the woods. But for the past two and a half years we've been travelling around cities and meeting all these people and it felt like a really natural thing to do - to start writing about reality. I don't know what'll happen next, but it feels right at this point to bring everything down to Earth, at least compared to the last record, because we have been out experiencing real things and meeting real people and doing crazy, weird things and getting arrested and really badly injured and watching all this... stuff... happen around us.

You said "Life Itself" was a "hint" at what to expect - what other sounds are on the album?

It's definitely not the mellow record that ZABA was. We've been playing to crowds in America that were quite big, and the songs that really make people react are the bigger songs with bigger drums - we actually started reworking a lot of the tracks from ZABA, like we played the drums and the bass up... basically remixed it live every night we played it. I think we've taken that ethos to the new record. It's all a bit louder, a bit more gutsy... big drums!

There's still delicate things going on, but it was a weird one. I tried not to listen to any other music while making it - whatever noises popped into my head I tried to get it on a synthesiser or whatever was around. All sorts of weird sounds are on there.

Are you going to try out some of the new songs at these intimate London and Berlin shows you have coming up?

I think we'll try a few things out. We're working out how to play the new stuff now... it's complicated, but it's gonna be fun! It's going to be very different for London and Europe where we haven't actually toured in a long time. We've played something like 200 shows since the last time we played England... maybe it's closer to 100, but it's still something ridiculous. The live show has changed so much. It'll be awesome to bring it all home.

What have you got planned for the summer?

This project is a big endeavour... music's definitely the focus, but there's a lot happening around it that's very exciting.

How To Be A Human Being is due out this summer via Caroline International/Wolf Tone. Check out "Life Itself" below.

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