Oxfordshire-based quartet Glass Animals are currently one of the most hyped up-and-coming bands in the world, entrancing all who come into contact with their psychedelic, r n’ b-infused indie electronica.
Despite only having released a handful of singles, the four-piece have opened for Metronomy in the UK, supported St. Vincent on her European tour, and caught the attention of all major tastemakers with their stand-out showing at this year’s SXSW.
The UK band’s unorthodox, experimental approach has drawn comparisons to the likes of Alt-J, Animal Collective, and Jagwar Ma, and their newly announced debut album ZABA was produced by the renowned Paul Epworth – whose previous work includes Adele, Florence And The Machine, and Foster The People.
It’s the calm before the storm for Glass Animals, who are just about ripe for their burgeoning global success. So, it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty exciting time be speaking with frontman Dave Bayley.
“We all met at school. We were pretty young, about 13 or 14, and we were the guys at school who were into slightly left-field music,” the 22-year-old reflects from the lounge room of his Oxford home.
“Bands do shows in record shops all the time in Oxford, so we’d always sneak out of school and run down to those, and we’d go out at night to our favourite underground basement clubs and see bands there. That kind of brought us together as a bunch.”
It wasn’t until University that the softly-spoken musician began dabbling in songwriting of his own, working first with Drew MacFarlane before Edmund Irwin-Singer and Joe Seaward completed the lineup.“…we were the guys at school who were into slightly left-field music”
“I just started writing late at night because I was a bit bored and I showed it to Drew and he was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool’. Drew and I put it online on MySpace, which was all the rage back then, then basically told the other two that they were in a band with us and they were like, ‘Yeah okay cool’, and that was it.”
What they didn’t expect was the level of buzz that these early demos generated, even catching the attention of record labels. However, the four decided to pull down all of their music and lay low to focus on their studies, a decision that the then medicine student describes as “pretty difficult”.
“We were all at university and didn’t think we could juggle these great offers that were coming in,” Bayley explains.
“We couldn’t even rehearse because we were in four different cities, so there was really nothing we could do except take the tracks down for a bit until we could actually be a band and be together as a group.”
“It was tough, but necessary, I think.”
Flash forward a couple more years and their patience has certainly paid off. The band were playing their first proper gig in London when they were noticed by Paul Epworth, who immediately wanted to sign them as the first band on his new label, Wolf Tone.
“We saw his name on the guest list and we were like, ‘Nah, it’s not him’, but it turned out to be and we met him afterwards and, yeah, we went to a pool hall and got a bit tipsy and he started telling us about his label.”
It was an offer they couldn’t resist. The students decided to drop out of University to start working in the studio under Epworth’s guidance. “I’m glad so many people seem happy about it because my mum’s definitely not too pleased about it,” the self-deprecating frontman jokes.
Since then, the outfit have released a dreamy EP titled Psylla, and more recently, the sticky, addictive lead single ‘Gooey’ from their highly awaited debut album, which has been their biggest breakout track to date.
It shows off the group’s intelligent, off-kilter sensibilities, with lightly-tattering trip-hop beats swirling in with a cauldron of woozy synths while Bayley’s whisper-like voice delivers that perfect pop hook.“…we were a bit self-conscious about what our mums would think, so we kept things relatively tame musically”
In terms of what to expect when ZABA drops on June 6, the tribe’s frontman hints that their bewitching, hallucinating sound has become even more potent.
“I think it very much sounds like Glass Animals, but those first couple of singles and recordings definitely were a bit tame,” the singer teases.
“You know, they were the first singles we came out with and we were a bit self-conscious about what our mums would think, so we kept things relatively tame musically and I think this album sounds bigger, wilder, a bit more beastly.”
“Paul keeps saying it sounds a bit like Timbaland and Dr Dre done by four white boys,” laughs the Englishman, who later says that one of their studio techniques included holding a pineapple.
“We did some weird stuff. You know, you’ve got to get the vibe right and if the song sounds like you’re lying down holding a pineapple floating on a cloud, you gotta do it.”
While the anticipation for the album release draws closer to boiling point, at least the band can distract themselves with their upcoming debut Australian tour.
The dates will see the oddball four-piece playing dates across the country throughout April, meaning there’s a good chance fans could hear new material two months out from the record’s official launch.
“I’m really excited. I’ve heard from a couple of other bands, especially on the road, that Australian crowds and people are really good fun, so yeah, I’m up for a couple of fun party gigs.”
Glass Animals might be one of the most talked about bands in 2014, but for now they’re content with standing in the eye of the storm before they move onto the next plateau.
Glass Animals’ debut album ZABA is out June 6 via Wolf Tone.
Glass Animals Australian Tour 2014
Wednesday 2nd April – Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne
Thursday 3rd April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Friday 4th April – The Hi Fi, Brisbane