Gig preview: Glass Animals at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Glass Animals
Glass Animals
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Dave Bayley has fond memories of his first day at secondary school in Oxford.

It was then that he met a group of classmates with whom, a decade or so later, he would form the hotly-tipped indie electronic band Glass Animals.

“We met when we were about 13,” the singer recalls. “I came from America. The first person I was introduced to at school was Drew [MacFarlane], our guitar player. He had spent time living in America too.

“He introduced me to his two closest friends, Joe [Seaward] and Ed [Irwin-Singer]. We happened to like the same music.”

It was at university, while studying medicine, that Bayley began writing songs – alone at first, with the aid of the computer programme GarageBand.

“I did not know anything about making music,” he admits. “I did not have any intention of showing it to anyone. I got drunk one night and decided to show Drew what I had been doing. He encouraged me to put it online.”

Heartened by the reaction, Bayley opted to study neuroscience because it “offered me a little more free time to spend on music”.

“I did that for a year then I took a year off studying entirely. I ended up not going back.”

Now joined by his longstanding friends, Bayley formed Glass Animals. Their first EP, Leaflings, came out in 2012. The following year they met Paul Epworth, the Grammy and Oscar-winning producer, who has worked with the likes of Adele, Florence and the Machine, Coldplay and Plan B.

“It was a surprise,” says Bayley. “He turned up at our first London show. We saw his name was on the guestlist before we went on stage, but we didn’t really think it was him. Why would a big producer come down to our show?

“He’s an amazing producer. he made a lot of records that we grew up with, like Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm and he worked with LCD Soundsystem.

“We ended up going to the same bar, he introduced himself and we spoke about music over a few drinks.”

A short while later, Epworth “blagged” the band tickets to a Flying Lotus gig, they had a “fun time getting a bit drunk” then “the next thing we knew were in his studio”.

Epworth gave the band free rein. “Before that we were working off computers and pathetic instruments at home – cheap, terrible equipment. He wanted to see what would happen if he put us in front of all of his amazing gear. He helped us discover the sound we wanted to make as a band. He encouraged us to be fearless with experimentation.”

The result is the album Zaba, whose intelligent pop leanings have led to Glass Animals being bracketed with the likes of Wild Beasts and Alt-J.

Bayley seems bemused by the comparisons. “I listen to a lot of older music – old R&B, Otis Redding, Pink Floyd, Nina Simone. I listen to quite a bit of Can and Krautrock and lot of 90s and early 2000s hip-hop.

“I’m quite naive when it comes to other [contemporary] bands. It’s great to be compared but the only modern music I tend to listen mainly to is electronic producers rather than bands.”

While he admits “there are lyrical themes running through the whole thing – one thing I wanted to do was for each song to encapsulate different emotions, I didn’t want it to [simply] be about love or be a break-up album”, Bayley prefers to keep his words abstract. “I write them so cryptically, I don’t want people to understand them,” he says. “Hopefully they can mean something quite personal to [each listener].”

The album is out on Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label this week, along with a single, Pools; a corresponding tour includes gigs in Leeds and Sheffield.

Bayley hints that rather than release another track from the album as their next single, “we might release something new, something thta’s not on the record, though I’m not going to guarantee it”.

“There are things being recorded that might come out,” he says cryptically.

June 20, Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds and June 25, Bungalows & Bears, Sheffield.

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