U.K. Psychedelic Pop Band Glass Animals Channel Nostalgia on New LP ‘Dreamland,’ Talk About Lockdown, India And More
The group’s frontman Dave Bayley opens up about how one of the songs on the record was inspired by his childhood friend who tried to commit a school shooting
When the pandemic hit the world, U.K. psychedelic pop band Glass Animals had to tear up their entire album release plan for their third record Dreamland. “It was sad and very scary,” says the singer-songwriter, producer and frontman Dave Bayley. However, Bayley and the rest of the band – comprising guitarist- keyboardist Drew MacFarlane, bassist-keyboardist Ed Irwin-Singer and drummer Joe Seaward – grew optimistic about the situation and began to experiment and play around on the internet.
Bayley says, “We did some crazy music videos, I filmed a whole one myself in my house. Then we made another where the people who live on my street filmed it from their windows.” Glass Animals also began throwing impromptu zoom “hangs” with their fans and created an open-source website where their listeners could pick up sounds and photoshop files which were free to use for anyone. Bayley on his part started filming covers and even began a TV show called Cereal Bars wherein he tastes cereal with another musician and then proceeds to write and produce a song from scratch with them. “All of that has kept us very busy,” he says.
Another reason the band pushed the release of Dreamland back, even more, was due to the Black Lives Matter movement. The vocalist says, “It’s 2020, there’s no space in the world for racism. Racism is disgusting, and everyone, including police, needs to be held accountable if they have harmed another human because of their race.”
Glass Animals first teased the new record with their 2019 single “Tokyo Drifting” featuring American rapper Denzel Curry. According to Bayley, back then the album was only in its nascent stage. “It was finished at the start of lockdown,” he says. On transitioning from 2016’s How to Be a Human Being, the frontman explains that it takes quite a while for him to form enough ideas in his head to start writing an album. He says, “I usually get lots of ideas for sounds and lyrics and melodies in my head over the course of a year maybe. Then when I have enough, I lock myself in my studio and it all comes out pretty fast over a couple of months.” He adds, “I basically plan what I’m going to write about and how I want to record everything first.”
Dreamland was finally released this past August, and the band presented their most ambitious work yet with this record. There are influences on the album which range from the Beach Boys to the Beatles and even old Motown music as well as 2000s hip-hop by artists such as Dr. Dre, Timbaland and the Neptunes. “The album is mainly resampling those retro Beach Boys sounds (mellotrons and guitars) through samplers that hip-hop artists may have used. It makes a nice fusion,” says Bayley. As for the lyrical theme across Dreamland, he says, “It is about memories and growing up and the past.”
Two songs that stand out for Bayley on the 16-track album is the melodic “Heat Waves” and the angsty “Space Ghost Coast to Coast.” “’Heat Waves’ is about seeing myself change to try to make someone else happy and realizing that I’ve changed so much, I’m not really myself anymore,” says the musician. He adds, “It also talks a bit about how technology can become a bit of a catalyst for not actually communicating with each other properly and it also touches on how it’s ok to be vulnerable and admit defeat.”
“Space Ghost Coast to Coast” was written about a friend of Bayley’s who he lost touch with after he moved to the U.K. from the U.S. The frontman narrates that his friend had acquired a gun and tried to commit a school shooting. “The song is basically asking how someone turned from such an innocent, naive, fun-loving kid to someone who could try to do such a horrible thing.” Although plenty of that behavior was attributed to music and video games at the time, Bayley feels that it’s actually much bigger than that. He says, “There are deeper issues, and the second verse of the song goes into those a bit more.”
All of Dreamland is plastered with intriguing pop melodies, unique percussive syncopations, catchy sing-along sections, indulgent production and groovy bits that will make you want to dance. Bayley recorded most of the LP at his home studio apart from drums. He says, “I really didn’t put on trousers most days, and I just ate cereal and didn’t see anyone.” The vocalist produced the album and he was assisted by mix engineers Manny Marroquin, David Wrench and David Nakaji while Chris Gehringer mastered it. Bayley says, “They took it to a whole new level.”
Glass Animals treated fans to a livestreamed show yesterday, performing songs off the new record, and had a chance to display their typical striking set design and visual work as well as interact with fans. “It’s not the same as our normal live show as a lot of the energy comes from the crowd and everyone being in the same room. But… the internet is good for other things,” says Bayley.
The frontman – who visited India as a 16-year-old – is eager to tour the country and has been wanting to return ever since he was on our shores. He says, “I love Indian food.” Bayley also has a message for fans of the band in India, “Thank you for the support, I hope you are staying safe and healthy. We can’t wait to come and visit.”
Stream ‘Dreamland’ below: