On third album Dreamland, Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley combs through the entire beautiful mess of his life to date: childhood obsessions, pop culture touchpoints, uncertain loves, unabashed lusts, and all things hilarious, heart-breaking and -warming. He answered our questions about this gorgeous achievement in psych-pop experimentation.
You’ve pointed out that people love nostalgia, but also noted that we’re in a hiatus – that in isolation it’s difficult to make new memories, almost like anterograde amnesia. Do you think it’s human nature that we must have experiences (old memories or new info) flowing through our brains?
I think so, yes… I think we have to be experiencing and seeing our loved ones in some capacity, as that’s what gives us a reason to exist. Things you’ve forgotten and remembered can feel a bit like you’re experiencing [them] again. And sometimes those old memories that we’ve slightly forgotten and buried under our everyday life can feel fresh and new when we dig them up again. We can see them in a different light. Like sampling in music, you know. Sometimes if you bring those older songs – sad or happy – into a modern context, it can feel new.
In the Dreamland clip [above], we can see that your filming instructions say to burn the photograph in a pan, but you put it directly on the burner. Did you ruin the stovetop?
You know what… I got a pan out as well. And I was hoping to set the corner of the photograph on fire and then drop it in the pan. But… those things are flammable as f-ck. Just had to drop it immediately onto the stovetop.
In one of your recent cover videos, you said you always have toys in-studio, because if you get stuck you can grab one, distract your brain, and suddenly come up with a new idea. What sort of toys do you have scattered about?
Loads. I’m in the studio now so will just look around… a Pez dispenser, a miniature remote control car, a larger remote control car, glow-in-the-dark slime, prototype Denzel Curry x Glass Animals nunchucks, a few action figures, some Pokémon cards, a Gameboy, a Super Nintendo, and a huge collection of art zines.
You refer to yourself a number of times throughout the album (“It’s 2020… you go make an album and call it Dreamland” – Dreamland; “Davey’s on fire, you still got it” – Tokyo Drifting). They whipped me out of my mesmerised state. Was it your intention to jolt us to attention with some meta?
Oh, interesting. In Dreamland the idea was to put the listener in the driver’s seat, with that line – to ask them to go make their own version of the album and to go through their own memories. So yes, I guess the intention was to take you out of my head and put you into your own for a second.
Tokyo Drifting, yes: ultimately it is meant to pull you out of Dreamland and put you firmly in the third person… that’s what I’m doing to myself in that song. The idea is that I’m meant to be assuming this swaggery alter-ego, and pushing myself to do things I’m not really confident enough to do. Glad both of those pulled you out and held you as an outside viewer for a second!
Aside from the home videos we can hear throughout the album, what other kinds of visual aids did you use to jog your memory about the past?
I was watching loads of old movies and TV I grew up with… Just had them spinning in the background on mute while I was working. I have a little retro TV in the studio here. I also have a huge folder of images I’ve found that I like. Lots of retro stuff in there. The cars I used to dream about having when I was a kid. Pictures of old teletext screens. Clothes I used to want. Toys I had. Food I ate. Video games I played. Pictures of all of it. You can see all those objects on the album and single covers too. And as I said, the zines. My favourite at the moment: Pol-Edouard’s drawings. We snuck one of those on the album cover too… he very kindly gave us permission.
In your series of cover videos, you are showing us exactly how you create (albeit with a limited set-up). It’s very transparent; there are no cuts. You’ve also shared a lot of material (raw files) on the GA site for fans to access. Recently, Dr Dre (who you mention in Space Ghost Coast To Coast, funnily enough) said that social media has destroyed the mystery of musicians.
Obviously you’re embracing a kind of un-mystery, but do you think it’s a matter of perspective? Do you ponder hard on how much to show people?
Sharing knowledge is important. I’d share more, but honestly I don’t exactly know how a lot of what I make happens. I put on a movie, I grab a guitar, and I just sort of… go. And sometimes something happens. Sometimes it doesn’t. Usually it’s a big pile of crap. Once in a while it’s something that I like.
Maybe what Dr Dre was getting at was the mystery of the persona, and who musicians actually are at home rather than when they are up on a stage or out in public. I think social media is scary. It’s dangerous if you let it too far into your life. It’s not a real representation of other people and we constantly compare ourselves to those unreal expectations. It’s an air-brushed, curated version of life that can make real life feel sh-tty. It can really f-ck with your head. Real life is so much more beautiful.
Dreamland by Glass Animals is out August 7 – including on JB-exclusive blue vinyl – via Polydor.
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