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Glass Animals’ Joe Seaward: ‘I’ve spent more time with my band mates than my family’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 25 August 2016

Glass Animals' new album How To Be a Human Being is out August 26. Picture: Neil Krug.

Glass Animals' new album How To Be a Human Being is out August 26. Picture: Neil Krug.

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Discovered by Paul Epworth, Joe Seaward of Glass Animals speaks to Zoe Paskett about their latest album, How To Be a Human Being

It is the dream of every aspiring musician to play a gig in a local venue and be snapped up by one of the UK’s best known producers.

You’ll play outstandingly, you’ll be signed and within a year you’ll be touring the UK. This, of course, never happens.

Except when it does.

Paul Epworth, producer to Adele, Coldplay, John Legend, Florence and the Machine and enough other big names to fill this page, saw a four-piece band from Oxford play and signed them to his brand new label. And the rest is history.

A debut album that racked up 200 million Spotify plays later, Glass Animals are on their way to the top.

“We’ve had to work so hard to get to this,” says Joe Seaward.

“There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears and miles travelled. It’s been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience anything like it again.”

Made up of frontman Dave Bayley, Drew MacFarlane on guitar and keys, Edmund Irwin-Singer on bass and keys, and drummer Joe, the group members have known each other since their school days.

“I can remember meeting Ed very clearly – he was nuts and I was quite scared of him. I can wind up Dave in 0.3 of a second. I know exactly where the button is.”

Of his relationship with his band mates, he adds: “I’ve never spent as much time with anyone else, not even my family.

“I feel like we’ve had most of the arguments friends could have and celebrated most of the things friends could celebrate.

“There are some tough conversations you have to have sometimes. Making music isn’t always easy.

“If you come up with an idea that you think is really good and someone has to tell you it isn’t, that’s a hard conversation.”

The success of their first album Zaba can be accounted for by the band’s dedication, putting in as much effort and time as they can muster.

“When our first record came out, nobody knew who we were and nobody cared. So we had to work, get on the road and play to 50 people in Sheffield, then fly to the US and play to 20 people in San Francisco.

“By the end we were playing to 2,500 people in Kansas City.”

Their new album, How To Be a Human Being, is released on August 26 and was constructed through unconventional means.

“I try to sneakily record people and I have hours and hours of these amazing rants from taxi drivers, strange people we met outside of shows, people at parties,” says singer Dave Bayley.

“People say the strangest s**t when they don’t think they’re ever going to see you again.”

Joe adds: “As soon as we got back from the tour Dave disappeared and locked himself away and created these character documents.

“What does he look like? How does he dress? What era is he from? How old is he? Does he have children? All of these minute details.”

The product is an album with so much variety it’s impossible to put in a box.

How do you pigeonhole a song with the character of a lazy stoner who lies on the sofa eating mayonnaise straight from the jar alongside one with that of an “erratic and frenetic personality”?

What genre is that? I haven’t a clue how to explain it. Nevertheless, I ask him to try.

“Don’t ask me that! It’s the hardest question! For me, it sounds like us messing around. I think it’s because we’re a bit scatty, we have short attention spans.”

It must be more than short attention spans that have brought Glass Animals to this position of prominence so early in their careers. Whatever the secret is, Joe remains modest.

“Stuff that happens in England is really exciting for me because it’s something I’ve grown up understanding. I understand the cultural significance of hearing our song on Radio 1.

“It’s really, really cool.”

How To Be a Human Being launches at Rough Trade East on August 26.

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