Glass Animals on becoming the pandemic’s pop success story


When Glass Animals first let folks exterior the group hear their tune “Heat Waves”, it didn’t appear the type of monitor which may imprint itself on the world. It was ninth of their set at the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto on March 1 of final yr — a tune recorded for the group’s third album, Dreamland, however not but launched. The crowd that day weren’t all that fussed.

“It went down fine,” says Dave Bayley, the British band’s singer, songwriter and producer. “The track from the new record that went down really well was ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’.” Just a few days later, concern over the unfold of Covid ended Glass Animals’ North American tour early, they flew again to the UK, and pop’s most shocking pandemic success story started.

It didn’t begin off as a success story. First, the launch of Dreamland was postponed. “I was told that this record was going to absolutely flop,” Bayley says, sitting on a park bench close to his residence in east London on a heat autumn afternoon. “But we should put it out and then start writing the next one . . . I was just really upset and trying to recognise the inevitable failure of this record, and just be OK with it.”

Dreamland, an album about nostalgia and group, was to emerge right into a world atomised by occasions, the place communities had ceased to operate, and Bayley was terrified he had hit the improper word at exactly the improper time. “I got quite depressed for about two weeks and just locked myself in my room with my pants and cereal. And that was it.”

From left: drummer Joe Seaward, singer Dave Bayley and guitarist Drew MacFarlane © Pooneh Ghana

When Dreamland lastly emerged in August 2020, it entered the UK charts at quantity two. That isn’t as large a success as it might sound — it’s doable to attain a excessive chart putting as of late if your loved ones purchase a couple of copies; the actual enterprise is in streaming. And it was streaming that modified all the pieces, particularly the streaming of “Heat Waves”. 

On its preliminary launch as a single in summer season 2020, nobody paid a lot consideration to the tune: a humorous, melancholy factor, virtually etiolated in its glassy unhappiness, coated in results. But then, as Bayley places it, “It started trickling its way up. It found a little pocket in loads of different places. The video gaming community embraced it. This amazing creative writing community really picked it up and ran with it. And there was Fifa [the song was featured in the bestselling football game] and that was a big thing. Minecraft then kind of had a little thing. And it just seemed like all of a sudden this song seemed to be doing things, and everywhere it got a little bite, it went and made a little bit of a wave.”

“Heat Waves” turned the very essence of a viral hit, soundtracking TikToks the world over. And it simply didn’t cease. As of now, it has chalked up 806m streams on Spotify alone and continues to be fourth in the platform’s weekly worldwide chart, including one other 30m streams per week.

Bayley appears astonished. “It’s still up there? I honestly don’t know why. I didn’t know it was going to change everything. You never do. I honestly thought it was a bit too sad to make it on to the radio: it’s quite moody, it’s a weird tempo, it’s got weird chords. It’s got more chords than any pop song I’ve heard on the radio. And I didn’t think it had a poppy vocal line. It’s bonkers.”

The drawback, in fact, was that as “Heat Waves” was blowing up throughout the world, Bayley and his bandmates have been caught at residence. They had grow to be one in every of the greatest bands in the world with out stepping exterior their entrance doorways. “I was watching it from the house just over there, inside my four walls. In that position, you want to go and play some shows. You want to see the physical actualisation of those numbers you’re being sent. It’s very, very strange — you feel a bit like a spectator. Almost like you’re watching a rollercoaster and you’re not really on it.”

The band accomplished a 41-date tour of North America in assist of their newest album ‘Dreamland’ © Pooneh Ghana

It was solely at the finish of this summer season, when Glass Animals returned to the US to tour, that Bayley was capable of expertise the results of the tune’s success. “I immediately felt like I was on that bit of the rollercoaster pummelling downwards, and I just broke, I cried. It was that first couple of weeks touring when you finally see the reality of all these email updates you get — numbers on a screen don’t make you feel anything.”

Still, although, Bayley insists he’s not a pop star. Nor does he appear to be one, along with his spherical glasses and earnest method. He doesn’t thrive in the limelight, he says. What he needed to be, since his teenagers, was a producer, and he discovered the best way to be one watching YouTube movies of UK artists comparable to Benga and Four Tet making music. He obsessed over the German experimental band Can, making an attempt to work out how their data sounded the means they did (“I think you’ll definitely hear Can in the way that I record guitars and drums,” he tells me. I confess to being unconvinced).

What he’s, greater than something, is an fanatic — in love with the prospects that pop music opens up. It was, maybe, a job pressured on him when his scientist dad and mom transplanted him from Texas to Oxford as a toddler, and he sought solace in the companionship of different music-obsessed youngsters (“Your teens is when music hits the hardest”).

“I love me a pop star,” he says, “but I don’t think I want to be one. I like spending time — this is going to sound very lame — with my dog and my mum, and writing songs. I don’t feel the need to come out of The Ivy with Rita Ora and Harry Styles, as lovely as I’m sure they are. I spend all my time thinking about music.” He laughs as he contemplates all the cash that may sooner or later roll in from “Heat Waves”. “But speak to me again in a year and I might be a real arsehole.”

Tour of UK and Ireland begins in the present day,