Exactly two years ago, Joe Seaward, the drummer of Glass Animals, suffered a terrible bicycle accident in Dublin. Fighting for her life, with a skull fracture, she had to undergo neurosurgery and hope for the best. The forecasts were reserved. For his longtime friend and bandleader Dave Bayley, this episode was a struggle of optimism and shadows that made him think of the worst.
Next to Joe, in the hospital bed, memories began to sprout in Bayley’s mind like never before. So it was for a few months. These memories spanning the first of his life are what inspired Glass Animals’ new album, Dreamland.
We had the opportunity to speak with Dave through Zoom. From Mexico City to his home studio in Hackney, East London. We took a few minutes to greet each other and start talking about their new album, his inspiration, his memories, how difficult it is to unearth painful memories and about his sound, an exact reflection of his life.
Unlike its predecessor, How to Be a Human Being, Dreamland is autobiographical. Tackles everything. From formative relationships, domestic violence, toxic masculinity, to suicide and other complicated topics. For that, Bayley, who is sensitive and quite shy, had to search deep inside herself and push her limits.
At Dreamland there are atmospheric synths, Mind-blowing hip-hop beats, some bossa nova, warped electric guitar lines, soul moments and a bit of everything interspersed with Bayley’s mom’s home movie audios to take us right back to her childhood.
“I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m everything”, Bayley tells us two days after releasing his album (which by the way, you can already hear it everywhere). “Right now I’m mainly excited, but there has been everything”, we break the ice.
Then we started talking about Joe’s accident. Not as an anecdote, but as the trigger that started it all. As the trigger for dozens of memories that would become his next project. “Everything happened slow. He (Joe) had the terrible accident. I was very sad and desolate. I didn’t know what was going to happen … This raised many memories. Memories arose and began to circulate in my head. I started writing about them, but about other people “.
“However, in the end, that encouraged me to keep writing about my memories and that’s when I got to see the next Glass Animals album. He already had a good amount of memories. ‘This is enough to be able to make a record’, I thought. ‘It has enough weight and enough big themes to give it a try’ “.
“The good thing is that it worked. Sometimes you try and it doesn’t work. I tried to write a disk on space once and it didn’t work. I didn’t have enough heart. He wasn’t human enough. Maybe one day I’ll make it, worse I don’t know. It didn’t resonate with me at the time. “
When you’re going to unearth memories as far back as the first of your life, it’s not always an easy path. You can find things that hurt, that can be sad, and that can be difficult to cope with. You may come across things that you may not want to relive. But Bayley also found the optimistic side of doing it.
“Mainly it is that. The difficult thing is to unearth the complicated memories. There’s a reason you don’t remember a lot of those things. Because they are painful and you bury them to the bottom. What I tried to do was get to the bottom of those memories. Get to the worst, in the dark. In a way it is very sad at the time because you remember things that were terrible, but in perspective happy memories become much happier. So it’s both! ”.
Understanding, understanding, and unearthing memories can be a painful process. But it can also be an extremely healing process. Understanding your traumas and expressing them can also lead you to a place of healing. We talked to Dave Bayley about that.
You can also read: BECAUSE OF GLASS ANIMALS NOW THIS FESTIVAL WILL BAN THE… PINEAPPLE?
“At the moment, ‘Dreamland’ is mainly about exposing everything and telling everything that happened to me without trying to analyze it too much. It’s about spitting out the stories and exposing the wounds. I do not know… To expose the wounds without letting them heal, to bleed out in music. No answers yet. Maybe that’s the next album. “
In Dremland, Dave Bayley talks about big issues like domestic violence, toxic masculinity, suicide, and school shootings. Quite bitter and difficult topics to navigate. So we asked Bayley which Dreamland story was the hardest to write and tell.
“Very good question. “There are many…” Dave says in a cracked voice. Think a little bit. “The domestic violence was particularly difficult. Because nobody wants to relive that. That was very hard. It was also difficult to talk about when a friend brought a gun to school and tried to kill his classmates ”.
“Those issues made me understand that people are going to do despicable and unforgivable things and sometimes they are made by the people you love. That is the hardest. And accept that it is not your fault. Those were the hardest songs to write.
Dreamland has a very interesting combination of sounds and genres. It has hip-hop beats, some bossa nova, psychedelic electric guitar lines, soul passages and even interludes of memories from more than 20 years ago. Maybe this whole combination is the photograph of how Dave remembers his childhood. With a little bit of everything.
“Definitely. The album begins with the first memory I have in life. From when I was 5 or 6 years old until now. I wanted to play all the stages with a sound and what it was like to grow. Capture all my stories and influences. What I always try to go to is The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Nina Simone. As for hip-hop I always try to go towards Dr. Dre and Timberland. So the spinal column is those two sounds. “
But then if the song is by When I was 15 years old and I discovered Radiohead, I put Radiohead-style sounds in it, same with The Strokes. And the interludes are literally a home movie. The one listening is my mom. She used to make these videos. “
Like thousands of bands, Dave Bayley serves as the creative mind of Glass Animals. Especially for Dreamland, which is a very personal project, we wanted to see how you included Drew MacFarlane, Ed Irwin-Singer and Joe in this new group project. How do you make it a band project in the end and not just your contract musicians?
“Sometimes it is difficult. I try to leave room for them to put things in, remove things and modify some. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We work everything at a distance but we try to build it together as a band. Sometimes I go with a demo with the melody, the lyrics and the sounds. Sometimes it’s almost finished and we silence all the things they don’t like and try to rebuild it. Then we end up with better things, sometimes it’s worse ”.
“From ‘Dreamland’, for example, we tried to rebuild ‘Heat Waves.’ We tried it like three times and it didn’t work. In the end the demo stayed on the album. It always changes, but everyone has the opportunity to remove what they don’t like and put their stamp on ”.
Dave Bayley has repeatedly said that Dreamland is the most complicated record in Glass Animals history. and for him. Something will have to do with the hard memories, the sound that he had to choose to dress his project or the fact of having to put together the album largely as a soloist.
“For many reasons. Living all those memories once again is hard. Some are difficult to revive. Write them down and be vulnerable. I am somewhat reserved, I don’t like doing that very much, but I did it anyway. I pushed myself to be very open.