England’s Glass Animals are back in the U.S. for a four-month tour supporting their second studio album, How to Be a Human Being.
The band returns stateside a little over a month after playing Coachella and Bonnaroo and will be hitting some iconic venues this tour including College Street Music Hall (Aug. 2) in New Haven, Connecticut, the Shrine Auditorium (Sept. 21) in Los Angeles, and two nights at the 9:30 Club (Oct. 8-9) in Washington, D.C.
“We’re doing a number of our headline dates and a few more festivals,” including Lollapalooza in Chicago, explained lead singer Dave Bayley. “With a headline show, we can get an idea of what the crowd is feeling by watching the opening band. If they look like they’re up for a dance, we can extend our track and give them something a bit groovy. And if they are feeling a bit more chill, we’ll give them something else.”
The band has a number of festival stops left on tour including this weekend’s Panorama festival on Randall’s Island in New York and ACL Live at Zilker Park in Austin.
“At a festival, it can get crazy with people floating around on blow-up pineapples,” he said of the band’s edible motif that traces back to the band’s 2014 album ZABA. For their current tour, the band has a giant pineapple disco ball atop the stage.
“People started bringing pineapples to shows and it spiraled out of control,” he says. “Security confiscates a ton of them, but people always manage to sneak them in and incorporate them into the show.”
The band’s second record has been getting solid reviews for its deep story telling and layered instrumentals and sound effects. While Bayley doesn’t like to talk about the current radio single “Agnes” — “it’s
extremely personal to Dave,” his publicist at Capitol Records explained — he said the 11 tracks that make up How to Be a Human Being” are not to be viewed as a single narrative, but as separate stories that exist on their own. Many of the characters created for the album were developed around people the band met on the road, Bayley explained.
“We were touring so much around our first record, which was recorded very quietly in a bedroom in Oxford in the middle of the woods,” he said. “And then the album came out and we were thrown out into the real world and meeting dozens of new people and going to parties every day. ”
Bayleys says he would often secretly record the conversations he was having with strangers, and then would listen to the conversations on the road and would incorporate the stories and quips he heard into the songwriting process.
“I realized I identified with many of these people, no matter how disgusting, angry or sad their stories might have been,” he explains.
Bayley won’t detail which stories are from his life and which comes from others, telling Billboard, “the actual narrative can be quite vague, as long as it forms the picture. I like it when the listener forms the rest of the story, it keeps the character relateable.”
As for the band’s complex sound signature, Bayley says he doesn’t use backing tracks to replicate the album, saying, “we only do what four people can play live on stage.”
“We strip things back quite a bit for a simpler kind of sound,” he said of the band’s energetic live shows. “And we find ways to embellish the songs, adding guitar lines and extend or shorten songs. We like to go off on wild tangents and remixes. It’s all about getting on the same level as the crowd and adapting to how they are feeling.”