Glass Animals On Choosing Spontaneity Over Perfection

Written By Meshell Webb on 08/26/2016

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A lot can happen after being on the road for two years. Glass Animals spent extended periods of time away from their hometown Oxford after the colossal success of debut, ZABA and came home a little bit older, a little wiser and full of stories from the characters they’d met along the way.

Today marks the release of How to Be a Human Being, the sophomore effort from the quartet and at its heart, the album is a reflection of the people and places the band met along their way.

“We didn’t listen to a lot of music deliberately when we were writing so as to go in with a clear mind, but during the two years of touring we met a lot of people, listened to a lot of different music and had a lot of fun and I think thats present in the new album definitely.”

How to Be a Human Being is being toted as a concept album, each song relating to a fictitious character present on the album artwork. Bassist and keyboardist Ed Irwin Singer  reassures us that the album won’t stray too far into a realm of obscurity that it becomes inaccessible for fans, however.

“I have to speak on behalf of Dave right now because he wrote all of those lyrics but I think there is still a lot of him in it. Each character is a mixture of people we have met on tour, we have lots of recordings made of people that we’ve met," he says.

"Some really bizarre and interesting people so there is a lot of that but there is a lot of autobiographical content in there too. There are personal stories and Dave definitely put some of himself into each character. On a whole, I definitely think or at least hope that people will be able to connect with it.”

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After the completion of the ZABA tours, the process of writing and recording the next album happened at breakneck speed. Within four short months the band managed to write, record and master the entire album, a feat many artists in the current state of the industry would find incredibly difficult to do, with their options being seemingly endless. Irwin-Singer explains that the band made a conscious effort to move through the process as swiftly as was reasonable, to keep any material from becoming dead in the water or too “polished”.

“It was written in a few short months, about four. We didn’t want to mess around and get too worried about detail, we wanted to capture the way we were feeling.”

Making comparatives against ZABA the most notable difference according to Irwin-Singer is the mistakes they made, “We deliberately left in a lot of first takes and blemishes.” He continues on by explaining that, “A lot of the great records we’ve all grown up with aren’t perfect and that’s what gives them life, the spontaneity of it all gives it that life and we were keen to achieve that too.”

There is however, so much more on offer with How to Be a Human Being than just sprightly songwriting. With each song based on a character, the band did extensive character development and cast each character to accompany their respective song. We meet most of these characters in the first video from the album, Life Itself. The world created around How to Be a Human Being feels wholeheartedly real in its complexity.

“What is this crazy joke we’ve done that has now become serious?” Irwin-Singer jokes, “This has all gone so far and its quite scary but so fun at the same time.”

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A lot can happen after being on the road for two years. Glass Animals spent extended periods of time away from their hometown Oxford after the colossal success of debut, ZABA and came home a little bit older, a little wiser and full of stories from the characters they’d met along the way.

Today marks the release of How to Be a Human Being, the sophomore effort from the quartet and at its heart, the album is a reflection of the people and places the band met along their way.

“We didn’t listen to a lot of music deliberately when we were writing so as to go in with a clear mind, but during the two years of touring we met a lot of people, listened to a lot of different music and had a lot of fun and I think thats present in the new album definitely.”

How to Be a Human Being is being toted as a concept album, each song relating to a fictitious character present on the album artwork. Bassist and keyboardist Ed Irwin Singer  reassures us that the album won’t stray too far into a realm of obscurity that it becomes inaccessible for fans, however.

“I have to speak on behalf of Dave right now because he wrote all of those lyrics but I think there is still a lot of him in it. Each character is a mixture of people we have met on tour, we have lots of recordings made of people that we’ve met," he says.

"Some really bizarre and interesting people so there is a lot of that but there is a lot of autobiographical content in there too. There are personal stories and Dave definitely put some of himself into each character. On a whole, I definitely think or at least hope that people will be able to connect with it.”

After the completion of the ZABA tours, the process of writing and recording the next album happened at breakneck speed. Within four short months the band managed to write, record and master the entire album, a feat many artists in the current state of the industry would find incredibly difficult to do, with their options being seemingly endless. Irwin-Singer explains that the band made a conscious effort to move through the process as swiftly as was reasonable, to keep any material from becoming dead in the water or too “polished”.

“It was written in a few short months, about four. We didn’t want to mess around and get too worried about detail, we wanted to capture the way we were feeling.”

Making comparatives against ZABA the most notable difference according to Irwin-Singer is the mistakes they made, “We deliberately left in a lot of first takes and blemishes.” He continues on by explaining that, “A lot of the great records we’ve all grown up with aren’t perfect and that’s what gives them life, the spontaneity of it all gives it that life and we were keen to achieve that too.”

There is however, so much more on offer with How to Be a Human Being than just sprightly songwriting. With each song based on a character, the band did extensive character development and cast each character to accompany their respective song. We meet most of these characters in the first video from the album, Life Itself. The world created around How to Be a Human Being feels wholeheartedly real in its complexity.

“What is this crazy joke we’ve done that has now become serious?” Irwin-Singer jokes, “This has all gone so far and its quite scary but so fun at the same time.”

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