David Bayley is a softly spoken man, almost delicately so. There is a certain level of poetic justice to this, given he is the frontman of Oxfordshire outfit Glass Animals, whose music somehow conjures a vibrant, fragile space populated by deft lyrics and catchy-as-hell hooks. Their press material empathises the band’s interest in the convergence of music and art, and when watching their music videos – ‘Psylla’ or ‘Gooey’, for instance – it is easy to see how this fascination takes shape.
“I think music and art already have a lot of similarities,” Bayley says in a near-whisper. “When I listen to music I tend to like sounds that take me somewhere, or make me feel as though I’m in a different world, a different land. Something that’s transportational. I think I tend towards liking art like that, and combining these two things can be a powerful expression.”
Visually, there are some striking images – ‘Psylla’ features foliage sprouting from open wounds and a transient face appearing in the earth, while ‘Gooey’ is akin to walking through an art gallery that has suddenly, grotesquely sprung to life. The band clearly enjoys a level of creative control that many other rising acts would find enviable, and this is due mostly to the level of trust their label has for the guys.
“I think we were pretty lucky to be signed to a label that want us to do whatever we want to do, you know?” Bayley says. “I think they signed us for that exact reason. We’re a band who knew what we wanted in terms of sound, and they were able to be quite hands off and just let it happen. I think we’re pretty lucky in being able to do what we want creatively. There’d been a couple of other offers from other labels on the table, and a really important consideration for us was simply that we’d be allowed to do what we wanted to do.”
Glass Animals do seem to have been blessed with a rather rich vein of luck since the beginning. Having written songs together at college, no-one had any idea how to actually promote their music in any way. Bayley, for instance, was studying medicine at the time. I wonder if this could work its way into recordings? Maybe play an album backwards and hear instructions on household surgery? “It’s already there,” he laughs. “The whole album is actually about the anatomy of the brain. I shouldn’t say that. That sounds like it would be the most boring album ever.”
Eventually, the newly formed band simply uploaded some songs online and left them alone. The response took them totally by surprise. “We didn’t have any expectations at all. We had no idea what we were doing, didn’t know anyone in the music industry, didn’t even know anyone in any other bands. We just put some tracks online, and people got in touch. I don’t know how in the hell they found them. It just kind of happened without us putting too much thought into it. We kind of like ducking down and working on our music and not chatting about what we’d had for breakfast on Twitter. The main thing is; just don’t think about it, it’s definitely not at the forefront of my mind. There are other things I should be thinking about.”
Given their first Australian tour is nearing, Bayley mentions in passing his interest in petting a koala, and how they seem like such nice little balls of fur. I tell him that’s just what the koalas want you to think; once they get you close, it’s nothing but claws, jaws, and straight to the jugular. He is both aghast and impressed.
“Killer koalas? What a nightmare. Oh man. Just… how would… wow. I’d like to see a koala kill me; I think that would be the most interesting way to die. I mean, how would it do it? They look so cuddly. What could it possibly… Yes. Death by koala. Definitely.”
Zaba out Friday June 6 through Wolf Tone/Caroline