On How to Be a Human Being, Pineapples and the Music Industry

Credit: Jirka Matousek

Felicia Bengtsson
Writer

With the release of Glass Animals’ second album How to Be a Human Being, the band has another hectic touring schedule lined up in the coming months. Edmund Irwin-Singer takes a moment to talk about his experiences with the new album, touring and the music industry.

How to Be a Human Being, released in August last year, stays true to the band’s quirky style while simultaneously being original and full of character(s). In fact, each track on the album tells the story of one specific individual. These are compilations of people they met on tour, friends, and parts of themselves. Irwin-Singer explains that when touring they “met a lot of people – really interesting weird people, some really sad people, some completely mad people” and when it came to writing the second album they used their collections of stories for inspiration.

It is no coincidence that these fictional characters meet and interact in the music videos, particularly Life Itself and Youth, but also Season 2, Episode 3. Lead singer Dave Bayley made an entire casting document detailing their lives – “what they looked like, what they wore” and what they ate. Each character was then cast as an actor used for the cover album and the first music videos. “We basically created a world for a few days and recorded it, which was really fun,” says Irwin-Singer.

Glass Animals’ individual sound has developed since their first album ZABA, mostly due to the need to turn their work into a live show while touring. They now view music differently – seeing “it as a live living thing . . . you change things, songs, and adapt them to the way the audience reacts to them”.

Glass Animals have various lyrics that have turned into funky themes. “Pineapples are in my head” from the song Pork Soda is one such example – used on merchandise and escalating into the band bringing tropical fruit to live gigs. When asked about it, Irwin-Singer laughs and explains that it “spiraled out of control” after a fan brought a pineapple to one of their shows.

This summer sees Glass Animals take on Reading and Leed’s NME stage – the second largest one at the festival – which Irwin-Singer excitedly says is “going to be incredible”. Reading holds particular significance, being a festival that they used to attend themselves. “We saw the Arctic Monkeys there for the first time and lots of indie bands that we really like.” The band has an impressive line up of festivals in the coming months – including Lollapalooza, Coachella and Primavera Sound. “Coachella is going to be wicked,” Irwin-Singer declares. “It’s not quite as sort of fun and messy as British festivals, but it will be great.”

Irwin-Singer is hopeful that there will also be a show in Glasgow this summer. He reveals that the band loves coming here to play, expressing that “people are a lot less stuck up than they are in some parts of the country; people like to have a good time”. As do they, no doubt. Irwin-Singer laughs when he says that Nice N’ Sleazy is their go-to place whenever they are in town.

Despite all the excitement, the music industry is not a place for everyone. “It’s just absolute madness,” Irwin-Singer insists. “Everyone in the music industry is just a bunch of nutters. No one in their right mind would want to live on tour.” He says it lightheartedly, but there is a dark undertone to his statement. “It does drive you mad, there are so many broken casualties along the way.” According to him, the right way to do it is with the support of a band – he could not imagine doing it any other way.

When asked about what the future holds for Glass Animals, Irwin-Singer replies that a well-deserved break is on the books. They went straight from touring with ZABA to writing and recording How to Be a Human Being, then on to touring again. That being said, they “want to get on with it and make more music” as soon as possible, and their fans would expect nothing less.