Cover Feature Youth in Revolt: Glass Animals

‘Dreamland’ could have been Dave Bayley’s existential crisis album. Instead, Glass Animals’ latest is an exercise in the power of positivity.

“There are a few moments in life where you’ll always remember exactly where you were and what was going on, like 9/11. This was one of those moments,” reflects Dave Bayley.

In July 2018 Glass Animals were riding high off the back of their Mercury-nominated second album ‘How to Be a Human Being’. Having completed relentless tours across the USA, Europe, South America and Australia, the Oxford band were set for a full summer of festivals, with a series of XL shows marking a final victory lap at the end of the year. But then tragedy struck. Drummer Joe Seaward was hit by a lorry while riding his bike in Dublin, suffering a severely broken leg, a fractured skull and brain damage.

“You know how bleak the prognosis is when you see something like that,” he continues, describing the bloody scene he witnessed at the hospital. “He’s my best friend. I’ve known him for like, 15 years. The future looked really fucking doomed. And [without Seaward] I was pretty aware that Glass Animals might be gone, too.”

But only two years after that catastrophic event, Glass Animals are returning with an album distinguished not by its vulnerability, but by its strength of character. ‘Dreamland’ is a record that displays a remarkable sense of maturity; written during a period of deep, personal reflection, it feels starkly intimate at times. And yet, despite its often-heavy lyrical themes, it feels alive with the same kind of vibrant, genre-mashing energy that made the band such a crossover sensation in the first place.

Joe’s recovery wasn’t straightforward, admits the singer, speaking over Zoom from his studio in East London. “I don’t know how much you ever really recover from something like that. It was a really traumatic injury. He can run and drum again, and they’re the two things he loved doing the most. But it was really fucking bad.” And so, having put the band on pause during Seaward’s rehabilitation, Bayley’s return to Glass Animals required a change of perspective.

Songs from the band’s previous release were built around characters they had met on the road (taxi drivers, stoners, and other colourful personalities). But, off the back of a life-changing event, the singer was forced to look inwards for what would become his first purely “autobiographical” album. “The accident was definitely a trigger to write more personal things,” he explains. “I wasn’t out meeting anybody, I wasn’t making new memories, and I wasn’t out doing fun stuff with friends. In a hospital you see a lot of relationships reforming through people sharing sad stories and memories of their loved ones. Families come together who may not have spoken to each other in years, and it gets you thinking about your family and friends, and the weird things that have happened.

“I started looking back into my own memory because even if some of those memories are dark, or weird, or sad, that’s where you find your comforts. There’s still a bit of comfort in the fact that somehow you survived that, and it’s OK.”

Youth in Revolt: Glass Animals Youth in Revolt: Glass Animals Youth in Revolt: Glass Animals Youth in Revolt: Glass Animals Youth in Revolt: Glass Animals

As featured in the July 2020 issue of DIY, out now.

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