For their new album ‘How to Be a Human Being’ (out 26th August), Glass Animals created their own fictional universe. Every song on the record is related to a different, made-up character, and each character has their own unique traits. There’s a bloke in speedos with a walkie-talkie; a six-foot-seven basketball player spinning a ball on one finger; a seedy tourist with three cameras strapped round his neck; a sun-blushed space cadet.
Speaking to DIY earlier this month, frontman Dave Bayley explained how he came up with these imaginary creations. “I was interested in what they ate, what they wore, what they did in their spare time, what their house looked like.” He also thought about what kind of music each oddball would listen to.
In a newly-aired Listening Out Loud podcast from Sonos Studio London, Bayley spoke to DIY’s Jamie Milton about the specifics behind these characters. Discussing their traits and daily habits, he picked a song that each character would play if they landed on Planet Earth.
Listen below to the podcast, and scroll below to see Dave’s explanation for how each track relates to a specific character.
Kraftwerk - ‘Robots’ (Chuck the Scientist)
“It’s a very stranger character. And he’s made a little website for himself where you can play these games that he’s made. You can email send him an email, if you want to. Sometimes he replies. The song I chose… It’s got to be Kraftwerk. ‘Robots’ is an absolute classic. And he spends a lot of time in this basement, making weird things that could be robots.”
Fleetwood Mac - ‘Everywhere’ (The Waitress)
She’s a Fleetwood Mac fan. She works in a diner, and they play Fleetwood Mac in diners. The idea for this song came from a story I heard while we were touring, from a very loving mother. Something had happened to her child. It was such a sad story. She told this story, and we were both tearing up. But the memory of her child made her smile. ‘Youth’ is meant to be happy on the surface. But if you dig deeper, it’s actually a sad tale. You notice that - a lot of people tell you dark things with a smile on their face.
‘Super Mario Theme’ (Hipster Girl)
“This is totally going to give away which track on the record it relates to. It’s the Mario theme tune. She plays an old school, retro gameboy. She’s a super hipster. The photograph of her room has her on this retro, plastic sofa, with bright orange cushions. It was the funnest room to create. We took pop tarts and smashed them onto the floor. We left some cereal out, so it got really puffy and gross. And a nice big jar of mayonnaise. I’m trying to make a lot of these characters multi-era. Timeless might sound a bit pretentious. She’s got old school 70s skateboards lying around, and then these more modern sunglasses. She’s a time-travelling hipster.”
LCD Soundsystem - ‘Someone Great’ (Boy With Camera)
“You might be able to match up which song he goes with, based on LCD Soundsystem. There’s a very strong musical reference. Well, it’s subtle. But if you catch the lyrical reference, you’re on to something. There’s a reference to one of my favourite books too, Slaughterhouse Five. References to the Bible, T.S. Eliot. The LCD song is absolutely stunning. The best live show I’ve ever seen.”
Grace Jones - ‘Pull Up to the Bumper’ (Guy in Speedos)
“I was kind of choosing between this song and ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order. But I reckon he listens to both of those songs, very very loud. Guy in Speedos… He enjoys certain things that Grace Jones might enjoy. He sits back by his pool, all day every day. He does have a job, but he’s very high up the chain. He wears big rings and lots of gold, makes lots of phonecalls and skims money from the top. You don’t wanna mess with this guy. He’s pretty nasty. But the song on our record, he has a bit of a realisation. That’s all I’ll say about that.”
Michael Jackson - ‘Jam’ (Basketball player)
“I got absolutely obsessed with basketball, making this record. It’s an incredible sport. You read a lot of amazing things about where basketball players have come from. Like in the ‘Hoop Dreams’ documentary, about people who try to make it in sports. I got obsessed with a particular basketball player, and this player was shipped over to America by his family to become a star. And he did it. It’s absolutely bizarre that his family would do that, sending their child away because he was tall. But there must be thousands that don’t make it. All these stories you hear on the road, they start with ‘I was going to be.’ All these shattered dreams.”