ListenSD caught up with Joe Seaward, drummer of Glass Animals, before their double weekends at Coachella in Indio, CA. We talked about the past year, the band’s musical exploration, slug sex, their music videos, and why he loves Marmite so much.
How’s handling all the success and craziness of the last year?
We’ve been to some unbelievable places. We went to Australia for Christmas, which is normally a time of snow, and it was the hottest place I’ve ever been. That was very cool. We played some amazing shows in America already. Hopefully there will be more to come on that side of things. We just finished a tour in the U.K., which was amazing. Yeah, it’s been a really, really amazing year since the record came out and we’re loving it.
You guys are playing huge festivals this year like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza. Have you guys been to any of these festivals before?
No, never been to any of them. I’ve heard amazing things about all of them. We sort of did our version, and by our version, I mean, the Atlantic’s version of these festivals. Last summer we played Glastonbury, a festival which is in England, and some in Europe called Lowlands and Pukkelpop, all of these really cool festivals —which we always heard about and never been to and playing them is a really amazing experience. So we’re really excited to been asked to play those ones too. (laughs) All the stories I’ve heard.
Do you go to a a lot of festivals?
I used to when I was young. We used to go hang out at festivals all the time. I mean we went to Glastonbury when we were young and got lost for days, as far as I remember, and listened to some amazing music. And went to some other festivals here called Reading, which is really great too and listened to some amazing bands there. So yeah, I spent a good proportion of my youth hanging out at festivals, being on the other side of the fence so it’s strange to be doing it this way around. Totally awesome.
I know you guys are going to come to Coachella this weekend. What’s the first thing you guys like to do when you get to a new city?
I normally go find a landmark that I know and get my bearings. So if we’re near a massive lake, then I’ll go find the lake or if we’re near a river, I’ll go and do that. Or mountain or statue or something. I’ll go and try to orientate myself. I like to go for a run sometimes when I’m cooped up on a bus so I normally go and have a run around and try to understand where I am. Because otherwise, you end up visiting all these cities and you leave by the time you’ve really had any chance to explore so I never really know where I’ve been so I try quite hard to explore, especially in America, where I haven’t spent that much time in my life to find out where I am and what the differences are and everywhere else. We try and get someone that’s local to tell us some good bars and restaurants, check out the local food and that kind of stuff.
When you guys’ first started out, what did you think the band’s sound was going to sound like?
I think we were just exploring to begin with. We had an idea in mind yet we didn’t set out for it to sound like a certain band; not necessarily a genre we wanted to occupy. I think we were just trying to figure out what we were really good at and what we could do that sounded nice to us. The main thing is realizing that music that you make, any art that you make, you have to love. Because if you don’t love it, then the chances are that other people won’t. Like if I try to make a song that I think you would like, the chances of you actually liking that are quite small and the chances of me liking are even smaller. You have to try and make music you love and I think that comes across when you find something you love. You put more care in making it beautiful and that comes across. So yeah, we just figured out what it is we love and what we could do differently than other people and ideas from music we like and blending them together. I definitely don’t think there was a mission statement; there wasn’t a rulebook we had to abide by. It was kind of free styling. We tried to make a lot of stuff that we really didn’t like but that’s as important as finding out what you do like cause it’s like “Oh, well, let’s not try that again”. That’s a really helpful thing to know. You’re allowed to make lots of mistakes, which is cool.
Yeah, experimenting is great. I took a listen to your guys’ record and absolutely loved the sounds. It’s so different and unique. It’s been a blowing up on the radio, if you haven’t noticed already. When did you first hear yourselves on the radio? How’d it feel?
I actually, weirdly, haven’t heard us on the radio that often. When we were in New York about two months ago, we were in a cab and me and Dave were talking about how terrible this radio station was, (laughs) playing really bad music for about 20 minutes while we been sitting in traffic. So we were getting out of the car and it started playing one of our songs which we thought was totally hilarious. But yeah, that was probably the first time. I found it very weird. It’s so strange to hear yourself doing anything. Like hearing the sound of your voice, or at least I do. But I mean, it’s a massive compliment and cool. So my brain is caught between those two things, “Wow, this is pretty cool” and “Wow, this is unbelievably strange”.
This is a weird question.
Cool, I like weird questions.
You guys have some really interesting music videos. I know you have a lot of slugs in your “Cocoa Hooves” video. Have you ever seen slug sex?
No. But I mean I can imagine that would be quite weird.
You should watch it – it’s beautiful. Weird, I know. Just go YouTube it.
Right. Sounds hard to believe that would be a beautiful, natural phenomenon but I will YouTube that at some point. I’ll take your word for it.
Do you guys have a lot of say in your music videos?
Yeah, I think to begin with, we did. We had more time on our hands. We used to take a lot of time thinking about them. The first three of four videos we released, up until “Pools”, they were very much us working with the director and that director is a guy based in LA called Rafael Bonilla Jr., who’s a genius, makes things out of clay. And then after that we started getting kinda busy and we were on tour a lot so people were like, “You need a new video for ‘Gooey’”, so we sent over a list of colors and ideas we had about where it’d be cool to set the video. And they took those ideas away and gave them to a director who we liked and let them take control from there basically. So we started to have less and less to do with it but, always being the place where the idea starts from so we’ll think of the colors, settings, vague things and we’ll let someone else, who’s job it is to make cool music videos, take it from there.
I know you guys are on tour for a while and it’s gonna be a couple of long months but if you could only bring one thing on tour with you, what would it be and why?
I would bring Marmite. I don’t know if you know what Marmite is?
No, I don’t.
Marmite is really cool. It’s from England. There’s a version in Australia called Vegemite. It’s stuff you put on toast and basically tastes like England to me. American people, especially men, detest it but it is totally delicious and they’re all wrong. I would take that because it’s what I could have in the morning or when I get home, I could have a toast with some Marmite and then I’m sorted. Also, tea bags. Because there’s no place to get tea bags like England so we normally have a box of tea bags and some Marmite and we’re good to go. Earplugs are also very important, on the bus, next to lots of other men. You need some sleep, just stick them in your ears and you’re good.
To sound out all the snoring and farts and stuff.
Yeah, exactly. And a good book. There’s lots of things actually. Clothes are important. Sense of humor. There’s a few things but Marmite would be my number one.
Cool, I’ll have to check it out if I ever get my hands on Marmite.
Yeah, you’ll hate it. I mean, you’ll think it’s the worst thing that happened but it tastes like, the extract of boiled vegetables and this brown liquid comes out the other end and that’s Marmite. And it’s really gloopy.
Thanks to Joe Seaward, Glass Animals, and Universal Music Group.