A few hours before their slot on the NME/BBC Radio One stage at Reading Festival, Glass Animals are doing the rounds in the press tent. Grabbing the Oxford based quartet for our allotted five minutes, it’s clear that Dave Bayley, Drew MacFarlane, Ed Irwin-Singer and Joe Seaward are in extremely high spirits and a unanimous “really good thanks!” rings out when I ask how they’re doing.
It’s pretty obvious to discover where their good mood comes from. Not only is it a gloriously sunny day, but the guys have had an incredible summer, wowing audiences at back to back festivals and seeing their sophomore album, How To Be A Human Being, nominated for the coveted Mercury Prize. “We had no idea!” Seaward tells me when I asked if they expected the nomination at all. “We were supposed to be in America then so it caught us by surprise massively.”
Not shocking the rest of us quite as much, the band’s second LP is a something of a masterpiece. The follow-up to 2014’s Zaba, the record navigates the stories of real life characters the band encountered whilst travelling the world, all packaged up in hypnotising alt-pop bangers. I ask if they’re feeling a certain pressure about performing that day, given the album’s amazing response. “Well there was pressure anyway,” MacFarlane explains. “Reading is like our hometown show, pretty much.”
Having attended the festival in their late teens, the guys are clearly excited to play the field they spent many a summer in. “This is like our home, this is what we know,” Seaward smiles. “Leeds is more like North of The Wall…” Asking if they’ve had any wild festival moments whilst attending, the four begin to laugh. “I know Ed’s!” Bayley exclaims. “I woke up at Reading Festival. It must’ve been like four in the morning and there was a tent on fire next to mine and Ed was standing in-between my tent and that tent in a dressing gown with some kind of huge metal stick, just like beating the fire and beating people away from our tent. Basically we camped in the middle of the road and people were setting fire to everything that was in the road.” Apparently the go-to festival attire back in the day, Irwin-Singer explains, “I was security guarding in my dressing gown. I wore it all the time! Apart from when I wasn’t wearing anything…”
Flash forward a couple of hours (and several warm ciders) later that evening and the four piece are ruling the stage. With a set that has the entire crowd going crazy, their off-kilter pop packs a punch and closing track “Pork Soda” is pineapple drenched madness, the infamous ban on the fruit (really!) not seeming to have quite worked.
A true example of why they’re one of the most exciting bands around at the moment, although some of that evening may be a slight blur, there’s no way anyone will be able to forget Glass Animals. And if you haven’t placed your Mercury bets yet, our money is definitely on these guys. Their prediction? “If I could bet two smarties, I’d put them on Stormzy.” Good to know.