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    Joe’s fucking around on Hook’s computer. No password. Gotta leave something good. “Lemon Party.” It’s so bad he won’t explain. Won’t let it leave the lips. I think it’s an old school secret between the two. Hook is Glass Animals' tour manager. Joe's the drummer. They’ve been buds for awhile, sometime after Glass Animals formed in Oxford, England in 2012.

    The band is done with sound check and there’s time to kill. Joe and Drew, guitarist/ synthesizer/ vocals, already each had a smoke on the side of Headliners. That’s where I met them. Walked up, right on time, 7:30 PM, said, “You must be the fuckers I’m looking for!” We joked the tiny yellow Caterpillar parked nearby as their main mode of transportation; KY’s, horses. Played the age-old pronunciation game of “Luhl-” no “Looie” no “Lou-IS” no “Lou-es-ville.” 

    Now Joe’s searching YouTube. He’s tall, even when sitting, slouched over the keyboard. His beanie sits tight on his shaved head. He clicks to a turtle humping a Croc. The turt puts his humdinger into one of the shoe’s holes and grunts a sad squeak toy-sounding, “Uhnh.” Dave, the guitar playing singer-songwriter walks up, fresh out of an interview, shakes his swoopy-blonde haired head, laughs, says, “This is so wrong.”

    My brain vibrates as I sip the Sierra Nevada that Hook offered. Ellie Herring, tonight’s opener from Lexington, is running through her electronic set. The music blares, full of bumps, grinds, samples.

    Hook keeps things on schedule, says, “Y’all wanna do this interview or what?”

    Dave, Drew and I go to the green room. My choice. (I’ve been curious about this room for so long.) We open the “Staff and Band Members (red-lettered) ONLY” door to tiny dimensions. A couple gals from the Louisville Cardinal, U of L’s weekly paper, are in here, blonde and silky. As they leave, Drew says, “Have a great show!” As if the girls are the ones performing. Polite little chap.

    Walls are red and there’s health food in the corner: celery sticks, grape tomatoes, baby carrots, which Drew loves, especially on tour. Only two chairs in the small space, we pow-wow, each cross-legged in the circle. It feels very “Down by the Banks,” that old handclap. I say, “Wanna stab lifelines? Be blood siblings?” “Oh, god” is the reaction. Ha.

    It’s the moment of truth in this quiet room staring into Oxford eyes. I’m nervous, cheeks red. One, cause cuties; the 20-somethings are baby-faced and with those sweet English accents. Two, cause, honestly, I’m ill-prepared. Didn’t know the interview was going down till two hours before I got here. Am fairly new to ZABA, the band’s debut LP which dropped this past June. Watched a couple interviews while running closet to mascara, laptop in one hand, coffee and Jameson (pick-me-up/ nerve-curver) in the other. Jotted last question in the driver seat dark before I walked in here, yikes.

    We start light. Spirit animals. Dave whips out his (...hmm...) phone, says someone recently told him his animal. He scrolls through. It’s an eagle. Appropriate. “Welcome to America!” I say. It’s their second day in the U.S for tour. (Yesterday, Cleveland. They listened to Tom Waits and Azaelia Banks on the drive down south.)

    Drew meanders Philip Pullman’s daemons as possibilities. “I don’t know what mine is,” he finally says. “Something marsupial. A duck-billed platypus.”

    We’re talking Magic Eye and its dimensions. I ask, “That what you’re going to bring us tonight? The dimensions? Something spiritual?”


    “Yes, it’ll be very spirited,” Dave says. “We’ll talk to the dead for a minute. And then we’ll do some pilates.” He forgot his resistance band, but brought other cords. His guitar. The mic. He adds, “We have one small interpretive dance planned.”

    Drew’s quick. “It involves me laying on my back with one leg and one arm raised,” he says. His smile is kind and he looks relaxed: button up loose, unbuttoned. “Then Dave manipulates all my limbs with his hands. While standing on his tiptoes.”

    “It’s symbolic of the Arab Spring,” says Dave. (During the full-house show, this manifests center-stage as a serious groove out of this skinny white boy Dave. His chest-thump genuine, expressive. It’s as if he’s dancing solo in his bedroom. Shoes off, he's sometimes on tiptoes, rhythm set in his steps, followed by a sway, then he abandons his guitar, puts his arms up, circles and swims air. He looks like a peacock coming to life, shiny shirt a pattern of feathers. You can practically feel chicks coming out of their pants. Men, too.)

    Dave’s the brainchild of Glass Animals. Says the sound genesis just happened. Dave woke up one night with the music in his head and after some tinkering, got the three others, longtime friends, on board. Now he’s addicted to finding new sounds.

    Like ones in the jungle. The surreal where creatures in the night lurk. Glow of little eyes (drum click), little eyes (synth screech), little eyes (guitar howl). This is the rough landscape for ZABA. As the music suggests with lyrics like, “wrapped in life and ultra green” (from “Pools”) and “jungle slang ... twisted in the willow vines” (“Gooey”). The album art seals the jungle: fern, palm tree, monkey, and is that an ant-eater? (Paste Magazine compares Glass Animals’ sound to the likes of Alt-J, Radiohead and Animal Collective.)

    “Zaba” comes from a dreamy children’s book, The Zabajaba Jungle by William Steig. “It’s very dark,” Dave says. “Tweaked.” A little boy wakes up in the forest, and by book’s end, he finds his parents middle-jungle, in a jar. The snap-beat song “Hazey” draws parallels to book’s plot. Two characters communicate within it. “The verse is lower, an octave down from the chorus,” says Dave. “This is the kid.” Damaged by inattentive parents. Jarring. Then the chorus, “the parents,” coo, “Come back, baby, don’t you cry. Don’t you drain those big blue eyes.” (Whew, might I like to, Davey boy...)

    People are in and out of the room: Ellie, Hook, Edmund (the fourth band member, who’s the tallest mystery to me; only saw him once except onstage playing second synth), and a friend they call Big Papa. When Joe comes in, Drew asks him to check the backdrop cause it looked caught on something. Teamwork.

    I ask about “Gooey,” which was recently announced the No. 2 track shared globally on Spotify. It begins like fresh bubbles blown then kicks in with a trip-hop hip-hop beat. The sounds/programming in Glass Animals’ music follows influences such as Can (“Ege Bamyasi is amazing,” says Drew), Stockenhausen (faja of electronic experimentation), old funk and soul. Dave's a big fan of Dr. Dre and other hip hop. (Later, onstage, the band covers "Love Lockdown," by Kayne West.) Lyrically, Dave looks to oldies: Nina Simone, Otis Redding. "Gooey" starts, “Let me show you everything I know.”

    “Let me show you everything...” I quote. “Where would you begin?”

    The boys are a bit stumped. I say it could be anything since it’s “everything.” They’re going for interesting. I say it could be something you’re most interested in. Last time you went pee. Whatever.

    Dave says, “Once I got hit in the head with a firework and you could see my brain.” He points above his left ear. “If you poked it, I kicked.” He’s kidding again, the joking bloke.

    Hook comes in, announces the crew’s going to get pizza up the road, do they wanna come? Yes. (I do, too, but don't dare force myself on no pepperonis.)

    They’re super kind, thoughtful, make sure I got everything I need. I ain’t gonna keep nobody from pizza, but I say, “Well, we were going to play a game...”

    It’s like I just cracked open the little boy in both of them.

    “Noooooo,” says Dave, full of wonder. “But we love games.”

    It’s the sentence game. You know it. One person writes one line, the next builds on that one, then the next, and it shifts into a little story.

    Dave sparks, all strategy: “We could take a piece of paper from you. Take it to the pizza place. Write it while we’re there. Then give it back to you.”

    After we hug it out, say farewell for now, that’s exactly what they do. Can't tell who wrote what, but it features a bear, delphiniums, broccoli, “meatberries.”

    When Drew hands the paper over, he says it’s very nonsensical, circular.

    I say, “A lot like life, huh?”

    “Yes, it is.”

    *Learn more about Glass Animals' music on Paste Magazine, The Guardian, other music outlets. Buy their tunes or listen on Spotify and grooooooooove, baby, groove.

    Photo from Billboard.com

    Arielle Reyna Christian's picture

    About Arielle Reyna Christian

    Oh me! Just a screamer and dreamer. Poet, know it. Righter writer. Too much wordplay is good for the soul. Arts all around. Hooty hoo!

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