Interview: Glass Animals' Dave Bayley on Wavey Davey, his songwriting process changing, and more.

Interview: Glass Animals' Dave Bayley on Wavey Davey, his songwriting process changing, and more.

It's been four years since Glass Animals dropped their much-beloved album, 'How To Be A Human Being', and a lot has changed for them since then. After the band's drummer Joe Seaward was debilitatingly injured in a cycle crash in 2018, the band were forced to cancel the rest of their upcoming tour. This time off gave frontman Dave Bayley to work on what would become their next project, as well as pursuing producing for other artists, like 6lack and MorMor, as well as lend his vocals to a Flume collaboration.

Returning last November, the band unveiled 'Tokyo Drifting', a more hip-hop leaning track than ever before (which featured a verse from Denzel Curry), which they've since followed up with 'Your Love (Déjà Vu)', and 'Dreamland' - the title-track of the upcoming new album.

We caught up with the band's Dave Bayley late last year on a trip to Australia, to discuss his 'Wavey Davey' character, delving into his personal experiences for songwriting, and more...

COUP DE MAIN: You played your first live shows in the UK since Joe’s recovery, which was really cool to see. What was it like getting back out and doing a live show?
GLASS ANIMALS - DAVE BAYLEY: It was amazing! For Joe, he had to learn not only how to drum again, but he had to learn how to walk again. He's been doing drumming, like, five minutes a day / seven minutes / eight minutes a day, and building it back up. And it's amazing to see him do it on the stage. That's the main thing, the crowds have been incredible and so warm, and especially as these Australian crowds are some of the best shows we've ever had. We played a lot of our first shows in this part of the world, so it feels like a bit of a homecoming. It felt like kind of coming home to a hug from family. The response was amazing and really gave Joe a confidence boost he needed before we do more.

CDM: In your song ‘Tokyo Drifting’, you’re kind of narrating from the perspective of your alter ego, Wavey Davey. Do you remember when that version of yourself first came to your mind?
DAVE: There's been a kind of latent Wavey Davey in my system for a long time, I think. Since that first South By Southwest we played back in 2014 or something, I remember going on-stage and just being like, 'Most of our instruments aren't working. It's gonna sound terrible, just have a shot of tequila and have as much fun as you can.' I think that was the first sign of Wavey Davey but I never really recognised it. <laughs> Then when I was making the song I had the beat and a vocal melody came into my head. I was a little white Jewish boy with a quiff; it's gonna be really hard for me to pull off the swagger to sing over what is essentially just a big hip-hop beat. So I asked Denzel if he'd do it, he did a bit and then I still had this melody in my head, so I put it down, but I figured before I wrote any lyrics, I would have to find a way to live up to Denzel's swagger and match the beat. So I was like, 'Beyoncé, give me some help here,' and she, of course, has Sasha Fierce, her alter ego which allows her to do anything. So she inspired me to create this other character and I did it.

CDM: You’ve said that the character idea is something that we all create for ourselves - in the way our internet self can be completely different from our ‘real life’ selves. Why do you think it’s so dangerous that these two different versions of ourselves can exist?
DAVE: I just think it's dangerous for people to keep pretending that-- A lot of people pretend that everything's always okay, and people don't necessarily communicate with their good things even in the way that they used to. Even their good friends see these curated versions of their friends, and they can't see what's wrong. Everyone is just trying to look happy and sexy all the time. I've had that problem with my friends, I always see them on the internet looking joyful and doing fun things and smiling, and then you think they're fine because they look really happy. But when you actually finally speak to them for real, which happens more and more rarely as people get busier and just communicate via text and can't see each other's faces, you realise that something can be wrong and you've just completely missed it. I think that plays into a lot of mental health problems. It's a real thing at the moment.

CDM: There's a big disconnect because people are living through versions of themselves, which don't actually exist.
DAVE: Exactly. I think it really hyperbolises insecurities. You see people buying expensive cars on the internet and wearing crazy as jewellery and crazy clothes all the time and always having fun and you think you should be doing that. Real life isn't necessarily like that; real life is pretty real. You've got to do laundry and fix your boiler and unclog your toilet and loads of really unsexy and boring things.

CDM: In your last album ‘How To Be A Human Being’, you used the album as a sort of exploration in different characters. With your writing now, do you find yourself more reflecting on yourself, as opposed to other people?
DAVE: Definitely. Yeah, that's interesting. I've been doing a fair bit of writing lately and it's certainly a thing. And not necessarily just myself but also people who are close to me, and those relationships and family and things like that.
CDM: Do you find that harder to write about?
DAVE: Definitely. It's less comfortable. I don't really like-- I know I'm doing an interview, but I don't really like speaking about myself, I get quite shy and awkward and twitchy.
CDM: I always think it's a bad sign if someone enjoys talking about themselves too much because it's quite narcissistic to walk around talking about yourself all day.
DAVE: Yeah, of course, and I do still find it really weird, which kind of comes into play with the Wavey Davey thing. I kind of have to psych myself up before I do an interview. This is fine because we've met and it's cool, but when you're sitting down at a radio station with two people you've never met, I still find that quite scary.
CDM: Especially when talking about music? Which is so personal. You're sharing parts of yourself in it.
DAVE: Yeah. If you're talking about your own music it is weird. I love talking about other people's music. It's my favourite thing to do, it's what I do all day every day.

CDM: I'm sorry to ask you another question about your music, but I like how the chorus kind of slows and then builds again in the production - it’s a big exploration in the Glass Animals sound. How do you continually push yourself in the production side of your music?
DAVE: I have been pushing myself and learning new techniques. I've been collaborating a lot and helping other people out with their records and working with other producers and other writers - some of my favourite writers in the world, and I've been lucky to learn from them. My favourite writer in the world is this girl named Starrah, and we've been doing some stuff, and watching her work is so inspiring. I've learned so much from that. And we did a track with Flume, and watching him work was incredible. Just working on some more American records and watching those producers work, I just pick things up and absorb it and apply it to our music. I guess in the context of 'Tokyo Drifting' I had quite a basic beat, and then when Denzel put his vocal down, I knew I had to step up the production to another level because it was so good. I've just kind of learned to try and adapt the production around the vocal and the song and the performance a bit more. Also, finding new sounds, and always keep trying to find and use weird sounds that people haven't used before.
CDM: More owls?
DAVE: Yes! More owls. There's a sniff in 'Tokyo Drifting' that's just me sniffing into a microphone. There's the sound of a cash register going off which I recorded. And I recorded a motorcycle. <laughs> It was just trying to get that swagger into the beat. It's not necessarily a sign of what's to come, it's just what I needed to do with this track to get it up to the level of Denzel's performance.

Listen to the band's new song 'Dreamland' below...