“It’s quite hard to remember what normal feels like” – Glass Animals’ Joe Seaward speaks on why Dreamland came from a ‘dark and lonely place’
Recently, I spent some time with Joe Seaward, discussing hard-hitting topics, such as the importance of value, perspective, appreciating the positives and why Glass Animals are perhaps like an onion, as in they’re layered and may make you cry… but only sometimes.
Following the release of their third-album, Dreamland, the chart-topping indie-pop group Glass Animals are back on the road. This album is undoubtedly their most personal yet, following a tragic accident involving the drummer Joe Seaward. The man with the ‘golden tush’ and the ‘platinum bonce’ spoke about his recovery, it’s impact on the foursome and why even though this is their most personal album it doesn’t mean that this marks a shift towards emotional music going forward.
Three years ago, Joe collided with a lorry while out cycling in Dublin. His injuries were extensive, he broke his leg upon impact and the collision resulted in him becoming entangled in the truck’s trailer, suffering a complex skull fracture. Two major operations followed, one to repair a broken femur and the other was neurosurgery where his collapsed skull was reshaped. The recovery process was prolonged and the brain injury affected his speech. The wave of trauma, worry and concern over a full recovery hugely, and understandably, affected Joe and the rest of the band. Thankfully, he has made quite the remarkable recovery.
“It’s quite hard to remember what normal feels like when you’ve gone through something like that. These things sort of make you realise how lucky you are, the things you take for granted in life and I’m incredibly lucky to be here talking to you”
“Some of that trauma and some of those experiences force you to look inwards, and much of this influenced Dave’s way of thinking and ultimately what Dreamland became.” Note, Dave Bayley is the frontman of Glass Animals, a most intriguing person… in fact they all are.
“Out of something really very dark came quite amazing things actually”, intones Joe, “and I’d like to think that’s sort of what you have to do, when you get a curveball like that, you have to try and find the positives. I feel like we did that”
This outlook and insight manages to segue seemingly effortlessly into each of the songs that populate Dreamland, without discounting for a moment the trauma that is irrevocably imbued deeply within it.
Some of the words Joe kept returning to were ‘value’ and ‘perspective’, and it's clearly evident in the finished article.
Dreamland encapsulates a series of feelings, emotional moments, joy, pain and even deigns to understand the mind states of others, most notably in Space Ghost Coast to Coast, wherein Dave muses the thought process of a childhood friend and what had gone so dramatically wrong for him to go into school armed with a gun.
If you look deeper beneath the superfluous technicolour pop music elements there’s something more. It’s an exposure, rhythmical sharing of where Glass Animals are not just individually but as a collective. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s easy to dismiss or to listen unconsciously, however, were you to pause for a moment and absorb what is being said, by unpicking the layers within there’s a depth here that the band rarely delve to, barring the harrowing loss of Agnes, and much of this is by choice. But, it’s impacting to hear them speak of how they’re not ‘ok’ but it can, and hopefully will, be ok in the end. In short… the personal insight is endearing, meaningful, without any hint of schmaltz or an element of maudlin.
“This record came from really quite a dark and lonely place, and it’s one that made it very hard for us, for me also, to sort of look into the future. No one really knew what was going to happen”
“We released the album during the pandemic and it kind of hit me that the rest of the world was sort of going through, not necessarily, the same thing. But a similar sort of process whereby no one really… It was sort of difficult to see where the ‘end’ would be.”
“It sort of came from that kind of place, where people were feeling similar kinds of things and seemed to sort of resonate with people… there was a sense that people could understand where these sentiments were coming from”
As for more autobiographical music, “I’m not sure, we’re not really thinking about new music just yet. We’re sort of fully ensconced in the Dreamland world”, I guess now it’s time we get to dream together.
Glass Animals will be performing at Sheffield’s 02 Academy on 21 November.
Dreamland by Glass Animals is out now on all streaming platforms.