Text: Susanne van Hooft
Photos: Glass Caves
The best festival this year was probably the one Glass Caved headlined, after The Strokes and Elton John played earlier on that day. When Glass Caves played you might have seen inflatable giraffes in the air and there’s a good chance you saw singer Matt sliding on the floor while singing. You missed this legendary show? Unfortunately we did too, and so did Glass Caves. But it happened in our imagination during the interview CHAOS had with Glass Caves members Matt Hallas and Elliot Fletcher nevertheless. Only a few weeks ago Glass Caves released their EP A Spin Around The Sun, with five catchy indie rock songs. CHAOS had a good chat with them via Zoom.
How was it, to release A Spin Around The Sun during COVID-times?
Matt: Of course there’s a draw to this situation. Typically, when we release music we go and play lots of shows and play the songs live. But as a piece of art, I am really proud of it.
Elliot: I agree. Although the best way to get a reaction is when you play a song live because you see the reactions of people and obviously you don’t get that this time. But online has been fantastic, the streaming has been a lot more than what it would have been normally. We did some live streams and these are always a little bit awkward because you can’t tell what everyone is thinking. You see things pop up at the side and you think it must be alright. I get more nervous for that then playing to a thousand people because it is weirder on the internet.
Matt: I think it’s also hard cause you don’t have the ambience of the room. People aren’t screaming. There is no energy, it is just purely sound. Live performances can sound terrible if they are mixed incorrectly. So that is the worry I guess, you can sound terrible with live streams and you can’t even change it. You just hope for the best.
Elliot: The EP is a bit about helping each other through tough times. Even if it’s not been great for everybody, the best bit is about people helping each other through. If I would be going for Miss World that would be my answer.
Matt: Elliot, did you just say you were going to apply for Miss World!?
Well, there certainly is a good vibe in this Zoom room. Let’s explore the phases of making music, like writing songs, recording, playing live. Which one of the phases do you prefer?
Matt: The live phase is the easiest, it’s just a matter of trying to play them well. I think we do that quite well, to be honest. Sometimes better than the track, I’ve been told. The harder part is making the songs.
Elliot: Playing live is the most fun; you get the interaction with the audience. The writing is different for each song: some songs come together really quickly, others took months, some of them even up to a year. Recording them was pretty fun. But we’re missing the live shows now more than ever. It feels that we almost write songs to get people to the gigs.
You told us you enjoyed the recordings. Please, fill us in with some details.
Elliot: The recordings were at Sugarhouse, which is just outside Manchester. We had two producers with whom we’ve done previous releases. It was satisfying to get those songs down, because you write them and you imagine what you want them to sound like and that becomes reality. It’s really exciting.
Matt: Writing a song is amazing once you’ve started, but finding a starting point is hard. But then, recording; I always love recording. Because you can make a song sound ten times better. You get professional recorded layers on it and you get input from producers.
What do you observe in the musical industry in the UK in these weird COVID-19 times?
Matt: There are different tears. The live sector in the UK has been destroyed because of COVID, for no one could play any gigs, so there’s no revenue. And there are the smaller bands who don’t have any financial support. If they don’t play gigs and if they don’t sell merchandise than they’re struggling. So these bands stop playing for now. That impact is quite huge. But the label that we’re onto, Scruff of the Neck, is releasing a lot of music and people are streaming a lot. People still buy, so I think they are doing okay. In the digital world music is okay, in the real world it’s struggling a lot.
How is it for you personally?
Matt: We have a job next to it. We’re helped out financially but not enough to live from the music, not at this point.
You would probably have played festivals this summer. So, could you describe the festival you would have played and especially what was the magic moment of this show. I’ll picture the start: it is July and it is hot. The sun is burning and lots of people are in front of the stage…
Elliot: There would be inflatable , I don’t know, giraffes flying around, and yeah, beer going in the air. Matt: Elliot is topless on drums, Eddy (Clayton) is doing a hand stand on his synth, I’m just sliding on the floor singing. That is probably what would happen.
Elliot: I think when we will come back and do shows and festivals again next year the crowd will give a little more. So, this imagination would become a reality then.
And you were obviously headlining the festival. Who were the other bands that had played before you?
Elliot: I think The Strokes would have lined up just underneath the headline.
Matt: I heard Alabama Shakes were playing as well. And I think Jack White might open up because he is a pretty good musician.
Elliot: And in the daylight there would be a legend like Paul Simon, at four o’clock in the afternoon.
Matt: I heard Phill Collins might be playing as well actually. It’s going to be a great festival I’m looking forward to it.
What a festival! And what is the favourite instrument you always take with you?
Matt: I don’t play guitar that much but we used to have a thing called Diddley Bow. It was a leg from an old bed with a string out it and a pick and you could use a slider. We used it in a lot of tracks. That will be the one. Probably not live though we never used it live.
Elliot: Maybe in 2021.
Matt: In 21 the bow is everywhere.
When do you expect to play a normal concert again?
Elliot: We will play as soon as we can. We’ve got a tour booked for March. As you can tell we’re dying to get back and play some gigs. People need gigs and interaction. People don’t want to be two meters from each other.
Do you really believe there will be mosh pits next year again?
Matt: You try and stop them! It might be a while. No way that we will have seated concerts for ever. No way!
E: You’re such an optimist.
M: There would be a revolution if otherwise.