They’re badass outlaws, they wear ponchos and have tattoos,” says softly spoken Dave Bayley. “Unicorns are pretty gangster.” Welcome to the warped world of Glass Animals. Everything about the Oxford quartet’s psychedelic indie – from the song titles (‘Cocoa Hooves’, ‘Golden Antlers’) to their previous band names (Afro Pony, Alligator Puffin Chicken Go Yeh Woo) – is like stumbling into a lost Mighty Boosh episode.
We’re sat today in The Shed, a hut in the woods in Oxfordshire. Filled with guitars and blankets and pillows, it’s like a padded room for boho loons; somewhere you’d imagine British Sea Power noodling away – not the likes of super-producer Paul Epworth, winner of Oscars and Grammys, who has signed the band to his new label, Wolf Tone.
“He soundtracked our early years,” says drummer Joe Seaward. “The Rakes, Bloc Party… that’s how we bonded as a group. We’d go and watch those bands at The Zodiac in Oxford. So he was partly responsible for ‘us’. We told him. He looked pleased.”
Hippy, trippy Dave, Joe, Drew Macfarlane and Edmund Irwin Singer met aged 14 and, in 2010, decided to set up a MySpace. Four days later the buzz had begun – but, determined to finish their degrees, they put music on hold and waited two years before releasing the ‘Leaflings’ EP through XL imprint Kaya Kaya. While Joe admits the limbo period was “frustrating”, Glass Animals’ time on hold helped hone their sound.
“I spent so much of my life thinking about brains and bodies,” says frontman Dave, who, thanks to his neuroscience degree, spent many hours with psychiatric patients. “It comes though in some of the lyrics. I met someone who punched a singer with several Number One songs in the face at a book signing,” he continues, “and other people who had really dark stories.”
Before they start work on their debut album, their first Wolf Tone release will be the single ‘Black Mambo’/‘Exxus’. It’s a story about a freakish, dancing mole. “Ahh, it’s all nuts,” says Dave, head in his hands, distressed by his own creation. Let the madness begin.
NEED TO KNOW
For Fans Of: Wild Beasts, Alt-J
Buy It Now: The single ‘Black Mambo’/‘Exxus’ is out on July 1
See Them Live: They play Melt! festival in Germany (July 18) and OFF Festival in Poland (August 2)
On NME.COM: Watch ‘Exxus’ and hear an exclusive remix
Believe It Or Not: Dave was initially so nervous about singing that he recorded many of the band’s early tracks under a duvet. “I could only do it with Drew in the room, blanket over head, facing away, sock over mic,” he says.