How To Be A Human Being is the sophomore album from English indie rock band Glass Animals. We asked lead vocalist/guitarist Dave Bayley to give us a little insight into each track on the album. According to Bayley, “each song on this record is a different story about a different made-up character.”
This one actually started off as a dark, slow, moody track. Quite insular. But eventually we realized there was a cheekiness to the lyrics that we hadn’t really explored, so we injected a sense of optimism into the music. The character that this track is about is a sci-fi obsessed dude who spends most of his time alone inventing strange things and writing stories about ray guns or looking for aliens on Google maps. We made him a website. But that’s what the chords and sound effects were inspired by. Old sci-fi films/series. I also got a bit obsessed with Lollywood music (music from Pakistani films), and thats where the idea for the drums came from.
The idea for this one came from a story someone told me once. They were telling me about their child, and something awful had happened to them. She was crying—but at the same time the memories that they had from that previous life made her so happy—so she was also smiling. That combination of emotions kind of made me feel like my heart was being ripped apart but also optimistic in a weird way. She had found a way to see happiness in this awful thing that had happened to her. That combination of emotions is what this song is getting at. Have a look at this character’s website, too.
“Season 2 Episode 3”
Everyone knows someone like the character from this song. If you don’t, then it’s you. But there are lots of references to different psychedelic cartoons in this one—sonically and lyrically—including Adventure Time. That show is crazy.
I heard a homeless man talking to someone once and say ‘pineapples are in my head.’ In retrospect, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually those words, but I thought it was at the time, and it kind of stuck with me. The opening of the song is meant to sound like you’re outside on the street, and you can hear a group of people chanting this song. The drum sounds are made from old bins and trash pieces of metal I found around the studio. Kind of like those street drummers use. All that is meant to set the scene for the story.
I don’t use samples very often. I only like using them if they bring something to the table, aside from just music—a context and a further depth to the actual meaning of the song. This song is mainly about mental health, and I remembered this song by The Carpenters called “Mr. Guder.” It fit the atmosphere musically, while the song “Mr. Guder” itself was about an odd character of sorts, and then on top of that, Karen Carpenter’s story added another dimension to the lyrics. if you don’t know the story, you should look it up. It’s important and very sad, and it started a general social dialogue about mental illness which is to this day still a subject matter that we avoid far too much.
This is the only track on the record that didn’t start with lyrics and vocal melody. It started with the beat and the heavy drums. I let the beat spin and wrote stream of consciousness lyrics through a vocoder for this one to try to capture a certain mentality you might have when you’re a bit fucked up. When you start speaking what seems like gibberish—but maybe that gibberish is actually quite revealing.
This is a spoken word interlude. My favorite word in the album is in this: “McFuck.” It’s something that someone’s gotten at McDonald’s. Here it is used in a sentence: “What the McFuck are you eating?”
“The Other Side Of Paradise”
This is musically my favorite track on the record, I think. The chords are quite bizarre, and there are some mad arrangement and structural things going on. And the beat was super fun to make. It’s gonna be fun live!
“Take A Slice”
This track is about someone with a lot of lust. It’s as sleazy as I’ll ever get in lyrics. But everyone has that inside them somewhere, even if it’s only a tiny bit. And it comes out from time to time. For some people, it’s out all the time.
This song is meant to open with a kind of musical/lyrical image of a place. A little guitar hook and a floating vocal line that all seems quite peaceful, but things get more and more twisted as the song goes on. The guitar starts doing weirder things, the music builds tension, and then the whole thing flips on it’s head at the end. And you find that maybe that place isn’t what you first expected it was.
As soon as I started writing it, I knew it would be the album closer. This is my favorite song on the record. And the saddest song I will ever write.