Meeting Glass Caves: Interview with the band
As I settle into a booth at Liverpool’s Shipping Forecast with frontman Matt, guitarist Connor and drummer Elliot of Glass Caves ahead of their show around the corner at Zanzibar, Elliot notices another band sound checking upstairs. Wanting to save face, I nonchalantly assure them that this won’t be a problem for our interview – a statement I later regretted whilst listening back to 40 minutes of a fuzzy audio recording cutting out every 5 seconds to the sound of a thunderous bass drum kick. I should apologise in advance for any misquotes – sorry lads, but my £25 Dictaphone from Argos did its best.
The four-piece from Leeds have been covering some serious ground of late – having been credited by Billboard and Next Big Sound as hotly-tipped newcomers and featuring on playlists from the likes of BBC Introducing and GQ. Though their no-frills brand of alternative rock may seem straightforward to some, it has in itself an innate sense of balance – the solid, driving rock rhythms offset by delicate, melodious guitar work that weaves around the lead vocal like an encroaching vine. When I meet Glass Caves for the first time – having just played four sell-out tour dates ahead of the release of their debut album ‘Alive’ – it’s already been a busy week.
The band doesn’t seem fazed though. They are relaxed, talkative and energetic, talking enthusiastically about Liverpool – where much of ‘Alive’ was recorded – and of Matt’s recent relocation to the city:
So, how are you finding Liverpool?
Matt: It’s rained a lot since I got here, I’m worried about that [laughs] You would’ve moved here not long before me, I think we caught the rainy season. I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually. But yeah it’s lovely, everybody seems friendly. Apart from that, it’s a good move for the band really: Liverpool seems to be happening – there’s a buzz and energy to it. Leeds is good, but here it’s a bit more underground, a lot of new music coming through.
Connor: We recorded the album here – most of it on Parr Street.
How was that?
Connor: Yeah amazing, really good. It was the first time I’ve been to Liverpool. There’s just something happening – it really does feel like there’s something happing in Liverpool. And not even just the venues that are here, there’s a buzz about the place in general.
Elliot: Leeds was the same in the 2000s – a lot of bands came out of Leeds around that time. But now the same is happening in Liverpool, new bands coming out of here are really gaining in popularity.
You’ve been known to busk around town before your shows. How did you get into that?
Matt: Well I went to uni at York, which is quite well known for its busking as a city. I thought I’d give it a go and found out it was pretty good for making a bit of cash, and I realised: ‘this could be one of the best tools for promoting the band’.
So you use it as of the promotion of your shows?
Matt: That’s what it really is. We’re trying to make a little bit of cash, but mainly just promoting the band and getting the name out there. It been one of the best things we’ve done to promote the shows.
You’re currently touring your debut album ‘Alive’, what was the writing process like for you?
Connor: We didn’t write the songs thinking we were going to make an album out of it really. We just wrote because we like to write. Then when it came to decide what would be on the album, we looked at the songs and what we’d written about and they we’re all just about us: our lives and what was happening within the time we were writing them. And that’s sort of what the album’s about: being alive and what we’ve been through.
“This guy comes up to us like ‘Mate, can I spit in Spanish over your music?’ and we’re like ‘What are you on about?’ And he’s covered in this …well it looked like mud, but what actually turned out to be faeces.”
A repeated theme in ‘Alive’ is that of pushing or pulling people away. Is this something that each of you personally experienced whilst making this album?
Connor: Again, that’s life. It’s what we’ve been through and what everybody else has been through, or is going through. It’s not like anyone can’t relate to it because everyone goes through it. I think writing helps as well. As you said about the dark theme – there’s a song on the album called ‘Match’ and, well, Matt can elaborate on that
Matt: We were sat together and were thinking ‘what should we write about?’ We weren’t sure. Then we turned off the lights. At the point at uni I was going through a bit of a rough patch – I was thinking about how people are all just striving for success and money, but it backfires on them at the end of the day. And that’s sort of what the song reminded me of.
Elliot: I think writing about the problems definitely seems to help.
Matt: Yeah, yeah definitely.
Which songs do you think really reflected what you were going through?
Elliot: Well obviously there’s ‘Match’. Then there’s ‘Let Go’ which is about drifting apart from people, and dealing with the pain of that. But I think they all do, to be fair – they’re all about our experiences and living life. And then there are happier ones like ‘Drive Home’. So you need a balance, that’s what life is like.
Connor: A lot of the songs are about what we want out of life as well. ‘This Road’ and ‘Be Together’ are about looking forward and aiming for something, wanting more out of our lives.
You’re on the road at the moment. What’s your average day like on tour?
Matt: With the busking, usually we start by setting up the stuff. Put up signs saying ‘Playing Zanzibar Thursday’, have CD’s out ready to sell and just get on it and start playing. We do mostly originals, some covers mixed in. And most of the time we busk before gigs so we’ll pack up – we’ll be knackered – and go straight into a gig.
What are some of your craziest touring experiences?
Elliot: There was a woman in Liverpool yesterday who bought a t-shirt off of us when we were busking and put it straight on. She must’ve been an alcoholic or something; she got aggressive and started bashing the window of a café. So we had a raging alcoholic wearing our t-shirt whilst trying to smash up Café Nero: bad promotion that.
Matt: There was another time we were setting up early in Leeds to get a pitch. This guy comes up to us like ‘Mate, can I spit in Spanish over your music?’ and we’re like ‘What are you on about?’ And he’s covered in this …well it looked like mud, but what actually turned out to be faeces. And he said he was helping this homeless guy out and the guy had pooed all over him, but he was like ‘Don’t worry, I got it off with this acid that McDonalds use to clean the pavement outside, I’ll be alright’. And yeah, then he spit a bit Spanish over our songs. It happens.
‘Alive’ is out on the 27th October, buy it here.