Our 2021 Annual Report continues with a wrap-up interview with Glass Animals. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2021. You can find it all in one place here.
While attending San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival over Halloween weekend this year, I witnessed a full circle moment with Glass Animals: six years prior, on the Sutro stage, I had seen this band play songs from their tropical-tinged debut Zaba to a decently large crowd for a 3:00 p.m. set. This was by no means their first big festival, but frontman Dave Bayley fondly remembers it as “the biggest crowd we’d ever had at that point.”
Fast forward to late October of this year, where Glass Animals took the mainstage before headliners The Strokes and played to a crowd that was easily eight times larger than their 2015 set. It was indeed a victory lap for the British quartet, and Bayley’s earnest bewilderment at the sheer size of the audience was a joy to watch.
What’s more, is that this victory lap took place in the peak of “Heat Waves’” record run to the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, weeks before a major Grammy nomination, and in the midst of the biggest surge in popularity that the band has ever experienced.
All the while, Bayley remains extremely humbled and grateful for the support. “I was pretty sure this album was going to be a bit of a rubbish one, that it was just going to be a fart in the wind in the noise of the pandemic,” he says about the success of “Heat Waves” and their third studio album, Dreamland. “Everyone was listening to the records they grew up with, and I didn’t really see our album fitting into that. It’s absolutely bonkers.”
Thinking back to their origins and first album, there’s been a notable shift in the band’s style and content: where Zaba emphasized atmosphere and environment, Dreamland marked the first time Bayley was writing from a personal, autobiographical perspective.
“Heat Waves” and fellow Dreamland highlight “Tangerine” feature a sense of longing and desire that feels much more vulnerable and resonant, and it’s fitting that so many fans connected deeply with that longing throughout the Pandemic. And regardless of how many times you may have heard it on the radio, “Heat Waves’” undeniably catchy hook and style makes it one of the best pop hits of 2021.
Glass Animals don’t plan on stopping any time soon — their recent single “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance)” is making its way up the charts (and made our own Top Songs list), prolonging Dreamland’s extensive promotion cycle and allowing the band to continue its global dominance. Throughout 2022, they’ll tour North America, Europe, Australia, and play numerous festivals — but this time, they’re bonafide headliners.
Before their show in Edinburgh and one day before their Grammy nomination, Consequence chatted with Bayley about their 2021 triumphs, their plans for the future, and much more.
2021 has definitely been huge for Glass Animals — do you find yourself able to reflect on all the successes and triumphs of this year?
It’s quite hard to, because it seems when I start to think about how much has happened, it makes my head want to explode, in a good way, also in kind of a crazy way. It’s just completely unexpected and so much has happened to be honest, it’s really hard to wrap your head around. I think I’ll sit down at the end, kind of around New Years’ time, after Christmas — that tends to be when everything slows down for a second because the music industry is on holiday — so I’ll hunker down with my dog next to a fire and that’s when it will sink in, how much has actually happened.
Going back to 2020’s Dreamland, the lyrics on the album are so autobiographical. Does it feel rewarding having this album being celebrated in the way that it is, with so much vulnerability and personal material in it?
It certainly does mean all that much more that it’s done okay. It would have been quite awful if I had written this really passionate album and everyone unanimously hated it and hated me because of it, but I half expected that, that’s the thing. I was really shy going into it and really nervous about sharing these songs, and the response… it makes me kind of want to tear up when I think about it, especially considering there was absolutely no touring.
I was pretty sure this album was going to be a bit of a rubbish one, that it was just going to be a fart in the wind in the noise of the pandemic, everyone was listening to the records they grew up with, they were listening to the classics, and I didn’t really see our album fitting into that. It’s absolutely bonkers.