Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley On The Band’s Surprise Hit, ‘Heat Waves,’ Returning To The Stage And More

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OKEECHOBEE, FL – MARCH 08: Dave Bayley of Glass Animals performs onstage during day four at … [+] Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival at Sunshine Grove on March 8, 2020 in Okeechobee, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images) Getty Images Glass Animals’ frontman Dave Bayley didn’t have any idea what […]

Glass Animals’ frontman Dave Bayley didn’t have any idea what to expect when the U.K. band released their newest album, Dreamland, in the middle of the COVID pandemic last year.

In fact, if he expected anything at all, it was that the album had little chance of success. “I remember having conversations with people — friends, family, managers — and they were just like, ‘Look, just write this record off. Just release it, put it out, get it done, and then start writing your next one because it’s doomed,'” Bayley recalls.

Yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the next album. The album spawned the band’s biggest hit ever, “Heat Waves,” which has hit the top 10 on the U.S. Alternative and Rock charts, as well as reached the top 10 in several countries.

I spoke with Bayley about the unexpected success of the song, his excitement about returning to the stage, his love of the Beach Boys and his new dog among other things.

Steve Baltin: You are doing Life Is Beautiful in Vegas. Have you ever done it before?

Dave Bayley: Yes, it was the hottest day of my life. It’s the only time I’ve ever worn shorts on stage because it was just too hot. I’m probably not gonna do that again but it was so hot and so humid as well. I had an ice bucket next to the stage and just as soon as we walked off all four of us just stuck our heads in this bucket of ice.

Baltin: But this year at least you should be on at night and it should be much cooler.

Bayley: Oh my god, yeah. That was the main problem was the sun was right on the stage. I think it was two in the afternoon and the sun was coming right down. And I remember we had that festival and not too long after we had Austin City Limits and that was equally hot where the rubber of my shoes was starting to melt onto the stage. It was incredible.

Baltin: How do all these memories of heat tie into a song called “Heat Waves”?

Bayley: (Laughs) It’s about something completely and utterly opposite than festival life.

Baltin: Fair enough. But as you think of doing the song and coming back onstage does it become a little surreal?

Bayley: So much so, especially considering we’ve never played “Heat Waves” live. We tested it out at a tiny little show over a year ago basically and that’s it. I think we’ve played it once. So it’s so strange thinking that. Normally you release your album, you release a song and you get a little bit of positive feedback when you’re playing live. People sing it back to you, people look like they’re enjoying themselves hopefully. We’ve missed that so much.

Baltin: Yeah, you missed those baby steps of fans learning the song. So now when you get to Life Is Beautiful you’ll have 50,000 fans singing it back to you.

Bayley: I might just get onstage and weep with joy. It’s quite full on. I also have this theory that everyone’s been locked in for so long everyone’s gonna go too hard on the first day of the festival. None of us can hold our drink anymore as we say in England. None of us remember how to pace ourselves. so we’re just gonna obliterate ourselves on the first night of the festival and the rest no one’s gonna turn up. Everyone’s gonna realize how nice lockdown was.

Baltin: Has COVID and the time off caused you to reexamine how you do things?

Bayley: We have not had a holiday. It’s been such a roller coaster to release an album in the pandemic. I’m not rushing to do it again if I’m honest. It was a lot of work having to replace touring and find ways to interact with people and make it feel like your baby, which is the album, can survive and have a chance out there. But I’m very, very ready to get back out there.

Baltin: Given it was so difficult how gratifying has the success of “Heat Waves” been?

Bayley: I remember having conversations with people — friends, family, managers — and they were just like, “Look, just write this record off. Just release it, put it out, get it done, and then start writing your next one because it’s doomed.” And going from that to this, I can’t explain how that feels. The thing that really broke me is there’s this thing called the Triple J Hottest 100 in Australia and they do a countdown live on the radio of the best 100 songs of the year. They just count down and it’s like a national holiday. Everyone’s got portable speakers sitting on the beach having a bit of a party, they’re a bit less locked down over there. But anyway it got to the point where they’re playing “Heat Waves” and they announced it. It was the top song of this whole countdown and just to see the reactions, to see people dancing and smiling and seeing people have fun to the song for the first time, like six months after the release of the album, I did cry. I realized how much we were missing at that point.

Baltin: Where did you see the countdown?

Bayley: Just video online, Instagram stories, thousands of videos of people cause they all film themselves waiting around for the top three they announce. And they announce the top one first. Just seeing those videos, everyone exploding and everyone singing it as it was playing on the radio the whole way around Australia just absolutely blew my mind.

Baltin: Are you able to step back now and understand why “Heat Waves” has become the global hit it has?

Bayley: I’ve thought about it a bit. I think the one thing that seems to line up for me is this whole album we just did, Dreamland, comes from nostalgia. It’s about growing up, about my first memory up until now. And it happened that way because our drummer had this terrible accident and we didn’t know if he was gonna walk or talk again. He made this miraculous recovery where he’s basically good as new. And that position, similar to the pandemic, you don’t have anything to look forward to. I was in the hospital, we cancelled all of our touring going forward and I’m sitting in the hospital waiting for news. And because you’re not making new memories you’re just digging up the old ones. And I basically found all of my friends were doing the same when they were locked down. So there was this funny parallel between the way I was feeling writing this album and the way I started to see my friends feel again when the pandemic hit and everyone was locked down over here. And I think that’s it. You had the song is about missing people, about missing someone in particular actually, and not being able to do anything about it, it just being bigger than you, not being able to just go out and see that person. And I think everyone’s just feeling that a little bit.

Baltin: Also songs sometimes become prophetic. Do you see that with the stuff on Dreamland?

Bayley: Absolutely, yeah, hugely. But I do think it comes down to the parallels between those two situations. And maybe also I think the definition of a song changes. Everyone hears a song through their own ears and own circumstances, whatever they’re feeling at the moment. And it kind of goes through their brain, filters in and takes on this personal meaning to them. That’s why when I listen to a Beach Boys song or something it feels personal to me, but really he was probably writing about his dog or something. Everyone applies things to their current circumstance I think. I’ve definitely sat back and applied Dreamland to the current circumstances. At the same time, the circumstances when it was written and the pandemic uncannily similar.

Baltin: Is there one Beach Boys song that really speaks to you?

Bayley: Pet Sounds is the record that sort of followed me around. It must be my dad’s favorite record cause he always had it lying around. And my first experience with it I was too young to really listen to lyrics at that point. I was listening to kids’ songs and singing nursery rhymes and stuff. But there’s a kind of quality to his vocal lines, vocal melodies, that kind of nursery rhyme like melodies to them. And I think that’s what drew me in. And the sounds, as a kid those sounds are really playful. It’s brilliant. And the song that’s really haunted me is “God Only Knows” because that just keeps taking on new meanings as you go through life. I often ask people if the world was going to end what three songs would you listen to. I change my three songs all the time, but “God Only Knows” is on there most often.

Baltin: That is a great question. So what are your other two right now?

Bayley: It does depend on my mood. Sometimes I’m feeling a bit like if the world is going to end you might as well party, so play “Drunk In Love” and just straight three Beyonce tracks or something. But right now I’m gonna say Otis Redding “(Sitting On The) Dock Of The Bay,” the Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” and “God Only Knows.”

Baltin: How does “God Only Knows” pertain to your life today?

Bayley: This is gonna sound ridiculous, but I have a new puppy and I never thought I could love an animal this much. I haven’t had too many pets in my life and now I’ve got this puppy. And I sing this song to it sometimes.

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