11 Jul 2020

Musician draws on friend's near-fatal accident for Glass Animals' Dreamland

From Music 101, 2:15 pm on 11 July 2020

The origins of Dreamland, the new Glass Animals' album, came to frontman Dave Bayley while his best friend was fighting for his life in hospital.

Dave Bayley of the band Glass Animals performs at the 2017 Panorama Music Festival on Randall's Island in New York on July 30, 2017. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

Dave Bayley of Glass Animals performing in New York in 2017. Photo: AFP

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Glass Animals' drummer Joe Seaward had been hit by a truck while riding his bike in Dublin. He suffered serious injuries to his brain and there were doubts he would survive.

Dave told Music 101 the accident informed the sound of Dreamland because for two weeks he was feeling nervous and worried at the hospital, he didn't want to think about the future so  his thoughts turned to the past.

"I started digging up old memories and you're in a weird dream state while you're in hospital under those bright, crazy clinical lights and I just went back into the depths of my brain and started pulling up this old stuff.

"Everyone tries to bury these old memories and I started to uncover them in my head and I guess that slowly started to seep out as lyrics."

Glass Animals

Glass Animals Photo: Supplied

It was not case of flicking a switch to write the music, rather it came about by accident.

Dave, a former medical student, had planned to specialise in brain injury so he knew immediately how serious his friend's accident was.

He had to try and remain optimistic around Joe's parents and close friends but he knew his chances of survival would be 50-50 and there was only a tiny chance of him recovering fully. "It was literally a miracle," he said of his friend's return to health.

Dave said he became confident Joe would survive after he played him one of their favourite songs: 'Zombie', by Fela Kuti. "Every single show we've ever done, headline show, we've played that song after we've finished when we walk off stage.

"He's a drummer and there's a lot of  amazing drumming in that song ... something in me said it was the right one. I played it and he started tapping his feet. I said I can see he's still going to be able to drum, he's going to be all right, this is it."

English band Glass Animals perform live on stage on the second day of Reading Festival, Reading on August 26, 2017.

Drummer Joe Seaward performing with Glass Animals at the Reading Festival in 2017. Photo: AFP

Dave's mother's musical favourites - Nina Simone, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Otis Redding - form the backbone of the record, he said. Dr Dre, the Strokes and Radiohead were among others who influenced the sound. "It's a nice fusion of everything."

Music details

Artist: Glass Animals
Songs: Dreamland, Heatwave
Composer: Glass Animals
Album: Dreamland
Label: Polydor

Artist: Fela Kuti
Song: Zombie
Composer: Kuti
Album: Zombie
Label: Creole Records