Kids in Glass Houses, as their names suggests are obviously not the sort of band that you’d expect to be particularly forthcoming or vitriolic on any topic. Not least because they appear to be a band focussed on commercial success. Offence might alienate paying punters… but then as Elvis says ‘accidents will happen’.
Since 2003 the Cardiff five piece have released two albums, changed members and come through it all with a major label deal, a healthy touring schedule and close horizons. They look good, smell fresh, and are probably polite even when members of the press aren’t around.
So what’s the grand plan? How will they make this Rock & Roll thing work for a bunch of Welsh lads trying to sell a fluid concept album (In Gold Blood) to a wet-behind-the- ears fan base? Can they make it look easy?
Shay (Andrew "Shay" Sheehy) the bassist for Kids in Glass Houses seems to think so;
Shay: It’s not a concept album in a strictest sense of the word. In some ways it just made it easier for us to write the album if we had a story in the back of our minds and we sort of worked from that. It gave us a lease on life (and when writing the album) gave us more of story which allowed a more cinematic and grander feel.
Trebuchet: How Cardiff is this album?
I think this album is a lot less Cardiff than our previous albums, it’s a gradual process. Our previous albums have been a lot about gossip and small town mentalities. Whereas now, we think more about other things as we’ve travelled around a bit and use that more.
We still live in Cardiff but we’ve been fortunate to play shows in places like Japan, Australia and all round Europe, so that feeds back into our world view. The response has been great and I mean touring with A Simple Plan around Europe was amazing.
Tell me about In Gold Blood.
With the previous two records we recorded them as fast as we could. We went into the studio with everything worked out so that it was just a matter of pressing ‘record’ basically. That was for a couple of reasons but that it meant we didn’t spend too much money was definitely a factor (laughs).
We had found a great studio in Brussels that had a lot of great gear in it and so many different (musical) places to go with the equipment that had there. We gave ourselves a lot longer, about three weeks to really get into it and we lock ourselves away.
I mean, not a great deal goes on in Brussels so we didn’t really feel the need to go out much, especially when you’ve got an album to record. We were all in room giving it everything for 3 weeks. We didn’t have a lot prepared before so we used the time to trial things and play with how the album got put it together .
Tell me about of the more inspirational moments during the recording process?
There was a song called ‘Fire’…
Isn’t that a Jimi Hendrix song?
(laughs) Ha ha yeah our ‘moment’ was a cover. No, We went into the studio with just a vocal line and we experimented with delayed drums, and see what we could do with it and just have fun with it.
So we tried variations etc. and it didn’t really come together until this one night; we’d all had a few beers and it was getting late, we turned the lights down low, lit candles and just jammed it out a few times. It seemed okay but then went into the control room and heard it back. It was like ‘wow’ that sounds right. From there it felt that it clicked properly for us.
Did you record a lot of the album like that, all live, together in a room or was it more segmented?
Yeah yeah, that was the beauty of it that we were able to write a lot of it when we were feeling it. I mean a lot of the record came out whether something felt right at the time. Obviously we went back and did overdubs and cleaned things up here and there and thickened up the guitar parts.
Did you double track the bass?
Not so much. With our band there is always something going on between the guitars and the vocals so I usually take a more of a supporting role and let the song shine through a bit more. That said there are a few serious bass lines on the new record that I’m very pleased with.
Where there any tracks on the album that you struggled with?
We didn’t struggle with the album as a whole but (in places) it did feel like a bit of a struggle because we all cared so much about it that we struggled with each other.
A lot of it was like ‘Ha told you so’ in a friendly way. We all had so many ideas with each of the songs that we had enough time to play with those ideas. It was good to be in a position to be able to say to each other ‘I tell you what how about you mess around with it and see what happens’. Whereas before we’d never been able to have that before it was more like ‘get it done and the back on the road’.
That said we did have to finish our music at some point. I mean you can never critique your stuff too much because otherwise you’ll never finish it. To some extent at some point you have to let it go and see that each album as a point in your life. I mean there are things on the first album that I’d do differently now but I see it that for that time it was something that almost had to happen in a way.
In Gold Blood? The album title; is it a simple pun, a record sales objective or something more specific?
Well I’d have to say that is a simple pun (laughs). When we were coming up with the concept it doesn’t necessary mean anything but it sort of tied it together. It had a cinematic feel that we were going for, though it doesn’t have massive relevance, it conveys that depth that we were after.
When you were writing the album what were your reference points?
We were listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen his music meant a lot of us, still does. They way he works in the studio is amazing. He’s so stuck in his ways and what he wants to achieve. That was a definite reference for us.
Not in this world? The single has a huge layered sound. Is this a taste of things to come as a band beyond In Cold Blood?
Yes I’d say so. I think that this is a very accurate representation of where we are at the moment, as people and what we’re into.
The other albums have worn on us to some extent. After a while they sound too processed and too fake and a bit too much like everything else. That was never us, we were always the band to just get into a room and just play it out really. So it was curious for us to think about how and why it (the band and the recording) had become that at the end of the process. It made us wonder; what happened in the way of recording. So this record is a much better representation of us as a proper band if that makes sense.
Tell me about the video.
That was good fun. It tied into the post-apocalyptic feel of the album and we just had a good time cruising around in a landrover.
The genre of KIGH is pop music and while you’re singing from the heart some people might say that mixing pop and punk is pretty redundant musically. How would you respond to that?
We’re just a band that got together and wrote some songs that we enjoy playing, bought a van for £600 pounds and toured around in it till it broke. We were a band for three years before we got signed and we haven’t gone about it in an x-factor type of way. We’ve had a lot of support from magazine and such but I don’t see it as uncredible in any way. We just like writing the songs we like to write and playing the songs we like to play.
The last album had a debut with one of the girls from Saturdays and you can knock that all you like but we always wanted to do a duet with a female singer so it was like ‘why not’.
We’re not trying to melt people’s faces or confuse anyone we’re just trying to write songs that are good songs, that feel like the timeless songs we grew up with and are still being played on the radio today.
How about the question of being relevant?
I don’t know what is ‘relevant’ and what is defined as being ‘not relevant’. I mean we write the things we like so that’s relevant to us. We’re doing what feels right to us. We don’t consider whether we are relevant or are even trying to stay relevant. I don’t think you can think too much about it really.
As a band we’ve done so much and been to so many places and we still have that fire to do more. We’d love to play Wembley. Despite it sounding pretty arrogant or whatever, we’d love to have that level of success but even if it never happens we just love doing what we’re doing really.
What are your musical Guilty Pleasures?
Meat Loaf. The other guys are all into Bruce Sprinsteen but I can’t really go past Meat Loaf.
What would you cover?
'Two out of three Ain’t bad'. It has so much soul. The instrumentation is perfect and it was all recorded live. They put everything into it and the kitchen sink.
No albums are created in a vacuum, were you aware that this albums sounds that different to things at the moment?
We did see the album as being a new identity for us but we weren’t that reactive to other albums either by us or other bands .
We were watching a lot of the news and I think that that came out in the album. I’m 25 now and I can’t remember a time being as bad as this. The hopelessness that goes in the world somehow starts to get reflected in your own life. I think was something that fed into how and why we started out on the record in a way that we’ve never done before. Less Cardiff I suppose (laughs).
Do you write collaboratively?
Yes. We do both though. Sometimes people go away and come back with ideas and other times we’ll put things together in a room. There are a whole bunch of ways.
Do you think we can expect a sort of Kid A album from KIGH?
No I don’t think so. I’ll need a few more bass lessons before we’d try anything like that. As a band we’re more into the three minutes of magic than anything else. We make to make the music that people can really connect to and can really grasp onto. I don’t personally have the coolest or out-there musical taste or anything. I mean my favourite band’s the Stereophonics!
Ah a local band! Are they mates of yours?
I’ve met them a few times and we’ve played with them a couple of times but as much as I’d like to I couldn’t send them a text or anything. Well I could but I wouldn’t get a text back.
They’ve lovely boys though and are a really great band. I think they were the first band I saw, back in the day, and the band that really inspired me to give it a go.
What they achieved is really amazing and I hope that we manage to mean as much to people as they do.
Thank you Shay.
Thanks and see you after the show.
Interviewed 2011. Photos by Carl Byron Batson.