After forming in 2013, Dublin-based 5 piece Glassgears have just signed to an American based label, Preston Bevrly Group. We caught up with them before they head off on their adventure with their new label and a new sound;
Hey guys! First off, congrats on your recent signing – tell us how that came about?
Ray: Thanks so much! It’s a huge deal for us, and really hasn’t even sunk in yet, but we are insanely excited and grateful for our label partnering with us and giving us this opportunity. Ape, our A&R manager was in touch with me nearly ten years ago and was interested in the solo stuff I was doing back then, but playing solo acoustic shows wasn’t what I really wanted to do. About a year ago we got back in touch with each other and I showed him what Glassgears were heading towards. It really just all took off from there!
Sarah: Thank you! Yes we’re very excited about it. I guess we have Ray to thank for that! Ape, our label manager came across Ray’s old YouTube channel where she used to upload herself singing and playing guitar. He was impressed with her and contacted her about working together, I’m not so sure what happened then but now here we are all these years later after Ray contacted him about Glassgears.
Do you feel you would have gotten the same opportunity with an Irish company, given the time?
Luke: I am sure that with slightly different circumstances we could have been signed with an Irish label. We have played many shows in pretty much all small to medium sized venues in Dublin over the past couple of years, got some solid media coverage, I’d say it would have been natural that soon enough there would be some interest from the local labels this way or another. Not sure how that would work out then, as obviously Los Angeles / USA would not be the primary market for an Irish label.
Ray: I think through our experience the Irish music scene is very small, just like the country, and subsequently the opportunities for artists to be signed. There just aren’t as many companies to pair with, especially as a first signing. The support from friends and fans however, is anything but tiny.
How are you feeling about traveling to LA? Have any of you been there before?
Ray: We’re all super pumped for the trip! It’s actually really overwhelming in the best possible way. I haven’t been personally but I think Jonny may have been?
Sarah: I’ve never been before, all I’ve heard are the stories and I just can’t wait to experience it. We feel very excited and lucky to have been given this opportunity! I can’t wait to check out the music scene and to visit all my favourite film sets and locations.
Claire: I am beyond excited, it’s crazy to think that we’ve gotten an opportunity like this. To be honest, it hasn’t hit me yet and it probably won’t until we get off the plane. It’s one to tick off the bucket list anyway. It’ll be my first time in the states and I’m so happy to be going with the band, they are honestly some of the most amazing people I’ve gotten to know.
Jonny: I’ve been for three days last year and it’s a crazy place. Very daunting place too, due to the shear size of the city but I loved my time there and can’t wait to head back. If you’re looking for Hippie Mecca you’ll find it in Venice Beach!
Is there anything you’ve learnt from the Irish alternative scene that you will bring with you to America?
Luke: We were really lucky to play for the great audiences here and definitely have learnt how to interact with people, this is always the most challenging exercise; we have learnt how to build a social media presence, this is something very unique here, there are many random people, not necessarily fans of our band in particular, reacting to our Twitter, Instagram or Facebook posts and that is really nice to see it. Dublin is small enough and there are many fantastic talents here playing every night, everywhere – we definitely had to learn how to stand out and be visible.
Ray: I think the Irish musicians attitude is very punk-rock, and the bands that we have played with in Ireland have shown us that too. There aren’t overinflated egos and artists and bands are all really warm and easy to approach. Musically, there’s a wealth of talent on this tiny Island from what we have seen gigging over the last few years. We will definitely try and bring that humble yet confident Irish attitude with us to LA.
Jonny: We’re just going to go over and perform to the best of our abilities. We’ve played lots of shows with some great Irish bands and learnt a thing or two about stage presence, which we’re always trying to improve. I think it’ll work both ways and you never stop learning. What we learn in America we’ll bring back to Ireland for sure.
You’ve said that your sound is going through a bit of a change while you’re writing for the new album – what sort of sound can we expect in the future?
Luke: I tend to say to everyone, I don’t really know! It is a live, complex organism, this weird collective of five individuals, things change rapidly week to week as we experiment with ideas and new instruments. There will be definitely a lot of powerful guitars, low end bass and heavy drums, along with melodic choruses and a strong presence of electronic instruments. I think it is safe to say you can expect an intriguing mix of all of the above.
Ray: Yes definitely. We used to play messy and aggressive punk rock, and we’ve really left that behind us completely now. At the moment we are just finishing off the last few songs of a full new set and these songs are much more melodic. There’s more emphasis on structure and dynamics for sure, while still trying to maintain the same levels of energy. I guess you could call it dreary pop with some heavy guitar bits, and very real lyrics.
Sarah: As we’ve added more instruments.. and members!.. our songs have definitely changed in complexity and in length that’s for sure. We went from playing fast pace 2 minute songs to writing 4-6 minute songs to allow for all these new changes, and while we are writing, we’ve taken the time to sit down with each individual song and to think about how to develop it while thinking about things like structure, dynamics, vocal harmonies, texture, harmony, rhythmic development and all these other important factors that compliment great songs. So in a nutshell I’d say people can expect a more complex and thought out sound.
Jonny: We’re working a lot on our dynamics. Going from loud and heavy to quiet and soft, which is in stark contrast to our old constantly loud and constantly fast punk sound. I also feel that the more we play and practice as a band, the better we’re becoming at our individual instruments. We bring out the best in each other so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more technique in our playing with each new song.
You’ve added two new members to the group since signing – how are Sarah and Claire finding working with you all?!
Ray: Well I don’t wanna speak on their behalf, but for me and I’m sure the guys will agree, they’ve been exactly what we needed at exactly the right time. Claire brought in the synth and electronic vibes, and that’s the main factor that I think has really changed our sound and pushed it in a whole new direction.
Sarah: Oh it’s been so much fun! As I’ve mostly been producing and composing music almost entirely on my own over the years, so it’s been so rewarding writing music with real people again! It’s a very productive feeling getting together with like minded people and writing music together that we all enjoy and contribute to in our own ways and hearing it all coming together, it’s been great experiencing it with these guys. Since Claire has joined too it’s really completed our lineup and having her playing synth has rounded up our sound nicely!
Claire: It may sound sappy but it’s honestly been life changing for me. Music means so much for me and the music we’re creating together has been such an incredible experience. The talent in this band is crazy and we all come from different musical backgrounds and we are all starting to get to know one another and how we work together. I think we’ve been doing a really good job. The guys make it so easy and have been more than welcoming from day 1.
Jonny: They are both very creative, which is great because they can bring their own ideas and sounds to each practice. It’s a very important quality to have.
If you could jam with anyone in music history, who would it be?
Luke: Oh, you shouldn’t have started on this hahaha! J.S Bach, for a start, this guy was an improvisation genius – definitely would love to put my Orange stack beside his organ in Liepzig and play along for the Prelude in a-minor! Ritchie Blackmore, my favourite guitarist ever, just for the pure pleasure of comparing who’s louder and faster 😉 On the other note, as I have just finished watching ‘Stranger Things’, and somehow in line with the direction the band is going, I can easily imagine an unholy union of S U R V I V E and Glassgears jamming out the soundtrack to the images of the imploding universe!
Ray: Oh man. That’s such a great question! We all have very different tastes, so I guess I can only speak for myself – I’d have to say Tool – they’re so mysterious, and the time signatures are really different to your usual 4/4 in most of their tracks. They’d be great to learn from and jam with I think.
Sarah: I’d have to say Tom Delonge. He’s always been a favourite of mine and I just think he’d be a great guy to sit down and have a chat and jam with!
Jonny: Lou Reed. Probably my biggest musical icon and I used to have this teenage dream of meeting him one day. He’d probably end up telling me to F-off though, but that would still be amazing. But sadly, he died a few years. So I’d have to pick him just for the opportunity of fulfilling that fantasy.
Is there anything in particular you hope people take away from your music, particularly from the upcoming album?
Ray: We’re really trying to be as honest and natural as we can with the new music, and if people like it that’s a really great bonus. What we want is for people to know we are putting out something important to us, that comes from a good and very real place that can sometimes be a little dark. Hopefully it will be something they can connect with, relate to, and enjoy at the same time!
Claire: I like to think of the songs as a journey and would hope people pick up on this. Ray’s vocals are incredible, her projection and control is amazing along with her ability to project intense emotions across, and with the build up and breakdown of the other instruments and lyrics, you’re taken on a journey almost.
Jonny: I just want people to enjoy our music because we really enjoy making it. And if people hate our music, then that’s cool too. A reaction is way better than being ignored or even worse, someone being completely indifferent.
Here at Outcast, we want to provide a space for people who are still finding their way – do you have any advice for someone who is feeling a little lost in themselves and is having trouble finding their place in the world?
Luke: God, it’s never easy and honestly I don’t think I know one single person who could firmly say they have found their place. I would say, be proud of yourself, trust your own judgement. I suppose we’ve all had days like this, standing in front of the mirror, asking ourselves all these questions. This is what makes us unique, this is what makes us human – nothing wrong about that. I am still the same kid who picked up his Dad’s old guitar, simply because nobody else was doing it in my class in school and I wanted to find my own way of doing things. Years later, I am quite happy with the outcome, you know 🙂
Ray: I think it’s important to stay true to yourself regardless of if you’re in a band or are any kind of aspiring artist. We try to keep our heads down, work hard, and be grateful for the support our family and friends provide us with – that’s something that’s priceless, and definitely shouldn’t be forgotten.
Sarah: Feeling like that can be the worst thing in the world and everyone goes through it at some point. I guess my advice would be to take the time to figure out what you wanna do and don’t be afraid to try new things, and if those things fail then pick yourself up and find something else you like. Everyone is good at something but it takes others longer to figure out what that something is. Also it’s important to surround yourself with positive people who make you happy and people you can be yourself around.
Claire: Oh god I can totally relate to this. This time last year I was going through one of the toughest times of my life. This opportunity came out of nowhere and it was exactly what I needed. It’s given me an opportunity to do something that I love, making music. This is an amazing group of people who’ve helped me more than I think they even realize. All I can say is things do get better and life will work out, you just have to wait it out.
Jonny: Find out what you enjoy and do it. Life will only end up being a depressing affair otherwise.
Stay tuned for more news about the band!