Interview and Review: Glass Caves @ Leadmill

Words: Laura Mills
Photography: Barnaby Fairley

On a chilly night in early November one of Sheff’s most prestigious venues was brought to a standstill by indie-rock sensations Glass Caves. Just before one of their biggest shows of the tour so far, Exposed Magazine managed to grab a few words with the laidback lads from Pontefract.

I’ve read about the band starting its journey through busking. Why have you carried it on since finding success and have you encountered any interesting events while busking?
Matt: It’s still the best promotional tool, the cheapest at least, as you literally get paid to do it.
Elliot: You’re meeting people aren’t you? It’s not like online where you never get to interact with the fans or the new fans. You’re shaking their hand, giving them a CD – so personal, amazing, the best form of promotion!

Have you had any interesting events occur through busking, anything weird?
Elliot: There was a mobile app reward ceremony down in London where some guy had seen us busking in York.
Matt: He didn’t want to pay us in the end. Basically, he’d seen us busking and he put the free bar in one room and us in another and obviously everybody’s going to the free bar and networking because it was a business event. He started kicking off saying ‘You’re not trying hard enough!’
Elliot: We haven’t done a mobile marketing event since.
Matt: And we won’t be doing one again! We made a lot of friends with some homeless guys in York and they all used to turn up and watch us at 10am and there was one guy who used us as a bank and gave us a quid, then he’d come back hours later and ask for it back.

How has the tour gone so far and how would you describe your crowds?
Matt: It’s been really good. Bristol and Birmingham we pretty much sold them out. Crowds have gone a bit quiet but it was midweek and freezing up there so I get it. It’s been mint, can’t complain. Tonight’s probably going to be the biggest, as it’s always good to be back in Yorkshire on the family patch!

As individuals, what is your favourite track you have released so far and why?
Connor: ‘I do’ – I love the structure of it and its arrangement, I think it’s very cleverly developed. Verse sounds like a verse, the chorus sounds like a chorus. I like it.
Matt: I like it as well. I’d probably say right now ‘Common Tongue’ , one of our latest releases. Why? ‘Cos I like it and that’s it – nothing more, nothing less.
Eddie: I think I’d say ‘Taipei Nights’; I enjoy the groove, the guitar riff running through it is immense.
Elliot: It’s ‘Do You Have a Name’ for me. It really is one of the best tracks received live; I enjoy playing it live and we went down and mixed it ourselves – and he’s here tonight, the guy that came down and did it with us, and we spent a lot of time over it then we did with a lot of other songs. It’s just very fun to play live.

Who are your biggest influences as a band and why?
Matt: To start with we were influenced by Kings of Leon–that was a big one because we all liked them, they were a big central part of it. We have loads of varied influences: Connor likes his big anthems, I like the really emotional stuff.

Is there anyone you would compare yourselves to?
Matt: We get a lot of comparisons to U2, but they’re ancient now so I try to stay away from that.
Elliot: The guitarist from The Zutons said we sound like a shit version of The 1975. I was a bit glad that he’d heard of us though. I don’t know who the guy is but he was talking about us.

What’s been the best festival you’ve performed at in your careers?
Elliot: Leeds and Reading I enjoyed. It’s one I’ve been to when I was just getting into music and just to see what Reading was like because I’ve always been to Leeds but never Reading, good fun.
Matt: Isle of Wight was good but SXSW in Texas has got to be the best.

What would you say is your songwriting process?
Matt: We usually get a beat, then we usually get chords – a simple chord progression.
Elliot: Then we see if the melody can hold itself. We’ve started doing a thing where we can see if you can sing the song to an acoustic guitar and then we know if the melody is strong enough to keep.

How do you feel before going onstage? None of you seem that nervous. Are you fazed?
Matt: Sound.
Elliot: I don’t know but I think it’s because we’ve done it a lot. We’ve been going a long time.

I’d imagine it’s with the busking, you’re sort of used to it now.
Matt: The first time we went out before busking, it was just me and Connor and we practiced for about an hour maybe longer.
Elliot: I can’t believe you did that!
Matt: It’s weird though, you’re literally just singing and playing in the street and we’d never done it before so it was like foreign. I was like if it sounds bad who knows what’s going to happen… people might start throwing stuff at us.

Have you ever had anyone throw stuff at you?
Elliot: We did at a festival once, some guy threw a packet of crisps at us. It felt like a definite lowpoint. Connor just grabbed them.
Matt: We’ve had a guy shout at us before on his mobility scooter. He was actually just saying “Shut up!” He just screamed and drove off! That was funny, very funny, and Elliot ran after him.
Connor: We had a Romanian Gypsy spit at us.
Elliot: She threatened to hit me with a chair because apparently we nicked the spot she plays at.
Matt: She was about 88. Always called us druggies to try and get the police on us. She’s nuts.

Why did you pick the name Glass caves? Does it stand for anything or have an underlying meaning?
Matt: We used to lie and say we used to practice in a greenhouse, but it was a pure lie though. Some of us were in a band previously, called The Cellars, and we were like maybe we could do a variant on that.
Connor: Matt joined and our old keyboard player joined and they were looking at doing a glass album.
Matt: Caves is French for cellar, and as a concept, a glass cave, I quite liked that. I liked the imagery of it but the next day we hated it.
Elliot: But we’d already committed to it.
Connor: It’s weird though because our garage is like a glass cave and it’s like letting everyone look into what we do, our safe space.

What’s been your biggest struggle as a band so far?
Elliot: Money. We’ve done everything completely on our own we’ve never had anybody put any money into us. Everything’s been through busking, through the gigs; the fans have put the money in, we’ve put the money in, but we’ve never had any investment.
Matt: It’s expensive to run and we would have loved too have recorded another album since we recorded the first album. We busked full-time to record that first album, we literally did 30 days without a break, and I lost my mind. The days we made fifteen quid after three hours was bad.

One of my favourite tracks of yours, which was released earlier this year, is ‘Common Tongue’. Can you describe what it’s about?
Connor: I went to a festival in Spain, a reggae festival, and I had an evening to remember. It’s a simple story.
Matt: And love is the common tongue is what he found out! They couldn’t really chat to each other but it was just looks really.
Elliot: It’s very literal to what happened.

What’s next for Glass Caves?
Matt: An album, I think. It might not be first, it might be a full-blown EP jam, then album. We might also be doing a Christmas party in York too.

Is there anyone that you’d like pay tribute to or say a special thanks?
Matt: Tom Skinner, the ex-synth player, he’s in the other room. Jack, my old dog, he was blind and he stunk! (A lot of howling laughter) Joel Suitor, the sound guy, and Barnaby Fairley – a rising star in the photographic world.

A few handshakes, a quick snap and best wishes later, fans in the venue were welcomed by support act The Sundowns, who really made the stage their own. The Steel City four-piece appeared to be on top form wowing the crowd with their electric, edgy indie tracks and with this the venue was officially warmed up for Glass Caves to smash the roof off the Leadmill.

Shortly after, Glass Caves graced the stage with a cool persona surrounding them, like stars that had just walked off a plane in somewhere exotic. They kicked off their set for show six in the tour with one of their latest releases, ‘Common Tongue’. This track not only being unique with it’s stylish, classy element, but even being on verging on glamorous and was received so well by the crowd, who sang every lyric with Matt. Each member of the band put all they had into every note of this song, which made the performance of it so effective and great. A simply sublime intro.

Matt then made his first interaction with the crowd introducing the next track: “Now it’s time to take a trip to Taipei”. ‘Taipei Nights’ also evoked a warm reaction from the Leadmill crowd but not quite as much as track number three of the set, ‘Do You Have a Name’ – the track Elliot rightly described as being one of “the best received tracks live”. As Connor’s funky guitar guided us into the track, joined by Elliot’s forceful drums, it was softened by Eddie’s sleek synth, perfectly paired with Matt’s impeccable vocals where you could feel the passion in every note. The crowd started to move their feet lapping up the chic intro. As the chorus hit, the tempo changed into a heavier rocky rhythm which the fans adored. The mood and tone in the venue then changed, rather than swaying to Glass Caves incredible tracks, the punters were jumping and leaping around sending cans of Red Stripe flying – the kind of reception I’m sure the band were hoping for.

Throughout the night, each new track increased the crowds reactions and the band got them more and more involved. Matt carried on his interactions with the fan:  during one of the many Yorkshire chants, Matt reached out to the rest of the venue getting them to join in with the guy who started it on his own. As the set came to a close, they finished on one of their biggest tracks ‘Alive’ – or so we thought! The band went off and as the punters started to steadily move away from the stage, the cheeky chaps graced the Leadmill stage one last time for the evening to provide us with a fabulous encore of the rock’n’roll ‘Go’ – a lively, dynamic end to a remarkable night.

Good luck and thank you, Glass Caves!


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