Glasvegas - Euphoric Heartbreakers

Scottish rockers Glasvegas have been on the road for seven months. Touring their second album EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \ through Europe, the band are about to head out to Australia for the first time for Splendour in the Grass and some special headlining gigs. Bassist Paul Donoghue takes some time out to call in from Milan to chat with me about the album and the vibes surrounding the band's maiden trip out to Australia.


EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \, Glasvegas' follow-up to 2008's self-titled debut album is a record which signifies a certain sense of maturity and development, not only in James Allan's song writing, but in the band's incorporation of different musical elements in the creation of some pretty sweeping rock soundscapes. For the band's frontman and lyricist, location was a major point in the album's creation. "James knew he wanted to do the album in Los Angeles," Donoghue explains. "He'd been out there for a week, trying everywhere. On his last day, he kinda gave up and walked past the house on Santa Monica beach. There was a row of houses and the one on the end was up for rent; so it was by luck, really, that we got that house. Santa Monica really influenced the album."


The music on the new record has drawn comparisons to The Killers' earlier material and in some cases, U2, in terms of lyrical sincerity and musical boldness. Lyrical sincerity seems, to Paul, to have been a result of Allan's development as a song writer. "James has certainly grown up in the last three years, since we got the record deal. Sometimes when you're in a band, your life goes on hold for a little while and then you get the deal and you have to grow up very, very quickly." But, according to Donoghue, James hasn't completely changed. "He's still a kid in many ways, believe me! He still doesn't like being told what to do, but his song writing has certainly matured; it's been amazing to see him mature into what he's become."


The change in sound on EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \ from the debut Glasvegas is noticeable, with some epic orchestral sections taking place of the standard indie-rock compositions previously composed by the band. As Donoghue reveals, this was also credited to a change in mindset and the growth of the band following their first record. "When we went into the studio [to record Glasvegas], we knew exactly how the songs were going to sound; it was like, a couple of guitars on each track. This time, we were a lot more open to exploring what instruments we could put in and what parts we could use. James started messing around with keyboards a lot and that really comes across."


For a band with only two studio releases under their belt, how has this positive critical acclaim affected the Glaswegians (plus a Swede, in new drummer Jonna Löngfren)? "It's very flattering, but we try not to read too much of our own press." Donoghue admits. "You can either think you're this untouchable band who doesn't have to work hard anymore, or if you read into the negative things, you can become a little jaded and disheartened. So it's always very flattering, but we try to isolate ourselves from that and keep doing what we do."


So if the band members have been steering clear of their own press lately, they may be surprised to know that music critics and general music nerds are already touting Glasvegas to be one of the standout acts at this year's Splendour in the Grass. For Paul, both Splendour and Australia in general are two things which he's never experienced before. "Ever since we first started, Australia's been the one place that I've everybody I met who's been there, has fallen in love with the country. I've always wanted to be there and there's a huge amount of Scottish people there, so almost everyone I know has been to visit family or friends!"


So when Glasvegas arrive for their own shows, what can their first Aussie crowds expect? Something to do with spaceships, apparently. "We've worked on the show, each time we do it, it's getting better." Donoghue tells me, confidently. "I think we let the live show lag a little bit because we were working on so much other stuff in the background, but now we've honed it down and it's looking and sounding good. We're bringing what James calls ‘spaceships'. It's me and (guitarist) Rab, with set ups where we play keyboards with our feet and stuff like that!"


On playing their first ever round of headlining shows here, the sheer capacity of the gigs is something Paul and the band aren't used to. "I'm really surprised because, we've never been there [Australia], and to play a show in Sydney to like 900 people…we can't even play to 900 people in some places in England." Splendour will prove to be a massive gig for the band as well, having never experienced the summer festival circuit down this way. "I think when we do Splendour in the Grass, we're going to have some time to actually enjoy ourselves. It'll be good to see what festivals there are like, other than in Scotland when it's raining all summer. Or when it's always cold and you're watching your tent float away."


They're going to be in for an interesting ride when they get over here, although the Australian festival scene isn't known for extreme weather-related mishaps; it's got a reputation of its own. So band members and punters alike, it's time to get keen.


Glasvegas will be appearing at these venues, as well as Splendour in the Grass:


July 22 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth July 24 – Metro Theatre, Sydney July 25 – The Hi-Fi Bar, Melbourne

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