|Paul recently caught up for a chat with Aled from Kids in Glass Houses to chat about their new album ‘Dirt’, their recent tour with Lostprophets and more!.||
Photo © Chloe Gillard
Paul: Hello! How are things in the Kids In Glass Houses camp?
Aled: Excellent, thank you. We’re all excited to get the record out and itching to play it. It might be the happiest we’ve ever been as a band.
Paul: You’ve just got off the tour with Lostprophets, how did that go? Were the fans receptive to the selection of new songs you played?
Aled: It was awesome. The reception to the new songs was, on occasion, as good or better than the old songs, which is definitely encouraging. I think the new songs are a lot less love/hate than the first record. They’re not as quirky and mincing. Or at least the ones we played weren’t. There’s definitely a few that’ll divide.
Paul: Your last album was obviously very successful and has cemented you as one of the most popular homegrown bands around. Did you feel the expectation when you started work on ‘Dirt’? Did it/does it worry you that people may not like it?
Aled: I did when we started writing, yeah. It took a while to get into a comfortable headspace and flow, where we shed the first album completely. I obviously would love everyone to rave about the album, but as far as I’m concerned, our work is done. We wrote the record we wanted to make and we love it. We can’t change people’s opinions on it so there’s no point dwelling on it.
Paul: Why choose the name ‘Dirt’ for the album? Is there a meaning behind it?
Aled: We rattled off a few and that one hung around. We wanted something short and sharp. Lyrically there’s a lot of gossip and seedy situations so it suits that aspect of it. We also wanted to annoy Alice In Chains fans for the hell of it.
Paul: Why did you choose to work with Jason Perry? Were you all big fans of A back in the day? How was Texas? Seemed like fun from the webisodes you did…
Aled: Yeah, we all liked A. We heard his work on The Blackout record and thought he’d done a fantastic job. We weren’t really that taken with the other producers we were being suggested. We thought Jason would really get us and take us where we wanted to be. And he did. Texas was a totally unique experience. It felt like being in a bit of a lawless bubble on the ranch where nothing seemed too outrageous a suggestion. Tony, who owns the ranch is kind of a big deal locally. I think he’s got the key to the city among his artwork, crates of psychotropic tequila and absinthe. It was really relaxing apart from the sporadic gunfire, though. There was a lot of barbecue, beer and sun and I got to hang out with some pretty cool raccoons. The studio was incredible and huge. They had no end of vintage and rare gear that I know nothing about and it really benefited the sound. It sounds a lot more real.
Paul: There are more key changes on ‘Dirt’ than pretty much any album I can ever remember. Was this deliberate or did it just kind of happen as you started writing and arranging, and then recorded, the album?
Aled: Haha, everything we do is deliberate. Whether it’s ever wise, is anyone’s guess. We usually just put them where we think they work in a cool way. They were always there, I think. Maybe the end of Undercover Lover was us taking things to the extreme at the studio. 3 in one song is a lot. We didn’t know where to stop – it was always “take it up again”! It’s an homage to Lionel and Whitney. Some people do breakdowns, we do key changes.
Paul: Did you do anything differently, either in your approach or during the recording process, than you’ve done previously? Have you learned any lessons you put into practice this time around?
Aled: We didn’t lay down the first guitar lines that came to mind and we didn’t all play at the same time. I think the most important thing you can learn as a band is when NOT to play. We stripped songs back a lot to let the vocals breathe and do their thing. We also kept things quite loose. There are outtakes and mistakes on the record that were left on purpose. The world is full of over-polished and processed crap right now and we don’t want to be bundled in with those bands. This albums got more character and personality than that. Its not perfect and that’s what makes it good.
Paul: How did you hook up with Frankie from The Saturdays for ‘Undercover Lover’? When you wrote the song did you have anyone in mind for the female vocal? Is it right that at the album launch Frankie is going to sing ‘Undercover Lover’? I heard a rumour she may be in attendance…
Aled: We finished writing the song in Essex and sat there mulling over making it a female duet. It had a pretty strong 80s vibe and we figured we’d give it a try. Kinda like a Prince/Sheena Easton vibe. We never want to cut ourselves off from trying things that make other people nervous. They keep things exciting. Jason had a link to Frankie through Dougie (McFly) and we suggested he give her an ask, on the off chance. We were vaguely aware that she was into our band so we gave it a go. She agreed and came down and recorded her part in an evening. It sounded awesome, so we kept it on and its one of my favourite moments on the record. A lot of people have dismissed it without hearing it, which is totally absurd. I think it’ll surprise a few people, if they go at it with an open mind. I’m not sure if she’ll be at the show. She’s a busy girl. It’d be awesome if she could make it down, but we’re working under the assumption that she’s going to be doing big things in far more salubrious surroundings than the Borderline in Soho!
Paul: Is it right you got members of New Found Glory to record gang vocals for one of the songs? If you could work with anyone in the future, who would you choose and why?
Aled: It is true. They did it in the dressing room in the old Birmingham Academy. They’re veterans of a gang chant. I’m not really sure who I’d like to work with. I have bands I admire, but I don’t think mixing business with pleasure is always the best. If The Killers want to write us an album, I’ll be stoked. I’d like to work with Gaga. She excites me.
Paul: The album sounds a lot ‘fuller’ than Smart Casual and contains a lot of different instruments, there’s brass, some electronica…even what sounds like part of an orchestra. Were they ideas you brought to the table when you met Jason Perry or did they work their way into the songs while in the studio? Did you always set out to try and write ‘bigger’ sounding songs on this album?
Aled: They were there before we’d even written songs, in some cases. We knew when we outlined our goals with this album that it was going to be ambitious and miles apart from the first. As soon as we finished certain songs we could hear what we wanted where. Jason brought a lot to the table with regards to programming too. He had a lot of experience with composing that stuff to songs and making it work. It was stuff we always wanted to incorporate, even on the first, but didn’t have the means to until now. All of our influences are big, big bands who are flamboyant and we obviously want to show that side of our influence when it suits. To us, this album was inevitable. It was always going to be bigger and bolder. There was never going to be a Smart Casual 2.
Paul: What’s your favourite song on the new album and why?
Aled: It changes. I’m really proud of The Morning Afterlife. I think its quite a brave song for a band like us to make. It employs a lot of restraint and dynamic and at 6 minutes is a far cry from anything we’ve attempted before. We recorded it live because it’s the only way the vibe worked. I don’t expect it to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine. One sugar.
Paul: What’s the plan for the rest of the year? May headline tour, Europe/USA/Japan, UK festivals maybe? Any more UK dates planned this year?
Paul: Haha. Any chance of ever doing one of those fun little covers shows anywhere other than Cardiff?
Aled: If someone wants to pay us to get there and jerk around, I’m always game. Get it organised!
Paul: If it all ends tomorrow which one memory would you cherish the most from being in KIGH?
Aled: Dividing forum opinion. Nah, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Astoria show. We aspired to be there and were blown away to have gotten there and to have had such an amazing response. Closely followed by Reading, Japan, Europe. Loads.