Glass Animals was formed in Oxford in 2010 and comprises of Dave Bayley, Joe Seaward, Ed Irwin-Singer and Drew MacFarlane. They are not only bandmates but also childhood best friends as well. They released their self produced debut EP, Leaflings, in 2012 and have since gone on to produce three studio albums, seven EPs and countless singles. Of their entire discography, the most notorious album is "How to be a Human Being." Released on August 26, 2012, each song on the album is inspired by life stories that were told to the band’s lead singer, Dave Bayley, by people he met while touring with Glass Animals.
What makes the album so unique is the correlation between the album cover and the tracks themselves. Each character displayed on the album cover has their own story and song on the album.
“I was interested in what they ate, what they wore, what they did in their spare time, what their house looked like,” Bayley said in an interview.
The characters portrayed are born from Bayley’s imagination but heavily inspired by the stories that were told to him by fans, people in passing or literally anyone that openly told their stories to him.
Bayley, having self proclaimed bad memory, recorded the stories he was told on his phone through voice memos. An example of this is the story that inspired the fifth track on the album, "Mama’s Gun". Bayley was in a taxi with his little brother when the taxi driver started speaking to the two after passing a building that sparked a memory in the taxi driver’s mind. She explained how she used to be a truck driver and how she would haul products all across the United States and would often turn to illegal substances so she could stay awake and make her trips in good timing. One day, she went too far with her intake of illegal substances and blacked out. She regained consciousness a month later and within herself felt like she had done something really awful while blacked out. She admitted to feeling as if she had killed someone but she never found out what she did or how severe it was.
"Mama’s Gun" reflects this and details the story of someone experiencing guilt and delusions for unspecified reasons but many lyrics point to it being the murder of the character’s husband but also the bad effects that drugs has on a person as well. If you or someone you know is struggling with utilizing illegal substances, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) in order to get you or someone you know help. The hotline is free and confidential and could be the helping hand that you or someone else needs.
Each character not only has a full story arc but also real life stories or at least concepts to go along with them. Part of the fun of the creation of these characters was that in the beginning little was revealed about them and stories were slowly pieced together by fans based off of the song’s lyrics, music videos, and even a website made surrounding one of the characters of the album. Seeing that the album is five years old, Bayley has gone on to discuss further in detail the real stories behind these songs as seen with Mama’s Gun. However, just because the stories have been revealed does not take away from the creativity surrounding this album which often goes unnoticed by the casual listener but goes to show Glass Animals’ dedication to what they do.