Glasvegas Gets a Little Emotional



Since releasing their self-titled debut album in 2009, Scottish four-piece band Glasvegas has experienced a wild ride to rock stardom in the UK. The band—at the time, made up of frontman James Allan, his cousin Rab Allan (guitar), Paul Donoghue (bass), and Caroline McKay (drums)—toured with Oasis, Kings of Leon, and U2, reached number two in the U.K. charts, and eventually, their eponymous album went platinum. Through all of that, Allan still finds inspiration in more mundane activities on his day off. Allan, a former semi-pro footballer, says, “I like to go for walks and talk to people.”

After two chaotic years on the road touring, the band decamped to a multi-million dollar Santa Monica beach house, where they recorded their latest album, EUPHORIC///HEARTBREAK\. The album reflects musings from their sunny days near the sand, with songs like “Euphoria, Take My Hand,” which Allan pounded out after a wave of inspiration struck him one evening while admiring the glimmering sunset. The album is also heavily peppered with more hard-hitting, emotional tracks like “Stronger Than Dirt,” “Dream Dream Dreaming,” and the album’s emotional centerpiece, “Change.”

On a call from across the pond, just before jetting to Sweden for a show, Allan talked with Interview (with the thickest Scottish burr) about the band’s new drummer, Beach House, and the future.

KRISTIN STUDEMAN: Where are you right now?

JAMES ALLAN: I am just in London. We were just doing a radio show and playing some songs. We are just going to the airport now. Then, we are going to Sweden next—Stockholm and stuff.

STUDEMAN: Your new album has been described as being “more rock-and-roll and infinitely more personal” than the previous. Would you say that’s what it is?

ALLAN: That wasn’t me that wrote that. Um, it’s hard to tell anybody what you are doing artistically and creatively, you know? There’s a lot of things I would like to think it was.

 STUDEMAN: You brought your mom in on the last track, “Change.” What’s that about?

ALLAN: Yeah. It’s about a fictional mom talking to her son who is about to get out of prison. I think she always thought I was pretending, but I think she thought I had done a good job. I think it ended up being something a lot more personal than we had expected, and that really took her by surprise.

STUDEMAN: You guys were living and recording in a Santa Monica beach house. Do you still live there?

ALLAN: We were there last year, but now we didn’t really live anywhere these days because we are always on the road. Life in that house was mischievous.

STUDEMAN: How did those experiences influence your music?

ALLAN: It was childish. I don’t know if I should get into it. I have stories, but I can’t share them. No, I will get in tons of trouble. It’s more likely that the story will involve something illegal. No, no stories… If anything, a lot of it was just looking towards the future. Always cherish the moment, and I think that had a lot to do with the surroundings—the music. You know?

STUDEMAN: Were you hanging out with any other artists or bands in LA while you were there?

ALLAN: Florence and the Machine, yeah.

STUDEMAN: What are you listening to these days?

ALLAN: When we were in Santa Monica, we listened to the Beach House album a lot. I bought the record just because I liked the name and I needed some records. I have never seen them play live before. I am asking my band because I can’t remember the names—I have bought a lot of records lately.

STUDEMAN: What are you most looking forward to while on tour?

ALLAN: I look forward to at one point, in the night when we are performing when I can daydream. People say you get lost in the music, which sounds quite… but I do get quite lost in the music. I am looking forward to that.

STUDEMAN: What are you least looking forward to?

ALLAN: It can be quite lonely. I really feel quite lonely sometimes—I am not looking forward to that. You know?

STUDEMAN: I bet. What’s next for you guys?

ALLAN: Touring and playing a few festivals—one in Sweden, Glastonbury and some others.