On paper, the success of Glasvegas still seems an industry anomaly. Through an oddly irresistible mix of a thick Scottish brogue, shoegaze guitars and a penchant for Phil Spector, the band’s self-titled debut reaped supports slots with U2, a Mercury nomination and deity status amongst the British music press. Having recently completed a much-awaited follow-up (titled EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ – due April 1st), Glasvegas guitarist Rab Allan talked to State about making the new record and plans for their comeback.
The new album was written and recorded in Los Angeles; tell us about that experience.
Well, we relocated to Santa Monica and we were out there for four months. It was quite a culture shock going from Glasgow. I’d be looking out the window and see people running past. I thought they were being chased, but apparently they have something out there called ‘jogging’ (laughs) – so it was a completely different lifestyle.
Did the sunshine and easy living feed into the music?
Definitely. Yeah, I think musically the record has been influenced by where we were. Lyrically, it still all comes from James’ head, but musically it was definitely an influence.
It’s not as dark as we imagined.
No. You’re right, it feels like more of a pop record – it’s good to get a bit of sunshine into your life.
Before you went in to record this album, you’d toured with U2, Oasis, Kings Of Leon – playing big stadium shows. Did that affect your approach to a new album? Was there an ambition to make things bigger, stadium-sized?
I don’t think playing those shows made the record any different but they definitely changed my perception of playing live. They shamed me into wanting to be better. Opening for U2, they were so professional. I remember watching them every night, thinking these guys have been in the game for 25, 30 years and they’re still as passionate as they were when they started.
Can you see yourselves touring as relentlessly as you did in support of your debut? I mean, you guys toured for the best part of 18 months non-stop.
Yeah a lot of people don’t realise that, actually (laughs). People think that if you’re not playing in Britain you must’ve stopped but we were in America six times in the space of a year on full tours. To be honest, I’d like to do it again. I love to be on the road but hopefully this time we can be a bit more controlled.
There must have been a bit of burn-out towards the end of all that?
Oh, there was about ten burn-outs – bodies falling all over the place! Physically, we were all exhausted; mentally we were just fucked up and, personally, it was getting to the stage where I was starting not to enjoy it. We were being asked to do tours of Europe with big bands and all that, but we had to say no. We would’ve fallen apart.
Would you say there’s any new musical influence evident on this record?
Before the start of this record, I got heavily into Depeche Mode, which is one of the reasons why (Depeche Mode/U2 producer) Flood ended up coming in, actually. We were all definitely listening to more kind of upbeat ’80s stuff – things like O.M.D., Queen, Bowie, the Bee Gees.
The Bee Gees?
You know what, honestly the thing is I don’t know how that came about. I think I was watching Grease or something, but I ended up with their Best Of… and it’s incredible. There’s one of the songs on there from the ’80s, it’s a bit cheesy but it’s called ‘You Win Again’.
That’s the one with the big drum machine, isn’t it?
Yeah! I mean, it’s funny looking at that band. They were ahead of their time, doing things other bands weren’t. Considering they were around in the ’60s and ’70s, that by the 80s they experimented with the electro thing. I remember Noel Gallagher actually telling me to listen to the Bee Gees once and thinking, “you’re full of shit”, but he was right.