Backstage of the Birmingham Barfly isn’t quite as glamorous as one might imagine. Dark and cold, luxury comes in the form of a couple of comfy sofas and a stereo blasting out mid-90’s cheesy pop.
Laid back to the point of horizontal, Kids in Glass Houses’ lead singer Aled Phillips sits down for our interview. While recording equipment is set up, he passes the time with a small Connect 4 tournament with Ant West, lead singer from tonight’s support band, Tonight is Goodbye.
Is Phillips competitive, we ask? “Maybe a little bit,” he laughs. “Certain games I am, anyway, like Monopoly. I get angry when there’s money involved, so I have to win. Driving around the board in my little boot…”
Perhaps it’s his competitive nature that has given Kids in Glass Houses their success this year. Still unsigned, the Welsh quintet have hit the UK festival circuit this summer with their ridiculously catchy brand of power-pop.
With their E-pocalypse! EP they’ve not only managed to earn recommendations from the likes of Lostprophets’ Ian Watkins, but they’ve also earned themselves a place on tour with Funeral For a Friend at the end of the year.
We caught up to reflect on their last six months, to see what’s planned for the near-future, and to gossip about Paramore’s Hayley Williams. How exciting…
Let’s get right to the point. When can we finally expect an album from you guys?
“New album starts recording on November 2nd, hopefully it’ll all be wrapped up with before we start up on the Funeral For a Friend tour.”
Are you looking forward to that?
“The tour should be amazing, we’re really looking forward to it. But it’s still a while off; we’ve got half of our tour left first and then recording the album.”
How’s the album preparation going?
“It’s shaping up really well, we’re really happy with it. It’ll be nice to finally get something new out. We’ve sort of been riding on the coat tails of our EP for the last year and a half or so, so we’re pretty excited.”
Is there anyone you want to get involved with on this album?
“Recording the album, we’re not too bothered about collaborating with anyone else, to be honest. If someone we’d like to work with is available at the start of November, then brilliant, and if not then it’s cool doing it ourselves.”
Are you looking forward to getting into the studio?
“Recording can be quite a stressful deal so the more comfortable you can be, the better. And it’s important to us to stick together with friends and people we’ve met along the way… we’d rather have a little group going than chase after a big producer.”
Is there any sense of boredom kicking in, having toured your EP for so long?
“There’s this awful catch-22 where you want to play songs people know 'cause they sing along and that’s awesome. But then [pauses] it’s not that you get bored, but you can’t really put out the new material and expect the same reaction. It’s tricky.”
Any names being thrown around for the album yet?
“That’ll be the last thing we do. Sometimes we come up with good titles, sometimes shit ones. If I can give something a good name, then I will. Although knowing us, this’ll end up being The Kids in Glass Houses Album, because that’s what it is.”
Do you think that it’s a name you’ll get sick of? Kids In Glass Houses?
“Well we were named after a lyric in a Glassjaw song. But it’s pretty long, and we’re not kids anymore.
“You can just imagine us when we’re on our eightieth album when we’re forty… grey haired. [Laughs] ‘Yeahhh, we’re Kids in Glass Houses. FUCK YEAHHH.’ But no, I quite like it. It’ll do for now…”
So tonight’s performance in Birmingham, are you looking forward to it?
“Umm. [Laughs] We’ve played Birmingham before, and we’ve had some good shows and some bad shows in Birmingham before. We’ve played a few times and been shit, but I’m looking forward to tonight. We’ve had the first chunk of the tour as a rehearsal.
“We did Give It A Name at the NIA, and then the Bar Academy in June. Which was amazing, 'cause I went to see Say Anything there once and it was cool to be playing there myself.”
Speaking of GIAN, how was that?
“It was a bit overwhelming to be honest, it was huge. And we played the London one, which was immense. That was actually the biggest show we’ve played - it was amazing. Blew my mind.”
And what about Reading & Leeds?
“Reading was amazing, so much better than Leeds for the backstage bit alone. Backstage at Leeds was dire. There was no one from Hollyoaks for a start, but at Reading, we met Peaches Geldoff. She’s… pleasant [grins].”
“Hoh-yes. And we met Kelly Osbourne too. Not so pleasant. Oh, and our dressing room was next door to Paramore. We tried to sneak in a look to see what Hayley [Williams, Paramore vocalist] was like, and she was just sat there. She’s just, an absolute saint. Really is. But then, it’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it…”
So Reading was a bit special then?
“Reading was the highlight of our year so far, hands down. It was so much better than anything we’ve ever done. It was one of those historical shows.
“We were really nervous about turning out. It was at a funny time of day, and a lot of really good bands on at the same time, but we had people queuing up like five-deep outside the tent to try and have a look. It was really cool.”
Did you see any bands while you were there?
“Kings of Leon were pretty fucking amazing, actually. And I saw New Found Glory as well… and Red Hot Chilli Peppers too, but they were a bit shit. That band just infuriate me these days…”
So, festival season’s over, and you’re at the mid-point of your own tour now. How’s it all gone?
“The first half of the tour has been awesome. Aberdeen, the start of the tour, that was a bit of a shambles because they’d actually double booked us with another band and all shit kicked off, a fucking awful way to start off the tour. But since then it’s been amazing, actually.”
What’s been the highlight so far?
“Uhh… a few nights ago where Tonight is Goodbye got up on stage with us, got down to their y-fronts. Although to be honest, that’s good behaviour. Phil [Jenkins, drummer] likes to get his junk out a lot. You can’t really go anywhere without seeing Phil’s penis, to be honest. It’s sick. There’s no need.”
So it’s a lot of clothing-removal then?
“Not really. In fact the other night a girl threw a tiara on stage so I wore that. Actually, I wish I hadn’t cause it had those spiky things on it and it’s hurt my head…”
The interview is interrupted for a moment for the bands to be given their AAA lanyards for the rest of the tour
“Ooh. These are hole-punched. This is all very exciting…”
Do you keep all of your tour paraphernalia then?
“Yeah, I have like a massive box full of stuff. I get a sense of achievement from it. One day I’m just gonna take them into a university and go ‘I know I haven’t really done anything for the last three years, but I have been doing something…. Here’s my shit.’”
So what are the people who come to your shows like?
“It’s really weird y’know. We’ve played a lot of different type of gigs this year. But the other night, there were a lot of like, 14 year old girls. And it freaked me right out the other day in Colchester, they were asking us to sign stuff - Non-existent boobs, and training bras and stuff. It was like, if my mother could see me now…”.
Aled’s sentence fizzles out as his attention turns to the Connect 4 pieces on the table in front of him. He is meticulously stacking them in front of him to form a set of miniature steps.
…Do we sense a smidgen of OCD there?
“Shit, sorry… [Laughs as he realises] I do stuff like that. I only put piles into three or six. I’m sure psychologists would make something of that…”
Do you like to get involved with the crowd a little more at these sorts of shows?
“Yeah, actually. The other night Shay [bassist] just randomly decided to stop playing part way through a song and jumped out into the crowd, and I ended up finding him in the middle and had a man-hug; it was nice [Laughs]. We almost knocked out a couple of 14 year olds, though, which was less good…”
How do shows at the minute differ to the smaller ones you’ve played before?
“It’s really cool playing big venues on a nice big stage, but last night we played the Orange Box in Yeovil which was nice. Y’know, we’ve played the big stages at festivals and you can’t beat that, really.”
How do you pass the time on tour in-between shows?
“Usually we just sorta drive from one show to the next. So we’ll sleep, eat, get ready, sound-check. Apart from that, we just sort of amuse ourselves. I get bored really easily, so stupid board games are quite good…”
So is that pretty much in-between shows? Not very rock n’ roll…
“Usually by now I’d be hitting the vodka [Laughs]. A couple of pre-show drinks. I’m never totally drunk though, tipsy’s okay, but if you’re a state on stage it just ends badly. I’ve done it once, and [pauses] just, never again. But yeah, time off, we’ll maybe go shopping sometimes…”
So have you made the most of the Bullring here in Birmingham then?
“Yeah, we went out today actually. I had some Japanese food, which was nice. I didn’t buy anything, though, I just watched Iain [Mahanty, guitars] buy shoes on his credit card. Which was really bad, he’s only just got it and he’s already wanking over it. He’s in trouble and he doesn’t even know it…”
So are there any grand plans for the end of the tour?
“Well. We were meant to be recording the album on the 1st, but we decided not to, so our last night of the tour will end with a fancy dress party on Halloween down in London. It’s going to be messy in London…”
Can we expect incoherent, pissed-up antics then?
“I won’t be trollied on stage. I’m always well behaved in London cause there’s always press there. We played Club KoKo one time and I was a mess. That was the last time I got that wasted on stage. Tipsy is okay but getting trashed is just ridiculous - unless it’s all going to wrong anyway. Then, fuck it.”
If you went on tour with anyone, who would you have as your support?
Do you not worry they’d upstage you and everyone would leave before you even came on?
“No of course not… [Laughs] Yeah, I’d have Metallica supporting us. Maybe like Paramore and New Found Glory’s rotating headline idea…”
At this point, the interview goes to pot. Outrage at the notion of NFG being a support act to anyone, before discussing Hayley Williams. Rumours are laughingly thrown around that Williams is perhaps related to a member of New Found Glory, or even that she’s sleeping with one of them:
“She doesn’t shag! She’s… she’s a very proper young lady.”
Is that disappointing…?
“No I wouldn’t say tha… actually, I would. She’s lovely.”
Moving swiftly on… You seem to have a good relationship with your fans through the likes of MySpace. Is that important to you?
“MySpace is useful for any band. As a band, we think it’s important not to distance yourself from your fans. At the end of the day, we’re the same as the people that come to see us play and I’ll talk to them just like I’d talk to anyone else.”
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
“[Laughs] I dunno. It’ll probably get me in shit one-day…”
Speaking of MySpace, what’s with Go West in your top friends…?
“[Laughs] We had a driver called James. He was a funny boy… a couple of years ago, he set up a Go West Fan Page, and it’s the biggest on the Internet. So we added him to our top friends for a bit of support, and that’s it, really. Sorry, it’s not really as funny as you’d hoped, was it? Bit of an anti-climax…”
Who’ve you seen lately?
“I went to see the Police on Friday at the Millennium Stadium, which was amazing. And I saw Prince earlier this year, too. I haven’t been to a small show in quite a while, I saw Glassjaw at the Barfly in London, but apart from that…”
Anyone you want to see?
“I’m not sure [Pauses]. Not really. That’s really bad, isn’t it? Not even the Spice Girls. I mean, I was a fan back in the day, but they’re all just idiots now. I’m going to think of a band that I want to see by the end of this, cause that is really bad.”
How’s it feel to have nominated for awards with the likes of Kerrang and NME?
“Y’know it’s funny you mentioned that, at a show last night there was a poster saying we had something from NME and I was really confused, but to be honest, lets face it, they’re probably not going to say anything too complimentary about us, are they?”
You were ranked 3rd in their top new bands from Reading/Leeds 2007…
“Oh. Well there’s not a lot I can say back to that now, is there…"