Glass Animals didn’t attract a huge crowd at this year's Strand Festival (Ákos did), but such an outcome would've been pretty surprising for a British indie band founded three years ago. The four Oxford-based guys are much more popular in Western Europe: this year they’ve already played at Glastonbury, Coachella and Bonnaroo, and they work with the same producer that helped Adele win a boatload of Grammys. We talked to two band members about what Glastonbury was like behind the scenes, why the police showed up at their Detroit gig and whether their insomniac frontman has slept well recently.

No sleep for the British middle class

The four guys of Glass Animals look like any of the young British men bellowing in Kazinczy utca on a regular party night. You could’ve bumped into them three weeks ago, and you wouldn’t even have noticed – except there’s no way you did because the four Oxonians have just returned from their second American tour. They spent a month in the US, playing in New York’s Central Park and at two of the most prominent festivals, Coachella and Bonnaroo.

Music journalists usually struggle to categorize the music of Glass Animals. It’s generally described as atmospheric, electro indie rock, psychedelic pop or some other similar genre, but the dreamy, childish universe they create with various noises and a minimal electronic sound is hard to pin down, especially when we add that their tunes are perfect for lulling you to sleep or providing the perfect background music to sexy times.

The story began with singer Dave, who couldn’t sleep, so he started writing songs. When we sit down to talk, he looks quite sleepy, but he says he had time to relax after the tour, and his insomnia is long gone as well. “It’s all right now, but I still prefer music to sleeping.”

The mentor

After they released their first EP Leaflings in 2012, they were signed by super cool producer Paul Epworth to his new label. Epworth also produced their first record Zaba in 2014 – it’s clear from the way Dave talks about him that he plays an important part in the band’s life. “Paul is our mentor. It helped us a lot that he told us what he thought while we were recording our first album, and we could ask him whether to do this or that because none of us knew the secret of a good album.” Epworth must really know something: his 2012 co-operation with Adele yielded four Grammys, and he’s also worked with Florence & The Machine and Lorde.

Without a doubt, Epworth has had a serious role in driving several Glass Animals videos above a million views on YouTube. When I ask Dave whether they send every new song to the mentor, all he says with a mysterious smile is “Maybe.”

Sober at Glastonbury

Of course, all of this has a lot to do with the fact that when the band is on tour, they have a harder time coming up with song ideas than at home in Oxford. “When you’re on tour, you only have time when you’re on the bus, going from one venue to another, but you’re always surrounded by people, which makes the whole thing very different,” says Dave.

In July, the band had the chance to make their debut at Glastonbury Festival – the guys think they were invited because of Zaba, and not because their mentor put in a word. “Paul doesn’t care if we play Glastonbury or not. He only makes music, he doesn’t have time for stuff like this.” They had a blast at the legendary festival, and now they know a few things from behind the scenes: the backstage is a little less muddy than what the audience has to deal with, but the bathrooms are the same everywhere. “It was the strangest thing to experience that this time we were separated by a fence from the same drunk festivalgoers we once were,” Dave explains.

Back in the USA

They’ll continue touring, playing gigs almost every day until the beginning of October and hopping across the pond for another tour as well. For some reason a lot of strange things tend to happen to the guys overseas. One time they showed up to a venue, and it turned out that the “stage” was going to be in a guy’s garage. They thought it was a scam, but the guys was apparently very serious about the gig, and had sold 375 tickets in advance. It ended up being an exceptionally special performance with a jam-packed garage.

The craziest concert they’ve every played was on their latest tour, in Detroit where several people got into a fight. A girl was tased by the police because she started hitting everyone around her, including a pregnant woman. “We couldn’t see what was going on from the stage, we only found out later that she’d lost her phone, and she was convinced that the others in the audience stole it,” says Joe, the drummer of the band.