Interview: Kids in Glass Houses

This is an interview with Phillip Jenkins, drummer of Kids in Glass Houses.

The interview originally took place on behalf of RADIO SONAR on 8th October 2011, and was broadcast within the next few days, during the tour following the release of their third album In Gold Blood.

Taking advantage of this, ELECTRIC BANANA asked for a transcription. At the time, the crew and format of interviews on the website were changing. As the interview took place while editors were unsure whether interviews should be serious stories about albums and tours, or a far snappier and fun ‘Q&A’ format, it was never uploaded in text form. By the time that the snappier ‘ten questions’ format with lighter questions had been chosen by the editors, it was too late to upload in either form.

Even then this took two forms. In the end, I made the probably sensible choice to omit the section where I asked him questions that had been pitched by fans queuing outside. We discussed how he liked his steak, Pizza Hut, his cats and even penis size. While the interview itself went smoothly rather than as awkward as you would expect such subjects to cause, and it was broadcast uncensored, it just didn’t belong in the written interview alongside insights into their new album’s creation. To give you an idea of the tone that the uncut written article took, I placed this paragraph between the sensible section, and the naughty bits.

“While Nick spoke to the queue outside the venue, trailing down the road, out came the notepad to take down the questions of the fans. This turned out to be a very bad idea, as he was dared to be plain irritating. Phil uneasily agreed to answer the questions that had been thrown at him. Suddenly the atmosphere thickened and the interrogation room-style surroundings became all the more appropriate.”

For the first time, here it is in the originally asked for Q&A format.

Phil asks as we take a seat to have a talk, “Is this an interrogation room?” It really did look like one, as two chairs and a small table were set up underneath a dim spotlight. He assures interviewer Nick Pollard “Never mind. We’re friendly.”

Kids in Glass Houses drummer Phil Jenkins spoke to Electric Banana about the band’s scariest moments, touring, crazy fans and lubricant (of course).

1. What brings you to this venue (Southampton Guildhall)?

Phil: It’s part of our headline tour for our new album, In Gold Blood. I actually love playing here. We did a few support shows at this venue, so it’s quite an honorable show. We loved it so much we came back. I think it’s kind of like an underdog town, ‘coz you know everyone expects the London show to be the big show. But then you come here, and you don’t know what to expect. It’s kind of up there with Scotland. The crowds are pretty crazy. They’ve kind of got a good reputation for going wild at gigs haven’t they?

2. You’re filling up the venue tonight. Have you toyed at all with bigger venues or is this where you belong with this kind of capacity?

Phil: We’re in quite a weird stage for our band to be in. The last tour was really successful, and for this one we didn’t want to be too ambitious. We just wanted to come back a year later and do the same rooms, and it’s worked out quite well. We work better on a bigger stage. We’ve got more musicians this time as well, so it’s quite good that we’ve got a big stage actually. We like playing the small shows as well. It’s been quite a steady sort of progression. We’re happy to come back a year later and do the same rooms, fill them up and do a good job.

3. Speaking of the size of the crowd, how much scarier is a festival crowd?

Phil: It’s quite easier playing a headline show because you know they are actually here to see your band. With a festival crowd, you have to sort of work it. Not a lot more but it’s not a sure thing. You need to know who’s there, whether it could be someone who hasn’t heard your band and kind of wants to know if you’re alright, or someone who knows your band. You have to sort of work harder to make a good impression, I think.

4. So what was your scariest show?

Phil: We did a show once in Biel, Switzerland. It was a kinda like, odd sort of commune really. It was run by like… homeless people and that was quite an odd show, ‘cuz it was kind of lawless. There was no law there. It was kinda like you could do anything you wanted. The police weren’t allowed in this area. That was pretty intimidating. It was quite a fun show, but it was just the area that was pretty sketchy.

5. Which takes priority, touring or recording?

Phil: The tour is for us to play the new album for people because it was released about two months ago. At the same time we play our older stuff as well, but we spent the first part of this year writing our new album, and we’re really eager to perform those songs live. The majority of our set is made up of our new stuff. But it’s not just the new album. We’ve kind of constructed, a pretty impressive set. It’s one of my favourite sets that we have ever done. We’ve incorporated songs from all three of our albums, and it works really well. It’s pretty cool.

6. When you start creating the album, is it something that begins naturally on tour, or is there a day where you say, ‘the creation of the album begins today’?

Phil: When it comes to working on a new album, you’re sort of conscious because you realize that you’ve come to the end of your touring for now. We’re always thinking of writing new songs, but whether it’s a body of work is a different matter. We’re always writing whenever we have off time, but with this new album we knew about two or three months before we recorded that we needed to have material to go in and thinking about building the album. The stress this time round wasn’t so much… between Smart Casual and Dirt it came around really fast. We learnt our lesson on In Gold Blood. We were really conscious of writing new songs before it was too late. By the end of the last tour we were playing our new songs so people knew that we were working on a new album. We kind of got it between January and March. We’d finished all our ideas and wrote pretty much the whole record in that sort of time frame. To have the whole thing recorded and wrapped up… it didn’t seem like it was that much. We were working every day but it came together perfectly.

7. Bands like Biffy Clyro can’t go a single written feature without someone mentioning that they are from Scotland, and it’s the same with Lostprophets and Wales. Has being Welsh affected your career at all in that way?

Phil: To a certain extent it has. We’re very proud that we are a Welsh band, and you do tend to read about it all the time. There’s a kind of collective of Welsh musicians. It does help you ‘coz a lot of our fans like Lostprophets, so they will check out our band. I think when we first started we always wanted to do something that was quite familiar to the local scene, but then be just a bit different from the rest. If it gets hard with looking like just another Welsh band, if you want to prove a point, you’re gonna have to do something for yourself. But then I don’t think it’s a bad thing really because there is something special about it – there being a collective of thriving young rock bands. So it’s cool.

8. What has been your most awkward interview? Aside from this one of course!

Phil: I can kind of handle an interview quite well because I don’t really get offended by anything too much. We do a lot of meet-and-greets and they can get quite awkward.

9. Because of particularly crazy fans?

Phil: I mean last time we did a meet-and-greet someone brought us like a packet of lube to sign and I thought that was really odd. And I think it’s really strange thing. I would never ask my favourite band to sign something like that!


10. Is there anything else you would like to say to those crazy fans?

Phil: Go and check out our new album, In Gold Blood. We have a new single out which is out on October 24th called ‘Not in This World’. We’ll be announcing a new tour for next March next year.

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