Australian band Glass Towers very recently caught our ear in the studio and, with their very first shows stateside coming up later this week in LA, we thought it proper to take some time to talk with frontman, Ben Hannam, about his song-writing inspirations, Jack Kerouac, and his stage presence, which is not drug-induced.
“Basically I was around sixteen at the time and I had been writing some songs in my bedroom and I got a bit bored of just being a bedroom musician, I guess,” says the now 22 Hannam. So he looked where any logically minded high-schooler would to build out a band—music class. Thus, in 2008, Glass Towers was born.
In the years since, the band has slowly gained notoriety on its home shores—playing Australia’s Splendour In The Grass festival and getting picked up early on by the Triple J radio program, Unearthed, which features unsigned local musicians. Last year, the band released its debut full-length album, Halcyon Days, supporting the release with a sold-out tour down under.
With Australia firmly conquered, the band’s now moving the act stateside, playing its first ever American shows this weekend at LA’s Bootleg.
“It’s our first time in America, so it’s really exciting—can’t wait,” Hannam told us. “It’s funny, you grow up in Australia watching so many movies and pretty much every single movie’s made in America and so I think people get, like, pre-ordained viewpoints of what America’s like, but I’m kind of more excited to just explore it.” He went on to explain the origin of his fascination with exploring the US—”I mean, one of my favorite authors is Jack Kerouac and, I won’t have much time off because I’ll be playing too many shows, but I’d just love to do as much exploring as I can. I’d love to go back to America after this tour and kind of see the real America, you know what I mean, like outside of being a band, like kind of really exploring it properly? I’d love to do that.”
So far, Ben’s plans once he gets to LA are pretty humble though, with a visit to Amoeba Music and getting over the jet lag high on the priority list. “I’m really bad at sleeping on planes—I’ve been plying on planes my whole and I’ve never gotten any better at it.”
Of Halcyon Days, the band’s debut full-length, Hannam says it gives voice to his pining for days not-so-long-past. “Basically, when I was growing up—when I was 18 or 17—I was really nostalgic…or I was kind of nostalgic before I should have been nostalgic. It was kind of like present tense nostalgia. I used to call myself a nostalgia-holic. I’d kind of go to house parties and do that kind of stuff and I’d get kind of, like…not melancholy, not sad, but I’d kind of always be looking back…like, a party I went to a week ago, I would look back on it with kind of like a fondness and a kind of nostalgic outlook.”
He continues, bringing his literary influence back into mix—”Basically I read On the Road by Jack Kerouac when I was 16 and I kind of really dug his writing style, his kind of spontaneous prose, I guess. And that kind of influenced me to come home from parties and just, like, scroll down every kind of detail, every character at a party, every kind of conversation I had. And so I kind of built up these diaries of ideas and just crazy characters and events that happened in my life. And that’s where I drew the inspiration for the record. So, yeah, in a way it’s kind of a semi-concept record of growing up and finding your place and…being a teenager, really.”
And, though it’s new to most of us, the band’s already excited to move on to new material. “The new stuff I’m writing now, it’s really different. It’s just really exciting to write towards the second record. It’s kind of hard to keep the same energy when you’ve been playing the same songs for, like, a good five years, over and over again.”
Regardless of whether it’s new to us or new to them, we’re excited to see them play, especially given Hannam’s description of their live sets.
“Live, compared to our studio record and our EP, the songs are a lot more raw; there’s more energy in it; we kind of get…when you see us live, you’ll understand. We get really kind of wrapped up in the music and we kind of feel it. We’ve got some kind of crazed reviews before, like people think I’m high or I have some sort of weird problem with me.”
Quite the bar to set for your very first US shows, but we’ve got every confidence they’ll live up to the hype. See for yourself—Glass Towers plays the Bootleg Bar Saturday night, opening for Dub FX, and then Sunday as part of the 6th annual Aussie BBQ—a day-long musical extravaganza at BootlegHiFi, presenting Australia’s best + brightest before they head off to SXSW in Austin.
Heading to SXSW? They’ll be at Bungalow Bar, 3.12; The Brew Exchange, 3.14; Maggie Mae’s, 3.15; and, if past years are any indication, one thousand other showcases in between. New York—catch them at Piano’s March 18 + at Rough Trade March 19. A full listing of tour dates including other cities along the way can be found on the band’s Facebook page.
You can listen to “Griffon”, the lead song from the debut EP, above. Get the EP, Collarbone Jungle, via iTunes or from the band on the road. Their full-length, Halcyon Days, is set for a stateside release later this summer.
Band Photo: Wilk