It would be fair to say that the way music hype works is changing. The turnover of hype bands was astonishingly high not long ago, but all of a sudden the landscape has changed and the people in the know are now putting all of their eggs in one basket.
This year, undoubtedly, the basket belonged to Glasvegas. Late last year their signature track Daddy’s Gone crash-landed into NME’s tracks of the year list at number 2, and since then the Glaswegian four piece haven’t looked back, despite the slight hiccup of missing out on a number one album to Metallica.
Not that the band expected it in the slightest. Guitarist Rab Allen says: “We were delighted with number two. Metallica are one of the biggest bands in the world, we knew we weren’t going to beat them.”
Since the album release Glasvegas have played practically every night to increasing levels of devotion from their followers. Indeed, they’ve hardly been off the road for the last few months. Rab explains: “We’ll be touring for about a year. We’ve had two weeks at home since last November.”
The band have developed an almost gimmick of never being seen in any colour than black, with singer James Allan recently taking to wearing sunglasses relentlessly. But Rab says that there’s a less interesting reason for the lack of colour in the band’s wardrobe, “It’s just easier for when we go on tour, for washing! You open the suitcase and it’s all black.”
It lends itself to a startling spectacle in the band’s live show. White light batters your eyes, with the only thing you can see being four near-static figures on the stage, totally lost in the music. It’s a nigh-on religious experience.
Rab adds: “Grown men are singing the songs back at us crying. The music is quite emotional for some people, especially lyrically.”
Glasvegas live is a incredible experience. Rarely is there a second’s respite from the aural blast, emotion pouring from the band into the crowd and back again. When we see the band, in a tiny room in Manchester, it almost, almost brings a tear to our eye. And we’re very, very tough. We ask if the smaller shows are a better way to see the band live.
“We’ve done some massive gigs that have been incredible. We played Brixton [Academy] and the sound was amazing. Anything indoors is good.”
One of the most note-worthy things about the band is that they don’t shy away from dark themes in their output. The album covers, death, divorce, loss, stabbings and desperation, often in the same song.
“James is very good at putting himself in the shoes of other people”, says Rab. “The events in the songs aren’t necessarily things that have happened to us, but things he’s heard about.”
Glasgow is the rough sibling of cultured Edinburgh, more known for council estates and social deprivation, and it is this background that frames the background for the band’s work.
But despite all the critical praise Glasvegas still, to be cliché-tastic, keep it real. The band likes to stay as down-to-earth as possible, employing the now famous Geraldine [the former social worker from the band’s breakthrough hit, er, Geraldine] on the merchandise stall.
But with the world seemingly at their feet, Rab discloses to us that there may not be another Glasvegas album after their upcoming Christmas album, which the band recorded in a Transylvanian church.
“It [the Christmas album] was something James has always wanted to do. But if we don’t feel the material is better than what we’ve already done, we won’t release it,” states Rab plaintively.
DN is gobsmacked. But with James, the band’s chief songwriter, churning out new songs as regularly as clockwork, and the band’s ambition lying somewhere in the stars, the name of Glasvegas is certain to be a familiar one for years to come.
[This feature was written for Degrees North]