It feels like Indoor Pets are on the cusp of great success, the Sittingbourne fun merchants are motoring at a great neck speed. From touring with the hottest new kids on the block, VANT to scoring a highly prized opening slot for those garage rock marauders, Spring King. It’s been a hectic 2016 for Indoor Pets, who have also somehow found time to record their debut album, but clearly the band are taking it all in their stride and still remain the humble and uber passionate foursome that we’ve come to know and love from the early days, all the way to the present.
We grabbed a couple of minutes with Indoor Pets’ singer and guitarist, Jamie Glass, before the band took to the stage at Manchester’s Deaf Institute to open for the lovely noise makers VANT.
So I wanted to get straight into it, the big news is that this year you’ve recorded your debut album! How do you feel you’ve grown as artists from your last EP to now?
Jamie Glass (singer/guitarist): “I think it’s been quite massive. I don’t think there will be much difference in the kind of ethos with the way that we write stuff but I’ve definitely felt a transformation. It’s gone from doing it as much as we can in our spare time to now just being our lives, and it is taking over. Absolutely every part of our day is spent touring, recording, doing everything and I think that’s come in through music. I think it’s coming across as more professional and more polished, we’re taking risks but we know what we’re capable of now rather than just seeing what people like, we know what we do well now and we’re sticking with it.”
While you were in the studio, you had been writing new material. Did any of these new tracks change the original plan for the album?
JG: “Yes. Definitely. I was a bit cheeky because we were meant to go in the studio and I knew I had about a week or two before we were going in for pre-production, and I decided to just write as many songs as possible because I was a bit scared that we didn’t have enough material. We did. I mean we had about 20 songs but I’ve been very scared of having an album that’s filled with old songs, which for most people will be new but for those that like us will be a bit of a cop out. There was two songs that were written days before we put the deadline of ‘now we need to make these album songs and we need to decide which one’s we’re gonna record’ and both of those songs are looking like they’re gonna be on the album actually, so it changed it drastically just in the last minute. I was a bit cheeky because I wasn’t supposed to, everyone was telling me not to do it but I think it was a good thing.”
Are there any instruments featured on the album that we might be surprised to hear?
JG: “Erhhh, I don’t know about surprised…We’ve been experimenting a bit with our keys and our keyboards, because we’re a guitar band live, but a few of the songs are nice and poppy, so we’re experimenting with that. A little of brass maybe…we like the old theremin as well, but I wouldn’t say anything that would completely shock, there’s no saxophone solo’s or anything like that.”
Will the album be comprised completely of unreleased material or will you be adding in a few of the older favourites, but maybe with new updated flavours?
JG: “Yeah I think it’ll probably be a bit of both. We’ve got a few songs that I think would be silly not to have on an album because although at the moment we’re doing well. I think we’re doing really well for the amount of effort we’re putting in, if we ever get the chance of releasing it on a big label, we want the world to hear it. So it’ll be unfair to have a really good song but we can’t show people because they weren’t there in Kent when we did it a couple of years ago.”
You brought in producer Kristofer Harris for the album, how was it working with him?
JG: “It was lovely, it was nice because obviously we all take it very seriously and it can bring a lot of arguments and debating because we all have different opinions – we’re not all the same person, we all have different sounds that we want. And it was nice having someone from an outer point-of-view offering his two cents. But he’s lovely and he’s a genius as well, I actually think it’s made the album rather than it just being a name for the sake of it. He’s definitely come in and made us think about how we write our songs. I think you’ll be able to tell that someone’s come in and done it, but without it sounding completely different because I don’t want to take away from James [Simpson] at all, the guitarist, who’s done it all himself before, because he’s still co-producing it. But all of the pop elements that Kris brought in with him, you can definitely tell has influenced us.”
I’d imagine you all take quite a hands-on approach in the studio, so has the process of making the album taken more of a collaborative approach between you and Kristofer?
JG: “It’s been tricky because we’ve had to have conversations that we’re not used to having. We’re not used to someone questioning us and going ‘Are you sure that’s right? Are you sure that’s meant to sound like that?’ or almost kind of going ‘Ooh that kinda sounds like this, is that what you want it to sound like?’ because we’re so used to just doing whatever we want but I’d say more often than not, he’s right actually and it’s been quite fun. We’ve been recording at Squarehead Studios which is not only where we do all of our stuff but also where Kris has done a lot of stuff before, so no one felt out of place walking around picking up an instrument and going ‘Have you tried this amp? Have you tried this setting?’ So it definitely didn’t feel like he was testing the waters. We just went straight into it because we’ve all worked in that studio pretty much all of our careers, so it definitely didn’t feel like we were stepping on each other’s toes.”
Indoor Pets has always been lucky as a band to have an arsenal of skills within its members to raid whenever needed, from production to artistic vision. Do you feel that having these skills within the band has helped you in any way to progress quicker in the industry?
JG: “Definitely…because we’re pretty poor, so we do not have the money to hire a studio every time we needed some demo’s and we didn’t have enough money to hire someone to record videos every time we had to put something out. We’re so thankful that Rob was clever enough to do all of the filming and the design, and exactly the same with James with the production and even Ollie does a lot of the photography and stuff like that. When he can, he contributes to the artwork and the press shots, and I pretty much just sit around and sing, that’s all I really do. It’s really them that keep the ball moving and it’s the same for our manager as well. We’re so fortunate to have so much experience but in such a small internal group.”
It’s been great as well with the funding from the PRS Foundation…
JG: “Fantastic, yeah. I think that was James that kinda pushed that idea as well, and Chris, our manager, that helped him with it, so again it’s their expertise saving our lives again.”
You always seem keen to share your love for new music, so who are the bands that you’re digging right now?
JG: “At the moment, because we went to SXSW, I was able to check out a few bands that I like. There was a band called Sunflower Bean, I got their album a few months ago, it is pretty much all I’m listening to at the moment. That and Demob Happy, who we were so lucky to hang out with, they’re just blowing my mind with the heaviness and yet poppiness that they can do. I always felt that we were trying to do that, and they just do it on a whole other level, it’s brilliant. So Demob Happy, definitely. We got to see Clean Cut Kid, I was impressed live because on record, they seem very kind of keyboard / pads but live its all guitar and it sounds really good. And of course, bands like Fickle Friends, that we’ve been touring or doing stuff with for a long time now, and they’re starting to make waves now…”
Have you ever thought about possibly collaborating with another band or artist on a project?
JG: “I don’t know! No one’s ever asked. If you consider what Kris Harris has been doing on the album, in a way that’s almost collaborating because he’s from Story Books, which is band that we all really like and he’s kinda offering how he would have written the songs and stuff. But it’s never really kind of come up, there’s a band in Kent called Fish Tank that we really love, that we would love to do something with if ever possible, it’d be nice. Because Ed, the lead singer, could play guitar and I just wouldn’t have to bother or I could just sit back and do backing vocals or something like that, and the lazy person inside me, thinks that is the way forward, just sitting on an armchair at the back of the stage.”
And you’ve toured with them before…
JG: “Yes. Yes.”
What have you learned about each other from making music together?
JG: “We know when to push buttons because I think Rob and James being brothers can toe the line quite a lot, they know exactly how to hurt each other, like emotionally, and they know when to do it and when not to do it. But I think from each other I’ve learnt, the stuff that James has showed me about how he records music and [where] he gets his influences from has completely changed how I thought music should be and I kinda came into it with a very narrow experience. Yeah he’s been pretty helpful with that.”
How do you regard the past few years of the band? Maybe if you could use an analogy to describe your progression from the early days till now?
JG: “Haha, an analogy? It does feel like a bit of an underdog story, for some reason because we’ve been doing it for what feels like forever and it’s now getting to a point where it’s almost paying off, almost. I mean it’s paying off in the fact that we get to do this all the time and people like it, which is more than we were expecting at the beginning but it’s almost at a point where we can actually just do this as a job which has always been the dream. So, I guess yeah, an analogy probably similar to Rocky Balboa, except that none of us have any muscle. But I can jog around Philadelphia. I think it’s Philadelphia it’s based in? See I could do that.”
Indoor Pets is touring with Spring King this May and also can be seen across many festival this summer. For a full list of tour dates and appearances, head here.