Kids In Glass Houses: “Everything we do from this point on, we do because it’s cool”

KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES are back, and they’ve a lot to celebrate.

Words: Alex Bradley

It’s somehow been 15 years since Kids In Glass Houses released their debut album ‘Smart Casual’. With huge hits like ‘Easy Tiger’, ‘Saturday’ and ‘Give Me What I Want’, the Welshmen were a jewel in the crown of a burgeoning UK rock scene that brought You Me At Six, Deaf Havana, Fightstar and Enter Shikari along with it. In the years that followed, they released three more records before announcing their intention to break up in 2014. On Halloween, their final tour culminated in their hometown of Cardiff.
Nine years on from their farewell, the band returned for this year’s Slam Dunk to celebrate the anniversary of their breakout debut, as well as announce a vinyl reissue and a run of shows for this October. Between their two festival reunion shows, frontman Aled Phillips and bass player Andrew “Shay” Sheehy discuss revisiting ‘Smart Casual’, getting Kids In Glass Houses back together again and some unconventional plans for staying in shape ahead of their full UK tour.

So, how was yesterday in Hatfield?
Aled: Insane. Absolutely crazy.
Shay: We had high hopes for it, but it definitely surpassed all expectations we had for it.

Is it one of those situations where you remember every second, or was it a complete blur?
Shay: I was able actually to take a moment and take it all in, but you had a slightly different experience, didn’t you?
Aled: I’m always inside my own head when I play, so I was agonising over things I should have done. In retrospect, it was a blur.
Shay: It was cool to see all the photos and videos back. I’m showing our age a little bit but 10 years ago, there was just shit content online when people tag us, but now you can relive the whole set and to see it from different perspectives, which is great.

Aled, when you talk about getting in your head, is it good that you get a chance today to go out and put it right?
Aled: Yeah, exactly. We didn’t do a warm-up show. I don’t think a warm-up show would have made any difference anyway because it isn’t 15,000 people in a field, but today, I am way more relaxed than yesterday.

You’ve got a full anniversary tour in October, having played this weekend. Do you wish you’d scheduled those dates for sooner?
Aled: I wish it was tomorrow.
Shay: I would just love to continue on touring right now. I’m so keen on this. I did not realise how much I missed this and this environment, spending time with my friends, going out, having a coffee together.
Aled: Nothing about music, just coffee and hanging out!

It’s probably easy to forget that actually just hanging out together is a big part of touring when you haven’t done it for so long.
Aled: Yeah, it’s such an integral part of being in a band.
Shay: Yeah, we went years where we basically lived in each other’s pockets, and we didn’t do anything without the other person knowing, and all of a sudden, it was an abrupt end. For me, personally, it took a little while to process, and we all moved on with our lives and our families and careers, but it’s nice to have a really cool reason to get back together and spend time together.

Alongside the anniversary shows, you’ve also revisited ‘Smart Casual’ for a reissue.
Aled: Romesh [Dodangoda] has remixed it and remastered it.
Shay: It all came about quite naturally. We issued the ‘Smart Casual’ vinyl years ago, and we were seeing copies going online for hundreds of pounds, and we were like, “It doesn’t seem very fair. We can organise it, surely, to give these people a re-press?” And then, just as we were discussing that amongst ourselves, we gave the idea to our producer and friend Romesh, who did the original album, and he was like, “Well, funnily enough, I’ve been remixing the album in my spare time.” We were like, “Can we hear it?” And so, in that sense, it came together really naturally and organically. And then Slam Dunk have been onto us for a few years to play some shows, and it’s just like the perfect date because it is 15 years to the day that the album came out, so it felt like the place to return.

So you weren’t necessarily “hands-on” when it came to the remaster, then?
Aled: I think for him [Romesh], he has learnt so much in the 15 years. He was 22 when he produced our record, and since then, he has been nominated for Grammys and shit, so I will defer to his expertise when it comes to it.
Shay: It’s brilliant because it’s so refreshing. I love the mix on the original album, but we were very much of the brief of, “This is our first album and should sound like us when we play.” So there is a lot of instrumentation within that first album that was buried in the mix. It was there for feel more than actual audibility. With this one, Romesh has kind of thrown the kitchen sink at it. There is instrumentation that I didn’t know existed. He has let it shine, and it’s very fresh.

Listening back, either preparing for these shows or listening to the new masters, are there elements you forgot existed?
Aled: Joel [Fisher, guitarist] did not know there was piano on ‘Raise Hell’. I didn’t know there were keyboards on songs like ‘Pillow Talk’. There was so much. There were loads of little vocals because we did so many harmonies. Harmonies were a big thing in 2008, and we just spent fucking hours doing all these harmonies, so there’s those. Just textures. We spent a full month just fucking around on that album and doing little tiny bits you completely forget are there because you never play them live after it’s done.

Traditionally, bands would mark each decade of an album, but you’ve gone for the 15th anniversary to do this reissue and tour. So, why now?
Shay: In terms of numbers, convenience, because it’s a round number, but, for us, it was about us feeling comfortable doing it. It was about our personal journey where we were comfortable doing the band because everything in our personal lives was in order. When you’re in a band full time, and you depend on it for money, paying bills, that’s when we had hell with it. That’s why we eventually stopped doing it. But, in the time since then, we all have our careers, our wives, and our families, and I think everyone has so much stability that this is now just this hobby that we love that we get to do as a privilege. And we have all these other components that keep us solid.

The irony is that most bands are actually struggling more than ever to make ends meet, just as you’ve got it figured out.
Aled: It’s impossible. We split up 9 years ago, and even at that time, we were grinding it out. We were making about £300 per month by the end of it.
Shay: And now, we don’t have to do anything. Everything we do from this point on, as this band, we do because it’s cool for the audience or the fans. We are not having to put ourselves in positions just to keep the bank balance turning over. It’s a different proposition, and it’s difficult in that sense.

Getting back together for the odd anniversary show has a way of snowballing into new music. Do you think there is a possibility of that happening with Kids In Glass Houses?
Shay: Aled is a prolific songwriter, as is Ian [Mahanty], our guitarist. You never stop writing songs. It goes down to the fact everything is on our own terms now, so if we feel we want to put out some new music, then we may do, but at the minute, it’s cool. We have the vinyl reissue, we have these festival appearances, we have got the October tour, and who knows what we decide to do after that? It’s quite exciting for us.

Well, now you’ve got four months between these shows and tour, what are you going to do in that time?
Aled: No fucking idea! Tomorrow I’m going to get a pizza, but after that, I’m fucked.
Shay: I’ve really been enjoying tie-dying our merch, so I might take that up full-time. But yeah, we do need to figure that out, actually and touch base every month to just oil the wheels.

And check if you still want to do it!
Aled: Yeah! October is cold. I don’t really know. There is always stuff to do, keep people engaged and sell all the tickets.
Shay: We are going to put a lot into this October tour, so there will be a lot of preparation. We want it to be amazing and special, and it’s good that we have a lot of time to prepare for it. It’s going to have to be twice as long as this set, and I’m knackered after this, so there is going to have to be some sort of physical education that needs to be done. Do some yoga, probably. What does Sting do?
Aled: Tantric sex?
Shay: We will be doing some tantric sex. ■

Taken from the July 2023 edition of Upset.