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August 2019
Feature

Indoor Pets' debut album has arrived: "We still feel like phonies at the party"

Their time is now.
Published: 10:15 am, March 11, 2019Words: Jasleen Dhindsa.
Indoor Pets' debut album has arrived: "We still feel like phonies at the party"

Indoor Pets are in full force in the lead up to the release of their long-time-coming debut record, and frontman Jamie Glass has just got back from the filming of their latest music video.

"We're re-releasing ‘Pro Procrastinator'," he explains. "We're shooting a new video; it's wild."

Featuring a procrastinating dinosaur, it's a tad less creepy than the Frankenstein-like monsters CGI'd into their previous music video 'Being Strange', he says.

"'Being Strange' was very creepy, but we didn't get involved in the creepiness until right at the end where we saw it all come together, I was being carried around by people in green suits... which I guess is kind of creepy. Whereas this one, we're very much in the thick of it."

Being in the thick of it is something Indoor Pets are very much used to; they've even got a track on their record dedicated to it. From a very public name change to a dropped album deal, this is a band who have been through a lot.

Thankfully, Indoor Pets are working through all the trials and tribulations of being an indie band in the 21st Century in their favour, and it even inspired the title for their debut album.

"'Be Content' [as in the synonym for satisfied] was a theme through [the record], but we also like the idea that you can interpret it as 'Be Content' [as in substance]. It depends on where your mind is.

"A lot of the time, things are not appreciated as much as they used to be, especially in music because it now comes down to delivering content for a lot of social media and stuff. For us, it's a tongue in cheek reference to that, but also in reference to the fact that the whole album is really about trying to find a little bit of inner peace, like being unhappy with yourself and trying not to beat yourself up over it."

"I'm perpetually moaning and walking around wet"
Jamie Glass

Indoor Pets have pulled out all the stops for 'Be Content'; every corner of this release has been dissected to ensure that the five years of waiting for this album have been worth it.

The artwork for this cycle depicts a clean cut, pastel-coloured virtual city, where all songs have their own buildings.

"Rob [Simpson], our drummer, pretty much does all of our artwork and all of our visuals, and he came up with the artwork alongside the name. We had an idea that it would be great to show people being constantly filmed in what seems like a metropolitan wonderland.

"We didn't hear about it for a couple of weeks; then he came back with this city. I was so amazed, and took the idea and just ran with it. It's a virtual city that we're hoping in the next couple of weeks we'll introduce to everyone, and you can go through it, and there's lots of Easter Eggs and treats. Every single song has its own building or design structure; it's made the whole campaign feel like this serious bookend-ish start and finish.

"We're so used to making artwork as we go along, when we came up with this idea that every song was going to be a structure it makes it feel like it's this whole solid campaign. It's been fun knowing exactly what the artwork is going to be and knowing that it's brilliant."

Indoor Pets' debut mixes the exciting and refreshing new with much loved older material, a decision that the band has stuck with for quite a while.

"We had songs that we wanted to be on the album since we wrote them, and we tried hard to keep those. Every song that we questioned we knew instinctively that it shouldn't, if it's a no brainer then let's write a new song.

"With the theme of being content, there are tracks like 'Pro Procrastinator' that we would have been shooting ourselves in the foot over if we hadn't put it on. I feel like it would have been a disservice not to put it on.

"‘Barbiturates' and 'Pro Procrastinator' were the two, since we wrote them, we knew were going to be strong parts to our album."

Having these older tracks on the record is also indicative that a debut record has been in the making for several years. 'Pro Procrastinator' was a track that was intended for the debut, that kept getting pushed back and back.

"We got to a situation where we were virtually signing a record deal with a label. It was good, and we were very excited, and it was basically going to guarantee us a nice solid few years with a major label. It fell through last minute; the plug was pulled and left us in limbo. It happened to us twice with the same label. It's as if we enjoyed punishment," Jamie says.

"That took up a whole year, and while this was happening, we recorded a debut album. We got funding from PRS a few years ago to record; we recorded an album, and we couldn't put it out because of the behind-the-scenes politics getting a record deal. Having to change our band name took a large chunk, too.

"We were sitting on an album for a long time, and Wichita got involved seemingly overnight. Half the label hadn't even seen us live but were excited by the music they had heard, and they signed us within a week of showing any interest."

After signing to Wichita, the band decided to scrap their then two-year-old album.

"It's like having an extra band member," Jamie says of having Wichita on board. "Not in a controlling way; they're so supportive, and they want to come along to every show because they love us.

"The only thing they critiqued when we delivered the album was that the gap between two tracks needed to be two seconds longer. That's literally it, everything else they loved. They let us do whatever we wanted, pick the tracklist, the singles and be ourselves. It's been nice; I'm so happy to be with them."

"We shouldn't be afraid to be a pop band and have loud guitars"
Jamie Glass

'Be Content' is a record that solidifies so well what Indoor Pets have crafted over the past five years. What glues all tracks together is Jamie's signature satirical twang; whether it's an upbeat fuzzy pop number or an emotional melodic banger, you're always going to hear a tongue-in-cheek quip about modern day life or personal insecurities.

"It's tricky to pinpoint where it's come from," Jamie says about his lyrical style. "I find it very hard to be happy, and I find it hard to be actively sad [because] I feel like I'm trying to get attention. So I'm somewhere in the middle, I'm passively sad, and I'm passively happy.

"Whenever I have a great moment in my life it's always followed by, 'Oh I probably only got this because of this', or 'I maybe don't deserve any of this'. I think that's my catchphrase.

"When I'm sad the same thing happens. I think, 'There are people in Africa dying!' I find it very hard to be comfortable and show emotion, and that comes through in the lyrics, I always try to be tongue-in-cheek. I've never been able to write a love song where it's been gushing love, because I've never been able to gush love.

"The way that I write, it might not be the most effective way, but if I ever wrote a love song where it was just soppy lyrics and had no depth, I don't think I'd be able to sing it or believe it, it just wouldn't happen. I'd much rather be making fun of myself or making fun of the fact I'm in love, or happy, or sad, or angry.

"A lot of the time it's me being angry at the world and not knowing how to deal with it, so I put it in the music where it's all nice and upbeat, and even though it's me being angry it's a happy song. I'm just a very conflicted person, so I try and put that in my lyrics as much as possible.

"I used to read a lot of the teenage icons like JD Salinger, and Charles Bukowski books where it's very much woe is me, everyone's shit and I'm so much smarter than everyone else, and no one else can see it. That's where my head has been since I was fifteen, and I just can't shake it - I'm perpetually moaning and walking around wet."

It's not as if Indoor Pets have just been waiting around for the release of their debut. They've established themselves as favourites in the UK indie scene, having toured Europe and played massive festivals like Reading & Leeds.

"We still feel like the same people we did three years ago, we feel like phonies at the party. We love making music and being around people who make the same type of music, but we're nowhere near as cool as all of these people, and they're so much smarter and more handsome and pretty.

"We're just sitting in the corner, like how did we get invited to this party?" he says with genuine disbelief at what his band have achieved.

"I absolutely loved being able to travel to America to do shows because that just feels like you're doing something as a job, and it's what you love and people want to hear music that you wrote in your bedroom like 8,000 miles across the sea," Jamie reflects on his time in Indoor Pets so far.

"I love the headline shows that we've done, because we're always working hard to do support shows like Bad Sounds, Ash, The Big Moon, Spring King, The Magic Gang... we've always wanted to support people because it's such a great way to meet a new audience.

"When we go back to these towns on our own gigs, and they're completely packed with people singing along, it doesn't matter how big you wanna be in America, being in your own home country and having people actually connect and wanting to come and see you on a cold night in Newcastle, is still hard to comprehend. It's just a brilliant feeling to be able to do that. I love the fact people will be enjoying our music in Glasgow, I can't imagine how or why, but they do."

One major event the band went through in the lead up to their debut album was changing their name, Get Inuit, instigated through a claim that it was cultural appropriation. Despite the difficulties, Jamie has no regrets and feels like it cemented a much-needed change within the band.

"We used to feel like we weren't getting the breaks that we deserved, and we were quite selfish about that, narcissistic in that we thought we should be progressing more than we were. Then someone came out of the blue and said, 'You know what, I hate your band name because I find it offensive and I think you're insincere by using that name'. It felt like a punch in the face because we're just four boys from Kent and we never considered that this was a problem, let alone a problem that we needed an answer to.

"The answer was it's just the name we thought of when we wrote a list of puns, and it's the one we thought was the catchiest. It was a lot of immediate backlash, [and we thought] hang on, we don't deserve this, why is everyone being horrible to us? Then [we read] more about it and understood why people were upset.

"We had no idea what we were doing and that it can be damaging. It was quite a weird moment to realise that we had been quite ignorant about something we had no idea about, it wasn't like we knew about it and we didn't care. We had no idea that what we were saying could be insensitive.

"I felt like we matured a bit. It felt like our first fight; we got beaten up, and we went home, and we went, well we know what it feels like and we aren't scared of it anymore. We're going to learn from this and do things a bit differently - and that's why we changed the name.

"Even though we changed the name, people didn't care; they were still unhappy. We then got shouted at by people for changing the name, literally everyone shouting at us, and all we wanted to do was release music. I feel so much stronger because of it because I feel like so many bands would roll over and die at that point, if not through choice, but because of people forgetting about them. Not many bands go through that so publicly and recover from it.

"I know bands change their name all the time, but to be quite established and then change your name and release your first album... It felt like a real challenge. Every single day I'm really glad we did it, and I honestly feel like the good luck we've had since has been from it, because now we've got a strong name and now we don't have to tell people how to spell Inuit, because that's all I ever did.

"It was tough, but I one hundred percent believe it was the right choice to make, and that we wouldn't be putting out our debut album now if we hadn't have done it. Or at least people wouldn't care, and I feel like people do care now."

When you listen to 'Be Content', you can feel that there's a new lease of life in the band. Songs are more confident and refined than the rough edges on their first EPs, so much so they've packed fourteen tracks onto it.

"The way we saw it was that it's our first album, and there's a bunch of people that have known us since 2014, and they've been keeping an eye out for this album for a very long time. I feel like if we delivered ten tracks that would have been two tracks a year, and it felt like that wasn't a service to them," Jamie admits.

He continues: "A lot of the songs on the album that people haven't heard are probably the heaviest ones, which is quite exciting. I think people are expecting it to be mostly indie pop, down that route, and that's never the route we want to go down with our music, well not intentionally.

"We're not afraid to keep it simple now, whereas a lot of times we did try to make things very complex before because we wanted to show that we could make things very complex, and we were credited songwriters and producers and whatnot. When we wrote the last tracks going into the album, [we wanted to] keep it simple but powerful, because that's what we do best.

"It's just coming to terms with actually this is a strength, and we shouldn't be afraid to be a pop band and have loud guitars, rather than trying to be a complex indie band."

His favourite song on the record is 'Crouch', because "it was just the perfect song for me at the time," Jamie explains.

"It was one of the first times I finished a song in a long time and thought, this is exactly what I wanted it to sound like musically. It's a bit of a headbanger about not knowing what's going on, feeling like I'm being shouted at for being a millennial, but I can't ever not be a millennial because that's just what I've grown up to be. Not having any money, but at the same time being told to buy a house and grow up, and not knowing how to because I wasn't taught how to.

"That song for me was a great way to release all of that tension; it's just one of my favourites to play. It's the one I'm always excited to play live.

"'Heavy Thoughts' is quite an old song we've just never really had a place for. It was always one for the album, but that album never turned up. It felt so good to have that on the tracklist; it's a lot of people's favourites, I think that's going to be another gem for everyone that's stuck with us for the last few years because I know a lot of people live have always appreciated it.

"Those two, in particular, I'm excited for people to hear. We purposefully put it in the middle because that's the mountain top, that's the peak of the album. Everything's building up to that moment, that's why a lot of the poppier songs are at the back end of the album. I'm proud of it all, to be honest."

"I feel like this is the year where I get to quit my day job, which is the dream"
Jamie Glass

With such a huge achievement in 'Be Content', it's hard to see how they could top it in 2019.

"We're going to America to do our first headline shows which is batshit crazy. I know it's annoying, but I keep telling people because I get to go to New York and Los Angeles and get paid to do it, that's insane. And we've got our first album out, we've got loads of stuff to show people about the world that we've made, our virtual world.

"We've made a documentary which will be part of the virtual world. That whole month will be opening up the theme park and letting people in; then we go on our biggest headline tour ever, we're headlining Scala which is insane, a thousand people. I don't know a thousand people!

"That's the thing I wake up to every day; I'm like, that's happening. It's not a dream; you're playing that show. We've already planned a lot of surprises for that show as well; it's going to be a bit of a spectacular thing.

"We've got loads of festivals too, 2000trees… and then just taking it from there. Our plan this year is playing and performing to everyone at every given opportunity. I feel like this is the year where I get to quit my day job, which is the dream."

It's safe to say that's a dream which could easily become a reality, as Indoor Pets are doing everything but wasting their life.

Taken from the March issue of Upset. Indoor Pets' album 'Be Content' is out now.

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