Interview and Photo by Betsy Bailie.
Indoor Pets are an indie-pop four piece from Kent. Describing their sound as “dirty pop” music, you can expect a lot of energy and screaming. Songs about being a vegan, being strange and being a procrastinator are featured in their portfolio. I caught up with frontman Jamie Glass and bassist Ollie Nunn before their gig supporting Bad Sounds in Gorilla, Manchester. We chatted about their new album “Be Content” that’s coming out next March as well as some insight into their song writing process.
What’s your favourite city to play in?
Jamie: “Well we’re in Manchester, we kind of have to say Manchester. But to be fair…”
Ollie: “Probably would say Manchester…”
Jamie: “Probably would say Manchester! It’s always chaotic, always fun. It’s always a really fun, safe kind of environment to be in. We go to some towns and, not gonna name names, but pretty much every time we go there it’s always a bit rowdy and a little bit rough and it’s not that fun to be involved in it. Every time we come to Manchester, it’s always a great time.”
Ollie: “Ever since day one, when there was 5 people there. It’s always been ‘ready to go’. But yeah safe, safe’s the difference. Because rowdy, rowdy is fun but rowdy and looking out for the people you’re with is better. Leeds is also great; London is usually quite fun. Yeah. The North. We like the North more than London.”
What are you working on right now and what can we expect from the new album in March?
Jamie: “So it feels weird to be in a period of time where we’re actually not working on things, we’re just finally putting stuff out. Because we’ve been working on the album for the last year and now it’s finally finished and done we’re just taking a breather, well we’re literally just working on touring everywhere we possibly can at the moment and trying to get as many fans from Bad Sounds and we’re touring with a band called ASH next month which will be fun as well… So yeah, we’re just gonna be stealing a lot of fans. That’s kind of what we’re working on at the moment.”
Ollie: “End of 2018 for us is just to steal fans. Game plan from now on, until New Year I think.”
What’s the meaning of the name behind the new album “Be Content”?
Jamie: “So I wanted it to be a positive thing because I’m quite a negative person all the time and I’ve realised the thing I really want most isn’t to like be rich or to be handsome or anything like that, it’s to just be happy in my own skin. And that’s kind of where the name comes from, just being content rather than always wanting more, basically. But at the same time, we’re kind of known for being quite silly on social media and constantly posting rubbish memes and stuff like that so we wanted to have a little “Be content/be CON-TENT” thing going on. So it depends how you look at it rather it’s a positive or a negative thing. ‘Cause a lot of people hate content.”
Is there a specific thing that made you want to start a band?
Jamie: “Realising that I wasn’t good at anything else and I realised that quite early on. I liked performing, I’m a middle child, and I like being the centre of attention and I wanted to be an actor for a really long time. I can’t do voices, I’m slurring all the time. I’m a mumble-r. And there’s not many mumble-y actors, there’s like a niche for it. So the next step was performing in a band…”
Ollie: “Sing about mumbling…”
Jamie: “That’s it. Whine rather than mumble… But yeah, it’s the only thing I’ve ever been kind of good at so I can’t give it up or I’ll be rubbish at everything! I don’t know what else I’d do; I can’t sit in an office. Would be boring!”
What’s the last song you listened to?
Jamie: “In the van, our driver was playing Plan B, which is not something I’m proud to say we were listening to but it’s probably the actual answer. Plan B. We’ve been listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar recently, haven’t we? Just for the heck of it. Why not? And new bands, obviously Bad Sounds I’ve been listening to them and their album and it’s probably one of my favourites of the year. They’re one of my favourite bands going. I like a band called Gender Roles, they’re pretty great, they’ve just put out an EP. I could keep going…”
Ollie: “The last thing I listened to was The Front Bottoms ‘cause I decided to put my headphones in and had a little nap and yeah some early Front Bottoms…”
Who made you start thinking about lyrics more deeply and what’s your favourite lyric you’ve ever written?
Jamie: “The person who made me start thinking about lyrics more, which is a pretty boring answer, but it was Morrissey because…”
I so knew you were going to say that…
Jamie: “I’m such a cliché, aren’t I? But yeah, I listened to The Smiths a lot and he was the first person that made me realise that you can have original lyrics and it’s almost like poetry and he’s got kind of a terrible voice but it doesn’t matter because his words are so strong and powerful. So that was probably who inspired me to be a little bit more creative with that side of it…”
Ollie: “Didn’t you used to take Westlife songs and rewrite them for your mum?”
Jamie: “I did, when I was younger. My mum liked Westlife so I used to steal the melodies but write my own lyrics about how much I loved my mum because I was a weirdo. And favourite lyric…. We have a song called Teriyaki which is about me being a vegan and my brother being very much not a vegan and every Christmas we kind of argue over who’s right who’s wrong. And those verse lyrics and probably my favourite ones. I get to say the line “Batting for the Herbivore team” which I don’t think you get to say that often in the real world. So that’s probably my favourite line. I like it.”
Has the topic of your songs changed over time?
Jamie: “Yeah, I think so. Obviously when we started, it was four years ago, and I was a much younger person. Much more – I wanna say “bitchy”? A bit smarmy. I feel like I’ve mellowed out a bit, and been a bit more relaxed with lyrics and less spiteful. I used to be quite an angry person whereas now it’s more driven into self deprecation, feeling sorry for myself, rather than blaming everyone else for everything. I truly blame myself now rather than anyone else. So yeah, that’s probably been the only transition. I still pretty much write about the same things. Like being a weirdo. Can’t stop that. I’ve tried.”
Do you have any hobbies or interests that influence how you make music?
Jamie: “I like my football a lot, and I like to watch football a lot. So I always kind of have the dream of writing a song that’s going to be played on Match of the Day. So I always tried o think ‘Would this sound good in a 15 second segment?’ pretty much. And the all do, if Match of the Day is listening. They all fit perfectly, so I’m just waiting for the phone call. Dunno, my hobbies – music and watching Netflix. And again, I write songs that I think belong on Netflix shows. And there was one. One of our songs is on a Japanese show. SO random. Accomplished.”
Ollie: “I have hobbies but none that influence the music. They are sort of away from the music almost entirely. Also football, but I don’t come into the practice room or studio thinking ‘this would fit on Match of the Day’…”
Jamie: “But if we can write a song that can be made into a football chant then that’s it. Think of all the royalties and the money you’d make from that. All of the football chants have been the same for year so it’s about time a new song comes in. Change it.”
Where do you get inspiration for your songs?
Jamie: “A lot of the time it’s through desperation. Because for song reason I can’t write unless I have absolutely no time left to do it. So if I get told that ‘I need a song now, in a week’ then I’ll write. If I get told ‘You need to write an album in two years’, I won’t do it until the last week. I can’t write unless I’ve got pressure from people saying it needs to be done. So that’s what always inspires me to write, knowing that I have to because I’m lazy and I procrastinate all the time. So I need someone strict. My girlfriend’s quite good at just telling me off a lot of the time to just get me to do stuff. Which is weird because I like doing it, I’m just lazy. I’m just a really lazy person. Always being told off to do stuff… [To Ollie] You’re kind of the same. We’re both the same like that.”
Ollie: “A good kick up the arse. Even though when we’re doing it we like doing it.”
Jamie: “It’s the fear of failure. You don’t want to try because if you try you could fail. But then sometimes you have no choice but to do it. So you do it! And here we are. In a car park. Talking about it. There you go.”
Where does your mind wonder to when you’re playing on stage?
Jamie: “So most of the time I’m panicking about passing out because I’ve got a few big notes in the set that I build up to. And sometimes I kind of rock out before and I have this rubber neck thing where I spin it around and then I go to sing this big note and it basically just feels like all of the oxygen has been drained and my head is just like rotating 360 degrees on its axis and I’m just so dizzy. So most of the time I’m just thinking to myself ‘Don’t throw up, don’t pass out, don’t screw this up’ which I think comes across, I look very frantic. And a lot of the time I am, I’m panicking. Ollie’s quite good at it because he has long hair so he can just mask all the fear.”
Ollie: “I can mask it but the fear is very pretty much there. My fear is falling or, I can’t really see in front of me, I can see like my feet when I look down but I can’t really see unless we’re stopping and I move my hair out of my face… I can’t see anything. Like tonight there’s the monitor and mixing desk and next to that is all of Bad Sounds gear so I’m just gonna stay as far to this side of the stage so I don’t fall on all of their stuff. ‘Cause that happens…”
Jamie: “And when that happens he ends up hitting me with his guitar a lot. ‘Cause I’m right next to him so I always get hit by Ollie panicking, not falling over. Yesterday he hit me in the funny bone and I had a numb hand whilst trying to play. It really hurt, it felt like someone was electrocuting me. Oh well.”
Ollie: “Rock and roll.”
What’s your favourite song to play live?
Jamie: “My favourite is probably Pro-procrastinator which is the one we finish on. Just ‘cause it’s very frantic and it’s got to that point in the set where my voice is quite raspy and it’s quite shout-y so I don’t have to worry about being perfect singing, I can just shout and have a good time and jump around and there’s a good bit in the middle where I don’t have to sing so I can just run around the stage ‘cause normally I’m stuck by the microphone at the front. So it’s quite nice. I like that one. I actually get to let my hair down a bit.”
Ollie: “Mine would be Heavy Thoughts which isn’t a song we’re playing on this tour. But it will be a song we will be playing on a future tour. Yeah, it’s just like heavy, just a proper head-banging song. Yeah that would be mine. Although I do enjoy Pro-procrastinator.”
Are there any changes you would make to the music industry?
Jamie: “Yeah man. We’re always sitting in the van, moaning about the music industry. I think the one thing I’d change is make it a bit more about music again and make it a bit less about personality because although there are some great personalities in the UK industry and there’s some really cool people – there’s a lot of people that are trying their best to look good on social media, I guess. Like Instagram and Twitter and always trying to be influential and stuff like that. And it’s like, why don’t you just focus on writing some music and then the music will be better. And that’s kind of what I do all the time. I’m always quite silly online because I make fun of it. ‘Cause I don’t like having to sell myself. I’d much rather people just like it. If you don’t like it it’s fine, you don’t have to. But yeah, everyone kind of ends up looking and sounding the same because they’re too worried about looking cool. Leather jacket bands, I call them. ‘Cause they always wear leather jackets walking around, looking very cool. Yeah I’d get rid of them. Get rid of all of them, leather jacket bands. I sound like Morrissey now; which you predicted.”
Ollie: “The thing I would change is not really to do with the industry but music venues and I wish they were all flat. I wish they were all on the ground floor. And you can just roll al your gear in and play the show. I mean we’ve played places like The Attic in Glasgow which is like 600 flights of stairs which explains the name. But off the top of my head, I want a nice, easy load in. Stairs are not friends. Little less angsty.”
Jamie: “That’s the quote, stairs are not your friends!”
What is the dream outcome for the band?
Jamie: “The dream…. For us is just to do it full time. We don’t want to be the biggest band in the world and we don’t want to be like superstars are anything. We just want to make our own music and not have to worry about working. ‘Cause we all work and have jobs when we’re not on tour and it’s hard work ‘cause we’re pretty much doing two full time jobs at the same time so we’re pretty tired. So yeah, to be able to do it and not have to worry about being in crippling debt all the time. That’s kind of the dream for me. It used to be much bigger than that but now I’m trying to be content. Which is the name of the album. And I’ve just brought it full circle on the last question. Yeah I’m just trying to be content and that’s just trying to be able to write in my own time rather than having to work in the rubbish job that I work in. I can’t name the place but it’s rubbish.”
Ollie: “Agreed. Let’s do this full time really. Don’t want everything, just a little bit of some things. Be nice to play around the world. Come home and not have to get up at 6am to go to my job. That would be great. And then not finish at 6pm to go to band practice. I would wake up at midday and have band practice at like 2 until the evening and then eat, sleep, repeat.”
Jamie: “And lots of drugs. Sorry, I forgot to say that. Lots of drugs. I’m joking. I don’t do drugs.”
Ollie: “Lots of Lemsip…”
Jamie: “That’s it, lots of Lemsip… and menthol throat sweets. I’m addicted to that at the minute.”
Check out Indoor Pets’ new single Being Strange, available on Spotify now.
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