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Q&A: Glasvegas Discuss Los Angeles Living, New Member for “EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK ”

By Clare R. Lopez; thumbnail photo by PIP on May 26, 2011


Q&A: Glasvegas Discuss Los Angeles Living, New Member for  “EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK ”

Glasvegas has made some adjustments. After the departure of drummer Caroline McCay last year, Jonna Löfgren is now behind the drum kit flanked by founding Glaswegian members James Allan, Paul Donoghue and Rab Allan. (Yes, the Allans are cousins.) With the release of their sophomore effort EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK  earlier this month, the foursome's latest full-length has also built upon the noisy anthems established on their self-titled debut. Produced by Flood (Depeche Mode, PJ Harvey), layers of synth and polish are brought to the West Coast-inspired material. Just before heading out on the band’s North American tour, bassist Paul Donoghue answered FILTER’s questions about writing the record in Santa Monica, learning from Flood and what their newest member adds to the lineup.

What made you want to work on EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ in Santa Monica?

Paul Donoghue: When we first went to L.A., we stepped off the bus onto Sunset Boulevard and fell in love with the place. A few people had said that we might not like L.A., but we felt the total opposite. James went over in December of 2009 to find a house where we could live and record. He tried everywhere—Hollywood, Silver Lake, Malibu.
On his last day, he was at Santa Monica Beach and realized that it was the place. When he was walking along he saw that an ideal house was up for let, too; so everything fell into place. It was one of the most inspiring times for the band and I think that our surroundings were a real source for inspiration.

How did living there influence both the writing process and the album as a whole?

Some of the songs had been written before we got there, but it really inspired us as people. Walking along the beach with the sun hitting the Pacific was one of the best sights I have ever seen. When James was working on a song, it had to match the shimmer coming off the waves or it wasn't good enough and had to be worked on until it matched the sunlight dancing over the crests of the ocean.

There are a few songs written from the perspectives of others ("Stronger Than Dirt," "Dream Dream Dreaming," "Change"). What made inhabiting someone else’s point of view appealing?

It’s not so much James inhabiting someone else's space as being moved by the pain, struggles, torment and loneliness of another person. On the debut, he did the same from the view of a social services worker, of a grieving mother and of a swan-shaped pedalo. I don’t know why he is drawn to his songwriting in this way; he is very empathic, though, and certain things really affect him. It's one of his strong points that make him not only a great songwriter, but an amazing friend.

The album was recorded in London with Flood. What did you take from your time in the studio with him?

The biggest thing was that he gave us confidence and self-belief. We were all fans of what he had done and were looking forward to seeing where he could take us. When I headed in I was a little jittery, but Flood sat and watched me playing the bass for an hour until I was totally comfortable. For that, I owe him so much.

James Allan's mother can be heard on "Change." What was it like having her in the studio?

It was great. She came in, sat with James in the live room of the studio and read through the lyrics. After she had read them she started asking James if she could move some of the lines around so that they made more sense. It was great to see—James getting tips on songwriting from his mum! She was great, though, and seemed to get the emotion and power that James wanted in the song right away.

With Caroline McKay's departure last year, what made the Jonna Löfgren the right person to take her place? What does she bring to the band?

James said it best: Before, we used to have a sparkler, and now we've got a full box of fireworks. It is amazing to watch her play. She puts in such a performance and I've never seen any drummer anywhere near as good as her. Jonna fits in well, too, which is more important to us than any amount of technical expertise. When she came over for what she thought was an "audition," we didn't even ask her to play drums; it's more about a connection with us. We're very lucky we met her.

Having toured so extensively in support of your debut, what is your mindset as you take to the road again?

We want to take our circus to as many people as possible, and hopefully they lose themselves in the music as much as we do. We are a lot better live than we used to be and there seems to be more times in the set when we all go into our own little universes. This is the happiest we have all been; we all have smiles on our faces when we're onstage so I hope people enjoy the show.

With a number of U.S. tours under your belts and working on the album here, you are no strangers to America. What's your favorite place, thing or experience that's unique to the States?

For me, personally, it's New York. There is a vibrancy and electricity there that is unique to the city. Almost everyone we know has a special place in their heart for the city. I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time there and can't wait to go back. F


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