photo by Neil Krug
Interview by Helen Vivas and Alyssa DiCaterino
It’s been almost four years since The Glitch Mob released their last album, Love Death Immortality. That’s forever and a lifetime in terms of a musical career, but their time away was just enough for edIT, Ooah, and Boreta to completely conceptualize an emotionally moving and creative work that speaks to the dance floor. In the music industry, The Glitch Mob seems to defy the conventional odds. They kept fans waiting for more and more until, finally, they dropped the inevitable new album See Without Eyes. We had the absolute honor of sitting down with the guys at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
The Glitch Mob: Great. Amazing. We love it here so much. Good vibes. Southern hospitality is very real.
FS: Yeah it definitely is a thing. So you guys performed here back in 2014. Have you noticed anything different about the festival since then?
TGM: Yeah! The vibe shift. Bonnaroo has just changed greatly. They put a lot more emphasis on the experience of all the festival goers, and they’ve really stepped it up. The energy and the experience that you can get at Bonnaroo just seems like much more enriched now, in a good way. Like last night in Plaza 9 we played at this super, whacky party for Matt Schultz of Cage the Elephant. It’s like his whacky barn party thing that happens all weekend long for all of the campers out by Plaza 9. So yeah, we played on top of this like crazy birthday cake. They were doing the New Year’s Eve countdown every 15 minutes. It was super over the top, like total Burning Man style. And yeah, I think the overall spirit of Bonnaroo has just shifted much more into that kind of direction to really give the festival goers something that is one of a kind and that they will remember for the rest of their lives. I think that’s really tight.
FS: For sure. Love what they’re doing here. Alright, so I have to admit your guys’ song “Drive It Like You Stole It,” was like the very first song I ever downloaded on my iPod back in the day.
TGM: Woah! Yeah. Dope!
FS: So that was back in, what, 2010?
TGM: Awesome, 2010 yeah.
FS: Back then, I didn’t even really know what electronic music was, and it obviously has changed a lot since then. Based on how the genre has changed, have you guys ever felt the need to change, and if you did, how did you make those changes?
TGM: Um, I don’t really know if we do anything differently. Like we always just do us. Yeah, that’s really it.
FS: That’s good though!
TGM: We just do Glitch Mob. We’re just kinda off on our own little trip and our own little planet. We don’t really calculate or think about kind of…
FS: What’s popular at the time?
TGM: Yeah! You know, we’re just kinda off out there, and I think if someone listens to our new record that’s pretty obvious.
FS: When thinking of The Glitch Mob, we immediately think of your touring rig- The Blade. For our readers who might be unaware, the first version of The Blade was introduced back in 2014, in tandem your sophomore album, Love Death Immortality. The stage accompanied you to festivals such as Coachella, Ultra, and Austin City Limits, and proved to be an instant hit among fans. Now, with a new album in tow, you have completely revamped the stage with a new design and some of the most cutting-edge technology of the day, The Blade 2.0. What were some of the changes you made and why?
TGM: So for people who haven’t seen it, the idea is that we wanna play pure, pristine, electronic music like a rock band. So what you’re hearing is the actual record itself. It is the sounds from the record, but we’re playing it like a band and triggering it in a new way. It’s just been updated to be more efficient, more engaging, more beautiful to look at. We’ve removed the video walls, so there’s no movies to watch now as we had in the past. We really just wanted to focus on the performance. We’ve added some more drums and more percussions and stuff for us to do, so we’re just rocking harder.
FS: Love it. What has the fans’ reactions been to it? And how does this heighten your performance?
TGM: Hopefully it’s been positive. We don’t really try to spend too much time or try to get too consumed by the critique of whether The Blade is good or not. For us, getting up and performing inside of The Blade is the reward for having spent all this time making See Without Eyes. You know, the reward is getting to come out and play it. So, yeah, hopefully people enjoy it. We love it, so.
FS: That’s all that matters.
TGM: Yeah! We’ll let you decide. You come tonight. You decide.
FS: Absolutely. Sounds good. So, our publication focuses primarily on festivals and the festival experience. We’ve been able to catch you guys at a few different festivals over the last couple of years, but one of our favorite sets was a surprise reunion during edIT’s scheduled time at Lighting in a Bottle 2017. Looking back at that performance and now with the release of your new album only a few months later, how did it feel coming back into the festival season?
TGM: Feels great. Lightning in a Bottle. We’ve played some of our very first shows there. They’ve become close friends and family over there. We’ve kind of grown up together. We’ve played almost every single one in some configuration. We’ve had a lot of side projects. Glitch Mob has played a number of times. This was the first time that we actually had taken The Blade there. We hadn’t been able to since 2014. It was really monumental for us to come back to a place that feels like our home turf, our family, and bring this thing that we’ve built and toured around the world with back to the place where it was really born, spiritually.
FS: That’s gotta feel incredible. You guys are pretty busy. You have a show in Orlando tomorrow, right?
FS: And you guys have Electric Forest coming up.
TGM: We do!
FS: Can you guys explain to me the difference between playing your own shows and playing big festivals like Roo and Forest?
TGM: You know, I think when we play festivals, it’s always a great opportunity, obviously, to play in front of a big group of people but also to play for a bunch of people who might not necessarily be our fans. It’s like a new experience and opportunity for us When we play our headlining shows, we know that we’re playing primarily in front of a lot of our fans, or a lot of people that our fans have brought to the show. When we’re playing our own shows, we take people on more of an up and down journey through a lot of peaks and valleys. When we play festivals, the energy is just different, you know? We just come out swinging. But, yeah. Come check us out tonight. I think you’ll be really stoked. Definitely be there for the very first song. You’ll be stoked. (They played, “Drive It Like You Stole It,” first).
FS: Oh I definitely will. Do you guys have any crazy stories from festivals? First one to come to mind.
TGM: Absolutely. I think there’s probably hundreds, but the first one that comes to mind was when we played Lollapalooza on the last tour. Right before we went on stage, we have two laptops one as the main one and one as a backup for video, for whatever reason both of them died. So right before we went on, we lost all of our video. So they had the guy that was running default, basically VJing the festival, come up and immediately freestyle and do everything for us. It actually worked out. It was like broadcasted all over the world. Live streamed.
FS: Yeah, yeah! I was like watching that from my room wishing I was there.
TGM: *laughs* Yeah, totally! And it actually worked out fine, and it’s just part of it. It’s part of our job just to get up there, put a smile on, put on a good show, even though everything is coming apart at the seams. But it’s all a part of the adventure for us.
FS: Alright, last but not least. If you guys could start your own festival, who would you want to be the headliners?
TGM: (zero hesitation) Bjork. Just a festival with just her doing her entire catalog back to back.