It’s always a sad day when bands decide to cease their musical endeavours. As is the case with Welsh-rockers Kids in Glass Houses. Having worked the music scene for the better part of a decade, the band has achieved deserved success. From top 40 records to playing main stage at the legendary Reading and Leeds Festival. The group, having toured the world multiple times over, is ready to do so once more as a goodbye to their fans, with Australia thankfully on their hit list. We caught up with drummer Phil Jenkins to talk about all things Kids in Glass Houses and to say our final goodbyes.
Hey Phil, how are you?
I’m good Matt, how are you?
Not bad at all. Jumping straight in, I don’t want to ask you if you’re excited to come to Australia. I already know you are because, well, it’s bloody Australia!
(Laughs) You’d be right!
So I want to ask what Australia means to you as a musician; someone trying to live off music and essentially run a business?
From a business stand point, our band has never really made a lot of money coming to Australia. It’s a massive flight to get there. It’s like twenty hours! But when we do get there, the crowds are always insane and that makes it the most worthwhile experience.
How about an emotional, kind of personal level? What does Australia mean to you in that sense?
When your band gets to the stage where they can travel to Australia to promote their music and their passion, it is a dream come true. If you can make that massive adventure across the world to do that, it is very exciting and is one of those benchmarks if you can achieve it. On the fan side of it, the fan base in Australia is so detached from us [location wise] so they are so much more appreciative when you play their territories.
The obese elephant in the room is that this is the band’s farewell tour. It’s kind of your goodbye to the fans I suppose. As I was reading a post from you earlier today there was one part that really stuck out to me. It was “These shows are a celebration of what we’ve accomplished” and to me that reads like this is your funeral. Funerals are a celebration of someone’s life.
In a way it is our wake. We’ve all been part of this band for eight to ten years and it is not an easy decision to make, it was a brave decision. But we didn’t want to see this band, this thing we’ve worked at for so long to wither away into nothing. We would rather just end it with a massive tour and it is a celebration of what we’ve achieved; I think there’s a lot of pride in that. I couldn’t have asked for a better way of our band to finish.
Not many bands can expect the success that you guys have grasped. There’s so many defining moments of your band’s career, from having Top 40 records to playing the Reading main stage. So what did Kids in Glass Houses mean to you back when you first joined and what does it mean to you now, after all these achievements?
It’s pretty much the same excitement that lies within it. When Aled (vocals) first asked me to drum for his band, I was like 17 and still in school and I had never been in a band before. So I was over the moon that I got to be a part of his band and I knew Aled before it all. I knew what a cool thing it was and I knew this was going to be pretty special. Along the way with all those accomplishments and highs you also have a lot of downs. Sometimes things don’t go to plan or as good as you want. For every high there’s a low. You get a thick skin and having done this for as long as we have, I’m still really happy that I have that enthusiasm and excitement towards our band. We always aspired to do those things like getting in charts and playing Reading and we were cocky in a sense but we never knew those things were going to happen. So when they did we just rolled with it like the wind.
Expanding on that, what does music mean to you? When I say “music” what pops into your head?
When you say the word music…I’ve been a performer for the past eight or so years or whatever and I love that aspect of it. But when you say the word music to me, I just think what I do day in day out. I’m always listening to music through every mundane task and everything I do. I think of my record collection, what I listen to at home, what I listen to in the car. It’s a sort of everyone’s life! In my opinion, everyone has common ground with music.
Getting back to the tour, does doing a farewell tour put pressure on you to leave good lasting impressions of the band in these cities?
Absolutely! We’ve always been a band that never rested on average performances. Every tour we ever did we’ve always made one hundred percent sure that every show was the best we could be. And not just playing tight and playing the songs well; we put a lot of thought into what we say between songs; what the stage looks like; whether we do different interpretations of song as we always like to keep our music fresh. So we will be making sure that this will be our all time best ever tour.
I’ve started noticing that a lot of bands seem to be calling it quits and winding down on their own terms as opposed to problems and issues. Anberlin is doing the same thing right now and a hardcore band, Bane is also coming to an end. What are your thoughts on the fact that bands are seeing that they can’t last forever now?
When you’re in a band, and you’ve spent so much time in your band, you don’t really want to call it quits and walk away from something that you love. I can speak for all five of us and say that we don’t really want to stop making music for a living. We love our band so much that it is almost the reason why we’re breaking up. That is a brave decision to make and it is hard to walk away from something you loved. Some bands do just keep going on and on as they love it so much and that’s a fine decision to make but it’s not the choice we want; we want to draw the line and do it.
Kind of like the old saying, quit while you’re ahead.
Almost….it’s a funny thing actually. The UK has been our biggest territory as it’s where we’re from. This tour, our farewell tour has been out biggest tour to date and it is an indication that people are still with us. And that’s why we’ve stopped because we don’t want to look down and see it…
I see what you’re saying. You don’t want to stop because no one is interested anymore, you want to stop because everyone is interested.
Can I ask what the conversation was like? When you all sat down and talked about ending it, how was that for you personally?
When we made the decision it wasn’t that difficult actually. We are all five best friends and we talked about it on the road a lot because we released our fourth album and the touring cycle was a lot shorter than what we wanted it to be. It was so difficult to keep it afloat actually. We released the record in September and we were done [with the cycle] by January. So our option at the time was to just write another record. Yet we were so creatively drained because we just put everything into our last album. We just didn’t have anywhere to look or start. So we had to decide whether we toured for the sake of it or if we toured one last time and had the best time doing it. That was just a collective decision we made and it wasn’t obviously an easy conversation to have but all good things must come to an end.
That’s a very mature way of taking it. In saying that, I heard from a friend of mine that when you broke up, they felt let down. They felt like you let them down by not moving on with the band and writing and touring more and more. I’ve also seen some comments like that online. How do you respond to these fans being almost selfish about you?
We don’t want to let anyone down obviously. One thing I will say is that even though our fan base is really the only reason we’re still here today, it s OUR decision isn’t it? If we weren’t content to still tour and write and we couldn’t put everything into our music and shows then that would be letting the fans down because that would be false. The most honest thing is for us to do it on our terms.
As a final question, where to from here? Once Kids in Glass Houses is all done and packed up, where are you going to take your life?
That’s something I’ve been thinking about all year. It’s crazy because at the moment I’m enjoying being in this band till it’s over. Post-Kids in Glass Houses I know I’m going to keep playing music. I’ve got plans to just be a session drummer thereafter. But if I were to make more music then I’d have to be really passionate about it, not just do it for the sake of it. I’ve been very blessed with this band and all the opportunities I’ve [received]. So to go through it all again with writing and going on the road, it is a long process so I’d have to be fully into it.
Well Phil, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us one last time and be honest with us as well. It’s very much appreciated as I know it is a personal thing this band.
No worries, Matt, thank you for asking interesting questions.
Kids in Glass Houses tour Australia this August. Details can be found here.