Kids in Glass Houses cause chaos at HMV Cardiff

Here’s a piece I wrote for the South Wales Echo – featured in the Saturday edition 03/04/10

As Kids In Glass Houses launch their new album with a riotous record store appearance, Jarrad Owens went behind the scenes to meet the hysteria causing outfit

They’re surrounding the building, at the front and the back, so we have to get them out somehow.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a line of dialogue from A Hard Day’s Night. Picture the scene as the Fab Four are trapped in HMV in Cardiff city centre, their loyal fans are waiting outside to meet their idols.

Some of those more organised are plotting how to reach them, while a sea of teenage girls are screaming, shouting and crying.

Substitute the trademark monochrome shades for visually arresting neon colours, and the scene bears an uncanny resemblance to Beatlemania – but this is not 1964, this is 2010 and the band in question is Kids in Glass Houses.

My first encounter with the quintet was in January 2006, inside the belly of the old Castle Cinema in Merthyr Tydfil, then known as the Studio Bar. Little remained of the building’s illustrious past and the place was in a shabby state, save for a hint of glamour in the shape of the various portraits of movie stars from the golden age of Hollywood.

The punters were slumped in various plastic seats dotted around the venue, and a handful could be found propping up the bar, but I was stood firmly at the front of the modestly sized stage in the hope of hearing the Next Big Thing.

I was in luck. That night’s headliner was Kids In Glass Houses making their debut at the low rent venue.

The set was short and sweet, showcasing their brand of spiky power pop, a sound which set them apart from the usual metal or post hardcore bands that swamped the scene. There was something different about this band.

Rather fittingly the last time I saw the outfit was at Cardiff’s Big Weekend in July, the day before they jetted off to Texas to record the brand new album.

As I wait outside the store the hysteria is generating a lot of attention, various shoppers on Queen Street stop to ask the store’s security guards who’s there, it seems that all eyes are on Kids In Glass Houses.

As I’m escorted into the store I go from chaos to calm, guided to the third floor of the building where the band are relaxing in the staff room.

They’re safely ensconced in the inner sanctum, safe from the madness outside, and they’ve been treated to a rider that resembles the spread at a children’s birthday party – chocolate, crisps and sweets galore, enough sugar to make them as hyperactive as the fans outside.

The band are home for the release of their latest offering, Dirt, and they can just about contain their excitement.

“It’s wicked to be home to release it, with all our friends and family around,” says guitarist Ian Mahanty, beaming from ear to ear.

“We had the same sort of vibe last time we released a record.”

That last record, Smart Casual, was released in May 2008, celebrated with an equally hysterical HMV instore.

It hit the top 30, so naturally with a successful debut the band are under pressure to produce an equally impressive follow up, but they’ve lost little sleep in the run up to the release of Dirt, which they recorded in El Paso, Texas.

“The studio was in the middle of the desert, about an hour away from the main town and there’s pretty much nothing in the town anyway, so our heads were fully in the record,” explains Ian.

“Everything started going well for us, it kind of laid rest to the term difficult second record.”

Kids In Glass Houses are fresh from supporting local legends Lostprophets – a tour which extensively covered the UK and afforded them the perfect opportunity to gauge reactions to their new material.

“People sing along to songs we haven’t released yet or people haven’t really heard,” says Ian.

“For them to be jumping around and singing along to new tunes is always good.”

Kids In Glass Houses are figureheads of a prolific Welsh music scene that has become a production line for great new bands.

“Seeing everyone else getting on and being successful spurs you on,” explains Ian.

“I think everyone around here is just generally happy when a band from round your way does well.”

I dare to ask their opinion of their peers; the likes of Lostprophets, The Blackout, The Guns and Attack! Attack! Mahanty is blunt in his riposte.

“Rubbish… can’t stand them…egos,” come Ian’s response.

Before you make too harsh a judgement, he has a telling smile on his face and his tongue is firmly planted in cheek.

That’s the mischievous spirit of this band – luckily, they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Kids In Glass Houses support Lostprophets at Cardiff International Arena on May 1. Ticket availability is limited. Ring the box office on 029 2022 4488.

You can catch the interview I did with the band at Wales Online.

Jarrad ‘Nöir’ Owens

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