Get to know the Indie Alternative band: Glass Cactus!

I got the chance to do this awesome interview with the Indie Alternative band Glass Cactus. Learn more about them and their debut album “This Morning Would Suck(s) Without You” below!

Glass Cactus
Credits @ Alex Lam

Hey guys! Tell us more about Glass Cactus! Who is in your band and how did you put this band together? Our band is comprised of Dave Zimmer (lead guitar/backing vocals), Ezra Sherman (bass guitar/backing vocals), Aidan Fine (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Kai DeDonato (keyboard/backing vocals), and Kabir Malik (drums). The band started when Aidan and Kabir began taking music lessons together in 2007 at the Thornhill School of Music. There they met Kai and formed their first band Flip The Script. After cycling through members and various instrumentation set ups, the band added Dave to the band in 2013 and decided to change the name to Glass Cactus. Ezra was added to the band in summer 2016.

How did you come up with the name of your band? In the summer of 2013 Aidan was going away to college (Blink-182 pun very intended) so Kabir began looking for new people to jam with. Dave, who was a Facebook friend of his from elementary school, posted on Facebook one day asking if anyone was down to play a live show. Kabir sent him a message and set up a jam session. It was in that jam session that we decided to start a new band; it was essentially the genesis of Glass Cactus. We were sitting around brainstorming band name ideas and Dave said “Dude, what about Steel Cactus?” to which Aidan replied, “Nah man, Glass Cactus”. All in all, we got a pretty bad story and a pretty sweet band name.
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How would you describe your band to someone who has never heard your songs before?
 
We’re an indie-alternative-punk band. We take influence from Blink-182, Two Door Cinema Club, PUP, and The Wombats. We strive to make our shows energetic and dynamic and our online content entertaining and slightly confusing. We like having a lot of fun at our shows, most of the time we say/do things on stage that are insanely stupid, but we’re always going to be ourselves.
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According to you, what sets your band apart from all the other bands in your genre? Aside from our personalities, it would be our music taste. We would venture to guess that members of most other bands have a similar if not identical taste in music; that tends to be what brings them together in the first place. The 5 of us have decently differing tastes in music when it comes to genres and bands. We do like some of the same bands (Blink-182, PUP, The Wombats), however each of us branch out into other genres that the rest of us do not. That allows for the band as a whole to pull influence from rap, or jazz, or latin, etc.
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What inspires you to write your songs? We’re inspired to be a different band. We strive to write songs that are catchy, energetic, hooky, and dynamic, but ultimately different. We’re not interested in sounding exactly like every other punk/indie/alternative/pop band out there. There will be similarities in our music, but we want to take elements from our influences and mold them into something original. When people hear our music, we don’t want them to say “Oh, this song sounds like this band, or that band.” We want people to say “That’s Glass Fucking Cactus”.
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Can you tell us more about your debut album “This Morning Would Suck(s) Without You”? This record is a log of our musical growth as a band. We have tracks on here as old as 2012, and ones a recent as 2015. There’s a lot of experimentation on this album, from different lyrical patterns, to funky drum parts. We throw in hip-hop sections or jazzy sections into traditional punk or alternative arrangements.
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Burning Bridges was one of the last songs written from our previous band Flip The Script, but was never finished. We decided to revisit it as Glass Cactus and tweak it a little bit, adding in a guitar and keys solo in the bridge, and reworking the lyrics. The song was built around the chorus lyrics.
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Pains Me To Say is one of the songs that incorporates a hip-hop bridge. This was largely influenced by twenty one pilots. The guitar solo on the track was actually written and recorded by a good friend of ours, Chris Smit. It was originally just done as a joke but we all liked it so much we decided to keep it on the record.
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Get On Track was the first song we wrote as Glass Cactus. It marks our transition into a more indie-alternative experimental group rather than a traditional pop-punk band. This was one of the first times we incorporated a horn section into our music. The song features a killer trumpet solo by our good friend Brendan Coutinho.
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Off The Grid was something Dave, Kai, and Kabir worked on while Aidan was away at school. When Aidan was back, he added in a beat boxing solo that we incorporate into our live set. The triplets in the beginning of the chorus were not in the original rendition of the song. They add a cool element, breaking up the beat in a different way.
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Drifting Away was another unfinished Flip The Script Song. We were wrapping up writing the record and realized we didn’t have a slower, ballad-y song to add some contrast and so girls see that we’re sensitive too. We revisited this and it ended up being one of the simplest but best songs on the album. We once played this song for Kabir’s grandma and she cried.
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Night Flight Interlude was the third old Flip The Script song.  Originally it was a slow song, akin to Drifting Away. One practice we played the song with a faster drum beat and injected some energy into the song. We liked the instrumental and felt it was a good addition to the record, letting it breathe a little.
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Mango Ice Cream was the third song we wrote as Glass Cactus, and the first single off of the album. The whole song came together very quickly except the bridge. We tried about 5 different ideas and none of us could agree on which one we liked the best. Aidan then started playing this really cool riff on his guitar and we loved it. We built the rest of the section around that, and Dave adds a killer guitar solo over top in our live set.
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It’ll Be Okay is the last Flip The Script idea that made it onto the record. This song was largely unchanged. It’s a nice reflection of our pop-punk roots.
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Clairvoyant is the second song we ever wrote. It combines a lot of off and on beat hits combined with a stupid amount of energy. While we were working with the editing of our original recording of this for our first (unreleased) EP, Kai accidentally muted the drums, bass, and vocals on the last chorus. We really liked this and decided to keep it in. It eventually became the second part of the bridge.
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Tear Another Page is a testament to the versatility we strive to incorporate into our writing. This song combines rap verses with a hooky chorus. It came together fairly quickly, only needing about one practice to solidify all the parts. This is the only song that every band member sings/raps on in our live set, except Kabir because he sucks.
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Positive Ways is just fun. It’s a weird song that has a really cool rhyme scheme. We usually use it to close our live sets because it’s really energetic and great to dance to.
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Milkshakes And Small Talk pulls a lot of influence from The Wombats. The horn section really fills out the song and makes it a very big piece. Originally, the chorus was a little lighter, however in the recording process Aidan and Kai experimented with some darker guitar tones and chords.
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All the bonus tracks (Harambe, The Ezra Sherman Experience, Take A Chance On Me) are just a couple side projects and joke songs we felt like including.
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How long have you worked on it and how did you approach the writing process for this record? We started this album in the summer of 2014. The previous year was our first as Glass Cactus, and we were concentrating on building up a catalogue of new songs to have a fresh start.  By the time summer came about we had 5 songs (Get On Track, Clairvoyant, Mango Ice Cream, Off The Grid, and Tear Another Page) that we were happy with, so we decided to self-record and produce an EP. We were not happy with the final product of all 5 of those recordings, and in the time it had taken to record those songs we had written others that we were equally as happy with. We decided to release Get On Track and Clairvoyant, scrap the rest, and try again next summer.
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In 2015 we attempted to record again, this time a full length record which became “This Morning Would Suck(s) Without You”. This project was again self produced and recorded, with Kai doing about 95% of all the recording, mixing, and release. The actual recording process took quite a while due to scheduling complications; we started tracking with the drums in August 2015 and finished with vocals in March 2016. The first single Mango Ice Cream was released on June 3rd 2016, and the record was released on December 29th 2016 at a house concert to celebrate the entire process. We released one track off of the album every day for the 12 days leading up to the release of the album during a period which we called The 12 Days Of Glass Cactus Christmas.
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We approach the writing process usually as a smaller group. It’s easier to work with less minds in the room. A group of 2 or 3 of us will work on an idea, build it up, and then bring it to the rest of the band. Everyone has input on each others parts. Our writing process generally follows two simple guidelines: contrast is key, and whatever sounds good.
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How have people responded to it so far? The response has been extremely positive! We had been talking about the album for a long time, almost 3 years, so there was a decent amount of anticipation for it. It felt great to finally release the record and have everyone hear what we had worked so hard to create.
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If you could pick one song off this EP, which one would it be and why? I think mine would be Drifting Away or… Mango Ice Cream.
Kabir: “I would pick Get On Track. That’s the first song we wrote as Glass Cactus; it’s so different and distinct. It’s got a funky bass line, a sweet guitar riff, a fat keys solo, and a catchy hook.  There’s a full horn section which I love, and it’s one of the most fun songs to play on the drums. It’s very dynamic, contrasting an energetic interlude and chorus with a low verse and jazzy bridge. Overall that’s the song I hear when I think of Glass Cactus.
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Kai: “Get On Track because I play a cool solo and people will think I’m cool.
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Ezra: “My favourite song is Burning Bridges because of the bridge section being cool as fuck and I can say that because I had no part in writing it.
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Dave: “My favorite song on the album is Positive Ways. It’s definitely the most feel good song on the album and is also probably my favorite song to play live.
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Aidan: “I would choose Take a Chance On Me, mostly because Kabir hates it.
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Any plans to hit the road anytime soon? We are going back into the studio this summer to record an EP, and are currently planning a tour for Frosh Week this coming September to celebrate the whole process. Details are being finalized and we are hoping to officially announce it soon.
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Musically,
What Happened to your Band?

 

 

 

 

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