One of the leading lights of the south Walian emo explosion, Kids In Glass Houses are toasting 15 years since their debut album’s release by getting the old band back together, with a sold-out show in Cardiff University’s Great Hall following two early-summer comeback sets at the Slam Dunk Festival. Joshua Williams caught up with KIGH vocalist Aled Phillips.
Not many bands can generate the amount of genuine excitement Kids In Glass Houses did when they announced their reunion, to play two sets at the 2023 edition of dual-venue pop-punk weekender Slam Dunk. According to Kids In Glass Houses frontman Aled Phillips, the Cardiff band were “blown away” by the reaction.
“We were trending and all that stuff! You just don’t know, really – there’s a small bubble of people who kind of stay in touch, and they’re like, ‘oh, come back…’ – but it’s a bit of an echo chamber online, so we didn’t have any idea of the wider interest in it. It’s been really humbling and amazing.”
Rising out of a Welsh music scene that also produced the likes of Funeral For A Friend and The Blackout (who also reformed earlier this year, in their case regrouping with a set at Download – the timing is a “complete coincidence,” says Aled), to name only two, Kids In Glass Houses are a band that meant a lot to a lot of people, releasing four albums before a “farewell show” in Cardiff University’s Great Hall on Halloween 2014. Now, following those hit Slam Dunk shows, they’re back – bringing a remixed reissue of debut album Smart Casual out on the road for its 15th anniversary, and returning to the Great Hall too.
How did the decision to reform come about anyway? “We had talked about it a number of times,” Phillips says, “and it kind of never came to anything. We felt there was no point doing it unless we had a good reason to, and we just didn’t land on it.
“Ben [Ray] from Slam Dunk has been pestering us for probably seven years – I get Facebook messages asking ‘reunion show?’ and we’re like ‘no!’ He then offered it to me at the Kerrang awards last year, and I was like… it’s 15 years. It just made sense; everyone was in different places, and a bit steady in their lives. So we were like, ‘yeah, it’s a good time to do it’.”
And what can we actually expect from the tour? “We’re doing Smart Casual in full and in order, because we thought it would be a cool thing to do. Then we’re gonna go off and come back and just play the hits – maybe some stuff we haven’t played in ages and that fans didn’t get to see us play a lot when we were doing the last few tours. We’re just gassed about it, really excited.”
A lot of people anticipated that Kids In Glass Houses would do a small warmup show for Slam Dunk in Cardiff, but nothing of that nature materialised. “It was a bit of ego!” says Phillips. “We didn’t want our first show back to be like this sort of fast failure where we’re a bit rusty and it’s a bit small. About three practices in, Phil [Jenkins, drummer], said we should have done a warmup show…”
Returning to the scene of their farewell show will be, Phillips reckons, “a little bit emotional, especially considering how emotional that show got. When people started pulling signs out and shit, everyone’s kind of tearing up so it will be very odd. I don’t think I’ve been [in the Great Hall] at all since, actually…”
Smart Casual’s re-release, which drops just before KIGH’s UK tour, has been attended to by Cardiff’s producer extraordinare Romesh Dodangoda. “He’s gone and remixed and remastered the album for vinyl. He was picking up stuff we’d forgotten that was there – a keyboard or piano or just a vocal that was kind of buried – and we’ve improved some of the songs a little bit too,” says Phillips, clarifying: “We haven’t fucked with them too much!”
The band’s formerly annual KIGHmas shows at Clwb Ifor Bach are a thing of legend, but Aled doesn’t know if they’ll make a return this year. “I think we’re gonna keep stuff like quite short and sharp, just because of the cost of it as well. It’s not as easy as it was to just be, like, ‘shall we go to practice now?’ – everyone’s in different places and people have got full-time jobs, so it’s not something we can just whimsically decide anymore. I’m not saying we will never do a KIGHmas again – those shows are really fun! – but the focus for us at the moment is very much the tour.”
As for new Kids In Glass Houses material, it’s a “never say never situation” in Phillips’ words. “I’ve never stopped writing songs, and Iain [Mahanty, guitarist] works in music production. Every now and again – when I’ve got a day off, or he’s not on a project – we just work on music because we love doing it. I’ve written tons of songs, and some could be Kids In Glass Houses songs. But we’re taking it one day at a time at the moment. If we feel good about it, we’ll do it.”
Kids In Glass Houses, Great Hall, Cardiff University Students Union, Sat 21 Oct.
Tickets: £25 (sold out – tickets for other shows earlier on the tour are still available). Info: here
Smart Casual (15th Anniversary Edition) is out now via Roadrunner. Info: here
words JOSHUA WILLIAMS