INterview: Tom Glynn-Carney
Emily Wolfin got in touch with actor and musician Tom Glynn-Carney to discuss being the lead singer of folk-rock 5-piece Sleep Walking Animals. Splitting their time between London and Manchester, the band have a harmonious sound with atmospheric tones, poetic lyrics and foot-stamping anthems. Glynn-Carney discusses his influences and creative process, as well as where he gets his inspiration, the differences between acting and performing music, and how to stay creative during lockdown. The band’s new single ‘Aengus’ Fool’ - a confession of infatuation and desire - is out 14th February.
EW: Hi Tom. Could you start off by telling me a bit about how Sleep Walking Animals first came together and what your main musical influences are?
T G-C: It took some time to get the band to where it is now. Joe and I have know each other since we were children, we used to write little ideas and send them to each other for some form of validation or God knows what, but it was clear from then that we wanted to make music. I was living and working in NYC at the time and writing was somewhat of an escape. I sent lyrics and motifs to Joe, he would send back variations, and a ball started to roll. Before long, we had Jack Brett (double bass/bass guitar) on board. Jack is a very gifted musician with a great ear. Having him join us was a big turning point in our process. Alex Harford (electric guitar), another very gifted musician who makes shredding a fret board look easy, joined soon after. Then followed the brilliant Nuwan Hugh Perera (percussion) to round up and make the final 5. Some of our musical influences are bands such as Lumineers, Fleet Foxes, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Beatles. The list goes on.
How did you come up with the name Sleep Walking Animals?
‘Sleep walking animals’ is a line from our song, ‘Together Like This’ (yet to be released). The name sounded ominous and ‘of the land’, giving us that folk rock rawness and ambiguity we were looking for.
As both an actor and musician, how does your performance process differ between the two art forms?
The two are quite different. As a musician, there is definitely a character you see on stage. I am crippled by the idea of being entirely myself in front of a large audience. A character gives me something to be shielded by and it allows me to be braver and fill the persona required. However, having said that, it is very easy to be swept away by the music and exist within your own world for an entire gig, forgetting about the audience completely. Sounds cliché, but there you go. I think I speak for all of the band when I say this.
I see you’re planning to shoot two new music videos in the upcoming months. The concept for your track 'Dance Laura Dance' struck me as very powerful, using dance as a way to explore Laura’s relationship to her cancer diagnosis. Could you explain a bit more about it and your collaboration with State of Flux?
This is an inspirational story of survival and resilience. Jack wrote this song about Laura Weston’s battle with cancer. The hope and the light within this song will be complimented by the fluid, contemporary movement performed by professional dancer and member of [the contemporary movement company] State Of Flux, Lydia McNulty. The contrast of the
The contrast of the empty, bright and clinical spaces with the full bodied, percussive soundtrack will play against each other in what will be a simple, yet effective method of storytelling
choreographed by Laura herself. The creative team is Laura Weston and Brad Foster of State of Flux collaborating with Sleep Walking Animals. We are absolutely thrilled to be collaborating with State Of Flux. We are huge fans of their work. The video will be shot and edited by Alex Jones.
empty, bright and clinical spaces with the full bodied, percussive soundtrack will play against each other in what will be a simple, yet effective method of storytelling. The piece will be directed and
Your lyrics feel very poetic to me, has song writing always been a passion of yours and how do you begin the process of writing?
Thank you, poetry is something I’ve always wished I was good at. I have strong connection with language and its potency. Song writing has only been something I’ve done in the last few years – since late 2018, when I was living in New York. The city is a loud and boisterous place and brings with it a plethora of difficulties to navigate on a daily basis. I am at my most comfortable in a cottage in the middle of the countryside, with silence and space. My attempts to escape from the NYC chaos manifested in writing short passages, poems and eventually songs. I found it helped me clear my head and achieve a sense of quiet.
Once the lyrics are written, depending on the song, our method as a band is for me to send them over – with or without the discordant, clashing harmonies that I like to include – and then Jack will work his magic and make the bare bones a full, fleshed out song. He really is quite remarkable.
Your debut single ‘Aengus’ Fool’ is being released on 14th February: what is it about and where did your inspiration for the track come from?
‘Aengus’ Fool’ came to me during the early stages of a brewing intrigue. The sensation of losing control and being emotionally at the
mercy of the puppeteer caused a state of vulnerability that fascinated me.
To deny feeling in order to preserve and protect is a challenging wall to bring down. It was during a phase where I was obsessively listening to Billy Joel and Norah Jones, constantly reading Seamus Heaney and reams and reams of Mythical Irish Tales: passages from the Aeneid, folk tales of Gods and Nymphs of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The importance of love, treated as an ethereal treasure to be fought for and won, was an aspect of desire that sparked the idea for ‘Aengus’ Fool’.
I wanted the epic nature of the stories I read to be reflected in an anthem of naked honesty and hope.
As a band you seem to have kept your creative momentum during this globally uncertain time. How have you adapted to creating music during a pandemic? Are there ways in which you try to stay connected and inspired?
We have made great efforts to remain productive through these times. Creativity can often be the first thing to disappear when struck with a lack of purpose and careers on hold. We were constantly keeping in touch via messages and, if anything, wrote more in those lockdown months than we did in a full year of normality. We set up makeshift home studios in an attempt to stay musically active and thankfully many of our new songs were born from that surge of creative inspiration. The monotony of day-to-day life caused a silent space in my head that allowed ideas to drop in, and with time to work them through we could all bring them to life. Time spent alone is a great tool to reset and refocus, ready for the next nugget of inspiration. They are few and far between, so pouncing on it immediately is the only way to make sure it doesn’t escape.
What can we expect to see from Sleep Walking Animals in the coming year?
You can expect the release of five singles, all made available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and other popular streaming services. The songs will then be printed on vinyl and sold as a first collection. This will pre-empt our inevitable album with a release date scheduled for the end of 2021/ beginning of 2022.
We also have several live performances planned for later in the year, virus dependent! Dates to be announced in due course.
Thank you for having us, we are very excited to share our music with the world and look forward to getting your feedback. You can find all the ways to keep up to date with our progress and new song releases on our website, www.sleepwalkinganimals.com.