First impressions are important. By his own admission “a nobody” at school, when Jamie Glass decided to play his first ever gig he knew he needed to give people something to remember it by.
“The day before I walked into Ann Summers. I was 15, maybe 16 and I wanted to buy something to wear on stage,” recalls Glass. “There was this animal thong where the trunk was like an elephant. I thought it would be really funny on the last song to do a sort of Jesus martyr style pose and then someone would pull my trousers down from behind and reveal this man thong. I don’t think anybody even knew my name at school - they knew after that.”
Thankfully, Glass leaves his impressions these days without the aid of any animal-themed sex wear. Instead, it’s imbedded on the brains of anybody who hears Indoor Pets’ irresistible, black sheep anthems: spiked and effervescent collisions of crunching guitars and insistent melodies.
Delve into Indoor Pets seemingly bottomless pool of great tunes and you’ll find so many songs to fall in love with. Familiar feelings of not fitting in or wanting to play the hand life’s dealt you delivered with self-deprecating wit and Glass’ trademark use of double-bluffing word play. Think Rivers Cuomo and a pre-sandpit Brian Wilson bunking off school to play records and snigger at the cool kids. They’re smart, life-affirming and all contained within a thumping primary-coloured pop wallop.
Unbelievably, knocking out classic songs was something Indoor Pets were doing pretty much from the get go. Finding himself working in a factory in Sittingbourne, Kent after leaving school, Glass knew he needed to find an escape. He roped in his mate, amateur photographer Ollie Nunn, to play bass, despite the fact that Nunn could barely play more than four notes.
“I remember thinking, if I’m going to write songs I need somebody to be the looks,” recalls Glass. “Ollie was picked for his personality but also for his attractiveness, way over any musical ability.”
An old school ‘acquaintance’ Rob Simpson was drafted in next on drums. “Rob bullied me at school,” says Glass with a grin. “You weren’t bullied at school,” sighs Simpson, “you were friends with people who were bullied… by people I knew.”
Simpson asked his older brother James to add some guitar and produce their early batch of songs, who, impressed by the calibre of what the trio were doing only a few weeks since forming, decided he should probably join too. From there things took a bit of a leap.
“We stuck them up on YouTube along with a pixilated picture of a dog’s bum,” recalls Simpson. “The next day one of them made the Record of The Week on BBC Introducing.”
“We were like, Get that dog’s arse picture down, quick!” jokes Glass. “Within two weeks Huw Stevens had played it. Our former manager messaged us within 45 minutes of them going up asking if we had management. We weren’t even a band! For a band that’s been together for five years, most of the process happened in the first three hours.”
He’s doing them a disservice. For the next few years Indoor Pets wrote and gigged incessantly, building up a batch of killer tunes and a devoted fanbase across the country. They did, and still do, everything themselves. From making the artwork to organising their own tours on the road, producing music, building their own stage monitoring system and even running their own finances (Simpson: “if anyone wants to spend any money they have to ask me,”). It’s a fiercely DIY ethic born less from punk principle as it was from necessity. “It was either do it yourself or don’t have it done,” notes Glass, “and we decided to do it ourselves.”
Then something threatened to derail all their hard work. Given the on-the-hoof, doing-it-for-a-laugh nature of the band’s genesis, they didn’t put that much thought into their original name, a play on ‘get into it’: Get Inuit.
“We’d always known that it was a stupid name,” says Simpson. “So it had always been like, ‘Should we change it?’ But we’d built ourselves up to this point where people had heard of us.”
However, when they were accused of cultural appropriation last year it blew up, with Glass even being asked to appear on Canadian national news.
“It took someone to say that if you type Inuit music into Google we were the first thing that comes up. They weren’t saying that we meant to do anything wrong but we were basically unknowingly suppressing Inuit culture. From that moment it was like: Ok, changing our name is the right thing to do.”
The logistical nightmare of having to change your name in a world of Spotify plays, Facebook followers and online devotees doesn’t bear thinking about (not to mention what they’re supposed to do with all the boxes of Get Inuit t-shirts). But far from scuppering the band mid-stride, the change kickstarted them with a renewed sense of purpose, bringing in a new wave of fans in the process. With their eagerly anticipated debut album now in the can, the main problem they faced was working out which great songs made the cut.
“I feel like a black sheep a lot of the time,” notes Glass of his approach to writing songs. “The logic I had with songwriting was if I could reveal that in my songs and connect with other people who felt like that, then that will cure the feeling of being a black sheep. Everyone would be like ‘I’m a black sheep too! There’s thousands of us, we’re all loners!’ It nullifies the feeling of being a weirdo. Basically I’m just waiting for everyone to justify me being weird.”
Indoor Pets don’t need to wait anymore. Having so far had ringing endorsements and support from the likes of Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and Jack Saunders at Radio 1, Lauren Laverne at 6Music and Amazing Radio, where they have already been A-listed, the only thing left is for the last few remaining non-converts to get on board. Elephant man thongs optional.