Bastille Interview. New Album "Bad Blood" Released March 4th
South London band, Bastille, may have been on the scene for some time, but, with the release of their latest single, Bad Blood, it looks like the ante is about to be upped, and rightly so. On stage, they can be seen as a four piece, but originally Bastille consisted solely of founding member, singer-songwriter, Dan Smith. The singles Laura Palmer and Overjoyed sparked the interest of many a national radio station, and this was swiftly followed up with the half a million viewed YouTube sensation Flaws, which proclaimed Dan’s love of the hit 1973 movie Badlands (although the movie scenes have since been removed).
Bad Blood looks set to follow in the previous single’s footsteps with 100,000 YouTube views in just one week so we jumped at the chance to chat with the band’s frontman to see what he was getting up to and what the band has planned on the horizon.
How would you describe your genre of music, as you have dabbled in both electronic productions and acoustic tracks? I’ve heard it described as “organic, emotional pop”. Do you think this description sums it up?
Yeah maybe. I’m rubbish at trying to describe the music. I guess for me the most important thing is the songs, and then just trying out different things with the production. There are tracks that are more indie, some more electronic or pop, and some that are maybe more singer-songwriter-y.
Dan, you write and co-produce all of Bastille’s songs. What does the writing and recording process entail?
I generally get a load of song ideas together over a period of time and then work them into songs at a piano or on my laptop. Sometimes I take almost finished productions to Mark and we’ll work to make them sound better, and sometimes it’s a bit more involved and collaborative than that.
Do yourself and co-producer Mark Crew find it easy to reach a compromise in terms of reaching the finished product?
Yeah we do. He’s really easy to work with because we’re both interested in trying out new things but are able to rein each other in as well.
Since your recent move to Virgin records, have you been kept on a tight leash or are you still left with a fair amount of freedom to experiment with your songs?
I’m lucky to have loads of freedom. People at the label obviously have opinions, but it’s nice to be able to just get on with things in the same way we always have.
You released a free mixtape Other People’s Heartache. What was the driving force behind this?
Primarily, we did it for fun. We wanted to experiment with production that we might not use on Bastille songs, and I was really keen to incorporate music and quotes from films that I love. I guess there was an element of me wanting to release something as well because I knew our proper album wouldn’t be out for a while.
I mentioned earlier that you have also dabbled in acoustic music. You are good friends with the band “To Kill A King”. Do you have any plans to record anything with them in the future or did you just play some sessions for fun?
We did those sessions for fun. But I am in another band called “Annie Oakley Hanging” with Ralph (TKaK’s lead singer) and we’re getting things together to record an album later in the year.
Talking of playing with other musicians. How easy/difficult is it to take your music from your living room, so to speak, to the live circuit?
I’ve always played with other people, despite being a bit of a loner when it comes to the recording process, so it was pretty natural taking the songs out live. I started rehearsing the songs very early with the other guys from the band, so, although the recording process was separate, they always ran alongside one another.
I find that most of your lyrics steer away from personal topics with a preference for characters and stories. Icarus is an obvious example. Why do you prefer to go down this route?
I often use characters or stories to address things I’ve been thinking about. I guess I’m more interested in writing songs that reflect stories I’m interested in, or things that have happened to me or people I know, without trying to make things feel too autobiographical.
I’ve also read that you are not one to write about love in your songs? Why so?
I think I just didn’t want to write a whole load of love songs. There are so many love songs around, so there are really obvious traps to fall into. There are elements of love and relationships in my songs though. I’d just rather not make them too explicit or obvious.
What about your single, Bad Blood? What were your influences for the lyrics to this song?
I was thinking about relationships and friendships you have that help form you as a person, and, despite these being important, how you can completely lose touch with those people. Drifting away from people is both really weird and very normal.
What was the idea behind the Bad Blood video?
We wanted to make something cinematic and mysterious that didn’t impose any kind of meaning on the song and left it open to interpretation.
What can we expect from the album? Will it be a blend of electronic and accoustic tracks or will we be seeing you widening your scope?
I hope it’s quite broad. There’s definitely quite a mix of sounds on the album. There are epic, live strings and big drums but there are also more intimate and vocal heavy tracks as well. It has a mix of live and programmed sounds and it’s been a lot of fun to make.
A few quick fire questions:
What are you reading at the moment:
The Psychopath Test
What song(s) are you listening to at the moment:
Which rising bands would you like to see more of in the future?
To Kill A King
Here’s the music video to Bastille’s single, Bad Blood, which is available now.
The album ‘Bad Blood’ will be released on March 4th on EMI, Virgin.
Be sure to keep up with the band on their official website here.