With its infectious melody and distinctive introduction Bombay Bicycle Club’s latest single ‘Shuffle’ has undoubtedly become one of the staple songs soundtracking the summer of 2011. And with the band’s third album ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’ due for release on August 29 – one that sees them return to the electric aspects of their 2009 debut ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ – you can be sure that BBC’s newest material looks set to hold more of the same summer sentiments, even as autumn approaches.
Gigwise headed up to drummer Ed and vocalist Jack’s London flat – where cats roam and the labyrinthine staircase might accidently cause you to walk into someone’s bedroom by mistake on the way out – to discuss ‘A Different Type Of Fix’, collaborating with Tinie Tempah, playing gigs down mineshafts and their love of Ibiza...
How has the festival season been treating you so far? You’ve played Glastonbury, Latitude and Benicassim so far, which has been your favourite?
Jack: Glastonbury was definitely a highlight. We only really noticed it when we were onstage after I had taken a photo with a disposable camera, and it was only once it was developed that we could see just how many people were there. It was really great, but I think that it was quite hard to enjoy it just because it was so hot! We got sunburned whilst playing, that’s how powerful the sun was.
Ed: We all came off the stage complete messes, sweating and burnt! We played The Other Stage in the afternoon, and the way that stage is positioned is just straight on into the sun.
Did you see any other bands at all while you were playing?
J: On The Park Stage we saw Caribou and Wild Beasts, James Blake, and then Beyonce on the Sunday. We loved Beyonce, she was great.
What can fans expect from the new album, ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’ that’s released this month?
J: Well, we’re electric again! So it’s kind of where the first album left off.
E: It sounds more like ‘Autumn’ which had more electronic parts. This album focuses a lot more electronics.
How is the new album different from your previous releases?
J: Well, the other difference is that we are all doing a lot more singing now, whereas on the first record it was really just one person and one vocal. But having done the acoustic record where more of us were singing and there was a more choral feel, we’ve just decided to keep that aspect.
Why did you decide to do ‘Flaws’ as an acoustic album? Was it just one of those natural things that came about?
E: There was never any plan ever to do it as such. We’ve always been writing songs like that for years and doing acoustic sessions and at gigs we often would play songs that sounded similar to those on ‘Flaws’. There were so many of them, good ones, that we decided that we had enough to put together to make a whole album and release it for fun, almost as a side project. It was never really intended to be the second album, people just happened to pick up on it and like it.
How’s the new material from the ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’ gone down with crowds when you’ve been playing and previewing it over the summer?
J: Well as soon as we finished the album we went on a little tour around Europe just to play new songs and see how they went down. We were completely shocked by how people reacted to them. Usually people just stand still, but you expect it so you’re not offended by it and you’re waiting for it, but people were jumping around and clapping and we’d never really had that with new songs before.
E: Thinking back to the first album’s songs, when we played them people really didn’t do very much, so having this reception now is very, very promising.
The new album has been produced by Jim Abbis, who you’d worked with before, and also Ben Allen. What did Ben bring to the process and how did that collaboration come together?
J: Ben worked on most of it, so that it was less sort of indie and there were less guitar parts in those songs. We really liked what he’d done with Animal Collective and Deerhunter and stuff like that so we wanted to do something that was open to experimentation but at the core of the song was a good pop song, and I think that’s what Ben does so well. There are still great melodies, but the songs still sound very experimental. I went over on my own at first and just worked with him for a bit to see if we got on well, and we did and we work in very similar ways, so it was perfect.
You’ve got your own independent record label MMM… Records. Does this still exist?
E: Yes, although it’s slightly redundant at the moment. We should probably sign some bands…
I was going to ask, does the label just release your own records, or are their plans to release music by other bands as well?
J: Yeah maybe. We’re kind of busy!
Obviously. So how does this work in conjunction with Island Records? Why did you start it?
E: We kind of started it all before we worked with Island and before we got signed ourselves, and then we kind of kept the name on. Even when Young & Lost Club released one of our singles, we just stuck the MMM… logo on it.
What’s the group’s song writing process like?
J: Well it’s just me who writes everything, but I think it kinda works just being one person. The other three, when you send it to them it’s as though they are listening to it as a music fan, whereas when everyone’s writing music together it’s hard for you to be subjective about the song, because you’re all involved. So I think that the way we do it just works really well. I only really write the initial ideas, and they never really make much sense but then the four of us will turn it into the thing that it becomes.
You seem to be very prolific, writing and recording three albums in as many years, as well as the EPs.
J: Well I was probably writing more songs at school! I think that the trick is that a lot of people think that I’ve been writing all this material now, but when we were writing this album I was sort of delving into all my old hard drives from when I was young, and all the songs came from there and revisiting things.
You’re considered to be very much a band to experience live. Do you tend to prefer playing on stage, or writing and recording new material?
E: I think that that’s probably when we shine the most. We put on very energetic shows and the shows are complete labours of love. It’s one of the best things you can do as a band, and to experience it with so many other people – that’s when you get to be with all your friends and go crazy.
J: Yeah, I think that that’s definitely the best thing about being in a band.
Is it true that you were banned from quite a few UK venues earlier in your career? Why was that?
E: We have been banned from a few places, yes. I guess we were just being dicks.
And so that led to you performing in unusual venues – where is the strangest place that you’ve ever played?
J: We ended up doing this tour a few years ago, where we just asked our fans to send in venues that they thought we should play, and then chose are favourite ones and the played the craziest ones we could find. One show we played in this replica castle outside of Manchester!
E: We also played on a beach and down a mineshaft! And we also dressed up in period costumes and played in this re-enactment place.
Is that something you’d consider doing again then?
J: I’d love to do that again!
E: Definitely. It’s quite weird to look back on, as we’d just released an album and so instead of doing a massive UK tour followed by a European tour, we decided to do a four-day tour playing to about 10 people down a mineshaft, cos that’s all you could fit!
You included a couple of cover songs on ‘Flaws’. Is this something that you’d be keen to do again on upcoming releases?
J: Yeah, but I mean it’s only worth doing if you think that you can do something different to those songs. With the John Martyn song ‘Fairytale Lullaby’, I just thought that it was completely underrated, and that not as many people had listened to it, so by covering it would become exposed it to a whole new bunch of people. So yeah, if the right song comes along, who knows!
Have you got any plans to do any collaborations in the future? Who would you love to work with if given the chance?
E: When we were in Atlanta recording the album with Ben Allen we met Tinie Tempah and he said that he was very keen to do a collaboration with us. And we were like ‘Yeah!’ but then he hasn’t got back to us!
You’re playing Ibiza Rocks and Reading & Leeds in the next month. Are there either of these that you’re particularly looking forward to?
J: We went last year and it was pretty fun, and completely decadent! They put us up in this penthouse suite with a rooftop Jacuzzi, and apparently it’s going to be even more decadent this year! We said we’d only do it if we got to spend five days there! And then Reading & Leeds… that’s usually one of the craziest festivals of the summer for us! I don’t know, there’s something about it, it’s pretty much our fan base, so it’s going to be pretty crazy!
Finally, what’s next for the band?
J: After the album launch, we’re pretty much just touring for three months, in the UK, Europe and America and then probably Asia at some point. And then we’ve got to move out of this flat!
‘A Different Kind Of Fix’ is out via Island Records on August 29.
Bombay Bicycle Club - live photos