More about: Bastille
Sitting in the summer sun on the rooftop terrace of Universal Music HQ, I’m silently sweltering in wait for Bastille. The four piece English indie pop band are fresh off the back of performing at V-fest, and are weeks away from the release of their second studio album, Wild World - a slightly harder, more guitar laced take upon their pop sound, which explores aspects of the media and politics in its lyrics.
I’m hoping they’ll have a lot to talk about, and that they won’t be too tired to express it. Eventually, I’m beckoned downwards toward the cooler offices of the Virgin EMI floor, under the pretext that the band have wisely deemed it too hot to interview outside. Nestled cosily inside are Bastille, who genially introduce themselves: frontman Dan Smith, drummer Chris “Woody” Wood, bassist Will Farquarson, and multi-instrumentalist Kyle Simmons. We discuss their thoughts on success, artistic progression, and films in 2016.
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First off, how was V festival?
Dan: It was quite surreal playing with like… Sia, and then Bieber… not the typical line up that we often find ourselves on, but I guess, in the context of all that stuff, it was nice that we had an actual big crowd.
Kyle: It was so locked down as well, we could barely go back to our room after coming off stage, cos everyone was like “YOU CAN”T SEE SIA”, I was just like “I wanna go home!” (laughter)
What do you think has surprised you most about getting to that level of success as performers?
Dan: I think the amount of success we had just wasn’t expected, by us or by anybody - touring, initially, to us, used to be going off for a few days round the country and crashing on floors, and driving ourselves around. And we never thought it would be this mad international thing where we fly to other countries and play gigs to people who speak languages we can’t speak - which is amazing and a privilege, but just not expected. So that I think was a shock.
Woody: I think the other side is that there’s probably a few common misconceptions that’ve been cleared up. Like you said, we couldn’t see Sia, whisked onstage - but take someone like Ed Sheeran. When we were at V two years ago he went into the backstage area and just got fucking mobbed. So for people to think he’s got this entourage or he’s cut off in his ivory tower, he’s not, it’s just for general sanity’s sake I think.
Will: It’d be like Natural Born Killers for him if he went out nowadays (laughs)
As artists, you’ve taken heavy inspiration from many others, both in music and film. Which artist do you look up to the most?
Dan: There are many different artists who I think we all look up to, but I always think in terms of who can span a lot of different mediums, and do lots of things which are really interesting. Someone like Kanye or David Lynch, who are in films, art, music, and tv and print. Someone like Frank Ocean who can create a magazine and two albums and spend loads of time creating different art, I think they’re amazing.
Kyle: And Damon Albarn as well, someone who - just across music in itself - can do Gorillaz, and then Blur, and it’s just amazing. I guess it’s weird how our influences are people who do lots of stuff - so vague really.
Have you guys listened to Frank Ocean’s newest?
Dan: Yeah, of course! Like 10 times. That’s been my weekend, since it came out. We were at V fest and there’s no reception, I was losing my mind a little bit. Initially it was a fucking video album and I was like “how the fuck can I stream this with no internet in a field?!”
What’s your favourite song?
Dan: I actually changed, I think the most immediate track is Ivy, as a song. But listening to it today, I think Self-Control is pretty amazing. It’s such a difficult album to digest because it’s so subtle and sprawling and there’s so much to it.
How do you feel your artistic sensibilities have progressed as you’ve grown up?
Dan: The kinds of music that you love ebb and flow - when I was younger I was obsessed with films, but now I think I’m probably more obsessed with music. I used to pore over film, rewatch them time and time again, but that’s what you do as a teenager. I guess now I’m much more experienced as a musician and an artist.
Do you have any modern filmmakers you enjoy watching or following the work of particularly?
Woody: It’s a bit of a cliched obvious answer but I always enjoy Tarantino films. It’s like saying “I like the Beatles” - everybody likes Tarantino films
Dan: But he’s exciting. He’s like a proper living auteur and you don’t know what he’s going to do next, like the Coen brothers - you’re genuinely interested to see their work. Or, the guy who did Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson! You always wanna see what he does next. It’s those people who like - a bit like with music - where whatever they put out, they will very much have their own standpoint. And regardless of whether or not you love it, you’ll give it the time of day just to see what direction they go in.
Woody: Also, with Wes Anderson, there’s so much depth. You can see the films two or three times and there’s so many little subtle jokes or gags you didn’t pick up on the first time
Will: Steve McQueen’s amazing. He’s another. Shame is one of my favourite films; first time I went to see it, it ended and everyone was like “whoah”. There was total silence - it’s one of those films where you spend the next four hours thinking about it. All of his films actually.
Dan: They floor you
Will: Exactly, they floor you. It was a genius move to have Michael Fassbender in every film, that’s obviously going to do well.
Dan: I like those relationships though
Will: It’s like Tarantino and Samuel L Jackson
Dan: But I love with Tarantino that he flirts with that idea that all his films exist in this slightly weird parallel world, one where Uma Thurman can take her samurai sword on the plane with her, just tucked into her seat. Or in fact I think the plane seats had holsters for the samurai swords. Perfect.
What do you think your message is or do you think you have a message to young people or people in general?
Will: Recycle (hearty agreement by the others)
Dan: A message? I dunno. I think we very much just make music and make songs and make videos and stuff that we want people to interpret as they want. It’s not our job to impose our beliefs on anybody else. I think as people we have very strong views and opinions on things but it’s a real fine line to tread - this platform, however big or small, that we’ve made for ourselves, to just not take advantage of it, or take the piss… In this album we sort of gesture to things, but we very much just want whoever listening to into kind of bring what they think to it and interpret it how they want.
Woody: I guess I’d kind of like to be able to tell my younger self that the older you get the less you care what people think about you - just live your life, do what you wanna do, don’t spend your time worrying about it. So that.
More about: Bastille