Article and Interview by Alyssa McCord
Every now and then a new band comes to America and just changes things. They change the way you think of what kind of music is and should be on the radio, the way you can connect to lyrics, and the way boundaries should be pushed musically. Although this doesn’t happen too often, we couldn’t be more enthralled with one of our new favorite bands, Bastille, and their unapologetically catchy yet poetic sound. With their remarkable ability to pair lyrics that have enough depth to make even the toughest guy cry, along with melodies and rhythms that have you dancing before you even realize that you’re doing it, Bastille is one UK band that America is quickly adopting and welcoming with open arms… and sold out shows.
Naturally, in true Boston style, when Bostonians heard that Bastille didn’t have a show in our city booked during their quick round of dates in America, they let the band know that skipping over Beantown just wasn’t going to fly. Seeing as Bastille is easily one of the most appreciate and loyal bands I’ve ever met, it was no surprise to find out that they were treating our city-dwellers to something super special – and super secret. After several secretive hints letting American fans know that they should sign up on their email list to hear a special announcement, Boston fans found out that they were being given a secret show about an hour before it was scheduled to take place to ensure it’s exclusivity. After about fifty dedicated fans showed up in the Boston Common near the Boylston T stop, Bastille arrived on the scene and gave the fans an experience they surely will never forget. Surrounding the band in a close, intimate circle, the fans heard thirty minutes of partially acoustic and beautifully raw renditions of some of the most popular tunes off of the new album, including the title track, “Bad Blood,” in addition “Things We Lost In The Fire,” and fan-requested “Pompeii” and “Flaws.” Combined with lead singer Dan Smith’s stunning vocals and band members Chris ‘Woody’ Wood, Will Farquarson, and Kyle Simmons providing equally captivating instrumentation and flawless harmonies, it’s safe to say that their Boston fans went home incredibly happy and more in love with the band than ever.
Of course, we couldn’t let the guys get away without chatting with them for a few minutes… Check out our interview below with lead singer Dan Smith about how much they adore their fans, everything you wanted to know about the new album, and something that most people might not know about America’s new favorite band!
Berklee Groove: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us after such a busy day today – I’m sure you guys are exhausted!
Dan Smith: We’re just in the van on the way to New York! Thanks so much for coming today.
BG: It really was great! So I guess Boston sort of demanded that you guys stop in town, huh?
DS: [Laughs] Well, you know it felt a bit weird that we weren’t doing a show in Boston on this tour, but the tour we’re doing now is quite small – we’re just, you know, seeing how things go in America. So, unfortunately we didn’t get to propagate it but it was nice to stop in for the day and play to some people at least.
BG: You know, we go to a lot of shows every month with The Groove, and I was so impressed with how you guys stuck around and spent so time talking to every single fan after you guys performed today. You don’t see that too often anymore.
DS: I think it’s really important. We’re so grateful, you know, back in the UK and here, for anyone who comes to our shows. It’s so nice when people make the effort. I like to keep in touch – not doing that I think is just bullshit. You need to do as much as you can, or at least say ‘hi’ to people.
BG: Is it really different playing in America as compared to Europe?
DS: It is a bit different, I guess. I mean, Europe is so diverse, and our shows in England and in Britain can get a bit rowdy and everyone jumps around and they can be a lot of fun. In different pockets of Europe, it’s much more like a concert where people are more reserved. Our shows so far in the US have been really, really fun and everyone has been really friendly. We’re constantly surprised by how well people know all of the songs and having people sort of sing back the lyrics to almost every song is crazy for us, especially since the album has only been out for a couple of weeks.
BG: And you guys are on tour basically straight through the end of the year, right? That must be crazy!
DS: Straight through, yeah. When we get back from the States we go straight into rehearsal, and then a month through the UK and another month and then we’re back in the States for two weeks, and then we have a week off for Christmas – yay! It is quite a lot.
BG: But that album is being received so well so it’s definitely worth it! What was the process like developing Bad Blood?
The songs on the album were kind of written through the course of the last three years and we kind of put the album together last year, and we’ve been touring and spent some time in the studio. It’s quite nice to have the luxury of time to really put things together and go back and change things, because some songs really started from scratch and some came together really quickly. It was nice to have time to really mess around with it a bit and to write new stuff, and go back to old songs. It was a really, really fun process. I loved it.
BG: Who would you say are your biggest influences, or were your biggest influences for the new album?
DS: Oh, good question! I don’t know – anything from Vampire Weekend to some hip-hop production, and bits of early dub-step sounds as well, and rock bands that we love, and film soundtracks, and old bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys… So I don’t know! I’ve got a big niche for everything.
BG: I can understand that! What about the new songs – do you have a favorite off of the new album or a favorite one to play live?
DS: I think “Bad Blood” is our favorite one to play. It’s a lot of fun, we play it a bit rockier than how it is on the record. On the record it has almost more of a hip-hop kind of beat. There’s a song on the American version of the album called “The Silence” and we have a lot of fun playing that too and we’re able to jump around kind of like idiots and that’s a lot of fun.
BG: Love both of those! So what’s something that most people don’t know about you guys?
DS: Oh! Good question… I have no idea. Well, apart from Woody, we are all terrible at playing football. Woody’s amazing.
BG: We’re pretty bad too – don’t worry! So what can we expect next from you guys?
DS: Well in the UK we’re rereleasing our album, and with a second disc of songs. So, there should be some new songs, which we’re really excited about. We’re kind of starting to work on a new album and we’re really going to start playing many songs live as well, so I don’t know. We’re going to keep touring supporting our new album and start thinking about the next one as well.
BG: Do you guys get to write a lot when you’re on the road?
DS: Well, on this trip I haven’t really done any writing, but when we get back on tour in England we’re going to really try to make a big effort to write as much as possible. I manage to write quite a few songs, you know, when you have a day off and you’re home, but you know, I find myself gravitating towards writing whenever I have free time anyway.
BG: Do you have any advice for any fellow musicians trying to follow in your footsteps?
DS: I don’t know if I can exactly give advice to anyone, but I think for me, it’s easy to be quite hard on yourself when you’re writing songs, but you really need to think of you and what you think of the song. I think having a group of really good songs is the most important thing in the world. You can use whatever instruments you want and whatever kind of sound you want, but having a good group of really good songs is all really anyone cares about. If you don’t think it’s ready to run, then always try to better it.
• Check out all of our photos from Bastille’s secret show in the Boston Common here