Introducing… Bastille (Interview)

“I think you have to be more experimental and make little compromises to force yourself into different things…” Dan Smith, Bastille.

Bastille’s approachable, harmonious pop electronica made them one of the bands of the summer, and has justifiably placed them on the brink of transcendence into the mainstream. Their amalgamation of raw emotional energy with polished production forms an honest take on pop music that’s ready to invade the charts and has already gained them a loyal following. “Bad Blood”, the single that put them on the radar with it’s visceral vocals and bassy undertones has recently topped one million views on Youtube, whilst the re-issue of current single ‘Flaws’ has made it onto the Radio One daytime playlist.

Needless to say the south London four piece are set for big things. WTGR caught up with frontman Dan Smith before the penultimate show of their tour in Brighton.

Your guys’ summer must have been pretty hectic with the countless festival appearances and whatnot, what were the highlights?

(Dan Smith) There were so many highlights, Reading was amazing for us because a lot more people came than we expected, and we didn’t get showered in piss which was great.  We had our first live TV appearance there as we right after the gig, which was quite stressful.

That was the BBC Treehouse right? That opened you up to a lot of people.

Yeah the exposure that TV gets is huge and for some people it was interesting to see “Bad Blood” stripped back, as they perhaps would of only heard it on record and disregarded it in the past.

Bastille as a concept started as a solo project, but has since evolved into a full band experience. Would you say your writing style has changed as you brought in new members?

Not really, I’ve always found that I write best by myself by piecing together ideas.  The limitations I have when piecing songs together on my own with a piano though are perhaps why I drafted in the guys, and jamming a song with them will push a song into different territory, which is working well at the moment.

This opens your sound up to bigger things then?

Yeah exactly. I think you have to be more experimental and make little compromises to force yourself into different things, and it’s really satisfying to work on songs with the guys.

Over the last year you’ve steadily gained more popularity, which has perhaps snowballed in the last two months with regular play on Radio 1. Has the sudden increase in attention on you been overwhelming?

From our perspective, you don’t get a sense of what’s going on outside of the band. It doesn’t seem like anything’s really changing.  I guess we’re so inside the whole thing, and this tour sold out before we started getting rotation on Radio 1 anyway.

So you just don’t take any notice of it then?

Not in a sort of self-involved way, it’s just that tangibly nothing has really changed for us. We’ve had such a busy summer that we still feel like we were just as busy as we used to be. Things like Radio 1 expose you to so many more people, and very occasionally you do get recognized which is very weird and always will be.

You started on Young and Lost Club Records before recently moving to Virgin. Would you say much has changed after moving from an independent to a major label?

Before it was very much just the four of us and our manager, and we did everything ourselves with the help of friends. When moving to a major label there’s a person for every single job, which has it’s advantages but there are some minor drawbacks.

Has there been any added pressure from the label?

We’re really lucky with our label, and from the horror stories you hear we’ve seen a very nice side of it, and been given a lot of freedom. As we get towards the album being released I’m sure there will be more pressure though.

The album’s just been given a release date of March next year, why is there such a wait, where are you at with it?

There’s a lot of boring reasons, but I think that if we put it out now there wouldn’t be enough people that would want to hear it, but there’s a part of me that has made the album and wants to get it out there. The label has been deliberately letting it build as well. I’m obsessed with new music, and I can imagine that if I was a fan of our band I would be getting frustrated that our album isn’t out yet, especially when you hear a few of the tracks live.

Flaws is out Monday. Is it strange re-releasing a single and having to go through the motions of plugging it again?

It is weird, but when we released it the first time it was the first introduction to our band, because no one knew who we were and it was just 300 vinyl copies. This time it’s different, as we’ve released a couple more songs already. When we play it live people like the track as well, and have gravitated towards it. If all goes to plan we will be releasing six or seven singles with the album so it’s just a stepping-stone I guess.

That’s quite a lot of singles to release with an album. Are you worried about leaving little surprise for the fans by the time the album actually comes out?

I’m really worried about that yeah. The album’s gone up for pre-order and I fought quite hard to not put the tracklisting up because we play a lot of the songs live. I think that when you buy a debut album from a band you’ve heard a few songs from, the most exciting thing is hearing new material, and that bothers me, but there’s nothing we can do.

The new video for flaws is almost cinematic, and significantly different to it’s homemade original. How much influence do you have on the newer videos?

Well the old ones, and a lot of stuff on our youtube I edited myself, which is perhaps why they’re so rubbish. I’m really involved in the new ones though, not to the point where I write and direct, but I give ideas to the director and we talk about the films that influenced the old videos, and visual points that I want to touch upon, which is great.

Bastille’s new single “Flaws” is out Monday.




Words by: