Alter The Press!


ATP! Interview: Bastille

Not many bands can claim to have a debut album that reached number one on the UK charts in its first week. Of course, South London’s Bastille isn’t like many bands to begin with. Having made a significant mark in the UK and the rest of Europe, what with their sold out tours, full festival schedule and the aforementioned no. 1, the quartet seems to now be turning their attention to the US. With their first North American Tour planned for September, the band is set to release their debut album Bad Blood on September 3rd, along with an exclusive vinyl limited edition box set, which is available for pre-order via the band's official website. Basically, America is about to find out just what all the fuss is about. Though they have a jam packed schedule, vocalist/lyricist Dan Smith found the time to speak with us before catching a flight to Switzerland to talk festivals, the US release, and what we can hopefully see from them by the year’s end.

Alter The Press: So, I guess to get started, what have you guys been up to since you were last in the US for South By South West?

Dan Smith: What have we been doing? Well, when we went to South By, we were sort of on a bit of a break from our tour, so we went back to the UK and finished our album tour and then we did a tour of Europe. Then festivals are just getting started in full swing. We’ve just sort of been manically traveling around and playing in lots of different countries and lots of different festivals and releasing our album in different places. It’s been a busy couple of months, but it’s been a lot of fun!

ATP: Yeah! I can imagine! You guys have been all over the place with those festivals.

Dan: Yeah, I mean, the UK I think has more festivals-- and this is probably really naive of me-- but it feels like it has more festivals than anywhere else. At any one time throughout the summer in the UK there’s going to be a whole bunch going on. So we’re doing loads in England, but like today, we’re on our way to Switzerland for a festival and then to Spain on Sunday before we head out to the States on Sunday night, so yeah, it’s been really fun. But also, sometimes you’ll get to a festival and you’ll see the lineup and I’ll sort of completely lose my shit because it’s such an awesome lineup with all these bands I want to see. [Laughs] But then they’ll be like “Right, you play in five minutes and then we’re leaving in an hour and a half” and it’s like “No!”

ATP: So you have to miss all the people that you want to see!

Dan: Yeah! But, I mean, these are not particularly bad problems to have. [Laughs] As a bit of a new music fan, having some of those lineups dangled in front of you and then pulled away can be frustrating.

ATP: It’s a bit sad.

Dan: But then, you know, we played at Glastonbury this year and I made sure we had the rest of the weekend off. We played on the Friday, and then we got to stick around for the whole weekend and I camped with my friends and caught up on all the gigs I’ve been missing. So yeah, that was awesome!

ATP: Well I’m glad to hear that you finally got to catch all those!

Dan: Yeah, because I love festivals. Like, before we were so busy with the band, I used to go to loads every summer. So part of me feels really lucky that we’re going to so many festivals and as I said before, there’s a part that gets upset-- not upset, that sounds dramatic-- frustrated.

ATP: [Laughs] So, since you guys have been so busy all year, have you had any highlights?

Dan: I dunno! That’s a good question! I think, creatively, we just made a video for one of our songs called ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ and we made it in Lithuania. It’s just come out on the internet and we’re so happy with how it turned out. That was fun, being able to make a video that we’re really proud of. But life-wise, I think maybe Glastonbury for us just because it’s my favorite festival and it’s quite a big deal, I think, for UK bands or maybe for any band around the world to get to play Glastonbury. And at the festivals, I’m a bit of a pessimist so I always kind of imagine that maybe not many people will come and see us, and we were completely blown away by just how many people came out. We were told after the gig that it was the biggest crowd the John Peel Stage has ever had, and that’s slightly unbelievable and incredible. If it’s true, that’s an amazing thing to be told. So in that respect, that was a bit of a highlight.

ATP: Definitely! Congrats on that!

Dan: Thank you! Thank you so much. So, that was awesome. And music-wise, I think at Glastonbury on Sunday, running from seeing Vampire Weekend on the main stage to seeing James Blake in a tent immediately afterwards was a very happy two hours of my life. [Laughs]

ATP: That is certainly a good way to spend two hours. I can’t blame you for that one. Now, you guys are starting your first US tour in September. Are you excited and prepared?

Dan: Oh, we’re so excited! It’s funny, obviously when it comes to gigging in America, we’re kind of starting from scratch and I think we’re all quite excited to play some more shows and to go to places we’ve never ever been and just seeing what the crowds are like, if there are any crowds. [Laughs] If anyone comes. And just explore the States a little bit. It’s a North American tour, but it’s quite a liberal use of the word because it’s not the biggest tour in the world. I think we’re kind of doing as much as we can, but there’s a lot of places we’re not going to be visiting that we would love to go. But hopefully a bit further down the line, like early next year, we can really spend some proper time in the States and go to these places for the first time. So yeah, we’ll see. But yeah, we’re really excited! And I guess it’s kind of like unknown territory for us, so we’re just waiting to see what’s going to happen.

ATP: Cool! And earlier, you mentioned your latest video, which I loved by the way, and I noticed that everything you guys do has a very cinematic influence. Like the album artwork is like a movie poster, the videos are very cinematic and you even have movie dialogue interspersed in your songs from Other People’s Heartache. So are you guys like really big movie buffs, or is that something that you kind of unconsciously did?

Dan: No, it was very intentional. I love movies. I mean, I’m sure most people in the world do, it’s nothing new or different, but growing up I was completely obsessed with films and I had ideas of being a film director but obviously that was never going to happen because I was too lazy. So I’m just really drawn to cinematic aesthetic and it’s just visual stories that I love and I think in the music, like our album, isn’t overtly cinematic but I like to think of things quite visually and I wanted all the videos to feel as cinematic as possible, and all the artwork to feel like that. And when it comes to the album artwork, I wanted it to feel like an old cult film poster or something. We’re in this really lucky position where we get to work with people to make artwork and make it ourselves and why not have fun with it?

ATP: Would you say this one is your favorite that you’ve done? Because you have five, right?

Dan: Yeah? Five, I think. I think it is my favorite, you know? And maybe that’s just because it’s new. I mean, I love all the other ones, and this is in no way undermining them, it just feels slightly more sophisticated and the most kind of Lynchian of all the ones that we’ve done. And that’s something, because I talk about how much I love David Lynch, but I don’t think anything we’ve done has really nodded toward him visually or stylistically as this one does. But equally, I feel like it’s not just a sort of pastiche, just because the director and fans of Lynch but I like it. It’s a weird kind of dream narrative. It’s quite moody and it doesn’t try to explain the song at all. It’s its own thing. We all watched the first cut of it and we all just got really excited and we were like “Yes! This is it! This is what we wanted!” Which is, you know, in creative things, often things take all sorts of different edits and you have to go back and change things, so it was really satisfying to have that almost immediately. Like I think it’s the kind of video that if I saw another band with that video, I’d be like “That’s wicked.” So I’m really chuffed that it’s ours.

ATP: So is this going to be the last single off of Bad Blood, or do you have a few more up your sleeve for us?

Dan: I don’t know. That’s a very good question. [Laughs] We’ll see. I think that’s quite a lot of singles to have off an album.

ATP: Well it can’t ever be too many when your whole album is great. So there ya go, just release them all!

Dan: Okay, we’ll be here until 2015 just releasing singles! Boring the hell out of everyone. [Laughs]

ATP: [Laughs] So, to wrap up, what are your plans for the rest of the year after the US tour?

Dan: Well, I hear we’re coming back to America at the end of the year as well for a bit. And we’re sort of starting to make more music and making another album. We’re just really enjoying that process of starting to write songs again and produce them and messing around with our sound and trying stuff out with guitars for the first time. Yeah, we’re just trying to have fun with it. And hopefully make a mixtape as well before the end of the year. Just trying to fit all that stuff in between lots and lots and lots of gigs!

- Victoria Patneaude

Alter The Press!