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COVER INTERVIEW: Bastille

Posted on Monday, 6 May by

Bastille

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Each year, a breakthrough act steps to the forefront and defines the sound for the coming 12 months. With hit singles, a #1 album and a headline date at The Great Escape to their name, Bastille are 2013′s big thing.

We chat to frontman Dan about rock music, FIFA and hating pop.

You kicked off the year with the release of ‘Pompeii’, why was that the single you wanted to leave in people’s minds before they heard the album?

I guess it’s one of the more upbeat songs on the album, so it’s probably a good way in. We’ve released a lot of singles over the last year or so and we never expected that many people to pay so much attention. We wanted each single to symbolise progression and ‘Pompeii’ fitted that bill.

Soon after that, your debut album ‘Bad Blood’ went straight in at #1, how did you find the process of making a full-length record?

I’m most comfortable writing and recording by myself to be honest, so a lot of it has been pieced together over the last year. I co-produced it with my friend Mark, who’s got a cupboard-sized studio in South London, and I guess that was quite relaxed. All I did was set about writing songs that I thought people wanted to hear, try some new things out and bring different sounds, feels and atmospheres to our stuff.

Some people described the album as ‘dark and thematic’. How fair is that?

I hope there are a few surprises, actually. I see each song as a separate theme, narrative, conversation…whatever, you know? Hopefully people hear it as a cohesive whole and it probably all fits. But definitely, some songs sound different in terms of what instruments we’ve used and stuff. I hope hearing it as a fan is an interesting experience and it keeps people’s attentions.

I can’t think of anything worse than being called a pop star.

Bastille - SQ Magazine

Tell us about your origins: you as a musician and the group as a whole?

I have been making and writing songs since I was a teenager and when I was at uni a lot of my mates were in bands, which persuaded me to push my sound out and start gigs. I rented some studio space and eventually got to a point where I just wanted to start a band, so I got together with Woody, Kyle and Will and we started rehearsing my material. I put a couple of tracks up online in 2010 alongside some artwork that I’d made in Microsoft Paint (laughs) and we built things from scratch.

Your sound has been described as ‘perfect pop music’. In your mind, what does it take to become a perfect pop star?

I’ve got no idea, absolutely no idea. I can’t think of anything worse than being called a pop star.

So, how do you take to being called ‘perfect pop music’?

I don’t know. In my mind, pop music encompasses anything that’s a good song. A pop song can exist in any genre and any sound, as long as it’s something that people can grip on to. For us, because we try and change things from song-to-song, I don’t know how well we fit in to a traditional ‘pop’ genre… but I guess I kind of take it as a compliment, yeah.

There’s been a recent resurgence of UK rock music after a quiet few years. Do you think you can spear a new movement?

It would be great if there were a resurgence of guitar music in the UK, but surprisingly to most people, I don’t actually use a guitar in the whole album – so I don’t know how well we fit in to that genre either. But there are some wicked guitar bands. For example, the Vaccines are massive and then there are loads of new bands like Peace coming through. People seem to get really caught up in the ‘rock’ thing, either saying that it’s dead or it’s on the rise – I’m definitely not the expert. But there is a feeling that 2013 is the ‘Year of the Band’, so if we get lumped into that mix it’s no bad thing.

You’re all lined up for The Great Escape Festival this year, but are there any particular cities you like to play in and do any gig memories stand out?

We’re so lucky with our gigs, the crowd always seem to be out to have a good time and with our headline shows, they’re always familiar with our songs and ready to sing along. But to be fair, Brighton is always special – we had a gig there a few years ago that was so packed! It was really sweaty and it felt like a rave, which was weird but absolutely mental.

Life will go on if stores like HMV close for good, but it won’t make it any less s***.

Bastille

You’ve had your songs featured on the soundtrack for things like FIFA 13 and Made in Chelsea – which have you been the most excited by?

I think FIFA was especially cool for all of us. It’s just such a massive game internationally. Loads of our friends and families play it and when our song has popped up in people’s living rooms it’s always been a “WHAT?!” sort of moment (laughs). That’s been pretty amazing.

This year has seen a retail giant like HMV fall by the wayside. As a musician, how does this affect you and where do you see the industry moving?

I guess it’s sad. I used to buy stuff from HMV. We were pretty gutted because we thought we’d missed the opportunity to have our album on HMV shelves by like a month – that was pretty shattering! I guess labels have been learning for the past however many years that things have to change. Life will go on if stores like HMV close for good, but it won’t make it any less shit.

On a brighter note, if your success continues this year, how are you guys planning to celebrate?

Well we were in Preston on the day the album came out, at a venue which was upgraded in capacity for us – that was a pretty fantastic way to celebrate. We’ll just keep gigging!

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‘Bad Blood’ is available now. Find out more about The Great Escape festival here.

Illustration by Tom Mac.

Order a copy of SQ Issue #9, featuring Bastille from our online store now.

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Corey Pellatt
22-year-old editor of SQ Magazine and Media Studies student at the University of Sussex. Freelance writer for clients including BHAFC.


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