Thursday 26 April 2012

Bastille // Interview & Live Review

Meet Bastille. In fact you may remember us mentioning them HERE as a band we tipped you to watch out for. What started out as a solo project by Dan Smith [who was born on the French, Bastille Day, hence the name] has now turned into a four-piece full live band with an E.P out on 30th April and an album on the way. We headed down to The Harley in Sheffield on the opening night of the tour and chatted to Dan all things touring, recording and having a “wow this is amazing man” moment.

Tonight is the official first of the tour, but you played a couple of sold out dates in London last week? How were they and are you looking forward to getting out around the country?
Yeah, we did a couple of warm-up shows around the outskirts of London, which were a lot of fun. We hadn’t really played a gig since November/December so we needed to get up to scratch. But we’re really excited about getting out on the road and playing elsewhere. 
Bastille's Dan Smith on stage in Sheffield

People will have heard your music popping up on Radio 1, Xfm and even on Hollyoaks, so what can they expect from the live show?
I think a lot of the recorded songs I’ve tried to make all different from each other, so if anyone was to check us out online then you might think it’s a bit all over the place sonically. I think seeing us live will make it all make sense; there are four of us doing it and it’s quite energetic.

You did “Bastille” as a solo project first and then formed it into a band- how has that transition shaped the Bastille that we see today?
Nothing’s really changed in terms of how I write and record the songs; I’m still working with the same guy that I made the first Bastille song with. I’m always concerned with making things sound as good and different as possible. But, playing as a live band has affected things in terms of now thinking about how things will come across live and the scope of it. The band hate me because I come up with something that is completely impossible for them to do [laughing].

You are also coming to play the Live at Leeds Festival which takes over all the music venues in Leeds for the day- are you looking forward to playing it?
I was at Leeds University so have lived in Leeds but never been to the festival. But my housemate’s are in a band called “To Kill A King” and they’ve played the last few years in a row and love it, so I can’t wait for it. I haven’t been back to Leeds in a couple of years so really looking forward to going back up there.

You recorded a lot of your music yourself and you put together some of your own videos- do you enjoy the process of that and having the control?
Yeah, I love it; I’m probably a bit of a control freak. All the songs start out with me recording them on my laptop and grow from there. I think what I like about working by myself is that you can allow yourself as much time as you need; let things brew and develop and there’s not as much pressure.

I saw that you’d been at Abbey Road Studios recording some stuff for your album- how was recording at such an iconic venue?
I know it’s such a cliché, but it was amazing. We were offered that chance to go down for the day by our record label, because they’re affiliated with Abbey Road. I feel like such a weirdo, but it was so amazing. We recorded three string arrangements for three songs on the album and then we did the song “Flaws” with six string players. We were conducting them, or trying to, and singing along and it was just a really cheesy “wow, this is amazing man” moment. 

How’s the album sounding- is it nearly finished? When and what can we expect from it?
It’s about 80/90% there; all the songs are written and recorded and we just did the strings, which was the last thing. After the tour it’s just a case of finishing mixing the songs and adding the finishing touches. What to expect? There will be a few songs that we’ve already released, a whole load of new stuff and hopefully it’ll sound cohesive; but I also want it to sound a little bit all over the place. Hopefully the song writing and the vocals will hold it all together and there are a lot of common threads running through the songs. It will be nice to have an album that feels like a collection of quite sporadic songs that all work and sit alongside each other. 

You also have the E.P “Overjoyed” out next week- are you looking forward to the release ahead of the album?
Yeah I really am. One of the songs that we recorded for the album is going on the E.P and I don’t think it’s going on the album either, so that’ll be quite weird letting go of one of the first songs from the album. Also, there’s a bunch of remixes by people that we really like and respect, like Yeasayer who are a massive influence; it’s mental that we got them to do a remix.

Other than the album, what else do you guys have planned for this year?
Yeah, the album will be out later in the year and we’ll be releasing a few more singles and doing a whole load of touring; this one and then probably another at the end of summer. Maybe another mix-tape, who knows? Just keep busy really. And definitely some festivals.

And here's what happened when Bastille took to the stage...

Bastille are yet to release a full album but have already developed a strong and loyal army of supporters, and quite rightly so. Their music and previous E.P “Laura Palmer” has been going down a storm online and on the radio and the crowd gathered at Sheffield’s Harley are excited to see what Bastille “live” has in store.

Bastille on stage in The Harley
Understated and effortless in performance, front man Dan Smith strolls on to synth based and percussive “Icarus”. The band are tight and each song has a catchiness that unites Bastille’s sound, whether that be the impressive vocal harmonies on “Things We Lost In The Fire” or compelling “Laura Palmer” with its soaring chorus. Flitting between a range of instruments across the stage, all members of Bastille have a firm musical grasp and a natural stage presence. They even include a cover of City High’s “What Would You Do” taken from their own mix-tape “Other People’s Heartache”. With an album due out later in the year, Bastille tease the zealous crowd with a couple of tasters of what to expect, including “These Streets” and the catchy “Pompeii”. Bastille have a great dynamic to them and in addition to the more upbeat melodies have a great ability to hold down more composed, melancholic songs such as “Oblivion”. “It’s quite depressing” announces Dan before skilfully guiding the piano effortlessly through the track.

Dan on top of the speaker

“Thank-you so much for coming”, Dan announces on multiple occasions throughout the evening, humbled by the crowd’s response and turn-out. Bastille’s live show is endearing and mesmerising. The soft-spoken front man is shy and spontaneous in the same breath. Closing with crowd favourite, the eloquent “Flaws”, sees Dan wander around the stage, climbing a speaker to get a better view of the crowd before moving to clamber on another speaker by the drum kit. “I can’t get down”, laughs Dan as he continues the rest of the song from up there, looking down on the crowd that reciprocates his amusement. Finishing with a lively and impressive encore of Corona’s “Rhythm of The Night” [taken from Bastille’s mixtape] it would be fair to say that  anyone who didn’t enter The Harley as a Bastille fan, definitely left as one. 

"Overjoyed" the new E.P is available to pre-order from HERE

To download Bastille's free mix-tape head here-