It’s strange. Nobody saw Bastille’s meteoric rise in 2013 coming, not their label, not their fans, and not least the band. They hadn’t exactly been the most optimistic of bands, even when the foursome’s smash hit ‘Pompeii’ was starting to gain traction across both sides of the Atlantic. But we think it’s pretty safe to say that they’ve made it now that JUICE gets to sit down with Kyle Simmons and Chris Wood halfway across the world from London and talk about their music, travelling, and how far they’ve come.
In the past year, Bastille has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of popularity and from a sonic perspective as well. What were some of your favourite moments?
Chris Wood It varies, because in a way we’re kinda like adrenaline junkies. Like, when we did Saturday Night Live in January. That was pretty terrifying. But now we want to do it again, so I guess every most recent terrifying experience is my new most favourite moment. And you know, all the festivals that we’ve been doing like Glastonbury, which is a big thing for a British band. But you know what takes the sh!t? We met Bill Cosby. Life complete.
It has been a while since Bad Blood was released. If you could change anything with it, would you?
C Well, I don’t know. I wouldn’t change the past – it’s done us all sorts of good. But you know, I’d make the drums louder. Even on songs with no drums, I’d put loud drums on it. (Laughs)
Kyle Simmons Not to say it was perfect, which it wasn’t, but it’s put us in the position that we’re in now, which I’m pretty happy about. So, I wouldn’t change anything.
We’ve heard that you’re going for a more guitar-driven sound in your upcoming album. What else can you tell us about it?
K Not just guitar, drums as well. But I guess it’s getting people excited – like we’re going to have guitars in every song. There is going to be a lot of guitar, and it’s going to be more of a band-y sound, more r’n’b, and we’re basically just going expand on our first album. We’re going to have a lot more rocky stuff, a lot more electronic stuff and a lot more r’n’b stuff. I guess we don’t feel tied down to any particular genre or sound.
When you were writing your first album, you were listening to a lot of hip hop-inspired tunes. What’s on your plate right now?
C I am obsessed with this new duo out of the UK called Royal Blood. It’s like bass and drums, but they put the drums through guitar amps, and it sounds huge. It’s proper rock’n’roll.
K I’ve been listening to lots of producers lately. Stuff like SBTRKT, Flume, Lido, Cashmere Cat. That kind of sound.
Loads of British acts have started to stamp their mark on the global scene in the past couple of years – bands like Rudimental, CHVRCHES, and you guys. What is it with the musical culture over there that makes it so fertile for music?
C I don’t know what it’s like over here, but at some point everyone played an instrument in school. The piano or the clarinet, the saxophone or the guitar, whatever. I don’t know if it’s a worldwide thing?
K I guess we’re very hard on ourselves as well, and really cynical about lots of stuff. I guess you’re kind of moulded into, having to be the best if you do anything. Not that there aren’t amazing bands that come out from anywhere else, I’m just literally trying to pick a reason why.
C The landmass size is quite tiny, but there are 60 million of us. So maybe that plays a part.
K It’s so multicultural, there’s not in a sense one particular sound coming out of Britain at one time. Because it’s so diverse, there’s every kind of influence coming at you.
C You could walk down the street with bars with live music and there’ll be one band doing reggae-ska, the next will be a death metal bar, and then some kind of neo funk beside it.
K I guess like, in a place where rock and roll is massive, only a few bands can be in the spotlight at one point. But in London, like you said Rudimental, CHVRCHES, and all are all so varied, and I guess we were all able to come up cause we’re not competing. And everyone’s in a band.
You’ve been travelling a lot lately. Have your travels changed the way you seen things as a band?
C I guess now Dan’s got to write on the road, and maybe our influences have changed a little. I mean like the process – I don’t think travelling has had any effect on the sound or anything.
K I think gigging lots has maybe helped us realised what kind of songs we need – a more upbeat one, or a jumpy one at different points in the set.
C The second record is going to be a more collaborative one, and I guess after playing together for so long we’ve kinda meshed better. So like, yeah, now we’re having a bit more input in terms of the songs.
Was Bastille your first serious foray into music?
C No. Well, I went to music school and I was in band since I was 13 or 14. I’ve been a drummer for as long as I remember. Everybody was in a few bands, and I decided to go to university instead of continuing on with music. That’s where things started picking up, and now look who’s laughing.
Will we ever see anything like another Other People’s Heartache?
K Yes, yes. It’s already in motion, a work in progress.
C Loads of collaborations again, but all originals this time rather than covers. But like each time, it’s going to be with someone different. We’d have to kill you if we told you who we were working on this with. (Laughs)
How did you guys meet?
C I met Dan many moons ago, when I was broke and putting leaflets through front doors for drum lessons and he rung me up about joining him in a band. Will, we met through our management, and as for us we met at a party. He just kept popping up!
Have you got any other plans for the next few years then, besides the album?
C Basically just touring, and seeing the world. We’re heading down to South America, where we’ve never been on tour before, and some parts of Asia. Festival season is coming up as well, a UK tour, and America as well. Basically what we’ve been doing but on a larger scale.
Courtesy of Universal Music Malaysia, JUICE saw Bastille live in Melbourne, Australia at Festival Hall on Sunday 15 June ’14.