Before Bastille’s gig at the Waterfront last week, I popped down for a lovely little chat with singer, Dan Smith. Since speaking to him and the band, their album Bad Blood has hit number one in the UK charts.
Your tour has sold out everywhere, how is it going so far?
Yeah the whole thing, it all sold out like a while ago. Which is a really nice way to go on a tour – knowing every venue is going to be full. And also, it’s quite nice because a lot of the venues sold out a while ago – before things got weird. So I have no worries that people are going to come and just know ‘Flaws’ and ‘Pompeii’.
How does touring compare with the festival circuit?
I don’t know, they’re really different things – this summer is going to be really interesting now that people have our album and stuff. But for me as a slightly pessimistic person, playing at festivals is always a bit of a gamble because you walk on stage and you wonder if anyone will be there because people aren’t there to see you, they are there to see loads of people. We have had some really great festivals which really surprised us because people did know our stuff. Like Reading – Reading felt like our own crowd.
You’re quite the teenage heartthrob at the moment- how does that feel?
Luckily I’m not really that aware of it. I guess we’re really flattered that anyone likes our music and anything that comes along with it is … is what it is.
What’s with the no guitar?
I can’t play the guitar – it’s pretty simple. But then half way through the album, me and Mark, the guy I produced it with, set ourselves a bit of a challenge. We weren’t striving to make indie music, but on some of the songs we asked ourselves how we could make the tracks have the same feel as a guitar band without falling back on using guitars and without using distortion – you know, just trying to be creative with the sounds, with the beats, with the vocals to give it energy without having to rely on guitar. I mean there is a lot of bass on the album – which is technically a guitar – and that is quite important to the sound.
You guys are pretty creative – how do you decide what to sample for Other People’s Heartache?
It’s a process of experimenting and messing around and trying different songs out. A lot of them started as a bit of a joke and asking ourselves how can we turn a completely unexpected song into one that sounds like one of ours – and sifting through films I love, or through music we love and quotes that work. A lot of the tracks were a happy accident that just came together. I guess it gave us an opportunity to use other peoples’ songs as a platform or canvas to try out things we wanted to try out.
How is living on a bus?
It’s fun. It’s weird – we’re all living on these coffin beds on top of each other. They do all the driving at night, so you lie there wobbling around. But its really comfy and it feels like you’re on a summer camp or something. You get to the venue every morning and have to find where the shower is, get yourself a towel and everything else. It would be nice to have more time to wonder round the town a bit, but it’s fun.
What happened to being a journalist?
I got onto a Master’s course in journalism at the same time as the music stuff got interesting and it was all a bit much – I had to make a decision.
Haven’t looked back?
No – I feel like I made the right decision because it can be as hard to get into either. No matter how hard you try, or how good you are, neither journalism or music necessarily culminate in anything.
Would you rather … lose your hair or lose your voice?
Lose my hair. I literally don’t give a shit about my hair. I don’t care about it as much as people think I do. I am constantly winding up the record label with the prospect of shaving my head because it’s just annoying.
Ok then, I’ll give you a more difficult would you rather. Would you rather never be able to use doors, or permanently have a cactus plant stuck to one hand?
I think the cactus. I mean with the door option, is everyone on your side? Would people leave doors open for you? It would be so annoying but you could potentially cut it off and just have a muddy pot in your hand. It would be difficult for a lot of things – particularly sex – or interesting, depending on what she was into.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
To Kill a King are a band who I think are brilliant. But also, I love the new Everything Everything album and I love the new James Blake track and I’m looking forward to the album.
How is touring with To Kill a King?
We’re touring with them in the second half, so I don’t know yet, but we’ve known them for years. I live with one of them and they are some of my best friends. I am so excited about going on tour with them and being able to hang out with them every day. Touring can be quite weird – not seeing mates and friends and family for a long time. We asked them to come with us because we’re obsessed with their music and we think they are proper geniuses but also quite selfishly – because we get to spend time with them.
Bastille’s debut album Bad Blood is out now.
By Hatty Farnham
Dance Yrself Clean