Bastille first formed in 2010 as a solo project headed up by Dan Smith. Not long after, one became four and the band were signed by EMI music. Since then they have supported acts like Two Door Cinema Club, played festivals such as Reading and Leeds and reached second place in the UK singles chart with Pompeii.
Fresh from releasing their debut album which went straight to number one, the band have been on their biggest headline tour to date. Rob Slade caught up with frontman, Dan Smith to talk about touring, festivals, pasties and Temple Run before their headline show at the O2 Academy Bristol.
How has the tour been going?
It’s been good thanks. We feel really lucky that it sold out a while ago and it’s a nice opportunity to play to people who have liked our music for a while. It’s been really fun, it’s been nice spending time together. We’ve been touring solidly for about a month and before that we were touring with Two Door Cinema Club and within this month we’ve been to America and back.
How did it feel seeing the album at number one?
It felt really surreal to be honest and I don’t think it’s really sunk in that it happened. It’s just one of those things that people say and it’s like, oh cool, that’s nice. It was never an aim so it took me really by surprise. It’s really gratifying, it’s really nice that people liked it. It’s testament to our fans that they came out and bought the album. I kinda wanted to release more songs because I felt like people who had been following us for a while… I felt like I owed it to them. It’s totally weird, totally surreal. It kind of feels like it happened to someone else and we’re just watching on. It’s odd.
You’re playing a lot of festivals in summer, looking forwards to any in particular?
I dunno… I mean yeah there’s a few I’m looking forward to going to. We had such a nice time at Reading and Leeds last year. It really knocked us sideways that people came to watch us and knew our songs. It was a bit of a mental turning point for us. We kind of realised that there were people that liked our songs. We’re going to Benicassim, Ibiza and Majorca Rocks. We’re going to Japan. It’s so weird just looking at our summer, it’s just a sort of list of all of the festivals I’ve ever wanted to go to. I just hope we have time to stick around at the festivals and actually get to see other people because as is the way, often you play your set and have to go somewhere else. I like going to festivals so I hope we can stick around a lot.
Do you prefer playing headline shows or festivals?
It’s two really different things. At your headline show you know that everyone that’s there has bought a ticket to see you and probably likes your music, so it’s a lot more fun and a lot easier. I think festivals are where, as well as people who like your music, it’s also where people [who] maybe don’t or aren’t sure will check you out. I’m a massive pessimist so I also assume no one is going to come anyway. You’re slightly outside your comfort zone, you haven’t had time to set up and sound check, so you kind of have to put more into festivals. That’s a lie. But, there’s a feeling of having to try to win people around a bit more. It will be really interesting to see what kind of reception we get especially now that we’re slightly more well known. I think any band that more people know about are much more likely to hugely divide opinion as well. We’ll see.
Do you have a most memorable gig?
I don’t know, I think that Reading gig that we did was just really pivotal for us and we loved it. But on this tour its hard to choose, Manchester was amazing, they were fucking mental, there was a mosh pit! Rock City in Nottingham is the biggest headline gig that we’ve done so far. It was such a nice atmosphere.
What are you listening to right now?
Well there’s a couple of new James Blake tracks that I’m a bit obsessed with, Digital Lion is awesome, as is Retrograde. The Everything Everything album is wicked. I love Haim as well, a song called Send Me Down that I’m completely addicted to.
Do you have a song that you’re proudest of?
I think when I made Bad Blood it came together quite quickly and that was quite satisfying and we got to release it pretty much as soon as I wrote it.
From your time on tour, any funny stories?
I guess the usual kind of stuff that happens when there’s 12 guys living in coffin beds on a bus together. It’s been quite funny. I have had some funny experiences during gigs in the crowds. I tried to skirt around the side of the crowd in Brighton and got pulled into the crowd and got stuck. I am really clumsy so I break stuff all the time [and] fall over. We’ve had gear break in the middle of gigs.
If you had your own festival which three acts would you choose to headline it?
Good question! I don’t know. Simon and Garfunkel for the old school thing and then Watch The Throne to headline another night, so Jay Z and Kanye. Then for the third night maybe someone massive and current like Frank Ocean. I don’t know, I’m really bad at picking favourites.
Do you have a favourite pasty filling?
Oooohh. Good question, Woody is from Plymouth and has very strong opinions when it comes to pasties. Just a classic Cornish pasty for me. I’m really bad though, I have ketchup with my pasty if it’s dry.
As part of our interviews we now ask the interviewees to have a go at playing Temple Run. With the results we are creating a Top Gear style leader board so bands and artists can compete with each other. Dan felt that his Temple Run skills would reflect badly on the band as a whole so Bastille’s band manager stepped in and took on the challenge. Make sure you pick up the latest issue of Flex to see the leaderboard.
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