“I want our albums to be like Quentin Tarantino movies, always the same director, but different genre” - hmv.com talks to Bastille
It’s been just under two months since Bastille released their long-awaited second album Wild World and they’ve continued to go from strength to strength with a sell out UK tour and a busy 2017 already locked and loaded.
To look back on making the album, why they want their albums to be like Quentin Tarantino movies and their plans to keep on growing, we spoke to frontman Dan Smith...
Have you been pleased with the reaction to the album?
“The fans have been great. We were nervous, we’ve had a few years between albums and we’ve tried out a lot of different things so we didn’t know what people would think when they heard the album. People have embraced all the different sounds and it’s nice, having spent the summer banging on about how it was going to sound, that people have actually picked up on all the different styles.”
From the outside it didn’t really feel like you ever stopped touring, was the album written and recorded in lots of snatched moments and week’s off?
“It was a mixture. Sometimes it would be a case where Mark (Crew, producer) would literally come out with us and we’d work as we toured Europe and the States. Then any time we were back from tour we’d go straight to the studio, so we were constantly at it for the last couple of years. We really got it done at the start of this year, that was three solid months of editing and consolidating, we had a lot of music to sort out and that’s where we really discovered what this record was going to be.”
What was there a particular moment where it all came into focus?
“There’s a song called ‘Warmth’, which I wrote after watching the news and having this realisation about how f***ed up everything is, and that song really defined the album. It’s about trying to find your place in the world and where you fit. We really built the album around that song and decided that we wanted this to be a diverse album and we wanted it to feel more like a soundtrack or a mixtape. There were no rules.”
You wrote the first album largely on your own, was it good to have the band more involved this time?
“The first album was largely written and recorded on a laptop in my bedroom. It was really important to me to have the guys be as involved as they wanted to be. We got a bigger studio, had all the instruments set up and we worked through all the songs. It was nice to feel like a proper band this time.”
You’re now an arena band, were you writing songs this time with the bigger venues in mind?
“Absolutely not. I love big melodies and I’m drawn to big songs, but we never sit down and think about the live arena when we write, that’s our love of big landscapes and cinema seeping into what we do. If anything we go the other way, there are very small and introspective moments on this album.”
Does this album has a lyrical thread?
“There’s definitely a thread through the record, but every song is a different story. I felt a lot more confident this time and I think you can hear that in the words. I want everything we do to be widescreen, to look good on those huge film posters and really take on board that cinematic style. I want our albums to be like Quentin Tarantino movies, always the same director, but different genre. It fitted with all that. A lot of the songs on our first album were quite personal, but we borrowed a lot from famous old stories, like on ‘Icarus’ and ‘Pompeii’, this album is much more rooted in present day.”
There's a 14-track edition and a 19-track deluxe, last time you ended up releasing your album three times, was this a way to make sure everything came out at once?
“We see the 19-track album as the proper one, that’s the only one we’ve put on vinyl. Cutting this album down was very hard, but we have, a lot. The way Bad Blood evolved was completely f**king mental, we thought we’d be lucky if we toured the UK and Europe, so the way it just keep going and going was incredible.”
It really felt like that campaign for the first album wildly surpassed expectations, is there more pressure this time?
“There is a little, but we never expect anything, our whole career has been one surprise after another. Nobody thought we were going to do anything with the first record. We didn’t and our label definitely didn’t. It’s been great because it means every achievement has come as a big surprise and we have no expectations. When we first put out Bad Blood we asked our label if we could do it on vinyl and they said “Nah mate”, very quickly. It’s out on vinyl this time though…”
Finally, do you think you’ll work in the same way for album number three? Or do you fancy stopping for a year and heading off to a cabin to write?
“I do like working like we have done for this album. When we first started I was writing after work and whenever I could, now our job is more touring and we’re still doing that. We did need to stop to pull this album together, but I think we’ll continue to work whenever we can.”