14 Questions with Bastille

UK Indie-Pop Band on the Eve of Their First Barclay’s Show

BASTILLE-TV-Credit-WolfJamesBritish indie pop/rock band Bastille formed in 2010 and took the world by storm with “Pompeii” back in 2013. Named after Bastille Day – July 14, which also happens to be lead singer Dan Smith’s birthday; he’s joined by keyboardist Kyle Simmons, bassist Will Farquarson and drummer Chris Wood. The guys released sophomore album “Wild World” in the fall garnering hit songs “Good Grief” and “Blame” and taking their show from clubs and festivals to arenas this spring with a tour that kicked off Monday in Boston and includes Brooklyn’s Barclays Center this Thursday, March 30 with support from LA-based singer-songwriter Mondo Cozmo.

Bastille performs tonight on Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late Late Show With James Corden on April 18. Bassist Will Farquarson took some time while in London to speak with NYC Monthly about the band’s first experience at a New York Mets game, what makes this new tour different and where the guys would like to visit next in New York City…

Aside from the obvious album title tie-in, why is your new tour called the “Wild, Wild World Tour”?

Bastille’s Will Farquarson: It’s a very turbulent time culturally and I think when we wrote the album it was consciously reflecting the time, so a lot of the songs are talking about nationalism, populism and things that are perhaps frightening. That’s why we named the album Wild World.

How excited are you guys to be playing Barclays Center in Brooklyn?

WF: We’re excited and also quite nervous. It’s a step up for us, we’re not quite sure what to expect. We’ve done some arenas in Europe but to play such a cool venue in New York will be fun. New York is wicked.

You have a new single called “Blame.” What is one thing one of the band members often “blames” another band member of doing?

WF: We are not really an accusatory bunch. Dan is always late. He’s usually late, he’s the latest member. We haven’t caused each other to blame each other for much.

You have appeared at Glastonbury and Coachella in the past with new dates coming up at Coachella in April. You have toured with Muse and debuted on Saturday Night Live back in 2014. What would you say was Bastille’s “we made it” moment over the past few years?

WF: It’s one of those really interesting things, we talk about this often. We’re sort of lucky that those things have happened fast for us. The two moments for me were things back home when we were nominated and lucky enough to win a Brit Award, it’s like the Grammys in England. I watch it every year.

There’s this one moment where we were all together, the four of us who were touring before we had a record deal, fast-forward we created this thing that’s a global entity. And Glastonbury was something of a zenith for us. And also we were so lucky because the day we played it was beautiful and the sun was setting and it was kind of magical for us.

As British band with global appeal, you travel all over the world. What is particularly exciting to you about visiting New York and playing for fans here?

WF: I mean primarily the best thing about New York is you get to be in New York. It’s such a vibrant and creative city. Of all the places in America, we all have a soft spot for New York, and I love LA as well, but there’s something about the east coast, about New York and also Boston, that have a European and cosmopolitan aspect.

I guess playing around the world and meeting fans is always amazing, it’s always a highlight of our job. New York is a really special place. In terms of character I find east coast people to have this cynical hard edge, they are similar to English people.

“Of all the places in America, we all have a soft spot for New York,” – Will Farquarson

Your massive hit “Pompeii” has appeared in countless commercials, TV shows, film and I’ve even heard a marching band play a kick-ass version of the song. Did you ever think this tune would become such an anthem for you guys?

WF: No. It’s one of those things, in hindsight, everyone always imagined a brand plan. But we literally wrote this in Dan’s bedroom. Personally, I wasn’t like “oh my god it’s going to be a hit.”

It sort of took on a life of its own because no one was expecting it to happen outside of England. It was #1 Alternative in America and Australia and Japan and it just snowballed for us.

Wild_World_album_coverOn the album cover for your recent release “Wild World,” it looks like you guys are sitting on top of a major skyscraper in what could totally be New York City. Where did the idea for this cover come from?

WF: Interestingly, we are getting credit for being braver than we are. We found it online, we liked the idea of being on top of a city. The idea of turbulence. But the more songs we wrote, the idea of solace can be found in human relationships or friendships or romantic relationships, and stumbled across this photo which symbolized and really captured the unity and connection against this sprawling cityscape. It’s downtown Manhattan. It’s one of those really lucky finds.

What’s a song you’ve heard over the past year or so that you wish Bastille recorded?

WF: There’s a song by an artist Christina and the Queens, “Tilted”, and it’s just wonderful. I’ve been learning French because my girlfriend’s dad lives in France. I also saw her last week and we had a chat in my terrible French and it was probably really boring her.

How has Bastille’s live show evolved from previous tours and festivals?

WF: As the venues increase in size the productions kind of get bigger and more impressive. Also in terms of this album, it’s more of an experiential show. There’s a sort of ongoing narrative where you come in and there’s content that starts before we play, videos, and it’s tied together by this conceptual narrative. I think that’s very different for us this time around. We’ve worked toward this idea, it’s not performance art, it’s just a bit more of an experience.

What is something you or the band has done in New York City that fans might be surprised by?

WF: We went to a baseball game with our manager, we don’t get much time to see or do fun things cause we’re working a lot. This one day we were a bit hung over and grumpy and we went to a Mets game and I’ve never watched a baseball game in my life but by the end I was the biggest Mets fan in the world. He explained the game so thoroughly, and I’ve subsequently forgotten everything about the game. But my only reference, we bought hot dogs and beer and for me it was the most American thing I’ve done.

Last summer when you released “Wild World,” you announced the name of each track on the album via SnapChat. What is the craziest thing you have seen on SnapChat (or on social media)?

WF: I once saw a kangaroo wearing pajamas. He was really small, wearing striped pajamas.

What act that you’ve never seen before are you most looking forward to checking out while you’re at Coachella this year?

WF: Beyoncé. I’m a bit of a fan like everyone else, I guess. It’s going to be an amazing. [Interview took place prior to Beyoncé cancellation.]

In 2013 you released a song called “Of The Night,” a reworked version of German group Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer” originally released in 1992. How did this song come about because it was really successful for you guys?

WF: It came about because we did a mixtape where we just did covers. We just wanted to do covers from our childhood, songs that millennials grew up with, and that was just one of them. A bit like “Pompeii” it just took off. And we started doing it live at festivals in Europe. In the end we figured it would be a cool thing to do and we tried to make it our own, it was a bit of a surprise that it was so well-received.

Is there anything you hope to do or visit in New York or Brooklyn when you’re in town for your Barclays show?

WF: I’d quite like to go on a boat to The Statue of Liberty. We’ve been to a lot of the galleries and we’ve done a lot of the cool stuff. That’s one of the few touristy things I haven’t done.

Photo Credit: James Wolf