Every year for four days in May The Great Escape Festival sees the city of Brighton taken over by an army of music fans who swarm to the 34 bars and clubs chosen to host the performances in the hope of catching the year’s ‘next big things’ before they hit the big time.
One of these bands is Bombay Bicycle Club, who seem destined to be perpetually ‘hotly-tipped’ for success. Having offered two excellent performances across the three days, and with an album on the way later this year, they seem finally ready to fulfil their much vaunted potential.
2006 was a big year for Bombay Bicycle Club. Having formed just a year before that, the four boys in their mid-teens suddenly faced the full attention of the English music-press. Some feared that, like so many other skinny-jeaned indie-hopefuls, the band would be too young to withstand the harsh winds of the hype machine. Happily, they emerged virtually unscathed from the clutches of the NME’s claws and, talking to singer Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie MacColl, and bassist Ed Nash, it is clear that they couldn’t be more optimistic about the band’s future.
‘We want to be the biggest band in the world,’ jokes MacColl, ‘but seriously, we just want to do this for as long as we can. It’s been frustrating not being able to put an album together, but now that it’s ready it’s pretty exciting’.
But how did being on the pages of NME at only fifteen years old affect them? Surely it must have been hard to keep their feet on the ground when their rockstar dreams were coming true before their eyes?
‘We were really well managed: we weren’t aware of the hype at all. It was weird being recognised-and it was definitely exciting-but we didn’t take it too seriously. We’ve all got places at university waiting for us if this doesn’t work out; we’ve tried to be sensible about it’.
Asked if they’re happy with their debut album, the response comes promptly in the affirmative. ‘Definitely,’ asserts Steadman, ‘some of the songs are a few years old now, so it’s hard to keep perspective when you’re so familiar with them, but we’re pleased with the finished product. It’s been a long time coming; now we just want to get it out there’.
Having worked so hard on the album, MacColl says the possibility of it leaking online is a definite concern for the band. ‘It would make you sick if you’d been working on an album for ages and people got their hands on it before you were ready. It happened to Grizzly Bear, one of our favourite bands: they recorded an incredible album and it leaked months before the release date’.
The issues of releasing albums in the modern world aside, Nash asserts that playing live is the only real reason to be in a band: ‘we love it’, he says, ‘we’ll never get tired of it.’ When they start to play, their raw talent makes it instantly clear that they belong on the stage. Their live set is nicely varied, offering shout-a-long choruses while maintaining enough individuality to keep things credible. Their new single ‘Always Like This’ is a definite standout, and sees the crowd descend into an ugly, dancing mess of sweaty youths.
If they continue to perform like this, it seems that there is nothing to stop them from triumphantly entering into the mainstream