Interview: Bastille

Dan Smith, lead singer and creative force behind Bastille, has built up a reputation as a perfectionist, partly through the constant delaying of the release of his debut album, Bad Blood, and it’s quickly made clear from talking to him that this is not entirely unjustified. Speaking about the fact that many of his songs will already be familiar to fans of the band, he says that while it feels a bit odd to re-release so much material, they’ve attempted to improve on their previous versions. “We want to
give a good impression to both people who have liked us and people who’ll be new to the band,” Smith says, passionately.
Bastille are indeed gathering momentum, and have just wrapped up a tour supporting Two Door Cinema Club, during which they will doubtless have picked up many new fans. Talking to Smith shortly before the band heads off, he seems very excited, having never done a support tour before, and intrigued by the different experience of playing to “people who potentially don’t give a shit.”
That tour is followed by the band’s own biggest one yet with a whopping 19 dates. The tour has sold out, with over 15,000 tickets bought, something Smith calls, “pretty incomprehensible.” He further explains that Bastille’s music changes during live performances; the songs get “bigger and beefier” live. He likes this; feeling that people who’ve heard the record and come to see the band perform deserve to see some musical progression on stage. The rest of the time, it sounds like Bastille definitely know how to have fun, going out almost every night while on tour and “catching up on films” during the day.
Film is something that Smith has a serious interest in, and he sees many of his songs as having “their own tone and atmosphere.” He also says that many are “like a little scene or a moment of dialogue captured from a bigger story.” The cinematic aspect of Bastille’s music comes across strongly in songs such as ‘Pompeii’, a dialogue between two charred skeletons, victims of the famous eruption of Vesuvius. The song considers the fact that they’ll be stuck in this moment of time forever, immortalized in death, which is an excellent example of Smith’s ability to take a well-known story and use it to say something else as well. He says that when he was writing ‘Daniel in the Den’ he “wanted to write a song about dreams and paranoia and that seemed a really good way to go about it.”
‘Laura Palmer’ is named after the deceased central figure of the David Lynch TV show Twin Peaks, and Smith talks at great length of his love for Lynch and Twin Peaks in particular, saying that “it’s fascinating to see how someone can present an image of themselves as something totally different.” He says a lot more about the show and its influences on him, though he admits that there may be more ideas about Laura Palmer in his head than in the song (“I love it so I can talk about it for hours, sorry!”).
Smith clearly revels in discussing his music and his band, and seems genuinely sad to finish the interview, but, then, he does have a sell-out UK tour to get on with.
Bastille’s debut album, Bad Blood, is released on March 9th. The band play the O2 Academy Oxford on March 22nd.