Bastille’s Dan Smith on his mysterious new side project and why he’s ‘excited’ for 2016 to be over

2016's been a bit of a shitter but Bastille have made the very best of it.

It’s been a big old year for Bastille. As second record ‘Wild World’ is about to go gold we talked to frontman Dan Smith about their absolutely mega twelve months and what he’s looking forward to in 2017.

Hello Dan – massive year! How did 2016 start for you?

It started off with us finishing the record. It was our first prolonged period of time at home in three or four years, back in our mate’s little studio. It was quite nice having a routine, going to the studio everyday and finishing off ‘Wild World’. It’s been a mad year. From it starting off feeling more normal than it had in a while, to doing a full summer of festivals, an arena tour and releasing our album. It’s been pretty all encompassing. All the while, outside of our little world of Bastille, it’s been a pretty nuts year.

Well, yeah. You wrote an album about making sense of the world, but since you wrote it the world has become a much more complicated place…

Yeah, totally. I guess a lot of those things were bubbling under the surface at the time when we were writing and finishing the album. There’s a tension on the record between me wanting it to be quite escapist but also feeling like it’s quite hard to not address a lot of things going on at the moment. It’s a bit of a weird position to be in.

I can completely understand why you’d want music to be a form of complete escapism – and there is an element of that in our stuff – but there’s also an inescapable thing of the world seeming a bit skewed and fucked up and us needing to try and make sense of it. But – as I’ve said loads of times – it’s very much from a position of us being complete idiots and trying to do it on quite an honest level!

It’s been surreal though, there are a few songs on the record which, particularly at the moment, feel very relevant, at least to us. And that is quite odd.

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You’re in America at the moment. Do songs like ‘The Currents’ seem to be resonating with fans in a way that you perhaps couldn’t have anticipated before all this, er, ‘stuff’, happened?

To be honest, I’m always really interested when people say they can relate to our songs. On the first album, that wasn’t something I’d ever anticipated or thought about. So when we were lucky enough to play shows in different countries and to hear people who live miles away tell me that something I wrote in my bedroom has some sort of resonance with them, it was very humbling and nice, but also very surreal.

I guess it’s a bit more obvious when you’re writing about things like hearing divisive things on the news and feeling uncomfortable with that. People have said – I’m talking about a very small number of people – that it’s been interesting and helpful to have a record that feels relevant and honest. I wanted to write it in a way that’s a human response rather than a particularly politicised one.

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

I’m looking forward to a bunch of albums. Haim’s record and Lorde’s record and there’ll be a load of great stuff coming out.

I’ve also been working on my record label Best Laid Plans which I set up with my mate. It’s not something I’ve talked about loads before because I didn’t necessarily want it to be associated with Bastille, but Rag N’ Bone Man is signed to it. He just won the Brits Critics’ Choice Award for 2017 and I’m really excited for him as a mate and musically. I think he’s going to have an amazing year.

But mainly, like a lot of people, I’m just excited for 2016 to not be 2016 anymore!

What about Twin Peaks. As a fan, what questions do you want answered by the new series?

Looking at how much TV has changed since the first Twin Peaks was out there. At the time it was really shocking because it subverted the idea of a soap opera and brought surrealism and darkness into that world. It was so mainstream but also so weird and there was something so brilliant in that. But now, the whole landscape of TV has changed to the point where the best entertainment is coming out of Netflix and HBO and now that’s the frontier where people can be really creative because they have massive budgets, no censorship and they have these ten hour-long canvases on which to paint these stories.killer-bob-dale-cooper-twin-peaks

I’m really excited to see what it’s like. ‘Fire Walk With Me’ [David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ spin-off movie] shocked people because it was way darker than the TV series so it will be interesting to see if the new series is more like that or a return to the tone of the TV show. But the cast is nuts! And apparently he shot the whole thing as one giant film and edited it all retrospectively. I’m just well excited to see what happens and I think it’s better to go into it not expecting any questions to be answered at all and then if there are any, it’ll be a nice surprise.

What can fans expect from Bastille in 2017?

We’ve got a big US tour and lots of festivals next summer which I’m excited about and I’ve got lots of sessions booked in to work with other people. There’s also this side project I’m involved in will be coming out next year. I’m not really supposed to talk about it at the moment but I’ll be banging on about it soon enough. We’re going to eastern Europe which will be fun. Since we released the record, we’ve only really been to the UK, Europe and the US so I’m excited about travelling a bit more again.

Jenn Five/NME

A new album?

I don’t want to say definitely in case it takes longer but we’re working on new material. I want the next record to be quite a radical departure from where we are now.

We’re just exploring things at the moment. I’m writing a whole lot of songs and figuring out the way to go. There are so many different points to ‘Wild World’ and it sounds quite different to what people would expect from us. There’s a part of me that wants to let all the different moments of ‘Wild World’ to have their moment and be released properly. But then I also can’t help but think about the next record. I’m trying to challenge myself to write differently to I have before so we’ll see what will come out of it.

See the video for Bastille’s new single ‘Blame’.