Bastille’s Dan Smith On New Music: ‘We’ve Really Pushed Our Sound’

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After building a loyal online fanbase by dropping brilliant freebie mixtapes, Bastille exploded into the mainstream in 2013 with their enormous breakthrough single ‘Pompeii’ and chart-topping debut album ‘Bad Blood’. As they return with super-catchy new single ‘Good Grief’, NME meets frontman Dan Smith at a south London recording studio to find out more about ‘Wild World’, their eagerly-awaited second album.

What’s the story behind ‘Good Grief’?
“I love hooks and making big pop songs that hopefully you’ll remember, but lyrically I’m drawn to topics that are slightly less well-trodden. So this is a song about loss, but the ups and downs of it and those moments of euphoria you get. The samples of dialogue in the song [from classic ‘80s teen movie ‘Weird Science’] are there to give it a sense of nostalgia. ‘Weird Science’ is a film that’s long before my time, but there was something about Kelly Le Brock’s voice and something about that line opening the song that I just loved.”

How is the new album different from ‘Bad Blood’?
“I think we’ve really pushed our sound. The whole album weaves through these different moods and scenes, going from massive to tiny and intimate and then back to bombastic again. Because the first album was initially a bedroom project and I couldn’t play guitar at the time, there were no guitars on it. But then from touring we found that Will [Farquarson], who plays bass in the band, is also a really good guitarist. So we’ve tried to incorporate guitars into this album without falling into that clichéd indie sound. We’ve never really given a fuck about existing within a genre. If we wanna have a ridiculous, over-the-top blaring horn sample on one song and then go into minimal electronica on the next, that’s completely fine.”

Are there more samples on the album?
“Yeah, it’s a big mix from films, old documentaries, found footage, stuff we recorded ourselves. We’ve actually had to re-record quotes from films because of clearance issues. It’s such a nightmare! But I always wanted to use samples to help texture the album. I’ve always loved the ‘Jackie Brown’ soundtrack – the way Samuel L. Jackson’s voice weaves in and out with lines from the film. I think there’s something about isolating a couple of sentences of spoken words that sets a tone. It can create a world that seems so different from the one we live in.”

You’ve recorded most of the same album in the same south London studio as ‘Bad Blood’, with the same co-producer, Mike Crew. Were you ever tempted to work with a big pop producer in Sweden or the US?
“Not remotely. It was really important for us to progress and evolve, but we wanted to do that ourselves. It wasn’t about incorporating someone else’s sound. I think there’s stuff on this album that sounds like it’s from a different band, but that’s because we wanted to do it, not because we brought in somebody else who could transfer what they do onto us. That’s never interested us at all.”