Bastille’s Dan Smith on ‘Other People’s Heartache Pt. 4’, getting out of their comfort zone, and ‘weird’ new single ‘Grip’

The long-awaited mixtape finally arrives this week

Bastille have announced the long-awaited release of the next installment in their mixtape series, ‘Other People’s Heartache Pt. 4’. Scroll down to hear ‘Grip’, the first track from it.

Never a band to take it easy, since finishing touring their second album ‘Wild World’ in August 2017, they’ve done more than some bands fit into five years. That list includes contributing the gloomy ‘World Gone Mad’ to the soundtrack of Netflix movie Bright, reworked their songs with an orchestra for the fittingly titled Re-Orchestrated tour, collaborated with Craig David, done more behind-the-scenes work writing and recording with other artists, made a third album, played a bunch of festivals and US dates, and had an unexpected chart-topping smash with Marshmello in ubiquitous banger ‘Happier’.

In between all that, they’ve also finished ‘Other People’s Heartache Pt. 4’, which arrives tomorrow (December 7) and serves as a link between the band’s past and future. On it, they recall the spirit of the first two mixtapes, paying their respects to classic pop songs and giving surprising new takes on some Bastille deep cuts.

“The mixtapes are a place to respectfully play around with pop,” says frontman Dan Smith. “Pop music is brilliant in its simplicity and how that makes it potentially quite malleable. I’m sure some people see reinterpreting other people’s songs as sacrilege but it’s something people have done forever. I think there’s something brilliant in music that connects with people being able to echo on through time via other people’s interpretations.”

Grip

Grip, a song by Seeb, Bastille on Spotify

The mixtape is more than just a stop-gap between albums. It’s meant to be a bridge between ‘Wild World’ and ‘Doom Days’.

Dan Smith: “Yeah, that was the idea. We wanted to nod heavily to our last album and acknowledge that, at the time, you couldn’t help but feel anxious about the terrifying changes in the world and that, since then, they’ve all come to pass and everybody’s living through the consequences. Obviously, these feel like perpetually stranger times, so it feels like different forms of escapism and distraction are more vital than ever. It also nods to where we’re going on our next album and the things we’ve done [in between].”

The original intention for the mixtapes was to create your own fictional film soundtracks. You’ve been talking about ‘Doom Days’ as an “apocalyptic party record” – is this mixtape more like you’re curating the playlist for that party?

“I guess in a way it is, yeah. That album is a nighttime record and it’s about escapism. Like with all of our music, I wanted to straddle the line between euphoria and absolute despair. It’s quite a personal record but it’s about distraction and escapism, and it’s set over the course of a night. Obviously, music is such a huge part of that, be it at a party, out and about, or in the back of an Uber and, in some ways, this mixtape could be seen as something like that.”

In terms of the covers, all four present here are classics but probably none more so than En Vogue’s ‘Don’t Let Go’.

“There’s something about that song in that it sat in this mainstream space and was so part of the cultural consciousness. Everyone knows that song and has good associations with it. There’s something really mournful about it, though – that’s why the mixtapes are called ‘Other People’s Heartache’. It’s about taking these stories from other people and reinterpreting them, and I thought who better to do a version with than Craig David? I probably heard that song alongside tracks off his first album in the car when I was a kid. It’s quite exciting having Kianja on that track with him too.”

Kianja is a new artist signed to your label, Best Laid Plans. How did you find her?

“We found her online. She came down to the studio and played some songs on the guitar and I instantly became a huge fan. I’ve written with her, which was awesome and her music’s amazing. I’m so excited for her to start releasing music properly and see what happens.

Bastille fans will be pleased you’re finally releasing ‘Grip’ after playing it live once and then nothing happening with it. How’d it end up on the mixtape?

“I love it but other people don’t seem to get it. I get why – it’s a weird song. Any tune where the hook is “The devil’s got my arms” is gonna get a weird reaction. [Norwegian EDM trio] Seeb are making an album and asked us if we wanted to work together. It was an interesting opportunity to work with an artist that we probably wouldn’t and that’s what makes the mixtapes what they are. My vocal, as it’s completely fucked with, flies astronomically up into the air and I think I initially laughed [when I first heard it]. This is way outside of my comfort zone and that’s definitely a good thing. It’s something we’d never have done but a good collaboration can stretch you, make you try something new and go to a different space, and be fun. Maybe it’s part of me mellowing out.”

The live recording of that song sounded pretty guitar-y before. Was that the case?

“Oh, it was way guitar-y. Our whole thing on the first album was that we didn’t have any guitars and we somehow got limped into the guitar music world, rightly or wrongly, through no intention of our own. But then, through playing big festivals and big venues, on ‘Grip’ and ‘The Draw’ and other songs, we were like, ‘Fuck it, let’s just go there.’ To hear ‘Grip’, which I so associate with massive, rumbling guitar, flipped on its head as something really clean and polished and poppy was quite interesting. That’s probably why it initially provoked laughter. Hearing your voice fucked with like that is quite funny.”

Similarly, the mixtape features another Bastille deep cut in ‘The Descent’, which was only released on limited vinyl before. Why re-record that song here with Moss Kena, Lily Moore, and Jacob Banks?

“I always loved that song and felt like it had more life in it than being on a limited run of vinyl. But to re-release something, you need to do enough to justify that so it became a space to bring in a shitload of people. It’s got some of the most interesting, impressive vocalists around at the moment on it. It also nods towards the next album – it’s got a reinterpretation of one of the songs from ‘Doom Days’ at the end called ‘Million Pieces’, but on the album it couldn’t sound more different if it tried.”

Speaking of ‘Doom Days’, you’ve described the new album as being the opposite of ‘Wild World’ in terms of attitude to what’s going on the world. It’s about shutting it out for a night, but you’re not telling people to disengage…

“No, not at all. It’s really important to stay engaged, vote, and be vocal but, equally, I think it’s just as important to live your live and try and be happy. There’s a time and a place for those conversations. There’s a song on the new record about someone trying to talk to me about politics and Donald Trump when you’re just wanting to have a good time and lose your mind, and doing that’s really important. These are such huge topics that you can fall down the hole of thinking and talking about it all the time.”

For more information on ‘Other People’s Heartache Pt. 4’, visit the official website. The full tracklist is as follows:

‘Wild World (intro)’
‘Would I Lie To You?’ ft. Craig David, Kianja, and S-X
‘Grip’ (Seeb & Bastille ft. Other People’s Heartache)
‘Don’t Let Go’ ft. Craig David, Kianja, and Swarmz
‘Flowers’ ft. Rationale and James Arthur
‘The Descent’ ft. Lily Moore, Moss Kena, and Jacob Banks
‘Warmth (outro)’ ft. Moss Kena