Will Farquarson, Kyle Simmons, Dan Smith, Wood aka Chris Wood and Charlie Barnes make up this talented indie rock (and sometimes pop) band known for hits like “Pompeii”, “Things We Lost in the Fire”, “Bad Blood” and a big collaboration with EDM producer Marshmallo on “Happier”. Haven’t guessed who we’re talking about yet? It’s Bastille!
Exploring emotions is something the band does expressively well with their music. Their lyrics express concern over the current state of governments, mental health, phone/porn addictions, climate change, and all of our other modern anxieties while at the same time giving us an escape but still a feeling of being connected, understood, and equally baffled while being able to dance and sing, feeling free by blocking the outside world for even just a few songs. Seeing them live is a must, their energy is infectious and it just feels good.
We had the chance to chat with them backstage before their Los Angeles show at the Greek Theater for their sold-out show. The guys were all humble, kind, and generous with their time, goofing around and sharing candidly how they still get super nervous before hitting the stage. Hugging and doing jumping jacks prior to walking out to perform, the guys felt like a family, a tribe that loves what they do and loves one another. Their style is all about comfort, being true to themselves with no gimmicks or costumes, just t-shirts and jeans. This is not without some humour though, like the Golden Girls t-shirt Charlie Barnes donned for this particular show (which we loved).
We sat down with Dan, the lead singer to discuss their tour; the bands’ backstage essentials, and their inspirations.
Hey Dan, we’re so excited to see the show! How do you prepare for each show while on tour?
Thank you! We’ve put together a show that expands on the concept of the album and heightens it, but within that we’ve been changing up the setlist every night and trying to bring in old songs we’ve never played or haven’t played in ages. So we’ve been using soundchecks to jam out old and new songs. Outside of that, we’ve been trying to do and see as much as possible in whatever town we’re in.
What can’t you live without backstage?
Hot sauce is a big one. Especially in the US it’s nice to see what the local promoter’s favourite is. We also challenge them to do their very best photoshop of one of us lot in bed with a famous person.
What has been your favorite song to perform on the Doom Days tour? Are there any songs you are sick of playing?
I love playing the actual song “Doom Days” because it sums up a lot of how we feel about the world in 2019 so it’s pretty cathartic singing it every night. I’m genuinely not sick of playing any of our songs. The bigger ones always get such a nice reaction that I think we’d have to be pretty hardened to it all to not get excited every time we see that.
Which city has had the best energy on tour so far, and are there any cities you’re really looking forward to playing before the tour wraps?
Salt Lake City crowds are always really loud and rowdy. We had a stage invader at that show. Denver was also pretty awesome. We’ve been pretty lucky throughout the tour so far, everyone’s seemed to be really up for it and seem to know the new music really well.
Are there any aspects about being on tour that you don’t like?
I don’t sleep well on a tour bus, so there’s quite a hefty amount of sleep deprivation for me on tour, but some of the guys love bus sleep – and the bumpy American roads seem to happily rock them to sleep. I guess it means I get to catch up on a load of books and TV shows. Other than that, it’s really just being away from home and on a different time zone that can be hard, as it would be for anyone with a job that takes them far away. But we’re lucky to be surrounded by an awesome bunch of people so it’s kind of like a weird travelling family in some ways.
You guys are so great live, I’ve seen you many times, like at the Troubadour when you (Dan) climbed up the sides of stage and serenaded our mutual friend Tyler Barth who’s been such a big promoter of you. Do you have a favorite show where you felt great and free like that one?
That’s such a hard question to answer! Some of the festival shows we’ve been able to do stick out because we get to play in front of so many people. I loved getting to play the Greek in Los Angeles though, it’s just such a beautiful place to play!
Do you still have pinch-me moments on stage? Like wow, ok I am really doing this – this is my career?
All the time. I get pretty nervous and I’m not that comfortable on stage, but when I can forget about that and enjoy what I’m doing – especially if the audience is amazing – I feel insanely lucky to get to do this. We recently got to record some of the songs from “Doom Days” in Studio 2 at Abbey Road with an orchestra and it was totally surreal. Felt very lucky to be there doing that.
What music are you listening to now vs. what were you listening to when you first began? Is there a specific song or playlist you listen to before each show?
I listen to loads of new music. It’s always at the very least interesting to flick through new music Friday every week to see what’s out. I also help run a little indie label so am always listening out to new artists. I do always seem to come back to Amy Winehouse, The Fugees, Frank Ocean, and Simon & Garfunkle though to name a few. We made a playlist that we put on before shows to amp everyone up. We’ve all chucked songs in there so it’s a completely mad mix of stuff. From songs by Hudson Mohwake and Rusty right through to “Highway to Hell” and anything and everything in between.
Which artists deeply inspire you and who would you like to be on stage with performing, if you could choose anyone?
When I started writing I was really inspired by people with interesting voices who wrote at the piano. I guess because my voice is pretty weird sounding, I’ve always been drawn to artists who sound very individual. Anohni (FKA Anthony & The Johnsons) being one of them, Regina Spektor another, and Elton John.
Where do you guys see yourselves within the next 5 years? And what do you want to say to your fans?
I have absolutely no idea. I’m incapable of thinking long term. It would be awesome to still be making music and to still be alive. Just thank you!! This tour has been such a great reminder of how lucky we are to have people coming to our shows and knowing all our songs. It’s incredibly cheesy but I’ve been finding myself feeling massive grateful to everyone in audiences for that.
Bastille’s latest single “Another Place” featuring Alessia Cara is out now, you can watch the video down below.