Chelmsford: Bastille’s Dan Smith talks V Festival and beyond

Bastille play V Festival

Bastille play V Festival - Credit: Archant

The biggest names in music and comedy descend on Hylands Park, Chelmsford, this weekend. Jenny Entwistle caught up with Dan Smith of indie band Bastille, playing the Virgin Media Stage tomorrow.

Bastille play V Festival

Bastille play V Festival - Credit: Archant

Smith and band-mates William Farquarson, Chris “Woody” Wood and Kyle J Simmons aren’t doing many UK festivals or shows in the UK this year so admit they’re looking forward to V festival.

“We played there a couple of years ago as a completely unknown band in the Strongbow tent. It’ll be fun to go back and hopefully play to a few more people this time round,” says Smith, hoping to catch Justin Timberlake’s headlining performance later. “His live show is supposed to be incredible so if we have time to stick around we will definitely check out our first live Justin Timberlake experience.”

Earlier this year the band won British Breakthrough Act award at the Brits. Their mentality is to not really expect too much and just get on with things, so kind of went into the awards completely baffled by the fact they were there at all.

“We felt a bit out of place so went into it wanting to just enjoy it for what it was and were mainly concentrated on the fact we were performing at probably the most public thing we’d ever done,” he says.

“So our minds were pretty preoccupied, but yeah, I guess we just weren’t expecting to win at all so the shock on our faces was pretty genuine. We were in a bit of a daze really and wandered up and had to cobble together some semblence of speech and then p***** off to go and get ready to play.”

Following the Brit Awards, ablum Bad Blood went back to number one again a year after it was first released, becoming one of the biggest selling albums of 2014.

Most Read

“It was mad. Especially as it stayed at number one for two weeks. You know what, it was a really great feeling and not something we expected. With the Brit Awards it’s such a massively public thing, it gets a lot of attention and as a band we’ve always just got on with our own thing relatively under the radar.

“We’ve always done alright but we don’t get a huge amount of publicity so it was interesting doing something like the Brits. I think it meant that people who had maybe heard one or two of our songs over the course of last year could finally put some faces to the name and maybe that’s why the album thing happened.

“Being involved in something like that was pretty surreal and a lot of fun for us. Getting to see people like Arctic Monkeys and Beyonce play, doing our tune with Rudimental, all of it was pretty weird and awesome.”

It’s not just in the UK that Bad Blood has been a massive success, they’re playing sold-out shows all over the world in places they’ve not visited before. Smith admits it’s very surreal.

“I absolutely love traveling and seeing as much of places as possible so I feel very lucky to be able to go to new countries and new cites. We’ve been seeing so much of America recently which is amazing cause I’ve always wanted to do the cliché road trip across the US and now we’re getting to do it and play shows at the same time.

“We’ve managed to cover quite a lot of ground and have visited bits of the country that people who live here often don’t go to which is awesome, because it’s such an insanely diverse place. Also, being able to go play in South Africa and go and play in Australia and go to Asia and all round Europe to countries I never imagined I’d go to, it’s fantastic, I feel so lucky.”

Smith adds the really nice thing with the group is they’ve had pretty much the same crew from the very beginning. Obviously as things have grown new people have come in but essentially, there’s a group of 10 who have been touring, traveling and living together for the last, two, three years.

“If it wasn’t for that I think we’d probably feel very disconnected. We have a good time together but equally, if any of us even remotely started to act like an idiot everyone else would be very quick to step in.

“We all miss London when we’re away, but it’s so easy to stay in touch with home that we just try to enjoy all the places we get to see. That’s the weird thing about touring, it always feel like a bit of a traveling circus cause in some ways you’re doing the same bizarre things every day but in massively different places.”

As well as V, Bastille play Tennents Vital Festival in Belfast on August 21, the same day as The Killers.

“I’ve seen them live at several festivals and I think their first album is just, it’s such a brilliant album - Hot Fuss - it’s one of those records where you put it on and every song feels familiar, it’s almost like a greatest hits in itself. Will, who plays bass, he’s a massive fan. That’ll be one that will just be incredible to watch.”

They’re looking forward to seeing their Northern Irish fans who have been great to them so far. It’s been a little while since they played a show in Belfast.

“What’s nice is that this year, in the UK we’re not going to be doing any more touring until next year so this festival run this summer is a really nice opportunity to head back to spots in and around the UK we haven’t been to in a while. Somewhere online there was a an advert that said The Killers and Bastille’ and we slightly lost our minds seeing those two band names together.

“We played a gig in Vegas recently, which is where The Killers hail from, and it was fun to see that town for the first time. In fact, we jumped off the tallest building in Vegas attached to a rope. It was ******* terrifying. It’s called the Stratosphere, if you google it, the Stratosphere, it was absolutely terrifying.”

New single Bad Blood was released last month. Smith says it’s a really important song for the band.

“It’s the title track of the album because I think it encapsulates the themes and tone of the whole record and it has always been one of our favourite songs to play out live. I’m glad we’re giving it a proper release and showing another one of the different sides of the album. We’ve released it in the US recently and it seems to be doing pretty well which is awesome.”

The band have started work on new material while on the road, saying they’ve done a lot so far which has been fun.

“I was worried we’d struggle to because with the last album, I wrote nearly all of it in my bedroom after work and in my free time, and that’s not something we get much of these days. We also made the whole record with our friend Mark Crew in his tiny studio in South London and I thought being so far away from the contexts we’re used to might make it hard to be creative and productive.

“I tried to just always keep writing and keep getting ideas together and recently we’ve been able to bring Mark on the road with us a bit which has been awesome. We’ve been setting up makeshift studios in backstage rooms on our tours around the UK, Europe and the US and it has been so productive.”

They have a good 16 tracks worth of stuff which Smith’s really excited about and they’ve started playing some new songs live.

“We’re just going to keep writing and experimenting and messing around with ideas until it’s time to release the thing. We’re not even remotely interested in repeating anything we did on Bad Blood, so it’s been a lot of fun experimenting with different sounds and genres and writing styles. I can’t wait to put it out.”

They’ve some exciting plans for the rest of the year once festival season is done.

“We’re taking a few weeks out for Woody to get married and then to properly record the main chunk of the new album. We’re also working on another mix tape at the moment, so we’ll be getting that ready and doing a whole bunch of writing and recording.

“We’ll also be heading back to the US for quite a big tour later in the year which I’m excited about. I can’t really believe the size of the venues that we’ll be playing - it’s blowing my mind a bit.”