Q&A: Bastille's Dan Smith On Arena Shows, Apple Music Festival And The Joy Of Tie Dye

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In association with Apple Music Festival

By the time they arrive on stage for their Apple Music Festival show at the Roundhouse, Bastille’s long-awaited second album ‘Wild World’ will have been out for over two weeks. This means their new songs will, hopefully, be bellowed back at them just as loudly as their 2013 smash ‘Pompeii’, and all the other songs that – even now – are everywhere. Come October, they’ll embark on a UK tour of massive arenas. All of which only makes the chance to play smaller shows such as this all the more special – for the people watching and for the people on stage.

So you’re sharing the Apple Music Festival line-up with… Elton John and Britney Spears.
“I know! It’s very surreal to be on that line-up. But we’re just really excited to be asked to do it: it’s a nice opportunity to play a beautiful venue in our home town.”

Speaking of home town shows, what on earth was the idea behind the secret show you played as Chaos Planet the other week?
“I dunno, we just thought it would be nice to be a ’90s chillwave band for a night. It was a nice excuse to wear some tie-dye. Any excuse to wear tie-dye is alright by me.”

You’ve got an arena tour in the autumn. Is there a sense of waving goodbye to being able to do small, sweaty gigs like that?
“I don’t think so. There’s always the way back down, man.”

Don’t say that!
“I’m joking! But they’re my favourite shows and I love playing them, so any opportunity we get to play smaller shows, we’re going to do it. I guess it doesn’t make sense on, like, a money level, but a lot of stuff we do doesn’t make sense.”

How do you feel about an arena tour?

“I would have loved to be playing way more smaller shows. But equally, creatively, it’s an opportunity to plan a show that’s more ambitious and bigger than anything we’ve done before. Not just in terms of scale, but in terms of – from the minute that you walk into the room, to the end of the gig – everything being engaging and speaking to the themes of the new album.”

The title ‘Wild World’ is quite suggestive. What are the themes?
“Towards the end of last year, I wrote this song ‘Warmth’ and it’s quite an affectionate song in the context of the madness of the world sometimes, and it made me think that would be the thread that holds this whole album together. The idea that, yeah, the world seems pretty f**ked up, and there’s no right or wrong way to react to it. There’s no right or wrong answer, obviously, and who are we do anything other than articulate what it is to feel a bit confused? It’s not meant to be grand: it’s quite everyday. Like, there’s a song about freaking out over what’s going on and going, ‘F**k it, it’s not the right thing to do, but let’s get s**t-faced.’”

There are also a lot of film references, right?
“Yeah. One song, ‘Blame’, that’s like a scene in a gangster film in my mind. And then there’s another that’s inspired by part of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The song ‘Glory’, that’s like a Wayne’s World moment: you and a friend lying on top of a car late at night, looking at the planes flying over. And there’s another that’s like an ode to Nancy Sinatra and [Quentin]Tarantino, that goes off on this ridiculous over-the-top horn riff – that’s like a big nod to hip-hop, but in a self-consciously jokey way, almost like our own superhero theme tune.”

So there’s quite a bit of humour?
“I think so. Not that we’re not taking it seriously, but I think there’s maybe an assumption that we take ourselves much more seriously than we do. That song, ‘Send Them Off!’, has a quote at the beginning about the most brilliant brain in the world. It’s us wanting to have that ridiculous swagger that we definitely don’t have. It’s like, f**k you, if we want to start one of our songs with this ridiculous brass sound that’s not what you’d ever expect from Bastille, we’re going to f**king do it. We wanted people to hear a song in isolation and not necessarily know who it is. Until my annoying voice comes in.”

Bastille will play the Apple Music Festival on September 26

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