These are exciting days for Dan Smith. Bastille – the band that has developed from his solo project into a mainstream bothering four piece, scoring a number one album in the Uk with debut Bad Blood in the process. As he and his cohorts prepare for a string of Irish dates across the coming months, we asked Smith how he felt about finally releasing his first long player…
“As a band we’ve existed without an album for the past couple of years. The songs have all been there but we’ve been in a nice position where everything that we’ve done has been all the better for not having an album as a collective body of work”.
Was it frustrating watching some of your contemporaries get there first?
“I had anticipated releasing it last year but in terms of where we were at it felt right to wait. I didn’t make the album in one big chunk, it was more a piecing together process. I had an idea in my mind how I wanted it to sound but last year we were touring and I put time aside when we got back to go into the studio. That was nice but I did see other people get there before us. Putting out an album however is laying your cards on the table and I was a bit nervous about that. We had a lot of songs that didn’t make it onto the record and they mean a lot to some people so I was aware of presenting just twelve tracks and that being that”.
You seem to switch between ‘I’ and ‘we’ a lot when discussing the band. Does it still feel like a solo project sometimes?
“The album is much more me, I’m a massive control freak when it comes to the music. The guys have been involved but it’s an unusual situation that Bastille has existed in parallel in the studio and as a four piece band. There is a lot of overlap but I didn’t want to change my working process too much. The guys are massively supportive of that and it really helps. It may be something that changes as we tour more but the variety in our sound comes from that. Not being a four piece who play the same instruments and jam out every track has helped us stay fresh and I wouldn’t want to lose that”.
Do you feel that you’ve developed a lot in a short space of time?
“Not particularly. Some of the songs on the album have existed for a couple of years. Being able to do music full time has made a lot of difference. We recorded a lot of stuff outside of the album, we made two mixtape things (Other People’s Heartache Vol 1 & II) that we recorded from scratch alongside this record. Working with other people on those allowed me to be non-collaborative on the Bastille record itself”.
How does those relate to Bad Blood?
“I see them as a little self-indulgent I guess but people seem to like them. They enabled me to try some different things production wise, a bit more electronic and experimental. It uses our geekery and other people’s songs as a platform to try things out. Elements do cross over onto the album but there are things there that I didn’t feel as comfortable doing on the record proper”.
Now you’ve tried those out, would you bring them into the normal Bastille world?
“Definitely. This may be the only album we ever make but it’s a collection of songs that are important to us as a band. Now that they’re out there, I’d want a second album to be a lot more extreme. I’d want it to have a more band sound and feature a harder hip-hop and electronic sound”.
Bastille play the Academy, Dublin (tonight, April 4th), Mandela Hall, Belfast (6th), Sea Sessions (June 21st), Indiependence (August 4th).