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Sssshhhhh ... Bastille spill their plans for Secret Garden Party
PLUS: Cambridge Summer Music Festival
20 | July 18, 2013 | cambridge-news.co.uk | Cambridge News
“It’s been quite a weird year...” Ahead of their appearance at Secret Garden Party (and a sold out Cambridge Corn Exchange tour date), Ella Walker talks to Bastille frontman Dan Smith about back up plans, dressing up and deﬁnitely not being famous ᔡ Bastille, Secret Garden Party, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Thursday, July 25 – Sunday, July 29. Tickets £185 - £195 from secretgardenparty.com. The band is also appearing at Standon Calling, Friday, August 2 – Sunday, August 4, tickets £99 from standon-calling.com, and Cambridge Corn Exchange, Saturday, October 12, SOLD OUT.
T’S not every day you ﬁnd yourself reassuring the lead singer of one of the hottest bands around that he’s probably going to be alright. But Bastille’s frontman, Dan Smith, won’t be convinced. We’re talking back-up plans. “I really wanted to be a journalist,” says the skinny-jeaned, bouffant-haired Londoner. “But it was quite a lot of work and holding down a day job, trying to be a journalist and trying to write songs and do gigs and stuff all at the same time was a bit much, and things started to go alright on the music side of things.” To be fair, things have gone more than alright. In fact, it doesn’t look like the 25-year-old needs to worry about having a back-up plan at all. “Really?” he ask. “I don’t know…” Skittish, friendly and irrepressibly excitable, Dan has been backed by good mates Kyle Simmons on keys, Will Farquarson on bass, keys and acoustic guitar, and Chris “Woody” Wood on drums since 2010, but this year things have gotten slightly hectic. They’ve gone from playing tiny gigs in dingy little clubs, to a sold out autumn tour, teems of YouTube hits and a packed summer of festivals, including local types Secret Garden Party and Standon Calling. “‘Whirlwind’ is a funny word that we get thrown at us quite a lot,” Dan admits sceptically. “I guess it’s quite hard to articulate what this year’s been like because it’s – this sounds like a really boring way of describing it – but we’ve just been so busy. It’s quite weird to acknowledge. “We know loads of bands, friends of ours, who were signed to labels and never even got to release their album, and I’m generally quite pessimistic. In my mind I’ll probably be working in a shop in a couple
of weeks or a couple of months or whatever, you know? So we never really imagined what would happen this year.” Basically, what happened this year was, they smashed their way into pop-consciousness with the jittery, synthy Flaws (now edging towards 4 million YouTube views), before claiming Number 1 with their debut album, Bad Blood (written by Smith), in March. They create anthemic, heartpounding stuff, laced with indie angst and dance-worthy key changes (looking at you Pompeii and Laura Palmer), while their mix tape it’s like my favourite festival in the world, so I can’t wait to go there and hang out, hopefully it’s not going to rain.” It didn’t, it was glorious, it did go out on TV live and, from my perch on the sofa, went pretty spectacularly well. While Dan isn’t your conﬁdent-to-the-core frontman – jumping about gawkily like another member of the crowd, eyes down, all in black with a wolf emblazoned on his chest – when they swung into hit single Pompeii the crowd screamed every single word back at him adoringly; it was just a solid wall of noise. It wasn’t their ﬁrst time playing Glastonbury, but last time they weren’t quite so high proﬁle: “We only had three passes to get in, so we had to sneak Kyle in, in a sofa in a van!” But the rumour
was it was Dan inside the sofa: “I got massively misquoted!” he shrieks, falling into laughter. “But it’s hardly the worst misquote in the world.” It doesn’t sound like they have a bad boy streak between them in fact. Dan was a straight A student, secretly song writing in his bedroom and studying English at Leeds before carving out a niche in ridiculously catchy synth-pop hooks. Do they ever come over a bit rock ‘n’ roll? “I guess [we’re] no different to what anyone else would do when they’re with their mates,” he says tactfully. “At the moment we’re touring so much, which is wicked, but it means, I guess, we’d probably die if we went out every night…” He explains it’s tough enough racing from gig to gig and festival to festival, especially as they rarely have time to soak up the atmosphere: “Seeing line-ups of bands that I’ve always wanted to see and then being told, oh sorry, you’ve got to leave now, as a massive music fan and geek, is like, slightly painful,” he laughs. And he is a huge music fan: “Who do I wanna see [at Glastonbury]? The Rolling Stones, I wanna see James Blake, I wanna see Vampire Weekend, I wanna see The Weekend A LOT, Suntrap, who else? AlunaGeorge, oh man I can’t even remember there are so many, so many people playing I wanna see. I wanna see Arctic Monkeys… sorry,” he says, trying to slow down. “I’m literally just listing bands at you, and it’s really boring.”
Cambridge News | cambridge-news.co.uk | July 18, 2013 | 21
We’ll be at Secret Garden Party – follow us throughout the weekend at @CamWhatsOn
Secret Garden Party highlights You might have noticed, ﬂoored by the band’s sudden success and happy-go-lucky with it, Dan still has a habit of doubting himself. I tell him my sister has been a massive Bastille fan since their early days and jumped on him in the street in Brighton once (he gave her his sweatband, she nearly fainted with happiness – oh, what might have been), and while he quips: “Tell her to jump on me next time she sees me!” It’s prefaced by quite a stern: “I’m not famous by the way.” The stats disagree. A sold out autumn tour, including a slot at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in October (“I know, it’s nuts isn’t it. It’s ridiculous. We were so chuffed that the tour sold out so quickly, we really, really weren’t expecting it at all,”), the Number 1 album, and, aside from Glastonbury, too many festivals to count. One he’s really looking forward to though is quite close to home… “I am so excited about Secret Garden Party, it’s one of my favourite festivals,” he buzzes. “It’s such a fun festival and I love how much effort goes into it, how like the bands that are playing are almost secondary to how awesome
the site is and how they do it up.” Will they all be dressing up? “Maybe, what’s the theme this year do you know?” “Superstition, I think.” “Yeah! I was chatting to my
mates about it, like, that’s difﬁcult, what do you go as? Like a black cat? Or stick a ladder on your head? I’m sure we’ll think of something!” For now, other than imminent, very important fancy dress plans, they are focussed on touring, but then what? “Good question. I’ve got no idea,” Dan answers bemusedly. “I absolutely love being in the studio, that’s where I’m at my most comfortable and at the moment, because we’re touring, there isn’t a huge amount of time to spend in the studio. Hopefully [we’ll] try and carve out some time to do that.” “I’m starting to write songs,” he adds. “I want to get new material out.” And, if things really don’t go to plan… “I think if the band goes tits up I’d love to write songs for and with other people, if anyone would want them or not,” he trails off. “I guess you just stumble through, blindly hoping it’s going to work out.” In this case it looks like things are going to more than just work out. ella.walker @cambridge-news.co.uk
Here are our top must-see-anddo things for making the most of the Secret Garden Party festival (July 25 - 29) this year: The music: aside from Bastille (of course), also make sure you check out; the jaunty Regina Spektor; synthy rock group Django Django; alt-rockers 2ManyDJs; the arty London Grammar trio; Public Service Broadcasting (they love a good banjo), Hadouken! Willy Mason, Modestep and Shout Out Louds if you can. The art: there will be a parliament of mechanic owls, twitching and ﬂuttering by day, wheeling and unfolding their wings by night; an amphibious art car looking for passengers; a world of 100 tiny illuminated ﬂying paper houses ﬂoating on the lake and take a break
from all electronics (and extraterrestrial attempts at contact) in the cage of White Death, plus much more. The activities: mix potions with the Witches of Odd, ﬁnd someone to lock tongues with in the Kissing Den, draw creatures with the Monsters Ink crew, get lost in the Labyrinth, play croquet and basically go adventuring every moment of every day. P.S. Dressing up should go without saying. Superstition is the theme, the plan? To indulge in all things supernatural, inexplicable and irrational apparently… we’re thinking magpie headpieces, crystal balls, tarot cards, smashed mirrors and a whole lot of salt thrown over our shoulders. For the full line-up (and last minute tickets) visit secretgardenparty.com.