Bastille’s Grammy-nominated debut, Bad Blood, came out in 2013, which in current pop music cycles is like a decade unless you’re Adele or Daft Punk. So it feels like it should be time for new music from the English band behind the hit song “Pompeii.”
“We feel that it’s time for that as well,” frontman Dan Smith says laughing backstage at KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Xmas. “We’ve just been very busy writing and recording a lot of new music.”
When he says the band has a lot of new material he is not exaggerating. “We’ve written a whole album, we’ve got 25 songs, give or take,” he says.
With that much material, unless it’s going to be a double album, they now have to begin the editing process. “We’re kind of just finishing everything off and finessing what tunes are gonna make it cause it could literally be one of three or four very different records, so we’re just figuring out which one it is.”
They have a lot of sonic choices to decide from. “When we started the album, this is more than a year ago, it was alternative R&B, a lot more electronic, then we went down a heavier rock route as well, then we almost came full circle back around to what we did the first record, more cinematic, then we did a load of horns,” Smith says. “So it could be a lot of different things. But we just want the songs to be good and memorable and we want the album to be fucking interesting and a good progression from the last record, something that we’re proud of.”
Because of the success of Bad Blood the band spent quite some time touring the album while writing new material at the same time, leading to some older songs among the contenders for the new album. “When you’re really close to music you sort of fall in and out of love with songs at different times and some of the songs now are two years old, for us,” Will Farquarson says. “So that’s quite a weird thing to have just because our first album, luckily, ran so long.”
Like most artists Bastille suffer from the new song syndrome, meaning their favorite song is the newest one. “What I always find is I always just like the most recent thing. Whatever you did last is the best thing you’ve ever done,” Kyle Simmons says. “So I think it’ll be good to have a little time and think it over.”
As they discuss the album out loud they say the album is coming into focus. “We have the name of it in our heads, we’ve got the concept, I think thematically, in the last few months, it really came together and that’s nice ’cause a lot of the songs are quite narrative,” Smith says. “There’s a gangster-related song, so we’ve found the thing that brings it all together and that’s quite satisfying.”
Since this is another cinematic work we have to ask, who would be the directors to make the film version of the record. “Terrence Malick for sure, everything he does is beautiful,” Smith says.
“The last record I said David Lynch so I think we should probably move on from David Lynch and the natural progression would be Michael Bay. Nice and beautiful and then smash, smash,” Farquarson adds.
“Eye bleeding special effects on there, the sonic equivalent of that, I can’t wait to listen to that album,” Chris Wood jokes.
After spending most of the year in the studio, save for some U.K. festival dates in the summer and the radio station tour in December, Bastille brought a lot of new material with them to play live, though they decided against playing the five new songs.
“We realized it’s important to strike the right balance between showing what you’re going to do and giving a little bit away and, maybe I’m quite old school in this mentality, but it’s quite nice when you get a new album to get a significant chunk that’s a surprise,” Smith says. “That first listen you’ll know a couple of singles maybe, but for it to be this exciting new revelation.”
When will fans get that experience of hearing the new album as a whole? “Next year, very specifically next year,” Smith says.