Two UK number one albums and a string of blockbuster singles – including the ubiquitous ‘Pompeii’ – have transformed Bastille from a DIY bedroom solo project into one of indie’s hottest stadium acts. While the band have cultivated a following of millions worldwide with their electrifying live shows, Bastille have seldom crossed over into the orchestral space – until now.
Dan, Kyle, Will and Chris have given their two best-selling albums, Bad Blood and Wild World, a choral makeover for arguably their most ambitious set of live shows to date. The eight-date ReOrchestrated tour has already taken in some of the UK and Europe’s most magnificent concert halls, including the Royal Albert Hall and Bristol’s Colston Hall. Lucky for us, the band found time in their chaotic schedule on the morning of their sold-out return here to give an exclusive masterclass and interview at our nearby BIMM Bristol college.
From Dan’s Twin Peaks audition with David Lynch – “it was the most mortifying hour of my life” – to signing a deal with Virgin EMI, no stone was left unturned during Bastille’s visit to BIMM Bristol. We heard tales from their formative years, such as keyboardist Kyle’s early job as a stage rigger at the Isle of Wight festival, which later led to Bastille getting one of their first festival slots – if any more proof is needed as to the importance of industry experience. The group also opened up about the inspiration for their most recent critically-acclaimed tour.
According to Dan, it was their friend Johnny – a trumpeter with Public Service Broadcasting – who successfully re-imagined the band’s biggest hits for a string and brass arrangement, which led to the band playing a charity show with a full choir and orchestra, as Dan explained: “I’m really obsessed with strings, and there’s a lot of vocal layering in our stuff, but that really came from just trying to make things sound big in my bedroom with my mic and my laptop. So we thought we’d do it properly as a tour and that’s been incredible.”
On the subject of new music, Bastille also teased details of their anticipated third studio album, which is imminent. “Yes, we finished our new album two weeks ago. We’ve been talking about it, but haven’t played anything. We rehearsed our new single because we’re going to play it on tour then it’s not coming out until a couple of weeks after this all finishes, annoyingly. So I don’t know. I thought it would be a bit weird to premiere a new song with an orchestra because it would just make the real one sound rubbish.” revealed lead singer Dan.
Bastille’s return to form has seen them continue work with their long-term producer, Mark Crew, with whom the band have built a recording studio. But what many don’t know is that it was in this tiny studio that Bastille and Mark recorded with a then-unknown Rag N’ Bone Man, who they signed to their own record label Best Laid Plans. “Mark and I – along with our mate Dan Priddy – basically pushed Rory into doing his first EP. We sort of thought, if two guys can produce an album with four people that can go on to sell millions around the world in this tiny s**t basement underneath a council estate in South London…if we factor in someone who can actually sing, then we can do it again,” they told the audience.
But it wasn’t all album talk. In between anecdotes about almost losing all of their recordings during their first show at The Croft – a legendary venue on the Bristol circuit before it closed down – our audience also had the chance to grill Dan on his writing techniques. “I don’t really think about it; it’s just something I get on with. I think like a lot of people, I have ideas that just pop into my head, and I will sing them into my phone,” he told the audience.
The boys from Bastille have continued to go from strength to strength since their emergence in 2010. The masterclass was a pinch yourself moment for everyone at BIMM, who all got the chance to take photos and meet the band after the session. Likewise, it was great to hear first-hand the story of their success. We can’t wait for album No.3!