Skip to main content

17th October 2012

Interview: Bastille

Bastille talk to The Mancunion about God, lying and Forrest Gump

It’s hard to genrelise Bastille as anything other than ‘alternative’. The four lads, consisting of Dan Smith (vocals and keyboard), Kyle Simmons (keyboard), Chris ‘Woody’ Wood (drums) and Will Farquarson (bass), take their name from the day on which Dan was born; Bastille Day. Starting off modestly with self produced songs and videos released online, they’re now coming up to their one year anniversary with Virgin Records, and are currently performing on a sold out headline tour.

Meeting in the basement of Night & Day Café before their gig on Saturday 13th October, their modesty was evident, “It’s just mad to go play a gig, and people come.” Dan says incredulously, “It’s weird that people knew the words to songs which haven’t even been released online and were singing them at the gigs.”

Their debut album is set for release on 4th March, 2013. “Dan’s been in denial for a while,” Will jokes, “‘Hopefully next week’ has been heard many times. Dan’s been liberally lying for ages.” They had hoped to get it out at the beginning of January. The album is already available for pre-order and the band seem genuinely shocked that orders have been flooding in. “It’s awesome that people are buying it already, but five months up front is quite the wait … they might hate us by then!”

Considering that their mixtape, Other People’s Heartaches, has had over 25,000 downloads from their website, and their gigs across the UK and Republic of Ireland have sold out, their doubt seems a little overly pessimistic. Dan describes the covers mixtape as a “weird, bizarre mash up of loads of good but awful music”, which include crowd favourites ‘What Would You Do’ by City High and mash up of 90s dance classic ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ and ‘Rhythm of the Night’.

“Despite the fact we’ve tried to make it incredibly easy for people to get hold of, for free, it’s still up on loads of bit torrent music ripping sites. ‘Guys! Get it from us!’ – Piracy doesn’t pay … us.”

It also features dialogue from films such as The Breakfast Club and Requiem for a Dream. Asking Bastille what film soundtracks they love, Dan pipes up immediately, “I love David Lynch. I think he’s amazing … You know sometimes in films or TV or whatever, they just get it completely right and you just can’t imagine the two not having each other.”

According to Will, ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’ is an ‘obvious’ choice. “We like to sing the songs before gigs … the really religious ones.” Dan adds, “Yesterday we were doing the ‘Down in the River to Pray’ song and the promoter kept coming backstage as we’re trying to warm up and every time he walked in we’d be singing the really Godly bit, almost to the point where we felt the need to be like, ‘We’re not praying together or anything.’ None of us are even remotely religious.” Will: “I am … I love God.” Dan: “He’s definitely lying.” Will also throws out there that ‘Forrest Gump’ has a really good soundtrack which was met with an awkward silence, “… not agreeing with me?”

Moving swiftly on, we discussed past, present and future collaborations. Over the summer, Bastille worked with Gabrielle Aplin on a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’. “She’s just really sweet, her music’s really nice. We wanted to do something together and saw that as an extension of the mixtape, something that was maybe outside her comfort zone. So I kind of forced her to sing kind of high, in an area of her voice that she’s maybe not that massively confident and comfortable so that was fun.” Vocal sadism aside, Dan also revealed a side project with best mates, To Kill A King. “We’ve got a cowboy band that we’ve been working on for a while.” Will chirps in with a laugh, “I love that you say that like it’s an established thing.” Defending this, ah, interesting collaboration, Dan continues, “I’ve written an album with Ralph [lead singer of TKAK], and we’re gonna get both bands together to record it, when we have time.” Woody: “Should be out in 2016.”

Aside from TKAK and Gabrielle Aplin, all four were eager to mention Jay Brown (supporting act) and Professor Penguin as well worth a listen.

Staying to check out the gig, front row no less, there was a realisation that these guys are even more incredible live than recorded. Speaking with Dan after, he said that producers will always tell you to tone it down in the studio, but you can just push yourself on a stage. The result was an energetic and heart felt performance that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Recently featured as Steve Lamacq’s New Favourite Band, withold any expectations and check out their website,

More Coverage

Remembering: Shane MacGowan

Following his untimely passing on the 30th of November 2023, The Mancunion looks back on Shane MacGowan’s incredible artistic output across his life

Sundara Karma live in Manchester: Indie revisited at the O2 Ritz

Indie quartet Sundara Karma return to the O2 Ritz to tour their new album and, importantly for most, play the old stuff

Noah Kahan live in Manchester: A heart-warming performance at O2 Victoria Warehouse

Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Noah Kahan moves the O2 Victoria Warehouse crowd with a stunning performance

Freya Beer and Yasmin Coe live in Manchester: The future of women in alternative music is in safe hands

Freya Beer’s headline show, alongside Yasmin Coe’s support slot, was an overwhelming assertion of the feminine presence in contemporary alternative music