By Matt Conner
December 21, 2016
Guitars, meet gloss.
Bastille catapulted from burgeoning British band to global faves on the back of a single album in 2013. Bad Blood debuted on best-selling album charts on multiple continents, including a top slot in their native U.K. Hit singles like “Pompeii” showcased the band’s polished synth-pop anthems, ready-made for the stadium-sized crowds for which they’d eventually play.
The complete support cycle for Bad Blood took a few years as the quartet — Dan Smith, Will Farquarson, Kyle Simmons and Chris “Woody” Wood—joined heavyweights like Muse on the road before headlining on their own. They were nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards, played Saturday Night Live and performed at festivals like Glastonbury. Suffice it to say, their pop sheen served them well.
But don’t be fooled into thinking Bastille is an overnight success. They’ve been simmering for years—a process for which the band is cognizant and grateful.
We wanted the record to be eclectic and fun despite some of the things we were looking at in the lyrics. —Dan Smith
At first, the band’s core made music after working “regular jobs,” Wood, the band’s drummer, says. “We’d end up rehearsing from 10 p.m. until 2 in the morning in some industrial space in West London.”
“It wasn’t terribly glamorous, but it was really fun. We literally started out from the very bottom rung of the ladder, playing little tiny pubs and then gradually worked our way up to clubs and kind of built a bit of a following on the way,” he says.
From there, a deal with Virgin Records came near the end of 2011, a Christmas present that allowed the band to test the market with three “soft releases.” Rather than landing on a label that tests a single song for its hit potential, Virgin provided a label platform while encouraging the same slow, steady build for another two years.
Then “Pompeii” erupted.
We'd end up rehearsing from 10 P.M. until 2 [A.M.] in some industrial space in west London. It wasn't terribly glamorous, but it was really fun. —Chris Wood
“That was what pushed the whole thing over the top, really,” Wood says.
But despite the success and mileage logged after that first release, the band felt it was time for a change.
Bad Blood failed to feature a single guitar part, but their new album, Wild World, features plenty of guitar work— along with other sonic changes and flourishes that the band hopes their fans will appreciate. Wood says the band was “hungry for change” after playing the same songs night after night for years on end.