Bastille’s Dan Smith talks shyness, singing with Rihanna and his brand new album

The award-winning band's second album Wild World is out on 9th September

Speaking to Bastille’s frontman Dan Smith is like catching up with your mate from south London, not the guy who penned a double platinum album and brings in the big crowds at Coachella and Glastonbury. The band’s debut Bad Blood stormed into the charts at number one in 2013, becoming the biggest-selling digital album of the year. With their second album Wild World set for release this week, we asked Dan if he’s ready for world domination take two…

Congrats on the new album! What can we expect?
‘It’s bolder than the first. It flows like a mix tape, from moody R&B to harder guitar stuff. Some of the songs look at how the world can seem quite fucked up when you’re watching the news and just figuring out how to respond and get your head around it.’

Did you draw on any personal experiences?
‘Our track Warmth was written towards the end of last year when I was watching the news after one of the many horrendous acts of terrorism. If something catches you in a certain way you can feel bombarded by these events and it can be quite overwhelming.’

The Fake It video seems to reflect this. Is there a story behind it?
‘We just wanted to make something as blatant as we possibly could and I think it speaks for itself. There’s no subtlety there.’

What about the Good Grief video? It’s pretty abstract…
‘I’m not particularly comfortable being on camera. As a joke I said [to the directors], “Look I’ll be in it if I can lip sync the song as a decapitated head on the floor.” I was going for a surrealist kind of thing. They said, “Sure, we’ll make that happen. We’ll just put you in front of a green screen in a green jumpsuit and film you.” I was like “Fuck”.

Do you ever struggle with TV appearances?
‘I get quite anxious, but there are other elements of this that I love so I try to concentrate on that. I also find it much more interesting to make videos that look outwards and nod towards references that we love rather than a performance of a few guys in a warehouse. That doesn’t do it for me at all.’

Do you feel pressure to live up to the success of your first album?
‘I’m a massive pessimist. I thought the first album was going to completely tank and I’d be working back in a shop by this time. It surprised me when things went all right.’

When was the moment you realised you’d made it big?
‘Playing at The Brits [in 2014] was pretty cool. Then our album went back to number one for a couple of weeks and that was a year after it had come out. Saturday Night Live was 100% the most surreal TV we’ve ever done. Leonardo DiCaprio was on the same show.’

What’s been your favourite festival experience so far?
‘I’m obsessed with Glastonbury. We played this year and made sure it was the Friday so we could have the rest of the weekend off. It was quite different driving into the festival in our tour bus because I’m used to parking so far away and then carrying a week’s worth of stuff on my back. I had such huge expectations of our set so I imagined it would be a calamitous failure, but it exceeded everything I could have hoped for. We got the sunset slot and the crowd was ridiculous.’

Have there been any crazy moments that have come from this kind of success?
‘I often find it hard to compute things at the time. Being in a field with a lot of other musicians, obviously a lot of interesting things happen. There was a particular Grammys after party [in 2015] that was probably the most surreal place I’ve ever been in my life. That was pretty fucking nuts.’

Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?
‘It would be wicked to do a mad 90s tune and make it a duet with Rihanna. I love her new album Anti. I’m into quite dark R&B.’


You have quite a thing for doing covers…

‘When we first started out we only had five or six songs we could play live, so if we ever got an encore we used to do our cover of City High’s What Would You Do? We’d be playing it and people’s mouths would be moving singing all the words, but they’d be thinking, ‘Where is this song from?’ It’s such a brilliant pop song but the lyrics are so dark. That was really the genesis of our mix tapes. Taking other people’s heartbreak stories and twisting them is a big part of it.’

Who do you think is the most exciting new artist right now?
‘I’m finding it hard to think about anything except Frank Ocean. He’s not new but I love his latest album [Blonde] so much. It came out when we were at V Festival so I was trying to download it on my tour bus in my little bunk. It was late and I was quite pissed so it kind of rocked me to sleep. It’s just really honest and beautiful.’

Wild World is out on 9th September

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