London based quartet Bastille were formed in 2010 when lead singer Dan Smith released two tracks on an independent label; fast forward one solid EP, two more singles and a top 40 chart placing for the melodic ‘Flaws’ and this hard working band were generating a large amount of hype. Dan’s unique vocal twinned with the band’s innovate view to production has seen them become a success story of the past twelve months.
2012 saw the band establish themselves as a new and prominent force on the British indie music scene. The Guardian featured them on ‘the band of the day’ section whilst they were relentlessly touring to promote their first releases. A band is only worthy of hype if their music can match this. Dan Smith told me this personally in an interview I conducted with the band back in March; at this time, the band’s real proof of credibility were two mix tapes they released as free downloads on their official website entitled ‘Other People’s Heartache pt.I & II’. Whilst listening to these I realised that Bastille’s knowledge of music and culture surpassed anything that the likes of ‘buzz kids’ The Wombats, Pigeon Detectives or The View had ever released.
The mix tapes are a collection of collaboration, composition and adoration for music presented in a wonderfully cinematic package. The use of the dramatic violin chords synonymous with ‘Requiem for a Dream’ melded into the tragic lyrics of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Blue Jeans’ is incredibly powerful. Add this to the genius nature of the merging of ‘Rhythm of the Night’ and ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ and the band had an anthemic club classic before releasing their album. Bastille were destined for great things as soon as they composed these imaginative and masterful tapes.
2013 & Their Survival:
So a few months on the debut album was entitled, and preceded by the unlikely hit ‘Pompeii’. In an incredible turn of events for the band, in early March the boys were in a chart battle with Justin Timberlake, which was refreshing to see as it proved that upcoming music can still make the charts in the UK and that we are not totally dominated by autotuned club ‘bangers’. The single eventually charted at #2 whilst the album, Bad Blood, hit the top spot. Bastille have an incredibly special relationship with their fan base and this adds a new dimension to their music, I was lucky enough to see their tour on two occasions in March and the atmosphere was indescribable. Electricity and adoration lift the ethereal tracks such as ‘Laura Palmer’ to startling heights, and singalongs make ‘What Would You Do?’ even more bitter sweet. ‘Pompeii’ remains my anthem of the summer, the rolling choruses and infectious hook is exaggerated by the crowd’s exaltation.
It’s also worth noting that the band members of Bastille are bloody lovely guys. I’ve met them a number of times and they are incredibly laid back and grateful for all the successes that they have achieved over the last year. Despite remaining pessimistic throughout, they have achieved feats that many bands dream of in a relatively short amount of time; they have headlined a number of festivals, including Standon Calling & Secret Garden Party, they have performed on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury and graduated to the main stage of Bestival after attending as patrons last year.
They have also sold out two headline tours in quick succession and appear to be chasing stadiums at exasperating speeds. They have also cemented a solid relationship with BBC Radio 1 & 2, their personal brand of indie/electro pop bridging the gap perfectly between the two stations and therefore the exposure potential is doubled. The band have been in and out of the live lounge all year, performing some truly interesting covers including ‘We Can’t Stop’ by everyone’s current favourite twerking, chicken thighed tween idol Miley Cyrus.
The boys have now have the difficult mission of topping their debut. When you release an album that is as well received as Bad Blood, and that manages to achieve on both sides of the Atlantic, your next move is crucial. I believe they have the potential to follow in the footsteps of success stories like The xx, Florence + the Machine & The Vaccines. It’s fair to say, for Dan Smith & co, it’s a blessing that the Mayans got it wrong as 2013 has truly belonged to them.