Byon January 15, 2014
English rock band Bastille have been nominated for four awards at the upcoming BRIT Awards, for British Group, British Single, British Breakthrough Artist and British Album of the Year, and their three South African shows are all sold out!
We spoke to lead singer Dan Smith and Will Farquarson in Cape Town to hear about their debut tour to South Africa. The band played two concerts in Cape Town at Kirstenbosch National Gardens and one at Emmerentia Dam in Joburg.
Welcome to South Africa! Did you expect tickets to sell out as quickly as they did?
Dan: We didn’t have any idea to be honest. I guess the fact that we were approached to do some shows implied people wanted to come and watch us. But we were completely blown away that they sold out. The fact that we’re playing to about 25 000 people in the space of three shows is completely ridiculous and amazing! It’s slightly surreal.
Tell us about your first show in Kirstenbosch. Was it a good atmosphere?
Will: It was amazing! When you go to a country you’ve never been to, you don’t quite know how you are going to be received so we were blown away by how energetic the crowd was.
Dan: It’s just such a beautiful place to play as well. My mom and dad are South African and I have a lot of family here. So it was a really nice reunion and I got to see loads of people.
Any crazy fan behaviour?
Dan: We got flashed by this girl (laughs). My favourite thing was a bunch of people made a giant sign that said “How am I going to be an octopus about this?” and held it up during Pompeii at all the right times and it distracted me enough to sing ‘octopus’ instead by accident.
Have you done any touristy things while you’ve been here?
Dan: We went to the bush, straight off the plane and three hours in the car.
Will: We met some elephants and rhino.
Dan: So yeah, that’s been amazing. I would also love to do a hike up Lion’s Head. We really haven’t had much time so we need to have a speed tour. Hopefully not in a bus with no brakes!
South Africans are gorgeous, don’t you think?
Dan: There are so many beautiful women around here.
Will: And beautiful men!
Dan: I think because it’s so warm here and people don’t wear as many clothes, people take care of themselves and everyone is so tanned and nice. Whereas in England we are fat and covered up and pale and you can see our veins through our skin!
Who inspires you musically?
Dan: We started out as listening to a lot of Brooklyn indie bands like Vampire Weekend and Yeasayer and Grizzly Bear, but also quite a lot of hip-hop as well, which you probably can’t hear in the music.
I really like Damon Alburn, and think he’s really cool. The fact that he was in Blur and the Gorillaz and can easily genre-hop is very impressive. And the same goes for Kanye West – he can really do whatever he wants. He’ll hear a Bon Iver track that he likes and turn it into an awesome album.
Will: We have really disparate tastes, and the one album that sort of unites us all is Dre’s 2001. And we all agree that that’s the one best piece of musical genius that’s ever existed.
Your covers are really popular. Have you ever had a response from the people whose songs you’ve covered?
Will: Miley Cyrus’s mom tweeted us didn’t she? She really liked it.
Dan: And Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted about us. So we got the nod from the parents – that’s great.
What’s your favourite song to perform?
Dan: I quite like to play Bad Blood because it’s just a lot of fun. I think I slightly hurt my neck last night giving myself whiplash from jumping around.
Will: I enjoy playing Blame; it’s one of our new ones that we’ve been trying out. And I get to play guitar, which is a bit of a novelty. We’ve got a song called The Draw, which is new, and it’s got quite heavy guitars in it, and we made Kyle our keyboard player play bass on it. It’s fun to pretend to be a rock band for three-and-a-half minutes.
Can we expect any new music this year?
Dan: We have been working on the album and have quite a lot of fun with it, but it takes up a lot of time because we’ve been touring. So if not this year then it will hopefully be out next year. It will be good to put out another mix tape. It’s always been really important to us to constantly release stuff.
The mix tapes are such a fun opportunity, because our album process isn’t very collaborative. It’s the four of us and our friend who is a producer, and it’s quite an insular process. So the mix tapes allow us to work with friends and rappers and other singers. It’s slightly liberating to be able to do whatever you want.
Will: I think production wise, we could push a lot more electronic or hip-hop or more acoustic or dance-y or whatever.
That sounds exciting. What would your fans be surprised to hear about you?
Will: I’m training to be a pilot. I nearly crashed into a tree the other day, and it was a nightmare. My instructor is Spanish and started swearing in Spanish. I think when people start swearing in their native languages they…
Dan: …they’re really scared for their life!
Any special message for fans here?
Dan: Just thank you so much for coming to all of the gigs. We’ve had such an awesome time. A lot of my family have been saying in the lead up to all of this, “Do you realise the scale of things in South Africa?” and I don’t think we realised until we got here. I made my mom cry at the gig last night. I just said thank you to her and she was bawling. It’s awesome to be back.
– Megan Bursey