The Edge‘s Rob Leane was waiting in the cold outside the majestic Southampton Guildhall for some time before Bombay Bicycle Club’s press lady shuffled out into the square to utter the immortal words “Do you mind if he takes you for cocktails? It’s the only way we can get him to do the interview”. From this statement, one couldn’t help but be scared. Had Jack Steadman, the likable and unassuming front man of Britain’s most beloved band, become an angry alcoholic diva who refused to say two words to student press if he wasn’t jacked up on margaritas? It turns out he hadn’t, and when they didn’t have room for him and his posse in Turtle Bay, he resigned to do the interview booze-less in the chilly Guildhall square.
So, how’s the tour going so far?
Good — it went really quickly. It feels strange that this is one of the last three shows. It’s been amazing, we’d all missed it alot — it was our first UK tour in almost a year.
You guys have been busy though. With three albums in three years, are there plans to slow down any time soon?
Yeah, I think so. I think if we did this any longer, we’d go a bit mad! Plus we wouldn’t have enough things to write about. Personally I’m planning on taking a bit of a break, just to get some perspective on things.
Bombay Bicycle Club are known for shifting styles, does this make cramming your three very different albums into one live show difficult at all?
Yeah… at times we’ve thought about combining them all. We’re playing two songs from Flaws tonight, and we’ve adapted them a bit to make them more electric. I worry sometimes, when we’re playing, that if someone had never heard of us and then just randomly showed up, they would think it’s a really strange show with too many different thinks happening; but for us, that’s just how we keep things interesting.
As a known style shifter, are there any genres or styles you’d like to try in the future?
I don’t think I wanna stray too much with the band, but on a personal level I want to try and get more into electronic music… which I’ve already started making quite a bit of, but it’s gonna be separate from the band.
Are we looking at a solo project then?
That’s pretty cool.
So… with Road to V thrusting you into a musical career quite young, did you have a back-up career waiting in the wings in case it all went tits up?
Yeah! Well we all had places at university actually, because we got signed while we were on a gap year. I had a place at Manchester to do French. So yeah, there was a whole plan, a back-up thing.
But thankfully you haven’t needed the back-up plan — you’ve had three albums and they’ve all been quite successful. Has this changed you or your standard of living at all?
I guess. Most of our friends from school are at uni now, so they’re in loads of debt. My girlfriend goes to uni… so yeah, it’s a bit strange being so young and yet being able to have a flat in London and stuff. When I’m with my old school friends we don’t talk about it at all. I try not to talk about the band; I guess I try to live two different lives.
So, as an English band you started off doing small local gigs, and worked your way up to doing huge national tours. Would you say there’s a key to making a jump from a local band to a national band with a big following?
I don’t think there’s anything you can say to someone to make it happen, it just requires a lot of chance — a lot of things coming together at the right time. It just needs this special thing that you can’t really gain, it just needs to be there. It’s not like I can give advice and say “this is how you do it”, because we had no idea what we were doing at the time.
Was it a bit of a moral dilemma whether or not to put one of your songs (‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?’) onto a Twilight soundtrack?
Yeah, we had an argument about it. At the end of the day we agreed that the soundtracks had become a different entity to the films. There was actually loads of really good music on the soundtrack! There were lots of artists we really admire doing it, like Thom Yorke. So we felt like it wasn’t so a big a deal, we just had to get over ourselves.
So finally, you guys have toured all over the place — have you got any favourite places to play, or any places you avoid because of traumatic gigging experiences in the past?
The thing is, you’re always suprised! One of my favourite stops on this tour was Hull. Whereas before everyone had told me Hull was really grim, I got there and had one of the funnest shows. My all time favourite is the Kentish Town Forum in London, because that’s where I saw my first gig, and I live just down the road. Sometimes places are just great, not what you expect, like walking into there (the Southampton Guildhall) — I was completely blown away by the room, I think it’s lovely, this is a really nice venue.
Bombay Bicycle Club’s third album A Different Kind of Fix is out now, so check out the album review by The Edge’s Max Williams.