British band Bastille, who personally don’t like to classify themselves under any genre, recently released their latest single ‘Survivin’‘. I got the chance to sit down and chat over the phone with the band’s drummer, Chris ‘Woody’ Wood, about the band’s stylistic evolution, his experiences over lockdown, and the creative musical freedom which Bastille have throughout both their tracks and music videos.
Your latest singles ‘Survivin’’ and ‘What You Gonna Do???’ are two very different tracks stylistically. How come both these singles, which were only released a few months apart, show such different aspects of your musical artistry?
In terms of classifying ourselves as a specific genre, we aim to steer away from this as a band. Over the years we have experimented with a range of styles such as electronic, indie, and even hip-hop sounds, so we don’t tend to stick too closely to one type of genre. I think we’re quite lucky in the fact that Dan’s voice is very recognisable so people still know when they hear our tracks that it’s us, giving us more license to jump around a bit more between styles, allowing for more creative freedom.
I’m the rocker in the group so my influence comes through that. We’ve got the drum-loop on Survivin’ that links clearly to my tastes, but our ideas range greatly among the four of us. I’ve got a home studio in which I can record a lot therefore I can record loops and more produced elements allowing us to move with the times as such. If we released albums similar to Bad Blood (2013) three times in a row then people probably wouldn’t go for it so it’s been in our best interests too to mix it up.
I have personally always found your style to be one that doesn’t match the wave which always allows your music to stay exciting and fresh. Do you think it’s difficult to stand out in the music scene?
It’s interesting to hear an outside perspective as we’re in our own little bubble. Even on the first album (Bad Blood), we didn’t really feel part of any scene at all and like the press absolutely hated us for the different styles we explored. I always say that the worst sort of response to any music you make is a shoulder shrug. I’d rather someone hate it as that usually means someone else loves it. It’s hard to stand out but it’s worth it.
How do you think your music has evolved from the days of Bad Blood?
I’m still really proud of everything we’ve done. I know Dan’s got a couple of lyrics, I won’t say which, that he kind of cringes at now but apart from that, we’ve gone on a brilliant journey. I’m really pleased with the evolution of Bastille as a whole. I hope that if you were to put on a song you would be able to hear which era or album it’s from if that makes sense. After our more political phase of Wild World (2016) we sort of moved away from that style for Doom Days (2019) as we spent the best half of two years touring with the news anchor berating the crowd when people probably go to gigs for a bit of escapism rather than to be reminded of the state of the world. ‘Happiness’ (2018) was a sort of stop-gap in which Dan collaborated but the track ended up turning into some sort of global monster. I can’t imagine our fan bases were exactly the same so that was interesting.
You just released an awesome new video for your latest track ‘Survivin’’, what inspired this video? As a band you quite often release exciting videos to parallel your songs, are visuals an important thing for you as part of the song?
With videos, unless you’re doing your classic black-and-white ‘band in a basement’ performance video it’s going to have to be very collaborative. It has to be in-keeping, not some mad alt imagery, but it involved all of us being in close discussion with the director.
Will has a keen interest, however, none of us are obviously filmographers and directors so you want to give most of the power to those who know exactly what they’re doing. Dan sort of feels like a frustrated film director really and would’ve liked to have done that so being able to make video gives us the ability to make a short film of sorts, and allow visuals to become important alongside the tracks we release. It’s also a great way to confuse the audience.
How did you find lockdown, did it impact on the band’s musical capabilities? Was it difficult to produce new music?
I hated it. Everyone’s situation is different of course, my wife and I are really lucky to have two small children so that was testing but obviously enjoyable at the same time. If you check out the Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett Podcast ‘Lockdown Parenting Hell’ it’ll give you some context. Time is probably the only restriction we had, on my end at least.
Creatively, we’re not your classic kind of band who get together in a rehearsal room and jam out. Instead, ideas get recorded individually and are passed around online between us. Realistically, nowadays anyone can create an album on their computer from the comfort of their bedroom so we weren’t too restricted in what we could continue to produce over lockdown. Obviously, we didn’t have access to big studios but I’m lucky enough to have my own smaller one in my house which was very useful! It’s quite weird going into the studio now, to be honest as I will try to keep my distance by going straight into the recording room.
We’re okay on that front, but the music and arts currently are getting hung out to dry at the moment so I feel awful for all the bands and artists who would’ve had their breakout this summer. We found that when ‘Pompeii’ blew up it wasn’t until the festival season that people actually connected with the song and the sound.
Just before you go, what is your favourite film? I’m a film student so I have to ask!
I’ll give you two answers. The proper answer – Back to the Future (1985) and the other answer would be the one that will wind up the band no end as they still refuse to watch it which is Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001).
Lastly, have you got anything exciting in the works you’re allowed to tell us about – maybe more singles building up to a new album?
It’s all pretty hush-hush, but there’ll be stuff soon! Soon is a word that always triggers Bastille fans but soon *laughs*.