SCAN Interviews: Bombay Bicycle Club

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You guys formed at the early age of 15, what were your ambitions at the time and did you ever think you would have such success?

To be honest, when we were 15 and just starting out I don’t think we had any grand ambitions. The band was something we just did for fun and it was only a couple of years after originally forming that things gradually got more serious. In the early days gigs were pretty few and far between because we were still at school! Back then I don’t think any of us thought that we’d still be doing this now, not because we didn’t believe in ourselves, but because it was simply something fun to do in our spare time and we just didn’t think about it becoming our actual job at that point. If we’d known we would still be going now, I think we would have spent longer thinking of a better band name.

Have you ever had a ‘master plan’ as such, or were you instead fuelled only by the experience of making new music?

From an outsider’s point of view I can see how it might look like that, seeing as we’ve almost changed genres with each album. But each album basically just reflects the music we were into at the time and our broad range of musical interests as a band. It keeps things interesting for us. We wouldn’t want to keep churning out the same sort of music over and over again.

It’s been a while now between the release of your last album A Different Kind of Fix and this new one that’s just come out– do you feel under pressure for this album to be a success seeing as its been so hugely anticipated or is it merely just another little step in the Bombay Bicycle Club journey?

The pressure has mainly come from ourselves. That’s part of the reason why this album took longer to come together than previous ones – from the beginning our aim was to make this album our most consistent and fluent to date. There were a couple of very strong songs we recorded that would have easily made it onto previous albums but we ended up not including them on this one because we felt the bar had been set high quite early on and we wanted to maintain that standard throughout.
I know we’re all very proud of the final product and this definitely feels like the album that best defines us. Beyond that there’s not really much we can do – we can’t force people to like it unfortunately!

Some tracks that have already been released from So Long, See You Tomorrow seem to be a bit more experimental than what we’ve heard before, what were you inspired by to make this change?

With this new album we’re kind of developing the electronics we introduced on our last album A Different Kind of Fix. We started playing around with samples then as well on songs like Shuffle, and samples are a big part of this album. I guess there are moments on the new album that might come as a shock to some people because of what they knew us for beforehand, and I suppose it could be called experimental in that it’s not something you’d expect from a band that started off as a guitar-driven indie band. I’m not seeing anything like this from bands that came from the same background as us.

Jack’s travels while writing this album definitely played a big part in the experimental sound . Amongst other places, he spent a few weeks in Mumbai and bought a lot of old Bollywood soundtracks there which he ended up sampling. The most obvious example of this is on our song Feel, but Luna, Come To and Overdone were also all born in India which is definitely audible, although in some cases the Indian influence was watered down a bit as the songwriting process went on.

 Your album Flaws took a much more folk-inspired path, and included a beautiful version of ‘Dust on the Ground’ that was previously released as part of indie/rock album I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose the year before.  Do you think this acoustic style is something you’ll return to in the future, given its popularity?

I’m not sure if we’ll release another acoustic album, but Jack continues to write acoustic songs on the side. In fact there’s a 7″ included in the box set version of the new album with two fantastic acoustic songs called To The Bone and Easier (what more incentive could you need?!)

What’s your favourite song to perform live?

I’m very much enjoying playing a song off the new album called Overdone. It’s got a huge, hip hop inspired groove. In fact when we were working on it, the working title was “Hindustan-ye West” – a reference to the Bollywood strings sample that it features and also the fact that before Jack added vocals to it, we could see the instrumental being the backing track for a Kanye West tune. Basically it’s the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a hip-hop drummer, so that’s always a good thing.

If you could perform in any location, real or fictional, where would it be?

I would go to every country in the world where there is conflict to try and calm everyone down with our music. Flaws would probably be the ideal album to play but then there are a couple of tender moments from the new album as well that might bring people together.

What would be your main piece of advice for young musicians who are reluctant to drop everything for their music?

Well the sensible part of me would say don’t immediately drop everything else! That would be quite naive. It’s a very unpredictable profession so I would suggest making sure you have another source of income while you’re finding your feet in the music world. Just try to get out there and play as much as you can. Make sure you’re in amongst it all and meeting new people as you never know what that new contact might lead to. Also, don’t get disheartened if things don’t happen instantly. Give yourself time to grow.

Any chance you might fancy nipping into Lancaster as part of your cosmopolitan tour…?

I don’t think it will happen on this tour unfortunately but maybe sometime in the future. I hear there is a cool castle and you like to party?

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