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Interview // Bombay Bicycle Club

After winning Channel Four’s ‘Road to V’, earning the chance to open V Festival ‘06, Bombay Bicycle Club quickly got a strong fan following and their debut album ‘I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ was released three years later. It was worth the wait – mixing classic British indie guitar riffs, unexpected rhythms and the endearing vocals of Jack Steadman, it is often cited as one of the most important independent albums of 2009. The acoustic album ‘Flaws’ followed in 2010 and the more electronically motivated ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ released in 2011, the diversity placing the band as one of the most respected in the country, and Jack as an incredibly talented songwriter.

LSRadio’s Rob Dewis and Becky Pye chat to Jamie MacColl (Guitar) and Ed Nash (Bass) before their Liverpool University performance…


Rob Dewis How are you doing today?

Jamie MacColl  Good thank you… well a little bit hungover actually

Ed Nash   A tiny bit, but as good as things can be. Powering through.

 

RD It’s the way to be really. Being such a young band, you’re doing a big tour at the moment and have done big tours in the past. How do you cope with the pressures of touring?

EN  Erm… by being hungover apparently. Getting drunk and feeling not so good in the day. Eating lots of food.

JM  I don’t know, we’ve been doing it for a while now, I guess, and we’ve been touring kind of solidly since we left school really, as well as making albums at the same time, so we’re just very busy all the time. But I think, kind of the big touring for us has only really come with this album, in terms of like stepping it up and playing like bigger venues.  So, we’re kind of quite experienced now and it’s just easy really I think.

EN  Just got to get into a routine and everyone has their own tour routine, trying to do some exercise you know, do your own thing.


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“…We just threw out a bit of a curveball and said ‘let’s just do something completely different’ and it could have backfired…” 

 

Becky Pye  Talking about being busy, you guys have been very busy and done three album in a really short space of time for someone so young. How did you deal with the pressures of getting another album out and putting it on tour so quickly?

JM  Erm, I think the main reason we were able to do it was just by changing the sound for each album really, so, erm… you obviously have a long time to write your first album, that little cliché that you have your whole life to write your first album, erm, and I think we just didn’t wanna immediately try and replicate that, and I don’t think you ever can replicate your debut album or the like… I don’t know, the kind of like feel and naivety of it and I think rather than trying to do that we just threw out a bit of a curveball and said let’s just do something completely different…erm and it could have backfired, erm, pretty easily and maybe it did to an extent, like there’s obviously going to be people that don’t like it when a band does that, but I think it was just for ourselves as much as anything else.


 “Our manager made us take it off the internet because it was too rude” 


RD  So for the first album, who were the influences?

EN  It’s kind of the guitar music we grew up listening to, just bands like Broken Social Scene, Modest Mouse, people like that, erm, that we were all into, yeah, we were all into when we started the band.

 

RD  Is there any one defining artist you can say?

JM  No, I don’t think so. Erm… I think….  if you were, well… probably in terms of like a lot of the guitar playing, probably someone like Pavement, I think for a lot of like chord shapes and stuff, but that’s the only one I can really think of.

EN  I know Tom Vek was a big influence on Jack when he started recording music so I guess he kind of worked his way in.

JM  I think like looking at, we never really have like specific influences that we all like sit around and listen to that band and like we want to sound like that, particularly with the latest album there’s no one band I can think of that we all, or Jack, the songwriter, was listening to, erm it was more like a way of making music I think and, so he’d be listening to a lot of hip-hop and dance music and electronic music and obviously we weren’t going to make a hip-hop album or anything.

 

RD  Not in the future or anything?

JM  Well, I’m sure he would like to make a hip-hop album actually but..

EN  That’s the next album

JM  Well, yeah, erm, Suren, our drummer, also has a rap side project called D-Twain, so…

 

RD  So check that out… (JM and EN laugh)

JM  Yep, he has his own Facebook page and there are two songs, one of which is too explicit to be on the internet anymore

EN  Our manager made us take it off the internet because it was too rude

 

RD  Probably too explicit for our station

JM  Probably, the first one though is pretty clean.

 

BP  So you’ve talked about the drastic change in sound from the first and second album and listening to your albums you kind of get the feeling that the last track on the first album is like a little teaser to what’s coming up next in ‘Flaws’. Was that intentional, did you mean to give the listeners a little teaser as to what was coming next?

JM  No, I think it was just random, erm, maybe subconsciously.

EN  Someone pointed that out… and the last track on ‘Flaws’ is also electronic which kind of leads onto the next one, but it wasn’t intentional at all. That was pointed out to us afterwards actually.

JM  Yeah we don’t, we’re not that clever (laughs).

 

RD  You guys started as a school band, can you remember that first cover track you did? 

JM  Yeah, it was a, er, we did two songs, covered two songs at our first gig and one was erm, ‘Cissy Strut’ by the Meters, which is like a funk song. For some reason when we were fourteen or fifteen at school, everyone in a band was like in a funk, terrible funk band.

 

RD  Was it the Chillis (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) influence?

JM  Yeah, everyone went to see the Red Chilli Peppers at Hyde Park I remember, erm, and the other song we did was a Tom Vek song, who I’d mentioned that  we, we kind of stalked Tom Vek a little bit actually when we were younger. We, Jack and I, like went to all his in-stores, and he actually, I bought vinyl of his, I don’t even have a record player, I’m ashamed to say, and he signed it saying ‘good luck with the band’ and I actually showed it to him a couple of months ago, because he’s on the same label as us..

EN  He did a remix for us recently actually

 

RD  Which track is it, can you remember?

EN  It’s that sleep song

JM  ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’, it’s our latest single

 

RD  Your past albums, you’ve changed the music with each album. Are there any future plans for the next album? You touched on jokingly an R n’ B track, but is there any truth there?

JM  Actually, the first demo we did for the next album is kind of a bit hip-hop, R n’ B, at least like, the groove of it…. and I have no idea what it will be like. I think personally I’d quite like to have an album that is quite coherent and I thought the last one was maybe trying to do much, just because the first two albums were very different and we wanted to get elements from both of that and then new stuff as well. Erm, so I don’t know if we should just try and stick to one sound, not make an album of songs that sound like one another but just something coherent.

 

BP  So you were talking about the fact that you guys have travelled a lot and I know that you’ve done a lot of festivals and you’ve started doing bigger venues and reading up on you guys, you’ve done places like India and all over the world. Do you have a favourite place to play, do you have a favourite venue?

JM  Well we haven’t been to India, I should point out (laughs) I’d like to go to India.

 

RD  Don’t trust Wikipedia (Laughs)

EN  That’s just the name. My favourite place to play, that we’ve played, was in Brazil, Rio De Janeiro. It’s obviously a beautiful place to go to, we got a samba band to play with us. The crowd’s amazing as well, they really appreciate live music.

JM  I think the crowd’s are always best in the UK, personally so… it’s really nice to go to amazing countries and travel the world but I always think the crowds the best here and that’s what makes a good gig I think. Although having said that, the crowds in Australia were very good, but I guess that’s the most anglophile place you go, so maybe that’s just as a result of that. 

EN  You play a show in like a place like Australia or Brazil or anywhere and you’re like ‘wow, people are really nice out here’ and then you go and meet people after the show and they’re all like gap year students from the UK.


RD  Are there any small bands coming up or start up bands that you hotly tip as the next thing?

EN  There’s a band called Dog is Dead, who are playing with us in Ireland later this month – they’re great.

JM  Yeah, they supported us in our last UK tour, I think they will be very good. I always see people say they sound like a mixture of us and Mumford and Sons…

EN  So they must do well

JM  So I think, yeah they’ll probably be very successful… and the two people that are supporting us tonight, two sort of female singer-songwriters I guess, it’s Rae Morris and Lianne Le Havas, and I think they will both do very well as well.

 

RD  What kind of tips would you give to upcoming artists?

JM  Yeah, I don’t know, we get asked this a lot, particularly because we were quite a young band when we started and obviously there’s so many people in school bands and kind of, that is the dream.

EN  The answer is always very clichéd as well, it’s just have a good time doing it really, I think that’s the best thing to do… and don’t start out a band to try and make it big, I think that completely ruins the point of it.

JM  I think it will always fall apart if you don’t have a shared taste in music and I think that’s probably what’s sustained us, is that fundamentally we like the same kind of music and that’s allowed us to make albums that are different to one another… like we’re not constantly arguing about what kind of music we want to make, so I think that’s probably the most thing, and also just having a good songwriter, because if you don’t have that it’s all pointless, I think. But that’s not something that you can really change, I think that’s just a god given thing, you can work at it, but yeah, I just think personally it’s something that you are born with, and I can’t write songs.

 

RD  What are the future plans for Bombay Bicycle Club?

EN  We’re going to finish this tour, then we go to Ireland, do two shows there, go and do a tour in Europe and then that’s kind of us done until the Summer festivals start, which is a big part of the UK touring scene and after that tour some more.

EN and JM  Make another album.
EN  Do it all again. Get married and have children.

 

RD  With each other or..?

EN  Probably, we don’t really know anyone else. It’s pretty sad, we’re all going to live together and die together

 

Edited by Rob Dewis

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