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Bastille’s Dan Smith on “kinetic and visceral” return to touring after lockdown

"It was important to celebrate those grass roots venues as much we can right now"

By Rolling Stone UK

Bastille perform live
Bastille perform for Ted Baker's Street Party (Picture: Ted Baker)

Bastille’s Dan Smith has discussed how the return of live music has allowed the band to play intimate shows shows in towns that are often neglected and ignored on the touring circuit.

The London band are the cover stars of Rolling Stone UK’s first ever issue, with Smith opening up about his experiences of touring once more after all pandemic restrictions were lifted in England last July.

Bastille have also joined the Ted Baker Street Party Session, five bespoke live events in which five artists worked with the fashion brand to design their ideal performance setting to reflect their own inimitable style.

“The last proper tour we did before lockdown in the UK, we were celebrating ‘Doom Days’, our last album, and thought it would be fun to go to towns around the country that people don’t often go to on bigger tours and play unexpected rooms, so leisure centres, lecture theatres and Working Men’s Clubs and things like that. It was just brilliant,” says Smith.

“I think for people in towns around the UK that big tours don’t visit, having the opportunity to be part of that was just really fun.

“They were some of the most kinetic, visceral shows we’ve ever got to do. I guess the ethos of it was kind of like a club night, but everyone just threw themselves into it. I think it was important to celebrate those grass roots venues as much we can right now.”

Drummer Chris ‘Woody’ Wood adds: “Without the grass roots venues that everyone talks about, without that base, there is no through route for bands to develop and grow and become genuinely world-class performers and exports.”

The band’s take on the Ted Baker’s Street Party Sessions also saw them on an exciting line-up too, playing alongside some of their favourite artists.

“The line-up of other artists was just amazing,” Smith says. “These are artists that we are such huge fans of, like Little Simz – that album was just absolutely mind-blowing. Getting to be in a line-up with those people was incredible.”

Bastille perform live
Bastille perform live for Ted Baker’s Street Party Sessions (Picture: Ted Baker)

The group said it was also a joy to be part of a line-up where women were front and centre. 

“We were on a couple of festival bills [previously] that felt uncomfortably male-dominated,” Smith says.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about it and tried to push for a more equally representative line-up. There are so many incredible female artists out there, so many upcoming female producers and engineers. It still so much requires work. We do our best to build a team that’s equal and work with collaborators and other artists who aren’t just other blokes,” he adds.

The performance for Ted Baker also gave the group an opportunity to showcase two new songs: ‘Distorted Light Beam’ and ‘Thelma + Louise’, both of which encapsulate the album’s key theme of escaping realities through art and the imagination.

Smith adds how he was excited by the opportunity to offer a taste of their live gig plans for 2022: “Hopefully, for the people that watch the Ted Baker show, that will be a nice little window into the album and what’s to come.”