Bastille has sold more than 8 million albums and amassed more than 6.5 billion streams globally since the band erupted with its first hit single, "Pompeii," in 2013. But even hot Britpop bands get the blues.
After "Pompeii" went multiplatinum, lead vocalist Dan Smith found himself struggling to inhabit his new identity as a rock star.
“You write songs in your bedroom; then you’re suddenly in a band that people know,” Smith tells New Times in advance of Bastille's show at downtown Miami's Bayfront Park Amphitheater this Sunday, October 27. Having viewed himself primarily as a songwriter and record producer, he confides, he felt like an impostor. He couldn’t shake the feeling that Bastille’s success wouldn't last.
Traces of that nag of impermanence can be heard in 2019's Doom Days, released in June. Produced by Mark Crew (Rag n Bone Man, the Wombats), the album sees Smith and bandmates Kyle Simmons, Will Farquarson, and Chris "Woody" Wood home in on redemption through human connection in an era when people are increasingly divided and isolated by technology and politics alike.
In part, Smith says, Doom Days is a reaction to the panic and unease that infused the group's sophomore album, Wild World, which came out in the fall of 2016. Smith recalls performing at Germany’s Rock am Ring festival the following summer, a day after the venue had to be evacuated because of a bomb threat.
“Everything behind us on the screen was paranoid news media and Trumpian politics,” Smith recounts. “Although we were really proud of the show we’d put together, we couldn’t help wondering whether it was our responsibility to hold up a mirror to those things or if our live shows should be a chance to escape them. It’s complicated.”
That tension forms at the core of Doom Days, a song cycle that tracks the course of a single night, from the electric anticipation of "Quarter Past Midnight" to the dawn chorus of "Joy." It’s not a concept album per se, but its thematic arc — each track is time-stamped on the album artwork — enabled Smith to explore notions of experience and escape on both micro and macro scales. “The compressed timeframe is an interesting setting to explore wider themes,” he offers. “We love to offset a big statement with more immediate, urgent thoughts and events.”
Bastille. With Joywave. 7 p.m. Sunday, October 27, at Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550. Tickets cost $30.25 to $69.50 via livenation.com.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.