Concert Preview: Bastille
Crossing the Atlantic for a very good cause, the burgeoning British indie stars will perform to benefit the A&F Challenge on Friday night
British indie rockers Bastille will be in New Albany on Friday night, where they’ll take the stage to close out the 2017 A&F Challenge, an annual fundraiser hosted by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. at their headquarters featuring headlining bands, local food and drink, and activities for all ages. This year, all Challenge proceeds benefit SeriousFun Children’s Network — a global network of camps and programs provided free of charge to kids with serious illnesses and their families. According to the event’s website, over 4,000 participants have registered for this year’s challenge, and have so far raised $3.1 million.
Bastille has frequently contributed their time and energy to a number of worthy causes around the world, which made working with the challenge an easy decision.
“We always like to get involved with charities,” explains the band’s keyboardist Kyle Simmons. “We’re lucky enough to have a job that can raise awareness and promote many charities and we like to use that. Abercrombie & Fitch is working with SeriousFun Children’s Network, which is such a great global cause – and we’re very happy to be supporting it this year.”
Since the band’s inception in 2010, Simmons, along with lead vocalist Dan Smith, bassist and guitarist Will Farquarson, and drummer Chris Wood, have amassed an impressive string of hits. In 2013, they released their first major label album, Bad Blood, which spawned the shimmering international smash single “Pompeii.” It reached the top ten in eighteen countries, including a number five showing on the Billboard Hot 100 and a remarkable climb to to the top of its Hot Rock Songs, Rock Airplay, and Dance Club Songs charts. Last September, they released a follow-up, Wild World.
According to Simmons, the band has no set methodology when it comes to creating music that appeals to such a broad audience globally.
“We generally just make songs that we would like to hear. Likewise our live show production doesn’t change either. We take a lot of pride in the visuals and live show elements as well as the music, and we love taking that around the the U.K and America as well as the world and seeing what people think.”
The band, both in its creative work and public commentary, hasn’t shied away from explicitly discussing social and political issues as they navigate the world and its current abundance of cultural turbulence. Simmons believes there is a need for the band to balance what they believe is their obligation to reflect the world in its art, but also provide a sense of escapism and entertainment to their audiences.
“[We’re] somewhere in between, I guess. It’s difficult, in times like these, to ignore what’s happening. Our intention isn’t ever to force our opinions down people’s throats, but we feel it’s important to stand up for what we believe in. Especially against people who are being divisive and generally abhorrent.”
Although Bastille is still touring extensively in support of Wild World, a new album is currently in the works. Finding time and space to write and record brand new music while they’re perpetually busy performing can be a challenge, but Simmons insists that mixing those priorities has had a lot of positive outcomes.
“We bring out a small production set up that gets put out in a room at every show when we’re on tour. And where possible, our producer Mark Crew will join us on tour. Making music is something that we all love to do. Although we can be quite busy most of the time, it’s never too hard to find the time for something that you’re passionate about. Some songs we play out before they are finished and ultimately that does shape how the end up sounding on record. ‘Blame’ for instance, we played live loads before it got recorded and it made it a lot more grittier and more ‘rocky.'”
The band is also surfacing in other places than just on the concert stage. Dan Smith, an avid cinephile, was recently featured on New Musical Express’ (NME) website discussing his favorite films after serving as curator for the magazine’s Cinejam music and movie festival. Simmons, however, was featured on screen as a White Walker in what is arguably the small screen event of the year: the climactic conclusion of the Game Of Thrones season finale (his band mates were also on set for cameos, but weren’t visible in the final cut).
“It was amazing. We’re all big fans and have been down for set visits and had the guys over to watch shows. It was very weird getting all dressed up and hair and make-up done. And something we never thought we’d do. Then we just spent the day hanging out with all the other ‘whites’ and walking very slowly across camera. Such a fun experience.”
But on Friday night, Columbus fans will have the globetrotting rockers all to themselves, and no doubt their infectious music will fill the evening air with enthusiasm to spare. A critic commenting on Wild World noted that Bastille excelled at “unfeigned emotionalism.” Simmons feels their energy is created organically and without intention.
“I guess if I knew how we did it it wouldn’t be genuine (laughs). We spend a lot of time together as a band. We basically live in each others pockets. We’re the first people we see in the morning and the last we see before we go to bed. It’s been this way for over seven years now. We’re all still really good friends and we just like to travel around and play and make music together.”
Bastille will appear with The Strumbellas, Clubhouse, and Magic Giant at the A&F Challenge on Friday, September 8 beginning at 5 p.m., located at Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s headquarters, 6301 Fitch Path in New Albany. Tickets range from $25-250 and can be purchased here. You can hear and download Bastille’s latest single, “Glory,” via their official website.