Interview: Bombay Bicycle Club7 min read
Bombay Bicycle Club burst onto the music scene back in 2006, and have been steadily gaining fans and critical acclaim ever since. The English indie rock quartet consists of four members, lead singer Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie McColl, drummer Suren de Saram and bassist Ed Nash. The London boys released their fourth studio album, So Long See You Tomorrow earlier this year, and it debuted in the UK at #1.
Since So Long See You Tomorrow’s release, Bombay Bicycle Club have been busy touring across the globe, playing headline shows and at renowned festivals. Band member Suren took some time out of his busy schedule to chat to Renowned for Sound about what these guys have been up to….
Melissa Redman: How is the band doing this week and where in the world are we speaking with you from tonight?
Suren de Saram: Yeah we’re pretty good. We’re at home at the moment, came in yesterday actually, so it’s nice to chill for a bit. We’ve just been in Asia, Singapore, Chicago and Montreal, so it’ll be nice to have a week or two at home. We’re all a little bit out of it from the jet lag haha.
MR: The band released album number 4, So Long See You Tomorrow at the start of the year and you have been very busy since its release with touring dates being pencilled in all over the world. How have fans reacted to the new songs being performed live?
SS: The reactions to the new songs have been great. When we were making the album, we were trying to think about making a more complete show, rather than just songs. So we have a lot of production elements added to our live shows this time that I think work really well.
MR: For those who haven’t heard the record yet, how would you sum up the general style and vibe of the new songs?
SS: Well each of our albums has been quite different, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out how we got from one album to another. But I think there’s a nice progession from the sound of our third album to the fourth one. The songs introduce a little more electronics, they’re more groovy and less rocky. When we started out we were a guitar driven indie band; now the guitars take a bit of a backseat and are there more to give texture to the songs. The songs on So Long See You Tomorrow are mostly dance influenced. Some are direct pop songs, such as Luna, which I’d say is the most pop song we’ve released so far.
MR: Where did inspiration come from for the band during the writing and recording of the new record?
SS: Well our lead singer Jack writes most of our songs. For this album he wrote in different countries around the world, and took inspiration from his locations. He’d go out and buy sample records and these are what influenced a lot of the songs he wrote. Jack spent a bit of time in Mumbai writing, and so I think there is an obvious Bollywood influence in some of our songs, from the Bollywood records he was listening at the time.
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MR: Given it is your fourth studio album, what do you think are the key difference between So Long See You Tomorrow and your previous records in terms of artistic development?
SS: Well this is the first album that we have self-produced, and I think that made a huge difference. It was quite a big difference not having that figurehead in the studio with us. It wasn’t originally our plan to self-produce So Long See You Tomorrow; but after sessions with a couple of producers it just made sense. Jack took the lead; he’s produced music before in his room and stuff when he was like twelve, but never anything this big. We went back to the studio where we recorded our first album, and had to individually record all our parts. We like to record live as much as possible, but it wasn’t possible for this album. Self-producing definitely paid off, because I feel that this is the album that best catches our sound and personality.
MR: Going back to the formation of the band, can you talk us through how the band came together?
SS: Well Jack, Jamie and I all went to school together. When we were 15 we had to put together something to do at a school assembly and we all played instruments, so we decided to form a band. We played three songs: two covers, from The Meeters and Tom Beck and an original song. I think that assembly performance went pretty badly, to be honest. Ed was at a different school, but was a mutual friend. We decided to be sensible and stay at school for the extra two years, rather than leaving at 16 years old. We all applied to university but decided to take a gap year, and that was when we going to work on the band. We ended up recording our first album that year, and things took off from there.
MR: What were you going to study at university?
SS: I was going to study music, Jack was going to study French I think, Jamie was going to study the classics and Ed was going to do something arty and to do with painting.
MR: Who came up with the name ‘Bombay Bicycle Club’ and what is the name referencing?
SS: I think you’re going to be disappointed when you hear the story haha. We were going to do a gig so we had to come up with a name quickly, and near our school there was an Indian restaurant called ‘Bombay Bicycle Club’, so we just went with that. I kind of wish we could change it now, but we’re stuck with it.
MR: If you could change your band name, what would you change it to?
SS: Well that’s the thing, we don’t really have any ideas of what we’d change it to haha.
MR: This year has seen you play a lot of the big international festivals like Coachella in the U.S and Reading and Leeds Festival in the UK as well as many others throughout Europe. In your opinion, what’s the best festival to play these days and why?
SS: We’ve always really loved playing at Reading and Leeds, because we really connect with the young crowd there. Going to Reading was sort of a rite of passage that you did when you finished your school exams, and that’s something that we all did when we were younger. There’s lots of kids from around the area there, and it’s always pretty insane. But in saying that, Glastonbury was my favourite festival this year actually. It’s the best festival in the world; there’s a great variety, something for everyone. It was quite big for us, we’ve been building up to that for a while so it was pretty special.
MR: The imagery and visual side of the band is quite unique when it comes to album and single artwork as well as your videos and website. Do these ideas come from the band or do you have someone who puts together the visual side of Bombay Bicycle Club?
SS: It’s usually not us, although Ed did paint the cover for our second album. Someone else executes the artistic ideas, but we’re always really involved in the process and suggest the initial ideas. With So Long See You Tomorrow, there are a lot of ideas around loops and repetition, things going around. If you spin the album cover around it looks pretty cool. We tried to tie all the visuals together for this album, and we came up with the idea of having some really cool animations in the background of our live shows.
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MR: Since your first studio album in 2009, what’s been the highlight of the past 5 years for the band? Is there anything that stands out above everything else and why?
SS: I usually say that playing at Reeding and Leeds is always a big highlight for us. But also the first time we came to Australia was a huge highlight (I’m not just saying that haha). We toured with Elbow and played a couple of side headlining shows; we kind of thought of it as a tour of dreams.
MR: The band will be heading to Australia in September as part of the current tour. Are there any venues or cities that you are particularly keen to play?
SS: Oh, I don’t know. Every city in Australia is pretty good. Sydney comes to mind, but Melbourne, Brisbane…. We’ve loved everywhere that we’ve played at in Australia really and we’re looking forward to playing there again.
MR: You guys have even played at Falls Festival in Tasmania right?
SS: Yeah we have. Falls was actually the last stop on our Australian tour last time, so afterwards we just went to Byron Bay and hung out for a few days. It was really nice there, I hope we can come back and do a show in Byron Bay one day.
MR: Thank you so much for your time Suren, good luck with your future endeavours and enjoy your Australian tour!
AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 25 – THE FORUM, MELBOURNE
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 27 – THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 28 – METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY
Tickets are available at Live Nation.