Bombay Bicycle Club Interview – 15 January 2012
Indie-folk rockers Bombay Bicycle Club were in town a few days ago for The People’s Party festival, presented by Untitled Entertainment. I caught up with Ed (bass, left) and Suren (drums, right) with other media at the swanky (more like sweltering) Ku De Ta on a Sunday afternoon at Marina Bay Sands.
Touring Asia for the first time and being in Singapore, what has it been like?
Suren: It’s been very nice but to be honest, we haven’t seen much since we just got here yesterday. We haven’t seen much apart from the hotel, which is pretty mindblowing.
Ed: We can see a lot of it, and after this we’ll walk around before the show.
You have quite a solid fanbase in the UK, but were you surprised by the response in Asia?
Ed: Obviously we had some idea from Facebook that people wanted to see us here. It’s always surprising that on the other side of the world, people are singing back to you. I don’t think I ever really predicted that, and it’s really a big shot.
Watching your Shuffle video, it seems you guys really have a lot of fun on tour. Were you up to any crazy antics in Tokyo or even here?
Ed: I’m not sure if it counts as crazy, but we had some time off after show in Japan, and we were going sightseeing. We thought if we come this far away from home, we might as well try to experience as much as we can, so we always tried to see the city. The Shuffle video is basically us walking around Amsterdam and Berlin partying and stuff, just us trying to make the most of being in a cool place.
What are your plans immediately following this tour?
Ed: Immediately we’re spending a week in Tokyo, in fact we might go from Tokyo to Russia then to Kyoto.
Suren: Then we go home, and have an American tour coming up, so we’ll start getting ready for that. This is the first time we’re doing an intensive tour, since we haven’t done that much touring. We’ll see how it goes, we might end up killing each other!
Since you have been touring non-stop intensively, how do you cope with that? Are you guys on the verge of going insane?
Suren: Yeah I think we’re going insane!
Ed: We just try to take the most from every place we go to, I think that really helps because it gets you away from hanging in the band because we get to see new cool stuff and that helps a lot. Exercise is also a good, like swimming.
What is your favourite memory of the tour so far?
Ed: I would say being up here is pretty mindblowing, you can see the whole of Singapore from here. It’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in my life. I think this is the coolest thing on the tour so far.
Did you have any idea that you would become this big or did you have any big dreams?
Ed: I never really thought about it, we were just four people at school!
Suren: It sounds really cliché but we just “go with the flow” and even now I don’t think we dream of being a massive band. We just see what happens and are just having fun, really.
You guys began your music career at 15, so how did you juggle school and music?
Suren: It was kind of tough at times, but to be honest the band took a backseat while we were at school. It was just something we did for fun in our spare time. We made a decision that we wanted to finish our school education and work as hard as we could.
Ed: It worked out really well because we could build the band really slowly, play gigs on the weekends and tour when we had time off from school. We could get the band to the point where we wanted it to be without it being really big and having people look at us.
Were you guys the rock stars of the school?
Suren: There were actually quite a few bands at our school, there was another band in our year called Cage And Dance Party, and they’ve since split up. They were much bigger than us while we were at school and took a different approach. They went for it quite quickly. They didn’t have the time to build up but tried to get as big as they could while they were at school. They even signed a record deal while we were at school, whereas we wanted to wait.
Ed: And we can see which one is better now!
Suren: There was also another guy at our school who is now writing songs for Mika I think? He seems to be doing pretty well for himself. I don’t know how there were so many bands from the same school.
You guys have released an album every year since 2009, so what are your plans for this year?
Ed: I don’t think we’re going to do another album, but I think we might need a little time off. For the first two albums, we didn’t tour as much as other bands would. As soon as we finished one, we were straight onto making the next one, which is why we haven’t been out here.
For the new album, Jim Abbiss was the producer, who also produced your debut album with Ben Allen and your frontman Jack. What was the dynamic between the three producers? Is there a reason why Ben was chosen?
Suren: Basically we worked with Ben on the more electronic sample-based songs, and we thought he would produce them pretty well. We did worry whether the album would end up coherent, since it was produced by three sets of producers, but we did get them mixed by the same guy, who tied the album together quite nicely.
Ed: I’m a huge fan of Ben Allen, and he produced some of my favourite records last year, three of them actually. He’s a very prolific guy.
How is it like to have a change in your music direction on the second album and then back to electronic music on the third?
Suren: It was always our intention to go back to that electronic sound for the next album, and the second album was kind of a little diversion. We just wanted to put it out for our own pleasure really, and our label back home wasn’t sure about releasing it, but it blew up into a thing we didn’t expect and managed to get into the Top 10 in the UK, which was very unexpected. It took on a life of its own.
How long did you take to record A Different Kind of Fix? Was it a smooth process and can we see any B-sides from the album?
Ed: We only did one B-side in the album recordings. We literally had the songs we wanted to put in the album, and dropped one off that has already been released. So we’ll have to record some more, because we have more songs that we didn’t record that we would like to do. It took just under a year to record the album, and we started in September 2010. It was bitty, as we would do a little bit of recording and Jack would have some time to write more songs, then we would book some more time and record some more songs. Since we had different producers like Ben Allen, we only had blocks of time. It was kind of three recording sessions over a period of six months.
You guys have played many festivals, and are even playing one in Singapore. Do you prefer playing at festivals or having your own concert?
Ed: I prefer playing our own concerts, but festivals do have their charm as well. We’ve done many festivals in the UK, and it’s completely different. You play to a lot more people, and the people in the crowd may not necessarily know who you are. They’re kind of passing by or have been recommended your music and you have to work very hard to win over the crowd, whereas at your own show they’re there to see you and they know what to expect. But we get to play with really cool bands and that’s always lovely. On this trip, we’re playing with Metronomy and The Naked And Famous, and that’s always amazing. That’s my favourite part of festivals.
How did your song end up being featured in the Twilight movies? It’s also one of the songs written earlier, is there any reason why it didn’t end up being the lead single of an album?
Ed: We had it a long time ago, and I guess we just submitted it or someone submitted it for the Twilight soundtrack. The soundtrack stands apart from the movie; even Thom Yorke has a song on it. The version on Twilight is actually the demo version recorded in Jack’s room, not the album version. We always knew it would be the lead single on the album, before Twilight. That was always the intention before Twilight. Suren actually went to watch Twilight, and the song was in the background for a few seconds.
Suren: I actually took my whole family to watch Twilight on a big trip, and it was a letdown, because the film wasn’t very good and you couldn’t really hear our song at all, so it was disappointing.
Lucy Rose has been part of your album and the live line-up, are there plans to include her in the future in any of your albums?
Ed: She’s been on tour with us for a while, but she’s not here in Singapore. She’s recording her own solo album, which means she might be around less because obviously she’s going to concentrate on that. But we’ll have her when she’s free!
Looking back since you guys started, would you say your sound now is really representative of who Bombay Bicycle Club is?
Suren: I don’t know if we really know what Bombay Bicycle Club is, since all our albums have been very different from each other. We just made music that felt right at the time, simple as that. So this album best represents us now.
Much thanks to Sarah and Alan from Universal Music!