British band Bastille rides success with the single 'Pompeii'
May 29, 2014 12:00 AM
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bastille looks like one of those shows where a large segment of the crowd is there to go crazy over one song.
And, spoiler alert, the band has been playing it last.
Of course, we're talking about "Pompeii," the percussive synthpop tune with the "hey-oo's" that sounds like it could be a title song for "The Lion King" or "Madagascar."
With: Wolf Gang
Where: Stage AE, North Shore.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: Sold out.
It's the band's only hit in the States, going to No. 5, but it was enough to sell out Stage AE Outdoors on Sunday
"I guess it was the song that kind of slingshotted us to where we are now," says Kyle Simmons, waking up on his tour bus in some U.S. city that's a complete mystery to him.
"It sort of did way more than we thought it would. For a time we felt like we were just chasing it around the world, really. It was a bit weird. We're lucky it got us where we are now and now we're here, starting to release other songs and singles and stuff. And yeah, hopefully, we can remain where we are."
"Pompeii" was actually the fourth single from the band that formed in 2010 around frontman Dan Smith and debuted last year with "Bad Blood." Although the song is ridiculously catchy, Mr. Simmons didn't have a sense that "Pompeii" would be the one to break Bastille.
"I guess no one really sits there and writes a song and goes, 'Right, this is going to be the one.' I guess it was a combination of timing as well. In the UK, we'd released a few singles before and so kind of gained some momentum with those other singles. That success in the UK, I guess that kind of trickled overseas."
Given Mr. Smith's thick accent, Bastille is the kind of band that could have been deemed too British for American pop radio.
"We never really heard that," the keyboardist says. "I guess some bands have a particular sound or kind of style or genre, but I guess because we don't stick to any one particular genre. We like to move around to rock-y band stuff and a little more electro stuff to big sort-of organic, string-filled stuff. In that case, we kind of benefitted from it. I guess if you had one particular sound, they could go 'Ah well, it's too English then.' Then Americans might not get on board, but we've been lucky. I guess."
The band has gotten accustomed and weary of frequent comparisons to Coldplay, which perfected Radiohead's atmospheric sound for the pop market.
"I think it's quite a lazy comparison, to be honest," Mr. Simmons says. "I don't think we sound like Coldplay at all. I guess the comparison lies in that we're British and we have pianos -- well, we sometimes use pianos. It's not like we get offended by it, I just guess that none of us can see the comparison at all, and so I don't know. I guess we try to figure out why people would say it. Different people see different things in the project. It's just something we have to get on board with."
What he has noticed touring the album in the States is that the audience reactions are different here than they are in Europe.
"Sometimes we get like circle of death, and we get some moshpits and stuff [there]. It's really crazy, but the American crowds aren't really like that, but they're incredible."
With the debut album a little more than a year old now, Bastille is looking ahead to the follow-up.
"We're working on it now. Dan's written a bunch of new stuff and we've got Mark [Crew], the guy who co-produced the first album, he's been out with us and doing a bunch of stuff. We're constantly working on new material, but hopefully we'll get it out as soon as possible."
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