- 18 Feb 14
They used to get naked in Bournemouth; now they're partial to line-dancing in Kerry. Bombay Bicycle Club on giving up the rock wildness, their Mumbai-influenced fourth album and facing rabid One Direction fans.
It’s a line often rolled out, but Bombay Bicycle Club seem to genuinely love playing Ireland. So it was natural for the Crouch End indies to take a jaunt around the island to work out the kinks in their new material before Christmas. Pre-show in Dublin’s Academy, singer Jack Steadman sincerely notes, “it’s all downhill from here, really.” Sitting alongside him, bassist Ed Nash recalls their Killarney show as being “the strangest so far.”
Steadman nods. “We were playing in, like, a leisure centre, and it was all seated with those round dinner tables, with candles on them. Everyone was sitting there, enjoying the music. It should have been a jazz band or something playing. Then next door, there was an OAP karaoke night and line-dancing.”
Did they get involved? Was that the aftershow? “Yeah, it was a wild night,” Nash deadpans.
Back in 2010, the quartet talked to Hot Press’s Celina Murphy about running around a Bournemouth flophouse naked. Today, there’s a vague anecdote involving this very venue, a glass window and more nakedness. We sense a theme. They’ve even expressed a fondness for Copper Face Jacks when in Dublin (“it’s good for people-watching,” Nash points out).
Now approaching their mid-’20s, they’re calming down. They’ve been a proper proposition for around seven years, so they’re veterans in their own way. The rock ‘n’ roll cliches have lost their novelty. “We were really reckless,” says Steadman. “We’ve been touring since we were 16, so it does get boring after a while.”
Last autumn, they went as far as to take part in ‘Sober For October’, to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. “Actually being sober at some occasions was more interesting than drinking in a way,” says Nash.
“It was the perfect month to do it,” continues Steadman. “It was when we were finishing the album. I don’t think we would have been able to do it had we been touring.”
The band have long stated that they’d rather be on the road than in the studio. Still, it didn’t hinder their early output, as they released an album a year between ‘09 and ‘11.
For their fourth record, So Long, See You Tomorrow, they took their time.
“Up until that point we’d been doing things very quickly,” says Steadman. “We decided to do it ourselves this time so that we’d have complete control over it. It was time to get every single piece right. I think with the other albums, although we do like them a lot, there are one or things that you’d like to do differently.”
The pair took a trip to record in Mumbai during this time, and Indian musical textures and tropes clearly inform the new work, which also draws on electronica that recalls Steadman’s solo efforts.
“It was the first time we’d ever been there and it’s by far the best place we’ve ever been to. I can’t wait to go back. I had my mind blown. The melodies and the music – just the sounds of those records from the ‘50s, the Hindi film soundtracks, went into the production.”
Back in Blighty, they finally had a close encounter with One Direction, who have professed to being huge Bombay Bicycle Club fans.
“When we were rehearsing these songs last week, they were in the studio next door,” says Steadman. “We had hundreds of people in the street, waiting for them to come out. It’s crazy. It’s outrageous. They honestly came for about an hour, with session musicians in rehearsing all day. Crazy way to rehearse.”
Did the BBC boys have to battle their way through the throngs of Directioners? “They were just disappointed that One Direction weren’t coming through!”
We’re sure they wouldn’t want to swap positions with the boy band. “We’re in the perfect place,” agrees Steadman. “We can still get the tube in London, but we also get to be touring all the time.”
“The thing is,” Nash says. “We’ve always been happy with where we’re at. We’re always just like, ‘this is great!’. You get excited about the little things.”
His singer nods. “The first festival we ever did, I think our rider was four cans of Carling. We were so excited and blown away. Give us four Carlings, and we’d be happy with nothing else!”
So Long, See You Tomorrow is out now.