Clever, surprising and layered, those who know the British band Bastille are well-aware that there is more to their music than a series of catchy songs. For years, they’ve been writing lyrics that are absolutely unique in terms of their themes and depth.

Tomorrow, Bastille’s third album Doom Days will be released and with this a new chapter of their extraordinary worldview. With a title like that, you might expect critical, dark lyrics, but the band has taken a different angle! Their ‘apocalyptic party record’ lets you escape the world and its problems that are so prevalent in 2019. Why did they go in this direction? And do they consider escapism a solution?

In my clarifying and inspiring interview with Dan Smith, Bastille’s frontman and songwriter; and Kyle Simmons, the band’s keyboardist and guitarist, the two musicians share the idea behind Doom Days and explain why they’re sometimes giggling on festival stages

What role does music play in your lives?

Dan:“Music is the soundtrack to the biggest and most important moments in life, the best and the worst. It’s there on a night out. You associate songs with relationships, with your childhood. It’s in your favourite films.”

Kyle: “It’s relaxing on a Sunday afternoon in your house, or like Dan said, you could be out in the pub or in a club. People look forward year on year to festivals that are based around watching people play music.”

Dan:“Obviously, music’s completely transformed our lives.”

Kyle: “Oh yes, it’s our job now as well.”

Dan: “It’s both what we do and think about pretty much all the time. Also, it’s totally taken over our lives. It allowed us to travel all over the world and see things that we probably never ever would have been able to see. As massive music lovers, we feel very lucky to have it be part of our job.”

Congrats on the new album Doom Days. In your own words, what is it about?

Dan: “We’ve been calling it an apocalyptic party album. It’s essentially the story of one night starting at a quarter past midnight and ending waking up the next morning on the kitchen floor. It’s about everything that happens in the midst of that.

It’s about looking for escapism. About losing yourself in the night, in the music, in friends, and in other, old and new, people as a distraction from your life. And this slightly confusing, bizarre time that we seem to all be living in.

It’s a quite personal, intimate story but it uses that kind of normality and reality to look at and talk about wider subjects. We wanted it to be relevant and topical, but also fun.”

Why did you decide to cover this theme of escapism?

Dan:“It just felt like an interesting and relatable way to talk about the world and modern anxieties. I think it’s an interesting place to provoke a conversation.

I guess there’s also an element of our lives that is escapist. Doing what we do every day, creates our reality. We are grounded in the people around us who are pretty down to earth. But anybody who has a job that involves all the time traveling, has to make their own normal. That is, by its nature, escapist.”

Kyle: “It’s also a reaction to our last album, Wild World, which was heavily politically-driven. The things we were talking about were quite obvious the social and political problems in the world.

We realized that people come to gigs to escape that. All we were doing, was forcing down their throats the things that they came to escape. With Doom Days we’re like: ‘Sorry about Wild World. Let’s make music that you can hopefully escape into and forget about what’s going on’.”

Do you feel that escapism is a solution to the current status of the world?

Dan: “I think escapism is vital, but in moderation, obviously. It’s about balance. There’s no answer, but I think it’s really important to be aware and engaged.

In recent years, there has been a polarization of opinion around subjects like Brexit, and Donald Trump, with a lot of politics leaning way further to the right. Societies around the world are feeling quite divided in their opinions about big topics. We digest news via constant alerts on our phones and a lot has been written about how anxiety-provoking this constant stream of, often negative, information can be.”

Kyle:“It is really easy to get completely swamped what’s happening in the world. Sometimes you need to just step out for minute and forget about it. Then when you come back just a bit fresher, you’re able to tackle the issues that you’re facing.”

Dan: “Those are the things on the big level that feel frustrating, but everybody has their daily, personal problems as well that can feel completely all-consuming. That’s probably why we all go out. People wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t cathartic.”

Kyle:“Yes, the album also works like a personal apocalypse. It is also about dealing with a breakup, the death of a loved one, a one-night stand, or a conversation at a party. By grounding it in situations that are real and quite normal, we also allow people to bring whatever they feel to the music as well.”

Is there one song on Doom Days that has a special meaning to you?

Kyle: “The track Doom Days. It was the last track that was written and felt like the last piece of the puzzle, the glue that gave the album its meaning, its direction. The album was about escapism, hedonism and ignoring for a day all that’s going on. This was all great, but when we got to the end we were like: ‘It seems odd that we haven’t spoken about the things that we are ignoring.

Doom Days pulls all the songs together in a nice tight arc. The song sits in the middle of this arc and is therefore such an important song of the album.”

Dan: “Yes, we talk about, hopefully humorously and tongue-in-cheek, all these different famous representations of hedonism in pop culture, but also look at all these different things that you’re constantly bombarded with; phone addiction, porn addiction and fake news. To be able to say that in one big brain vomit was really satisfying.

But I also tried to make it a sad personal song as well. With the album, a lot of the songs are grounded in reality and our lives in the last couple of years. They all have significance to a certain point.”

[Intro]
When I watch the world burn
All I think about is you
When I watch the world burn
All I think about is you

[Verse]
There must be something in the cool aid
Cruising through the doom days
God knows what is real and what is fake

Last couple years have been a mad trip
How’d you look so perfect
You must have some portraits in the attic

We’ll stay offline so no-one gets hurt
Hiding from the real world
Just don’t read the comments ever, ever

We fucked this house up like the planet
We were running riot
Crazy that some people still deny it

Think I’m addicted to my phone
My scrolling horror show
I’m live-streaming the final days of Rome

One tab along is pornographic
Everybody’s at it
No surprise we’re so easily bored

Let’s pick the truth that we believe in
Like a bad religion
Tell me all your original sins

So many questionable choices
We love the sound that our voice makes
Man, this echo chamber’s getting loud

We’re gonna choose the blue pill
We’re gonna close the curtains

We’re gonna rabbit hole down third act love now

She’s gonna flip some tables
I’m gonna move this tale on

We’re gonna rabbit hole down 
third act love now

We’ll be the proud remainers
Here ’til the morning breaks us
We run away from real life thoughts tonight

We’re gonna Peter Pan out
Fade to the close-up, arms round
We’re gonna stay naive tonight, night, night
 

[Chorus]
When I watch the world burn
All I think about is you

When I watch the world burn
All I think about is you
You
All I think about is you
So I put my phone down
Fall into the night with you
Doom Days – Bastille

Do you believe, in general, that people listen to your lyrics?

Dan: “There’s always different levels of how people engage with music. We’ve had some songs that got played all over the world on the radio. Not to discredit anyone, but sometimes the broader audience doesn’t necessarily fully engage with what you’re talking about. A catchy melody can be enough.

We’re very lucky to have a really interested, engaged fan base who listens to what we’re saying in the lyrics and puts their own interpretations to them.

It’s an interesting question though. Our first big song was about 2 bored ashy corpses who have been static and stuck in the same position, frozen by the destruction of a volcano for many years. They’re having a conversation about boredom, nostalgia.

We’d be lying if it wasn’t a little bit funny that we get to play this song about this odd topic at festivals for thousands and thousands of people.

We’ve always enjoyed writing about stuff that’s interesting to us. If that can stealth slip into pop culture, then that’s brilliant.”

Doom Days will be on sale and available on streaming services from tomorrow. Enjoy!

Read more

Also curious about the meaning of Bastille’s Pompeii, Good Grief, World Gone Mad, Happier and Quarter Past Midnight? Then read: What is Bastille’s music actually about?

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– Doom Days is written by Daniel Campbell Smith / Daniel Robin Priddy / Mark Blair Crew © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 2019.