BASTILLE. When singer/songwriter Dan Smith decided upon a name for his band, it had little to do with the medieval Parisian prison other than that it was stormed on his birthday, July 14 - Bastille Day.
Formed by Smith, who recruited keyboard player Kyle Simmons, bassist Will Farquarson and drummer Chris ‘Woody’ Wood to the cause, Bastille’s debut album Bad Blood entered the charts at No 1 last year, cementing their place as the biggest new British act of 2013.
“Since we released the album we’ve been lucky to have been constantly busy and distracted. We’ve been touring pretty much non stop so we haven’t really had much time to stop and take stock of it, which I think is probably a good thing,” says Smith, ahead of the band’s Corn Exchange gig on Thursday.
“We’re obviously massively happy about it. It was such a weird surprise, and it continues to be one, but having stopped and acknowledged that it was an awesome thing to have happened to us, it’s probably best to move on and get on with it.
“Most of the stuff we’re doing now we had planned long before the album came out; we’re just lucky to be doing it now with an album that a bunch of people have listened to.”
Substitute bunch for millions. The most downloaded album of 2013, and the second most-streamed, Bad Blood has since sold more than two million copies worldwide.
Winning Best Breakthrough Act at the recent Brit Awards hasn’t done Smith and co any harm either - Bad Blood shot back to No 1 in as a direct result.
Another highlight of their meteoric success was Smith’s meeting with his all-time hero, film-maker David Lynch, whose 1990 TV series Twin Peaks inspired Bastille’s Laura Palmer, and who asked the band to remix the track Are You Sure from his 2013 album The Big Dream.
“I was very nervous,” admits Smith, “but he was so nice. He just stuck out his hand said, ‘Hi, I’m Dave. You must be Dan?’ and my head exploded. David Lynch is the biggest rock star in my world.”
Shedding more light on the Bastille song honouring Lynch’s cult creation, Smith adds, “I’m obsessed with David Lynch. Laura Palmer was the main character in Twin Peaks, but the series starts with her having been murdered. She’s positioned as this idealised, perfect character, but as the series progresses, her secrets and the hidden parts of her life are unpicked.
“I wrote the song while I’d been watching loads of the show, and Laura Palmer seemed to embody the idea in my mind of running away from problems. The song is basically a massive nod to the character and to Lynch.”
Hits like Laura Palmer, Of The Night, a mash-up of Corona’s Rhythm Of The Night and Snap!’s Rhythm Is A Dancer, and Pompeii have certainly made Bastille one of the most eagerly anticipated bands on the touring circuit - much, you get the impression, to Smith’s bemusement.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with everyone,” he jokes. “It’s very weird, very surreal. Like I said before, we’re very happily busy at the moment to the point where some of the slightly unbelievable things have happened can be appreciated but we don’t really think about them too much.
“There doesn’t seem to be a huge point in dwelling on stuff. We’re so excited about the tour, we’ve worked really hard on the live side of things over the last couple of years – we’ve gigged and toured quite relentlessly and so it’s quite gratifying to feel it grow.
“It’s so exciting for us, and we’re just really keen to put on a good show. We’re trying to think of ways to incorporate visuals and just keep the show exciting and evolving so that people who have seen us before get something different out of it if they come to another tour.
“We’re in an incredibly lucky position, getting to do what we love for our job. Little challenges, like trying to put on a better show, aren’t bad ones to have.”
Nevertheless, as the tour continues, Smith agrees their focus also has to be on writing new songs to keep the momentum going.
“The most important thing for me will be to find time to make new songs. Promoting and touring the same stuff over and over you could potentially loose sight of the normality of sitting around making songs,” he says.
And when he looks back over the last 12 months... “As a band, our expectations have never been high,” he confesses.
“That might sound weird after the year we’ve had, but I think it helps. We tend not to sit on our laurels. Like, when we were told our album had gone to number one we went ‘That’s nuts!’, then we got drunk and the next day we never spoke about it again.
“Any kind of success we’ve had, we’re mildly in denial about. But when we stop and try and take it all in... I mean, it’s brilliant. But it’s crazy”
Bastille, Corn Exchange, Newmarket Road, Thursday, £22.50, 0131-443 0404