Nerve had a small (remote) chat with Woody, Bastille’s drummer, where he told us what the band is currently working on, his music inspirations and Bastille’s best moments, from interacting with rockstar legends to playing at the Brit Awards night.
Jessica: Hi Woody! Thanks so much for meeting with me, it is a pleasure and an honour to meet you, especially since I am a big fan of Bastille myself, Bad blood is one of my favourite albums.
Woody: Aw that’s great, thanks.
J: Are you ready to start or do you have any questions?
W: Nope. Fire away!
J: I saw that Bastille was featured on the Live Lounge Allstars, you guys did a cover of ‘Times Like These’ by the Foo Fighters, and you released a couple of singles as well over the last months, ‘What are you gonna do’ with Graham Coxon, and ‘surviving’. Could you tell me more of what else you are currently working on? What is next for the band in these months?
W: So, um we are working on material, I can’t really be more specific than that at the minute hahah. We are just kind of cracking on to be honest. We are quite fortunate that we have our studio at home where I can record from properly. So we can do it remotely largely speaking. A lot of people these days are able to make albums from their bedrooms on their laptops anyway, kind of in the same way that Bad Blood was. Um yes, not too much of a departure for us, but yeah. We’re just going to keep making music, but God knows when life stuff is going to resume. It could be a while I mean. Unless there is going to be some sort of miracle vaccine or cure that comes out in the next couple of months, it could be a long way until you see gigs happening like we used to. Um, but yeah, the other problem with that is that there is obviously zero support at the minute for the live music industry from the government and there is a lot of talented skilled people who are probably going to end up leaving the industry because they cannot put their lives on hold forever. I don’t know, what, how it is going to look when things come back because there is probably going to be key companies or key personnel that aren’t there anymore. [laughs] Sorry that is a bit of a bleak perspective, I’m sorry [laughs]. But yeah, that is kind of how I see it.
J: Right, that also leads to my second question because COVID-19 has affected everyone and change the way we do things lately. What was it like for Bastille? How did it change the way you play and perform your music?
W: Yeah, I mean, as far as our sort of our process goes, it’s not changed much at all. I mean, we’re not the sort of band that goes and gets in for rehearsal and jams out ideas, it’s kind of a lot more, we all kind of put ideas into the computer and it gets fired around a bit. So yeah, our sort of process hasn’t really changed much, it’s just, yeah, just not knowing. Cuz yeah, you can’t really plan for, if you don’t really know, if you are going to be able to do it. So, we are just going to keep making music because that is what we do, and it would be silly to stop. Um… but yeah, I think we probably also need to try and avoid too many songs about lockdown and that sort of thing, or zoom calls [chuckles]. Just thinking about that, yeah.
J: Tell me more about your latest singles, ‘What are you gonna do’ and ‘surviving’. What was the inspiration behind them?
W: Hmm, I mean yeah, ‘surviving’ is a bit self-explanatory, uh, everyone is still getting by. And yeah, ‘what are you gonna do’, is kind of leaning towards talking about, uh, kind of like the whole social media thing, everyone fights for attention, that sort of thing, but. I mean that is losing to vote but we try and leave some of it open to interpretation as well at the same time.
J: Could you tell more of how the band writes songs? Does the melody come first or the lyrics, or do you think of the message first?
W: Like I say, Dan is the principal writer obviously, uh, and he will kind of have ideas, well, there is no set formula. I think ‘Bad Blood’, the song, started off with the baseline first and the rest fell into place. Whereas other songs have been a sort of melody first or lyrics, yeah, there is no real sort of hard/fast method, and then you get songs like ‘Blame’, which kind of, we did soundchecks and developed it that way, like as a band, and others it’s a lot more insular as well. So yeah, to add to your question, there is no one way kind of doing it.
J: Cool, so that kind of changes depending on the song then.
W: Yeah, pretty much. Well, and also the sort of situation and the circumstances as well.
J: Right. So this is a fun question for readers, what was your biggest rockstar moment? For example, did ever something crazy happen on stage, or what was the most exciting moment you had with the band while performing?
W: Oh, biggest rockstar moment, hmm. I guess in terms of interaction with a rockstar, we were doing – I think it was in Coachella – and just looked around the edge, and U2 just stood there watching us play, um, which was kind of surreal. [pause, chuckles] When we did a festival in Singapore, a couple of years ago, Brian May from Queen was there on the side stage watching us play as well, that was pretty surreal, to say the least. Hmm, we are not that rockstarry to be honest, I guess we are relatively normal blokes. No real outrageous behaviour or anything like that.
J: You guys are very down to Earth then?
W: Well, try to be.
J: Cool, I’m also curious to know what made you get into music and start a career as a drummer?
W: Yeah, I grew up in Plymouth and my dad is still a guitarist and a singer, so I kind of grew up around bands at a young age, and yeah, I just kind of picked up drums. I guess, A, looks more fun, B, you don’t always exactly copy your parents, do you? You try to do the same, but a bit different. So yeah, I did this sort of cliché thing of playing in school bands, you play in school orchestras and school bands and whatnot, and yeah, I just kind of kept at it, and just really enjoyed it. Um and then I went into music college and moved to London and played in lots of bands that sounded good and sounded terrible, and eventually met up with Dan and then we kind of ran with it for a couple of years. After that, Bastille formed, and it has all gone from there really. I guess I have always been into music since I was about twelve.
J: That’s great! Also, who are your music idols or your inspirations? What’s on your music playlist?
W: So I am obsessed with the new Idols album at the minute. I love Idols. Uhm, who else, at the minute? Uhm.. there is.. well actually , there is, well, so in lockdown we’ve been listening to some of Ulysses Wells who we really like and we’ve been releasing some of his music as well. And inspirations when growing up? I guess Dave Grohl for me is probably my sort of biggest musical hero, for drumming in particular, how he plays on that Queens of the Stone album is still, I think it is very hard to beat, it is just unbelievable. And yeah, I guess bands like Queens of the Stone Age, like Muse, being from Devon, as well and Smashing Pumpkins, that kind of stuff it is generally my sort of thing.
J: Cool, and you guys also performed with Muse on stage a couple of years ago.
W: Yes. That was nuts. Because obviously, I’ve been a pretty big fan of theirs for years so yeah, and beyond there [laughs] on their stadium tour was pretty mad. Also what was weird, well not weird, but also our sort of Spinal Tap moment was – we’ve gone out and bought this backdrop that we thought was going to look really big on certain stages and, we kind of put it up [chuckles] in Muse’s stadium and it looked like a postage stamp at the back of the stage, it didn’t really stuck up anymore [chuckles]. But yeah, that whole experience was just, like, unbelievable and kind of just seeing what a proper sort of stadium band does it, um, yeah. But obviously, you kind of learn an awful lot very quickly.
J: Yeah. It must have been a very exciting experience. What was it like to work with artists like Marshmello, ‘Happier’, and Graham Coxon, ‘What are you gonna do’?
W: It’s mad I mean. Well, I guess, it’s kind of similar in terms of Marshmello and Graham as well. It was done remotely, like sort of sending files back and forth, not actually not like being in the room with them as such, bit of a weird one. But… yeah, I mean, Graham especially, everyone grew being massively influenced by Blur as well, like that is just incredible. So having him to come and be on of our songs was incredible, like very, very surreal as you can imagine.
J: Yeah, I can imagine it was surreal! Do you have a favourite song (or album) that the band performed or wrote?
W: Um… I… hmm, I always like playing Fake It, because it is quite challenging, so I quite like to do it, and at the same time it’s about going mad and try to break the drum kit in two, at the very end of the song as well. Yeah, I mean Fake It is, yeah, obviously a single, but it’s still one of my favourite songs we do.
J: Definitely, it is a great song! So, the last question I had for you, what is your favourite moment or memory with the band?
W: Hmmm oh… That is a tough one. Uh…Favourite memory… I guess, I mean, it is not all about winning awards and stuff, but um, that night that we did at Brit Awards was kind of, like justifying all of those sort of years and years and years of work and whatnot trying to get to where we got to, I felt like that moment it felt like it got really paid off. I guess that was more kind of out of relief, I guess, than anything else. Um… yeah, so probably the Brit’s night.
J: Great, so was it then like the highlight for you guys?
W: Yeah, I mean God, like definite highlight for me. It was just incredible. I still can’t really believe that happened. Um, and, it’s also so surreal getting to play like on live TV and that sort of stuff, all of those things that you, like actually grew up watching on TV in the first place and then to be able to do it, yeah it was just nuts.
J: Definitely. It must be surreal, but also exciting to be a part of.
W: Oh God yeah.
J: Right. That is all of my questions. Thanks so much for your time Woody, it was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks!
W: Not at all, thanks, cheers!