02/06/2014
English synth-pop sensations Bastille may be in the middle of a sell-out US tour before hitting Australian shores next month, but bass player Will Farquarson has bigger things on his mind. Outer space, for one.

Words by

Paul McBride

“We went to NASA the other day and met the director,” he says. “We expressed an interest on the Internet and then they got in touch and invited us. He said, 'Oh hi, I became the director of NASA when I stopped flying spaceships'.

It's a surreal thing, the fact that writing some songs and playing a bit of guitar gets you to hang out at NASA. Also, we got taken to the actual place where they're building the Orion spacecraft, which is the next generation of spacecraft. It wasn't even like a touristy trip; it was the actual laboratory where they're building the spaceship, and it was all a bit weird.  

“But a lot of things in our lives are quite surreal, to be honest. The strangest thing was that everyone at NASA seemed to be a fan, and it's a sad thing as they were imploring us to be ambassadors of NASA as they need the younger generation to engage and show an interest. When NASA people said, 'Oh my God, you're in Bastille,' I was like, 'Dude, you're literally a rocket scientist'.”  

Cosmic concerns aside, Farquarson and his three band-mates are looking forward to a run of Australian shows in June, having sold out venues in Sydney and Melbourne as recently as August.  

“We're always amazed when we sell out shows in our own country,” he says. “So to do it in places where we haven't spent as much time is just amazing. It's mind-boggling that we haven't done much promotion there, and yet there's this appetite for our music, but it's very gratifying and we look forward to coming. Our live show is more band-oriented and more heavy, with a harder edge to it than the record. The record was made as a studio project and then when you tour it for a year-and-a-half or two years it takes on a new dimension; it has a bit more guts.”  

Over a quarter of a million copies of debut album Bad Blood have been sold in the UK alone – a statistic that Farquarson isn't keen on analysing too intensely.   “A lot of people in the industry are always looking for the formula,” he says. “I think that it's just that Dan's [Smith, vocalist] song-writing is strong. I think sometimes people don't realise that our stuff just connects with the public, and we were lucky that we were quite a word-of-mouth sort of thing; we never really got much hype or press in the UK. I think we just grew quite a solid, loyal fanbase over the course of the two years prior to releasing the record. [The album] went triple platinum, which is a crazy, crazy number of records to sell.”  

As if that isn't enough, the record was re-released as an extended version in November. “It can be quite cynical after an album is out to just chuck a couple of bonus tracks on,” Farquarson says. “But there's quite a lot we've done in the last year-and-a-half that didn't make it onto the original album. There were a lot of B-sides that were recorded that we loved just as much as the ones that were on the album, we did two mix tapes and there was some material that we did love. So, we wanted everything that we've done with a whole bonus section on the second disc, and it was nice to put all the bits and bobs into the one package.”  

The band recently covered Miley Cyrus's We Can't Stop for a UK radio session, with almost disastrous consequences. “We did an Eminem riff at the beginning,” Farquarson says. “Apparently he'd written a verse on his record dissing her, but then it turned out that was all a hoax. We kind of inadvertently got involved in a beef that wasn't even real, and nobody wants to be involved in a fake beef. I think generally she gets a bit of a rough deal. I don't like her music particularly, but she gets flak for doing things that other people do and don't get flak for. Rihanna and Madonna and other pop stars have done things just as risqué and trashy, and yet she has become a bit of a pariah, I think.”  

With an end to touring almost in sight, Farquarson already has one eye on the next Bastille album.   “We've got 16 or 17 tracks demoed for our second album already,” he says. “We're going into the studio in September to record; hopefully by then we'll have 20 or maybe more. I think it's always better to have more material and whittle it down. Our producer has gone on tour with us, so we've been doing things on our days off and during sound checks. One of the weirdest things about being in a band is that when you have so many commitments and do so much travelling, making music is sort of a secondary thing to flying around the world, touring and promo stuff. It's been nice to spend some time being creative again.” 

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