A chat with Bastille: Percussionist Chris Wood talks the band’s new single

On 22 September, British band Bastille released survivin’, their second single of 2020. This week, Platform’s Robbie Nichols had the opportunity to sit down with Bastille percussionist Chris ‘Woody’ Wood and pick his brain about the new track…

The band have commented on the fact that the single feels oddly relevant to the crisis the world is going through at the minute, and frontman Dan Smith has stated that despite the relatability of the song, he wrote the song prior to the pandemic happening. Woody stated that while the band themselves try not to ever explain explicitly what the song is about, “people sometimes find meaning in songs which is just completely the opposite of what we intended. There’s a song [on the upcoming album] that sounds like a yearning love song, that is actually about someone getting hammered. It’s quite interesting seeing the different meanings everyone finds in your songs, especially that once the song is out there, it’s not completely yours anymore. It becomes the soundtrack of someone’s breakup or their holiday. It takes on more meaning once it’s out there.”

The song marked a distinctive move away from the sound of their previous single, collaboration with Blur’s Graham Coxon, WHAT YOU GONNA DO??? as well as their 2019 album Doom Days. The song feels a lot lighter and breezier, despite the subject of the song being admitting that sometimes you’re just not okay, but pulling through anyway. “I guess the song is just a bit of a microcosm of what we felt after the Wild World campaign”, Woody explains, “because that was probably the most explicit we’ve gotten in terms of looking at the state of the world. On that tour, we had a massive video screen of a fake politician ranting at the audience and it all felt very 1984. We kind of realised that people come to gigs to escape the from all that, not be reminded of it.” Woody remarked. “So, we’ve definitely since tried to aim more towards escapism.”

The music video of the song, released on 6 October only feeds into that idea of escapism further. Directed and produced by Iranian director Reza Dolatabadi, the video feels like an animated escape of its own kind.

When I ask if this light and breezy sound was going to be a theme throughout the forthcoming album, Woody gives a slight insight into what working with the talented Dan Smith is like. “If you ask me at this point in time, I’d say yes. But work with Dan long enough, and you never know what the f*** to expect. At the minute yes, in the next four hours, maybe no.”

In fact, evolving Bastille’s sound seems to be something the band want to focus on. “We’ve always tried to keep pushing things forward, and do things differently. We’re quite fortunate in that Dan’s voice is so unique and recognisable. It gives us license to genre hop a little bit, which is pretty useful, and we’ve really jumped across genres in the past. There’s been some hip-hop-inspired elements, some all-out rock stuff, orchestral stuff, electronic stuff. Everything really.”

survivin’ was first teased by the band two days before its release on Dan’s Instagram, which almost acts as the band’s official Instagram profile. Woody stated this was intentional. That having a distinction between his band life and private family life allowed him to almost have the best of both worlds. He could put on his ‘Bastille’ hat and make music he’s really proud of and then go home to be a father. “If we’re not trying to be a face or an influencer, people will know us for our songs, and not our Instagram. Our songs will do most of the talking for us, which is how I think it should be.”

In fact, it was when we were talking about the band’s social media that Woody gives me a Netflix recommendation. “I’m sure most people have seen The Social Dilemma by now, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. It’ll put the fear of God in you. It’s all the developers and stuff who worked on Google and Facebook on how they try to make it addictive as possible. You’ll come out of it wanting to smash your phone up.”

Over lockdown, the band have been hosting a film club, Distraction Tactics, on their Instagram account, with a planned Halloween edition where the film of the week is the 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. That’s not all Woody’s been doing, however. “I’ve got a three year old and a five year old, that’s all I did. No, I actually recorded drums for a few other people remotely from my home studio. I started a record label, so there’s an artist called Ulysses Wells who we just released who we’re really into. So, that’s quite fun, getting to be on the other side of everything, being the one telling someone to do the work rather than doing it. And, I’ve started a podcast, which hasn’t been released yet.

“I guess I’m pretty bad at doing nothing.”

By Robbie Nichols

survivin’ is out now on all streaming platforms.

Feature Image Credit: chuffmedia

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