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Will Farquarson of Bastille: “Australian women are very attractive”

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THE synth-pop juggernaut that is English quartet Bastille returns to tour Australia after selling out venues here last year, and bassist Will Farquarson wastes no time explaining why the band is looking forward to it.

“The women,” he says. “Australian women are very attractive. Actually, you have all the same chocolate and chips and stuff as us; that’s really homely. When you’re travelling it’s really nice to be somewhere that has things from home, like a Twix or something. I know it’s ridiculous. And you have the Queen on your money, which is nice. Architecturally it’s more like America, but the people are closer to English people, so it’s kind of like being at home but in a cool American way. Everyone is so friendly as well, and the fact it’ll hopefully be sunny most of the time is going to be good. We’re just coming for the heat.”

The cheeky Farquarson, speaking from the band’s tour bus somewhere in Central Europe, goes on to dryly explain how the group’s live show has evolved.

“We’ve got more lights and a bigger screen now,” he says. “We’ll jump about more, maybe. We’ve got a couple of new songs. One is called ‘Blade’ and is a bit rock-y; I play guitar on it, and we did ‘Weapon’ with a rapper called Angel Haze. Our fans can be quite surprised when we come on stage with a rapper, although sadly he can’t come to all our shows, so we won’t be doing that at all of them. I can’t rap; I’d have a go but I don’t think anyone wants to hear it.”

Bastille have only existed since 2010 and have released only one album, but that didn’t stop them selling out venues in Sydney and Melbourne in August.

“We’ve been lucky with live stuff generally,” Farquarson says. “It’s surprising that happened somewhere so far away, and given we’d not been there at all beforehand. It’s amazing anyway when you sell a show out, but especially when it’s at the other side of the world. It’s better than nobody coming, which would be rubbish. We’ve [recorded] quite a bit of the new album. To break things up on tour we’ve been recording while we’re away. We’ve got maybe ten or so songs as demos ready to go. In the [northern hemisphere] summer we’ll be going into the studio to get the album done and then maybe early next year it’ll be coming out. We’re not worrying too much about it; I think we’ll be okay.”

The band’s debut, Bad Blood, was re-released as an extended version entitled All This Bad Blood, which means extended periods of touring.

“We wanted to do a double album,” Farquarson says. “It’s everything we’ve done live, mix-tape things and some of the B-sides from the past couple of years. Just because something is a B-side doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like them, and we still wanted people to hear them. We thought it would be nice to put all the things that didn’t make it onto the main album together. We’re going to be doing a load of festivals – God knows how many – over the summer, which will be wicked fun. Then we’ll be trying to record this album, then it’s back to the grindstone after that. The main objective is to get the album done this year; that’s one thing we all really need to focus on. If we can do that we’ll be laughing. Maybe we’ll have time for a holiday at Christmas, I don’t know.”

BAD BLOOD AND ALL THIS BAD BLOOD ARE OUT NOW VIA VIRGIN.

Bastille tour dates:

Friday 13 June – Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre
Saturday 14 June – Sydney Hordern Pavilion
Sunday 15 June – Melbourne Festival Hall
Wednesday 18 June – Perth Challenge

Will Farquarson of Bastille: “Everyone at NASA seemed to be a fan”

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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.

“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 tourist-y 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 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 were was some material that we did live. So, we wanted everything that we’ve done with a whole bonus section on the second disk, 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 twenty 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 soundchecks. 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.”

BASTILLE PLAY:

Friday, June 13 – Convention Centre, Brisbane
Saturday, June 14 – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Sunday, June 15 – Festival Hall, Melbourne
Wednesday, June 18 – Challenge Stadium, Perth

BAD BLOOD BY BASTILLE IS OUT NOW.