We caught up with Kyle Simmons, the keyboardist from Bastille, ahead of their second visit to South Africa as they wrap up the final leg of their ‘Wild World’ world tour.
So, what are you guys most looking forward to with coming back here? Seeing the people again?
Yeah absolutely and also just seeing the country again. I guess for me personally, well for me and Will, we’ve only been over once. Obviously Dan has got a lot of family there and a lot of friends ’cause his parents are South African.
Ya, they’re from Durban aren’t they?
Yeah and Woody’s got a bunch of friends who live there. For me it’s just coming back and seeing the country again. Just being able to spend some time there and see it all and obviously we had such a great time playing there. The people were just so amazing and yeah! We’re looking forward to coming back and playing our new music and seeing if we get a similar response.
I’m sure you guys will! In terms of your tour experience in general, what’s been your best moment?
Wow um, well I guess for me it was when we did our UK tour. I’ve lived in London my whole life, born-and-bred. There’s a venue called the O2 Arena and I’ve been there while growing up, to watch basketball shows and comedy shows and music shows.
It never even once crossed my mind that I’d be able to play there and then on our UK tour we did two shows there. It was just unbelievable to be able to play that venue in our hometown. Both shows sold out and it was just really incredible for me to play there. Obviously we’ve been able to travel the world but yeah for me it was a very special moment that I’ll definitely remember.
Your albums All This Bad Blood and Wild World have quite lot of tracks on them, why did you guys decide to go with such a large track list?
Well with the first one [Bad Blood] we just had so many songs, there were just loads. When we released the album we had to shorten it, but there was all this music that was written so we just thought let’s do All This Bad Blood and it can have loads more songs and it was amazing.
Then the second one came around and Dan was just like “you know what, I just hate all that stuff we had to do last time, so let’s just make a massive album. You know what? Who cares, let’s do it.” And we went yeah, why not, let’s do it.
I guess it was more difficult to choose between all these songs that we had spent so much time on and spent so much time with and making, and we really liked them. So, we thought rather than having to choose between our children kind of thing, let’s just put them all on. I don’t think the third album is going to be quite so long.
Oh, does this mean you guys are planning to release a new album soon?
That’s super exciting!
Yeah, um we’re working on it at the moment and this tour to South Africa that we’re doing next week is the last bit of touring this year, it’s the end of our world tour. So once that’s done we’re just going to come back and just spend more time in the studio and get our teeth into this album.
I must say you guys saved the best place for last!
Just in terms of your general music-making approach, do you think you guys have progressed a lot in your sound since you first started with songs like Flaws/Icarus?
Yeah I think so. I guess we’ve progressed and evolved because; I wouldn’t say better because that would take away from the old songs, you know we’re still very fond of them; but we’ve definitely evolved and progressed and our minds are changed now.
We’ve been touring, I mean it’s been seven years now and so we’re all obviously a bit different and we’ve experienced a lot of stuff, some very different things and we’ve travelled the world.
Also, just around us in life there’s a lot of different things going on around us than there were seven years ago. So yeah you know our approach to making albums has definitely changed but obviously still trying to keep that Bastille element in there.
I know some people decide to go and do something completely different and we’re like yeah, we’re up for that, but also keeping our kind of name on it. We’re up to experimenting with things and switching things up but also keeping that Bastille root.
Is there any chance that any of the other band members were born on an important day and you had to fight it out for the band name?
Um not that we know of. It was just, trying to think of a band name is one of the hardest things in the world. It can be anything and so one day when a friend of Dan’s just said to him “oh your birthday is on Bastille day right?” And he said yeah, and she said, “well why don’t you just call the band Bastille?” And we were like “ah yeah, why not? That’ll work!” None of us had any cool birthdays really.
So just going back to the touring side of things, what was something you wish you knew before it started. In terms of being a famous touring band, what was the one thing you wish you knew about before you got into all of this?
You know you see a lot less of your friends and family and it’s important to keep in contact with everyone. It can also be really exhausting, you need to literally get your rest. It can be incredibly tiring and sort of, not life draining, but just kind of draining energy-wise. I guess any job can do that. There’s a lot of travelling and I hate flying!
I’ve always hated flying and now I have to fly everywhere, it’s very stressful. Yeah, I wish I’d thought about that.
And just one last question. What is the weirdest fan related incident you guys have ever had?
I don’t know, I guess we meet a lot of the fans and a lot of them have tattoos of the band. Or of the triangle. Or lyrics and stuff. A lot of the time they’ll ask us for autographs and then get that tattooed. Sometimes they’ll ask us to hand write one of the lyrics for them.
One fan actually came up to me and said “oh Kyle would you mind writing down this lyric?” I tried to explain that I have and I have always had really bad handwriting, but not in a kind of “ah that’s sweet” way, just it’s like a drunk six year old.
It’s barely legible.
It’s really bad and I kept trying to explain this to her and I was like “honestly dude look I’ll write it down for you, I’d strongly recommend you not getting it tattooed because its awful” and she made me do it and then she looked at me afterwards and was like “oh okay” and I was like “Yeah I told you, just promise me you won’t get this tattooed anywhere on you”.
We generally have such a good experience with the fans, they’re all really nice and really friendly and um yeah we’re just really lucky.