Bastille bringing its ‘apocalyptic party album’ tour to Stage AE
Bastille seemingly came out of nowhere with the hit song “Pompeii” in 2013. And suddenly the doom-and-gloom anthem was everywhere.
In reality, the band did have a relatively quick rise to fame, having formed in London in 2010.
A couple of limited-release singles and the platform of YouTube and MySpace found the band a U.K. audience. After signing with Virgin Records late in 2011, they also signed on for high-profile U.K. festivals like Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Redfest, Reading and Leeds Festival and Blissfields.
Then came “Pompeii,” actually the fourth single from their first studio album, “Bad Blood.” It climbed the charts to No. 2 at home and No. 5 in the United States and went multi-platinum.
“When you’re in the process of making it, it seems like it takes forever; but looking back, it was kind of crazy,” said band member Will Farquarson recently from his seaside home in Brighton, England. Farquarson plays guitar, bass and keyboards and contributes backing vocals.
“We had four or five singles out in Britain, and suddenly it built into a crescendo culminating in ‘Pompeii,’” he says. “It’s amazing looking back at how privileged we are, and how spoiled we were, thinking it was taking a long time.”
Farquarson and band mates Dan Smith (lead vocals, keyboards), Kyle Simmons (keyboards, backing vocals, bass, guitar) and Chris “Woody” Wood (percussion, backing vocals) will play Sept. 22 at Stage AE in Pittsburgh.
The band is touring in support of “Doom Days,” its third studio album released June 14.
“Pompeii,” recounting the 79 AD destruction of the title Roman city by volcanic eruption, contains the line, “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”
There’s a similar theme running through “Doom Days,” Farquarson says.
“We call it an apocalyptic party album,” he says. “Calling it a concept album seems pompous, but there is an idea and a narrative running through it.”
The idea is that there’s a house party going on inside as the apocalypse crashes down outside. Whether the apocalypse is personal or global — or some of both — is open to interpretation, Farquarson says.
In both “Doom Days” and 2016’s “Wild World,” the band was responding to geopolitical tumult and uncertainty, he says.
“It’s a reflection on the way things are heading,” he says. “We didn’t want to be too preachy, but just acknowledge how things have played out.”
Preachy or not, there’s hope in the final track. “Joy” opens in the aftermath of the party, with the singer waking up, hungover, on the kitchen floor — and finding “sweet relief” in a phone call from a loved one.
“The concept is that there’s escape and solace in everyday life and relationships,” Farquarson says.
Glimmer of hope
“That glimmer of hope at the end of the album says everything,” Smith has said. “The smallest human gesture can pull you back from the brink.”
The album also “messes with people’s expectations of what Bastille are and what we want to be,” Smith said, drawing on gospel, house music, R&B and folk influences.
A review from clashmusic.com summarizes it thus: “Nostalgic, melancholic, worrisome and finally joyful, ‘Doom Days’ is a production that leaves you with optimism for a better tomorrow.”
As for Bastille’s tomorrows, The Doom Days Tour Part 1 will wrap with an Oct. 29 date in Mexico City, Farquarson says, after “a long slog across the whole continent” of North America.
Then the band is on to a series of Doom Days Club Nights in the U.K.
“Those will be some smaller club shows with the theme of a house party,” Farquarson says.
After that, there are January concerts in Australia and New Zealand and what Farquarson describes as “a special one-off show in Germany.”
“Then we’ll debate what’s next,” he says. “Maybe we’ll take some time off and write some new music. For 10 years essentially we’ve been on tour.”
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .