It’s been four years since alt-pop band Bastille shot to international ubiquity on the strength of their hypnotizing single “Pompeii,” and frontman Dan Smith still doesn’t think of himself as a rock star.
“I’m the least coolest person I know,” he says. After all, he’d spent the afternoon axe-throwing (check out his Instagram) and sound-checking in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, where the band kicked off its 30-city Wild World North American tour—named after their recent album, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. Smith also told us his all-time favorite album is The Score by Fugees, so we’re really not buying how “uncool” he is.
We got to the bottom of things to discuss hip-hop, FOMO and why Smith won’t let his record label touch his Twitter account, all before Bastille plays The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan on April 14.
The band has a history of nodding to hip-hop culture in its music: incorporating samples and releasing mixtapes and remixes. What impact did hip-hop have on you growing up?
My older sister is a huge hip-hop fan. Growing up, she was always listening to artists like Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Jurassic 5, Biggie [Smalls] and 2Pac. I think hip-hop music has always been at the forefront of production and innovation. It’s also really innovative in the way [artists] choose to release music. The heritage of mixtape culture in hip-hop and the way so much of the music cleverly reuses and reinterprets other genres, samples, hooks and melodies—that brings something completely new. I’ve always found [the genre] really fascinating and brilliant.
Did you ever think of making hip-hop music?
There are production elements in our music that look to hip-hop. Songs like “Way Beyond” and “Bad Blood.” If we stripped [my vocals] off the tracks, some of them could work quite well for rappers. I can be so excited about one of our beats and think it’s the coolest thing in the world, but as soon as I start warbling all over it, it immediately becomes something very different.
How is it that you run the band’s Instagram and Twitter accounts (@bastilledan)?
When we started out, @bastille was taken, so I just said, “Well, I’m running it, so it will be @bastilledan,” and I still run it. All of the guys have their own accounts, but they were like, “Fuck that! I’m not going to have Bastille attached to it.” I guess it’s funny because my entire social media life is filtered through the band.
That’s cool, though. It gives fans a better sense of your personality. Some artists’ accounts are obviously run by a third party.
Yeah, and as a fan of other bands, I think it’s lame when it becomes a PR outfit. It’s interesting to me because there is someone at our record label who would love to have their hands on my Twitter account. They happen to be a very nice person, and I do some stuff for them. Every now and then, they’ll say, “Please, can you mention that you have an album out.” I’m like, “OK.” But I want to keep our accounts fun and creative. I like to post mainly about music that I’m enjoying and film that I’m watching, and focus less on the mundanities of my life.
You’ve said before that you experience FOMO (fear of missing out) while on tour. How is that?
My friends and I have this weird reverse thing where I’m always super jealous of them and they turn around to me and say, “You’re traveling and you’re playing shows. Don’t be an idiot!” But I’m really lucky to have quite a tight group of friends. Knowing that they’re doing stuff and going to parties and hanging out, there’s an element of, “Oh, I wish I was there!” But I also feel incredibly lucky to do music as a job. So every time I start to complain, they say, “Shut up!” Which is completely fair.
Bastille with Mondo Cozmo
April 14, 7 p.m., $25–$30, The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com