An Interview with Suren From Bombay Bicycle Club

Due to my many contacts in the music industry I managed to wangle an interview with the drummer of one of my favourite bands, and North London’s finest, Bombay Bicycle Club. Here’s what Suren had to say to my Paxman-esque probing questions.

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This Guy.

Welcome back Bombay, it’s great to have you back! Do you feel that these three years have benefited you as a band and from a recording/ musical point of view?

I think we’ve all improved individually as musicians. There are songs on this album that are a far cry from the guitar heavy 4/4 songs of our first album and for which you need slightly different skills. Ed (Nash, Bassist) and I in particular have spent quite a bit of time just playing as a duo and becoming a single unit. There are songs on this new album that really need to groove to make them work so we’ve been working on that, whereas in the early days it was more about just rocking out.

Also, with this album being self-produced, we’ve all obviously had to gain more knowledge of recording techniques and studio equipment. This applies mostly to Jack (Steadman, Lead Singer) as he was taking the lead with the production. Not having a big producer working with us, as on previous albums, meant that we all had to be more involved and vocal. We also started renting our own studio space a few months before recording started, which was integral to the whole album. Although we went to another studio to record most of the instrumentals, all the parts were brought back to our studio where we could take our time working on them. In the past we haven’t had this luxury because we’ve had to adhere to the hours of whatever studio we’ve been in.

There is a distinct lack of driving guitars on the singles released so far from So Long See You Tomorrow and they were also conspicuously absent on several songs on A Different Kind Of Fix. As a band whose debut album relied heavily on them, what has prompted this shift?

Jack has been writing his own electronic music outside the band for a while, and that influence has gradually started to creep into Bombay’s music. The way in which songs are written has changed over time. Whereas our older songs often used to be born on an acoustic guitar, more and more they start off on a computer now. Quite a few of the songs originated from sampling snippets of records – often old Bollywood records that Jack picked up while in Mumbai. Next it would often be an electronic beat that was added. This forms the basis, but from there they need to be turned into actual songs that would be suitable for us to play and for that Jack would usually then turn to a guitar.

So although songs usually don’t originate from the guitar like they used to, instruments like the guitar or piano are still integral to the songwriting process. We’ve always said any song should be able to be stripped back and interpreted on an acoustic guitar, so melody and harmony are still very much at the heart of it all.

Has being from London (specifically North London) influenced the band’s sound at all?  Also will there be another homecoming gig at Alexandra Palace?

I think our north London roots probably had more influence on us in the early days – less and less so now. There are some obvious references on some of the songs from our first album and early EPs, for example our song The Hill on the first album is about a part of Hampstead Heath which is a big park next to where we all used to live and where we spent a lot of time.

When we started out we were one of a number of bands to come from our school and neighbouring schools who began having some success, so it was a creative place to be.

The Alexandra Palace gig was one of the best nights of our lives. When we were younger we always used to rehearse in Jamie’s basement and could see Ally Pally from his window. I don’t think we ever dreamed we’d headline it back then. I think it would feel odd going back to do another show there now though – it feels like we should let that memory stay as it is.

The acoustic album Flaws you did a while back was great. Any plans to release a similarly themed album?

I’m not sure if we’ll release another whole acoustic album, but Jack continues to write acoustic songs on the side. In fact there’s a 7″ included in the box set version of the new album with two fantastic acoustic songs called To The Bone and Easier (what more incentive could you need?!)

You’ve been announced to play Coachella this year, are you nervous? How do you find audiences in America compared to audiences in Britain, what’s been you favourite place to play over there? Also is there anyone on the bill you’re especially excited to see?

This is the first time we’ll be playing Coachella so we’re excited. I’m looking forward to seeing Outkast, Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, Bonobo and Washed Out.

In general crowds in America seem to be a bit less raucous than crowds in the UK. By this I basically mean less drunk. They express their appreciation in a different way. One of my favourite American gigs was at a place called the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. It’s got this reputation as being one of the best club venues in the world amongst bands and I can see why. From a hospitality point of view they look after you incredibly well and have all the facilities a touring band needs (things like washing machines – it’s a great day when the venue has a washing machine…) The venue makes their own special 9:30 Club cupcakes as well which they give to the band. They’re just very attentive. Aside from that, the crowd we had there was unreal. I remember the applause after playing Always Like This just going on and on and on. We kept trying to start the next song but gave up. It was quite funny.

Favourite albums of 2013? Also, I know its January but favourite album of 2014 or any albums you’re especially excited to hear?

I thought Kanye West – Yeezus and Arctic Monkeys – AM were both great. This year I’m looking forward to the debut album from Rae Morris. She is a singer from the UK who has supported us on tour in the past, and she also sings on two songs on our new album – ‘Luna’ and ‘Overdone’. She has a stunning voice and writes some beautiful songs. I’m also looking forward to Fryars releasing some new music. He is a talented friend of ours who has done a lot of writing for some quite big names in the pop world, and is now starting to focus on his own music. Again, his new album should be coming out later this year.

Have you noticed that if you type Jack’s name into Google it says he is 85 years old and is the president of the American football team Kansas City Chiefs? Should you believe everything you read on the internet?

He leads a double life. Everything you read on the internet is, in fact, true.

Everything.

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Matt La Faci’s Top Ten Poetic Lines of 2013

A lot can happen in a year! 2013 was a busy one for me, here’s a countdown of the top ten poetic lines I wrote this year as chosen by me, Matt La Faci.

10.

Your Cheek

in the rain,

Soft

like wet Clay.

Ready,

for my

Impression.

9.

Wood Green is

concrete gray.

Oh the irony,

8.

A glass of red wine,

one brilliant white carpet.

Please handle your shit.

7.

The red right hand of God,

bent to a G chord,

As Satan and Nick Cave,

Listen on.

Bored.

6.

And faith’s an int’resting thing,

hanging from a piece of string.

5.

Colourblind!

The train disappears.

Your smile, as always,

allays my

Fears.

4.

and the

piercing

white

light

of your memory.

On the days when I can’t not remember you,

3.

our destructive wit. Destroying our soul,

making us old.

2.

And

a whole year, since the world ended.

With nothing to show,

but a poem.

Splendid.

1.

As we raise our balmy heads, from just below the clouds

How can you say it wasn’t perfect?

How can you say I wasn’t proud?

 

Tongue firmly in cheek.

The 5 Best Musical Canadians- A Definitive List

A list entirely based upon my own opinion, which I consider to be definitive, comprising of the best musical talent the great white north has to offer. Thank me later.

1. Drake

In the words of Jacobim Mugatu, Drake is so hot right now. Definitely one of the world’s best rappers, Drake is pretty much a verb now. If someone says something sounds Drakey you instantly know what they are talking about. Moody beats, emotional lyrics. Driving to exes houses. He is the most memed hip-hop star in the world and for a reason, he is unmistakably Drakey. He is also the most successful Canadian Hip-Hop export of all time, selling over 5 million albums in his career and this is all down to his Drakeyness. His music videos are Draked. Drake is the Drake of Draking Drake. But for real though ‘Just Hold on We’re Going Home’ was the best song of 2013. Bar none.

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2. Mac Demarco

The big Mac! Big daddy Mac! Mac attack! It’s very hard to be innovative when limiting yourself to the traditional rock and roll quartet of two guitars, bass and drums, but by golly have I never heard anything quite like Mac Demarco. On first listen he might sound like a joke, all jangly and croony, but once the brilliance of his songs shines through you will be hooked. From his lower-than low-fi first album Rock and Roll Nightclub to his superb self-titled second album, Demarco knows how to write a good pop song, with the underlying feeling in his raw recordings being that he sounds like he’s actually having fun. This is definitely one for fans of nostalgia guitar acts such as Kurt Vile and Ty Segall, just imagine if Elvis Presley somehow ended up being the lead singer in Pavement and they started playing lounge music.

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IMAGINE IT.

3. Feist

With her dulcet tones and airy arrangements, Leslie Feist has made some of the most affecting indie rock albums of the noughties. Perfectly blending pop sensibilities with introversion, sublime orchestration and slamming guitar riffage, Feist is so talented its annoying. A onetime member of Canadian indie-stalwarts Broken Social Scene, Feist transcended the local canuck scene and her popularity now stretches across oceans. She even had that song on the Ipod advert that time that was really popular, but we don’t mention that. Feist is legit Pitchfork royalty. All joking aside The Reminder and Metals are two of my favourite albums of all time and she is probably one of the best melodic guitar players in the world.

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Snoop Dogg and Feist. This happened…

 

4. Neil Young

It’s Neil Young Dude.

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Awwwww Yeah.

5. Fucked Up

I have never been one for rock operas, and to be honest not many people are, but Fucked Up’s ‘David Comes To Life’ cannot be described, only listened to. Starting out as a hardcore punk band with members called, among other things, 10,000 Marbles and Mustard Gas, recent albums have seen the band eschew the traditional punk tropes and embraced a wider variety of elements ranging from prog to glam. One thing that makes them great is their dynamic song-writing, I defy you to name me a better band at writing the start of songs. Just the start. You won’t be able to because Fucked Up have got the balls-out intro riff down. They also have one of the most lovable cuddly frontmen in the world, tell me you wouldn’t let this man sweetly serenade you to sleep:

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Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Honourable mentions:

Arcade Fire- I love this band but I don’t actually consider them Canadian as Win and Will Butler were born in California and raised in Texas. This is despite them having half of Canada in the band.

Joni Mitchell- The most beautiful voice of all, but sadly does not have the songs for me.

Jim Carrey- I know he’s a comedian but he is a Canadian and he is Jim Carrey.

Dishonourable mentions:

FUCK BIEBER AND FUCK MICHAEL BUBLE YO.

OH, CANADA.