Bombay Bicycle Club Discuss New Album
Bombay Bicycle Club‘s Jack Steadman discusses the pressures of recording his band’s third full album…
Studio: Clouds Hill Recording Studio, Hamburg
Producer: Jim Abbiss (Hamburg), Ben Allen (London)
Due: September 2011
Hi Jack, how is the new Bombay Bicycle Club album coming along?
We’re all feeling pretty good about it. We went to Hamburg a couple of weeks ago and did five tracks with Jim Abbiss [who produced their debut ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’] at this beautiful studio. We’ve completed half of the album…
It must be a different experience this time around, given that you recorded your debut before signing a record contract? Do you have deadlines and record execs hanging over you?
Not really. There’s been a bit more pressure because, before, those songs were written over the course of three or four years. A couple of months ago I was shitting myself, but we’re all better now we’ve got a lot of it out of the way. We’ve relaxed a bit. Whenever I have free time I’m just going into a rehearsal room and working on the rest of it. We’re all really happy with what we did in Hamburg and the label seem really pleased with it, so I think that we’re in a really good state right now.
There wasn’t anyone leaning over your shoulder?
There was that for a bit where they were like, “where are the stand-out tracks?”
When someone says that to you, do you go off and try and find some inspiration from somewhere, or do you just relax and let it flow?
I think usually it’s a waiting game. I don’t think you can just ask for it and then get it. But I’m definitely always listening to what everyone is saying. You have to get over yourself and realise that they’ve probably got a point, and just keep trying. Fortunately it’s just me writing it all, which is quite a nice way to do it because then you’ve got three other people in the band who can completely step back and listen to it as if they’re a fan.
How does it sound in relation to ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’?
The biggest difference is that in the space between these two albums I’ve been making a lot of music just by myself. It’s completely different from the band, it’s a lot of sampling and electronic music. I guess that, naturally, a lot of that is finding its way onto this record. The other big change is that everyone’s doing a lot more singing. We’ve been rehearsing a lot, because the other guys aren’t used to doing this much singing. So there’re a lot more harmonies…
Which song are you most pleased with so far?
It’s a song called ‘What You Want’. We’re actually thinking about choosing that one as the first one to be released for everyone to hear. It’s a perfect first track to play following on from the last record ['Flaws']. It’s not drastically different, like some of the other songs are, so I think it’s a good one to come back with.
Is the album a massive departure?
No. There’s a song – it’s called ‘Washed Out’ at the moment, but that won’t be its final title – that’s really summery. It’s got a choir sample on it. It’s got old disco guitar lines on it. It sounds very different to anything we’ve ever done, but we kind of just wanted to put it out because it would be summer when we’d be releasing it. We’re tempted to, but it’s whether we feel brave enough to go with it. I think we should.
What is in the pipeline for the rest of the album?
We’ve got three tracks left to do, and we’re going to do them with Ben Allen who produced [Animal Collective’s] ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’. I went to Atlanta to meet him and we got on really, really well. We were constantly on the same wavelength and built a really nice relationship. These three tracks are definitely the most electronic and sample-based ones, so we thought he’d be perfect. He’s coming over to London for two weeks. Everything is going to be mixed by Craig Silvey [Arcade Fire ‘The Suburbs’], because we were worried about having two producers.
Jack recently got to grips with some firearms. “I shot an AK-47,” he says. “All four shots went in the bullseye.” It must be reassuring to know that if you really needed to, you could kill a man, we said, sounding immediately like Alan Partridge. *silence*
Whilst in Hamburg, Jack became addicted to Currywurst. “I got obsessed with it. The more horrible-looking the street-vendor, the better.”
Bombay Bicycle Club demos don’t have lyrics. Instead, Jack mumbles. “Sometimes you’re so used to the mumbling that you just have to write something that sounds a bit like it.”