Those who follow the music charts across the pond were surprised when Bombay Bicycle Club's fourth album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, debuted at the top. For purveyors of fine indie music, the band's first No. 1 album didn't seem like a shock at all. The young eclectic quartet, who got their start winning a British music competition in 2006 when most of the members were 16, released their finest collection of songs yet.
The British public overwhelming had taken notice. For those who've followed the band from their 2005 debut I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, this album is what the band has been working toward for nine years. It's an intriguing mix of folk, blues, rock, electronica, and even some sounds that wouldn't sound out of place on a Bollywood film soundtrack.
Buzz has been building around the band in the States for years as the group has slowly seeped into popular culture with a high-profile appearance on the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and appearances on the festival circuit. Twenty-somethings Jack Steadman, Jamie MacColl, Suren de Saram, and Ed Nash are a long way from their roots in Crouch End, London, and are making a stop at the Crescent Ballroom on Monday, April 14, in-between their high-profile gigs at both weekends of Coachella. Guitarist MacColl took some time out to talk about the album, how the band's youth enables the bending of musical genres, and the strangeness of American audiences. Congratulations on So Long, See You Tomorrow. How did you find the album's unique sound?
Thank you. It was quite a long journey from our first album. It's been an evolution. I think with this album we took everything from the first three albums and what we learned about electronic production and have come up with our own sound. This album is kind of more out there with stuff that is outside our thing. We took in influences outside of our normal standards.
Compared to A Different Kind of Fix, this album seems less frantic. You can pick up on the uncertainty that comes with being in your twenties on that album.
I think that feeling manifests itself on the last album. It came from a sense of us not really wanting to know what kind of music we wanted to make. We have a band that likes to try a lot of things.
Do you think it's a desire to prove yourselves that also accounts for your eclectic style?
It definitely felt that way with the first couple of albums, especially when people weren't coming to shows. What about age? You're at the time when you want to absorb everything. Is that accurate to say?
I think so. When you're young you go through so many stages of what you want to do. We just got bored very quickly. I think this album and the next one will define what we want to be. A lot of my friends are at the time when they are leaving university and they're trying to figure out what they want to do. I think that in some ways that applies to us.
You're playing a lot of American festivals this summer. What is the biggest difference between an American audience and a British audience?
One of the things I have found strange about the festivals that we have done is that is what we refer to as the "bro" culture. It's guys wearing tank tops and having a beverage hat on their head. I find it all very strange. People seem very under-dressed at American festivals. We walk around like pasty white British people. What do you like about American music?
It's going to sound like I'm stereotyping but I find a lot of American music quite hopeful. People don't seem to be defined by the scene. You pick up a copy of New Music Express every six months, and there is some new genre of music that is going to take over the world and if you aren't part of that you get left by the wayside. Americans have more freedom around that.
With the British music press behaving that way, why release your second album Flaws when you did? I realize it's meant to be an album of acoustic folk outtakes...
If it were up to me alone I probably wouldn't have done it. I think it kind of worked because we did it 12 months after our first album had come out and it gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted on our subsequent albums. I don't think the new album could have existed without doing that album first.
How do you avoid conforming to what the British press says is popular right now?
I don't know. You try not to think about it and you do what you think is right. I think with any creative work you have to be passionate about it. Without that, what's the point?
Bombay Bicycle Club is scheduled to perform on Monday, April 14, at Crescent Ballroom.
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