A Minute With: Bastille on success and 'lack of cynicism' in U.S

Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:36pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When writing a song that imagined a conversation between two ancient ashen corpses, British electro-pop band Bastille never imagined it would become the track that led them into the American mainstream music scene.

"Pompeii," a haunting and grandiose song of love and loss, has become London band Bastille's breakout hit, scaling the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart to a peak of No. 10. The band most recently performed the song on NBC's comedy sketch show "Saturday Night Live."

It is also nominated for British single of the year at the upcoming Brit Awards on February 19, where Bastille leads the nominees with four nods, including the night's top accolade for British album of the year for their debut record "Bad Blood."

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, the band - formed by Dan Smith, Chris Wood, Kyle Simmons and Will Farquarson - sat down with Reuters at the legendary Capitol Records building to discuss their breakthrough and genre-defying music.

Q: What were you thinking about when you wrote "Pompeii"?

Smith: It's about two ashy corpses having a conversation about the fact that their city has been wiped out by a volcano, and they're slightly bored because they're stuck next to each other forever. But put across in a slightly more ambiguous way.

I love that the fact that we get to play it at festivals all over the world to people who are drunk and joking about and smiling, and they're singing a song about two fictional dead people. I want the song to reflect the situation and to feel quite epic on some ways, and kind of sad and optimistic. Ultimately it is quite tongue in cheek.

Q: Did you think "Pompeii" could cross over from the alt-rock stations and be played among mainstream pop hits?   Continued...

(From L to R) Members of the British electro-pop band Bastille, Kyle Simmons, Chris 'Woody' Wood, Dan Smith and Will Farquarson, pose for pictures at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten