Editor's Note: This story appeared in its original format in the Winter 2014 issue of Variance. Click here for the full version.
English rock outfit Bombay Bicycle Club is set to release their fourth studio album in just five years on Feb. 4. And for the indie four-piece consisting of Jack Steadman, Jamie MacColl, Suren de Seram and Ed Nash, their latest album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, is an exciting addition to their already extensive library.
Variance spoke with guitarist MacColl about the upcoming release, the evolution of the band and his hopes of further popularity in U.S. as the band takes listeners on a journey through some exotic countries with their notably more experimentative new material.
Although the members of the band are all only 24, their growth within the last five years has been tremendous. And they’ve built a reputation for constantly releasing diverse, exciting music and keeps their fans eager for what’s around the corner.
As the tour for the last album, A Different Kind of Fix, started to wrap up, writing for the next album began. MacColl says vocalist Steadman left to do some traveling and writing. He trekked his way through Holland, Turkey and India, with Nash accompanying him for parts of the trip. Once everyone was back together and Steadman was armed with an array of new songs, it was time to start recording. So the natural next step was to find a producer.
“We tried a couple of people and for whatever reason, it just wasn’t working I guess,” explains MacColl. “The demo sounded really great, and I know a lot of the time bands do get quite obsessed with their demos and kind of get a bit of ‘demo-itis’ and think, ‘We can never sound better than these do,’ but we felt at this point—fourth album and quite a lot of experience, that we could actually do it ourselves.”
And that’s exactly what they did. Steadman self-produced the album, and the way the band sees it, they couldn’t have made a better choice.
“[We knew] it would be the best it could be if we were doing it ourselves,” says MacColl. “So that was quite [an] exciting thought, and I think [it] kind of drove us on more to make the songs as good as they could be ourselves. In the past we might have been able to say we [felt] a bit stuck with this, like hopefully a producer will have an idea, but we didn’t have the safety net to fall on, so it drove us on a lot.”
Without the help or direction from an outside producer, the band made an album that is 100 percent their own. It’s all Bombay Bicycle Club.
Of course, the record was greatly influenced by Steadman’s travels. “There are some quite prominent Bollywood samples on the record,” MacColl explains. “I think for anyone that’s ever been to India, it is a very musical place and you’re constantly surrounded by music there, so I think it’s generally quite an inspiring place to be as a musician.”
MacColl says that while the album doesn’t have a pinpoint inspiration, Steadman used his personal journey more than the actual locations as inspiration behind the songs he wrote. And ultimately, it impacted the band’s own journey.
With each release, the band has shown growth and progression. But MacColl explains that it isn’t something they initially think about. “I don’t think we’ve ever really made conscious decisions to do that much, to do things that differently with the music.”
So Long, See You Tomorrow is an album that will take Bombay to a new level among their musical peers. Once known as an indie-rock band, the new sounds coming from these four push them dramatically forward, crossing into a more electronic territory.
“I do think there is kind of an evolution from the previous record,” explains MacColl. “When we first started messing around with samples and more electronic sounding [sounds], I think a song like ‘Shuffle was the start of us experimenting a bit more with making a different kind of music.”
The band is set to tour the new album starting in Europe throughout February, and MacColl is excited to get a chance to expand their fan base in the U.S. as well. “I really love traveling around [the States], so it would be nice to do it in a nicer way than we’ve done in the past,” he laughs.
Still being so young and having practically grown up together, MacColl says the band hasn’t had any trouble when it comes to creative direction and getting along. “The most important thing is that there’s never been an argument about the kind of music that the band is gonna make. That’s the kind of strand that had run through the whole thing and kept it going I think.”
So Long, See You Tomorrow arrives Feb. 4 on Island Records. The band will tour internationally before heading to U.S. in the spring, including dates at Coachella.