Bombay Bicycle Club: ‘You’ve got to find the good things amongst the bad.’

Ahead of their latest album’s release, Bombay Bicycle Club’s drummer Suren Da Saram feels his experience gigging at Leadmill’s 10-year anniversary was one of the reasons the group reunited.

Sheffield’s music scene is known for indie rock bands, energetic audiences and a love for electronics and guitars. That is why, when Bombay Bicycle Club appeared on stage in one of the key venues here and continued gigging across the UK, they got the adrenaline rush that sparked the thought about reuniting. That spiralled into a full-on conversation about releasing an EP and later, an album with 11 tracks.

Going back to their roots, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong focuses on the sounds of the guitar with a driving rhythm, resembling their first ever album back in 2009. By indulging in the nostalgia created by the effect of such a choice, there are still parts of the songs that show how far they’ve come. The lyrics of the songs are ambiguous and open to interpretation, allowing the listener to decide themselves ‘what went wrong’.

Other songs such as ‘Good Day‘ or ‘Let You Go’ have a cheerful melody to accompany sombre lyrics presenting day-to-day worries: “Aching for a word and the words are not coming/ I can paint it with a speech bubble”. No matter what the lyrics present in the beginning of the songs, Suren Da Saram reckons it is a highly optimistic album; voicing concerns and difficulties is not just self-indulging or heart-rending, but it can also be refreshing or amusing. To him, it’s the latter.

As a fan of the UK’s garage music era in the early 2000s, the member admits there are some elements which remind of those rhythms in songs such as ‘Get Up’ and ‘I Worry About You’. On the other end of the spectrum, Liz Lawrence, an artist that’s been touring with the band in 2014, made a welcome appearance throughout the album. Her voice combined with Jack Steadman’s vocals blend delightfully in the other tracks that are more guitar-based than electronic. In a sense, the album is a riveting mix of reminiscent sounds with a more modern, indie side to it.

Instead of focusing on other aspects of his life, the drummer of the band decided to continue his musical career after the band went on an indefinite hiatus. During this time, he was involved in projects with other artists, even recording with Ed Nash on his fellow band member’s solo musical project, Toothless, a high concept psych-folk record that received largely positive reviews.

One hour before the interview, Suren had spent some time volunteering at the local foodbank. It would seem that an altruistic spirit is also channelled via his day job; he admits that music to him is like medicine, bringing the good times to strange days. Volunteering has the same effect in changing societies for the better; that is also a theme that runs throughout the album, one of “finding the good amongst the bad”.

I gave Suren a call to chat about why the band reunited, how the band’s creative process has changed and what happened during that three-year hiatus.

“We live in very strange times – quite scary times, really. The General Election is coming up on Thursday and I am certain that we’re quite scared of what’s happening so we were very aware that the titles could be taken on different levels.”

What did you do whilst you were apart in the three-year hiatus?
Two of the guys went on with solo projects. Jack did music under the name of Mr Jukes, he did a solo project with us called Toothless and I was involved in recording the album too. What I have been doing over the course of the past few years was playing with a few artists; I was still very much involved with music, gigging.

Why are you coming back now?
The conversation started last year about doing some gigs to mark our 10-year anniversary from our first album and then we realised we wanted to be looking forward, not just looking back. It sounds strange, but at our age – because we started the band when we were very young and we managed to get out quite a few albums out – a lot of us aren’t even 30 yet, but it’s so funny to be currently with the band. So we started talking about writing new music, sort of an EP, but it developed into an album. We recorded over the course of this year.

What is behind the album cover and why did you pick it?
Well it’s created by a great artist called Maria Medem. We just found her on Instagram, and she’s based in Spain I believe. We loved her work, so we got talking to her. The album cover obviously shows four birds drinking from a pool of water, but we like that it is very simple. The four birds actually represent the members of the band, but we are still trying to figure out which one is which.

Regarding the name of the album, my question is What went wrong with everything else?
*laughs* Nothing went wrong in our lives, but essentially this song is also on the album and then we were kind of deliberating about an album. We were aware that people would think that there might be a political adjective to it. We have never been a political band really, but we kind of left it deliberately ambiguous, I mean, if people want to take it like that. We live in very strange times – quite scary times, really. The General Election is coming up on Thursday and I am certain that we’re quite scared of what’s happening so we were very aware that the titles could be taken on different levels. We kind of liked the ambiguity of it. You can take it on a more general, political level or you can take on a much smaller scale and it’s just about the music, with music being a medicine almost. Whenever there is any kind of dire situation, it’s about finding the good things amongst the bad.

Tell us more about the music you are working on currently.
We’re not working on any music right now, we’re kind of gearing up for our tour next year. We’ve just come back from a little trip around Europe with a lot of interviews and acoustic sessions. Right now, we’re kind of distant from all that. We’ll see what happens, but I very much doubt that we’ll go straight into making another album with Bombay, I think it’s just this album and then we’ll go off and do our own thing again. Beyond this album it’s a bit unclear, but we’ll see what happens and I am sure at some point we will regroup and make another album.

I had a listen to the album, and I noticed that most of the songs, like ‘Good Day’, sound really cheerful, but the lyrics are quite dark. Was that a something you wanted from the beginning?

I think we’ve always been interested in that kind of juxtaposition. I wouldn’t say that the lyrics aren’t cheerful. It’s quite an optimistic album.

How does this album differentiate itself from others you’ve released in the past?
For our second album we kind of sidestepped the classic. We made an album that was completely different from our previous one. The third album was more electronic, I did some cross-over with guitar songs, but we sort of introduced electronic elements like sampling, so it came down to a sort of a miss mass of different sounds. And then for our last album, the fourth album, that took some electronic elements, but I think we’ve been mostly returning to our roots as a guitar band. It’s quite nicely nostalgic. I believe that this album is also similar to our third album; again it’s a little bit of a mash-up between different sounds. To be honest, we haven’t used anything new with the instruments, nothing crazy.

Do you think the public will be receptive? Are you trying to appeal to the old demographic who may be more nostalgic or are you trying to entice an entire new generation?
The thing is we have definitely never written an album trying to appeal to a demographic. I think we’ve just literally written music and that kind of fits where we are in life really. Again, on our first album – I am talking about that because we just had our 10-year anniversary show for our first album and the songs are still fresh in my mind – I think that a lot of people who were listening to our music, in a sense growing up with us when they were just teenagers, that is a nostalgic album for them. But we’ve simply written music that reflects where the four of us are in our lives really.

What would be your favourite song on this album to perform and why?
My favourite would probably be ‘I Worry About You’, track number seven, I think. It’s just a fun one to play and it’s got the kind of UK garage edge to that I appreciate, being a big fan of the early 2000s garage music.

You’ve also got a guest! Another artist, Liz Lawrence, is also singing in ‘People People’. How did you meet her?
Basically, Liz was touring with us at our last album campaign in 2013- 2014. She got introduced to us through Jamie’s cousin. Her voice and Jack’s blend quite nicely. One of the songs that we’ve got with her ‘People People’ is co-written, it’s kind of her song that they’ve written together so she seems to be doing very well. Her new album came out so she’s going to start touring soon so she won’t be with us anymore, but we’ll make the most of it while she’s here.
Soon we’ve got this big event this January-February and after that, we’re going on an European tour and maybe having some gigs in America. In terms of UK dates, we’re solving some final details for the summer of which we will announce more shortly. There will probably be more UK dates towards the end of next year.

The band is going to perform in Sheffield soon. What expectations do you have for your performance here?
We’re really looking forward to the tour as a whole. The UK is our favourite place to play really where our really hardcore fans are. That Sheffield Leadmill gig we had last year as our first show back we weren’t really expecting anything like that, and the energy was insane. So, if this gig we have in February in the O2 Academy would be anything like that, we will be very, very happy. We’re just looking forward to being on the road again.

The album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong by Bombay Bicycle Club is available for pre-order and will be released on the 17th January 2020 through Caroline International/Island Records. Tickets for the tour are now available for the 4th February at the O2 Academy in Sheffield.

There are no comments

Add yours