Bastille drummer reflects on whirlwind year

British rock quartet known for 'Pompeii' headlines Patriot Center this weekend

  • L-R: Will Farquarson, Dan Smith, Chris "Woody" Wood and Kyle Simmons of Bastille pose for a photo after performing on NBC's "Today" in New York earlier this week.
L-R: Will Farquarson, Dan Smith, Chris "Woody"… (Cindy Ord / Getty Images )
October 09, 2014|By Wesley Case | The Baltimore Sun

At some point, a band eyeing pop ubiquity must make a late-night stop at NBC's Studio 8H in Manhattan.

In January, it was the turn of Bastille — a British rock quartet riding the success of a chart-topping single called “Pompeii” — to perform on “Saturday Night Live,” and the magnitude was not lost on drummer Chris Wood. If it had been, Wood's friends and family were there to constantly remind him anyway.

“Everyone just kept saying to us, 'You realize it's a really big deal, right?'“ Wood said on the phone from the kitchen of a London recording studio last week. “Yes, yes, we get it.”

Still, the band — which headlines the Patriot Center on Saturday — was nervous, he admitted. But ultimately, members were most concerned with seizing the opportunity.

“It was very much like, 'I have the ability to play for the entire world through this camera lens,'” Wood, 29, said.

With grins and jitters, Bastille made good that winter night. The high-profile gig, coupled with the on-going rise of “Pompeii,” set in motion the group's biggest year since its 2010 inception. This year, Bastille completed three North American tours, performed on the “Today” show and watched its debut album (2013's “Bad Blood”) sell nearly a million copies in America.

When asked which accomplishment makes him proudest, Wood pointed to “Bad Blood's” modest origins.

“It was literally made in a tiny basement studio in London,” he said. “It's taken us places and opened up doors we never really thought possible.”

Last week, Wood — better known as Woody — found himself in another London studio. This time, he and his bandmates (keyboardist Kyle Simmons, bassist Will Farquarson and singer Dan Smith) spent the week working on Bastille's second album with “Bad Blood” producer Mark Crew.

Wood was fast to emphasize the next album is in its very early stages of writing, and he declined to discuss how the sessions sounded.

“I don't want to go into it too much just purely because it's so unfinished that anything I say could be untrue,” Wood said. “It's gradually taking shape.”

While he was mostly evasive about new music, Wood confirmed Smith, who penned all of the songs on “Bad Blood,“ would handle primary songwriting duties again. (“Dan did a pretty good job last time, so yeah, I'm not in a massive hurry to change it,” he said with a laugh.)

Even so, Wood said, the process is already much more collaborative this time. During the “Bad Blood” sessions, members would often leave to do “anything to pay rent,” he said, but now the band is members' clear priority.

“It's nice to spend a lot more time together working on things,” he said. “It's not like, 'OK, guys, we're going to do drums today. Just Woody has to stay.' Everyone is always pitching in with the songwriting.”

The second album has no tentative release date, but it seems safe to assume it will come with expectations to surpass “Bad Blood” in sales and acclaim. In the mean time, Wood plans to decompress once tour ends. He hopes to continue to provide occasional soccer commentary on British radio (Wood is a diehard Plymouth Argyle fan), and spend more time with his wife, whom he married in September. Wood credits his marriage — along with other members' long-term relationships — as the reason he and his bandmates have remained grounded during this whirlwind time.

“I think if we ever started acting out and being wannabe rock stars, they'd give us a little [slap] pretty quickly,” Wood said. “They wouldn't stand for that.”

If you go

Bastille performs Saturday at Patriot Center, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, Va. Grizfolk will also perform. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $40. Call 703-993-3000 or go to patriotcenter.monumentalnetwork.com.

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