Bombay Bicycle Club is Well Seated
ABOVE: BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB
Bombay Bicycle Club has gone through name changes and sound changes; now, they’re just looking for “a different kind of fix.” The band, composed of vocalist and guitarist Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie MacColl, bassist Ed Nash, and drummer Suren de Saram, is about to release their third studio album, A Different Kind of Fix. The guys have been in a band since the age of 15, which has given them time to evolve their sound. Their single “Shuffle” hit the airwaves in the same manner that Phoenix’s “1901” did three years ago: it’s catchy, fun and makes you want to jump out of your seat and dance.
The song, however, isn’t a reflection of their latest album. There are a lot of different sounds to be found in this release. Steadman became heavily influenced by electronic music, so much of that came into play on this record; and the catchiness and composition of BBC’s tracks often recall Telekinesis and Friendly Fires mixed with the nostalgia of The Stone Roses. Although the band hasn’t toured much for their previous albums, they will be making their way throughout the world promoting A Different Kind of Fix.
We spoke with drummer Suren de Saram on the success of “Shuffle,” meeting BBC’s bassist at a funeral, and getting their name from a chain of Indian food restaurants.
ILANA KAPLAN: How did you guys come together?
SUREN DE SARAM: It started in 2005, when we were 15. Me, Jack (Steadman) our singer and Jamie (MacColl), who plays guitar, were all in the same class at school. Our class had to do a school assembly, so we were just the three musical people he could think of for this school assembly. I think we did one of our own songs. We played a Meters cover. You know a guy called Tom Vek? We did a cover of one of his songs. I think the assembly went pretty badly, but we still decided to carry on and do our thing. Then our bassist joined two months later on. We actually asked him to join the band at a funeral, which was a bit bizarre. Now, here we are.
KAPLAN: You started playing under the name The Canals—why the change?
DE SARAM: Yeah. I think that was always going to be quite a temporary name. We could use the name quickly for the assembly. That was the first thing we thought of. We pretty much straight after the assembly changed it to the Bombay Bicycle Club, which—even that isn’t a very good name. It’s basically a chain of Indian restaurants in England. There was a branch by our old school. I think it was Jack [Steadman] that walked past it on the way home from school one day. I think the name stuck with him. He suggested it as a name for the band. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Again, I think it was before our second gig. We had a couple of friends who started putting on underage club nights and asked us to play for them. It was one of those situations where we had to think of a name really quickly. It kind of stuck. It’s too late to change it now.
KAPLAN: What are some of the best performances that you’ve had? Who are some of the most interesting bands you’ve played with?
DE SARAM: We haven’t actually supported that many bands. We supported the Pixies. They did a few arena shows around Europe, which is a pretty big deal. We like the Pixies. They’re one of our big influences early on. That was quite cool. They were all very nice guys.
KAPLAN: How did “Shuffle” come about? What is the meaning behind the song?
DE SARAM: Well, basically, “Shuffle” was quite a departure from our sound. “Shuffle” doesn’t sound anything like our previous two albums. It’s not really representative of the new album, either. The new album has got quite a lot of stuff going on. Jack is the main writer. He was just getting more and more into electronic music. He just makes a lot of music in his spare time, really for fun. He was getting into that. Inevitably, that influenced us. “Shuffle” was the perfect garble of that: Jack (Steadman) going into the electronic stuff. It found its way into the band. You can hear it starts off with that piano loop, which you hear throughout most of the song. That was sampled from an old jazz record. We kind of specifically wanted it to be the first single from the new album to make a little bit of a statement, because it was a different sound from what people usually heard from us.
KAPLAN: What’s the basis for the album title on A Different Kind of Fix?
DE SARAM: Jack had been writing songs since he was twelve or something. Even when we started the band, we already had quite a big catalog of songs that Jack had written a long time ago. One of these songs was called “A Different Kind of Fix.” It also happened that one of them was “I Had the Blues, But I Shook Them Loose,” which is where we got the first album name from, so that seems to be where we get most of our album names. We thought it kind of fit well because our second album, “Flaws,” is basically an acoustic album. A Different Kind of Fix is going back to our original sound.
KAPLAN: You guys just released the Leave It EP. Why did the band decide to put that together?
DE SARAM: When we were asked to do acoustic things for radio or in-stores, we would try and have a bit of fun with that. We would try and reinvent our songs, in a way, like the acoustic version of “Shuffle,” which is pretty different from the original version of “Shuffle.” We worked out this reggae version, so we were just quite proud of them, really. We just wanted to record them. We just wanted people to hear them.
KAPLAN: What are your plans for 2012 as a band?
DE SARAM: We’re going to Asia. Basically, it’s going to be a lot of touring. Up until now, we haven’t really been a big touring band. We’ve done two trips to the US, but we haven’t really toured it extensively. This tour in February will be our first extensive tour in America. This is the first album that it looks like we’re going to be touring quite a bit. We’re going to Asia in a couple of days; Japan, Singapore, a big UK tour and lots of summer festivals. We’re just basically playing lots of gigs. We’re playing with Metronomy and The Naked and Famous. Touring with those guys should be cool. Hopefully we’ll make some friends!
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB’S THIRD STUDIO ALBUM, A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIX, IS OUT IN THE US TODAY.