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September 14, 2017

Bastille rocking the Fillmore – 'always in high energy mode'

The British indie pop-rock band 'fessed they once sought inspiration from Green Day

Bands Interviews
Bastille Universal Music Group /for PhillyVoice

Bastille played the Fillmore Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.

It takes a while to grasp Bastille’s baroque cover of Green Day’s garage rocker, “Basket Case.” Bastille completely rearranged the raw, spare classic. Bastille’s take features brass and strings.

“There’s no doubt that we put a completely different spin on a song that we love,” keyboardist Kyle Simmons said while calling from his London home. 

“We were just concerned that it wouldn’t sound right and Green Day wouldn’t like what we did.”

No worries. Green Day singer-songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong gave Bastille’s cover a big thumbs up.

“The amazing thing is that Billie Joe likes it,” Simmons said. “We were like, ‘awesome, we didn’t ruin the song. We got their approval.'”

The London-based band’s version of “Basket Case," which is featured on the new Amazon superhero series, “The Tick,” is pure Bastille. Big is Bastille, which also includes charismatic vocalist Dan Smith, guitarist Will Farquarson and drummer Chris Wood. Huge choruses, sweeping synths and complex arrangements are all over the band’s first two albums, 2012’s “Bad Blood” and 2016’s “Wild World.”

“The response to how we make music has been amazing,” Simmons said. “We had no idea what kind of reception we would get.”

“Pompeii,” the band’s catchy, initial single was the act’s breakthrough. The infectious single with the inventive a capella chant peaked at number 2 on the pop charts in the United Kingdom and topped out at number 5 in the United States.

“We were absolutely shocked that 'Pompeii' was such a massive hit,” Simmons says. “When we made that first album, we were this little indie-pop band.”

However, Bastille’s sound was big out of the gate. The guitar was dialed down initially. 

“But we came up with other ways to sound massive,” Simmons said. “We used strings, massive harmonies. We love the big vocal sections that fill that pocket and make each song sound so full. Dan would lay his voice down in layers. His voice is Bastille.”

“Wild World,” which was showcased last night at the Fillmore, is comprised of stylish, celebratory pop-rock. There are some curve balls, such as the political “Currents,” which was inspired by loudmouths, who voice their uninformed opinion.

“It’s about those who are in politics and also about the guy at the end of the bar at the pub, who is screaming his views to whoever will listen,” Simmons said. 

“There are always people out there who are louder than everyone and they don’t know what they’re talking about. I think we can all relate.”

Bastille's was an energetic show, similar to what the quartet delivered in June while playing the Radio 104.5 birthday show at the BB&T Pavilion.

“That was a special concert,” Simmons said.

“It’s not just because it was the last show of that leg of our tour, but because we have been so well received in Philadelphia. Part of the reason we were so energetic that night is that we fed off the crowd. The audience is always up when we play Philadelphia and because of that we’re always in high energy mode.”