From left, Will Farquarson, Chris “Woody” Wood, Dan Smith and Kyle Simmons are Bastille. (Courtesy Piczo)

Bastille’s ‘Doom Days’ an ‘intimate escapist’ record

Frontman Dan Smith finds inspiration in film

Bastille bandleader — and rabid film buff — Dan Smith keeps pushing the envelope, but he hasn’t found his limit yet.

Employing the keen eye of a Barry Sonnenfeld-kinetic cinematographer and a David Goodis-stark lyrical flair, he makes albums, such as the June-released third recording “Doom Days,” on gut instinct.

Instead of wallowing in dark Trump/Brexit times, the album spins a colorful dusk-to-dawn yarn of hard-partying kids who are quite “alright” after all. It has the same serendipitous feel as Martin Scorsese’s comedy of errors “After Hours.”

“There’s one (Trump) reference, but even that is relatively ambiguous,” says Smith, 33, who brings the U.K. indie pop band to the Greek Theatre in Berkeley this week.

“I wanted the album to feel very much a part of 2019, and of this moment in the world. But I wanted it to be a quite personal story, stitched together with the language of today, like rioting and Brexit,” says Smith.

Upon hearing the chiming opener — and party launcher — “Quarter Past Midnight,” a listener’s first instinct is to dance.

Yet as darker songs (“4AM,” “Bad Decisions,” “Nocturnal Creatures”), flicker past, the composer says, “The personal turmoil can reach you on a few levels. But we wanted the album to fundamentally be this quite intimate escapist record.”

Bastille started as a one-man vanity project, with Smith adding members to taste until its 2014 debut, “Bad Blood.”

By then his vision was set. The cover resembled a lobby movie poster, with a man running in car headlights, a la David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” and various movie-themed songs like “Laura Palmer” and “Things We Lost in the Fire.”

“Doom Days” echoes that poster schematic, but with a tangle of three young bodies on a bed, reminiscent of Bernardo Bertolucci’s young-Turks tale “The Dreamers” — with perhaps some hilarious, hazy-morning-after touches from “Dude! Where’s My Car?”

Smith yelps in delight at its mention: “I have not seen that movie in so long,” he says.

Bastille has got a similarly twisted sense of humor. “My voice just sounds so serious all the time so everything I sing sounds way more devastating than it actually is. With everything horrific going on in the world, sometimes you just have to laugh. Otherwise you might go completely insane,” Smith adds.

While Smith, of course, eventually wants to write and direct his own features, for now, he’s been collaborating with Wombats anchor Matthew Murphy on his spinoff Love Fame Tragedy.

“I have another project happening with one of my best mates that’s a real multi-media thing, very visual,” he says. “I’m really excited, but I can’t really talk about it yet.”



Where: Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11

Tickets: $49.50


Pop Music

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