Ed Nash, bassist for Bombay Bicycle Club chats to Aoife Valentine about their new sound, their terrible name and playing in mineshafts
When Otwo calls London based indie-rock quartet and NME Best New Band award winners, Bombay Bicycle Club, a very sleepy Ed Nash greets us. The band is on tour in Australia, and it is barely eight in the morning when we’re put through to the bassist’s room. Aware that his constant yawns are probably something we’ve picked up on, Nash jokes that there “was an interview Jack [Steadman, singer and guitarist] did when he was very drunk, which is a bit worse than doing an interview when you’re tired.”
Despite the early morning PR calls from this side of the globe, Nash is very excited to be touring Australia for the first time. This excitement is not just because of the location however, as touring is what makes the job worthwhile for him. “I much prefer to be on the road. I think that’s the reason we all do it. That’s why we got into it at the beginning. It’s always nice to go out and say hey to the fans and play shows. You kind of see the reaction. It wouldn’t be the same if you were just always sitting in a room with four other people.”
Not content with just playing shows in the usual haunts every indie act frequents, the band have been known to seek out some strange venues over the past three years, the oddest of which, he claims, was in a mineshaft. “We played down a mineshaft but due to it being a mineshaft, we couldn’t actually take many people down with us. We took literally like, us and then two other people, so we were pretty much playing to ourselves down a mineshaft, so that was pretty strange. That’s pretty fucking random.”
Nash is quick to include playing in a castle as a close second, regardless, however, of whether the audience was paying any attention. “We played in a castle. A lot of people turned up not to see us, but as an excuse to party and to get drunk. We turned up and there were probably about 400 people who were all getting drunk and really, really lairy. No one could hear us playing at all so Jack decided he’d go somewhere else and do a little acoustic set. He walked off with a couple of girls and five minutes later this guy comes up to me, so drunk, so aggressive and he was like, ‘Hey your singer walked off with my girlfriend and I’m going to kill him’, and I was like, shit. It was like a race to find Jack between us and this guy who would have literally beaten him up, so that was pretty strange.”
The band are currently touring with their third album in three years, A Different Kind of Fix. It is quite the step away from their previous work, particularly their last album, Flaws, which was completely acoustic. It was an album that was never intended to come to existence, so this was most definitely a conscious move. “Flaws started off as some B-side recordings of the acoustic songs that we had and then … we realised we had a lot of B-sides that we were really into. Over the course of the year, while we were releasing I Had The Blues…, we were recording Flaws … It wasn’t really meant to be a thing, it was meant to be something on the side, to show another side of the band. We didn’t really think it would do anything, we just did it for our own sake. We released it and people took hold of it.”
Named after a chain of Indian takeaways down the road from the school in which the band met, Bombay Bicycle Club have been subject to much ridicule over their choice of moniker in the past, however Nash maintains that it’s a step up from their original choice. “I think The Canals is pretty shit as well. Bombay Bicycle Club is a terrible name; I think we deserve all the stick we get for it. In all honesty, when we started the band we were fifteen and I don’t think we considered it would have a big impact on the rest of our lives, and here we are seven years later talking about Bombay Bicycle Club, a name we stole from a curry house. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”
Preparing for a summer packed with festival appearances is something that the band is very excited about. “I’m incredibly looking forward to those. Reading and Leeds is my favourite festival in the world. It’s the first festival I went to as a punter when I was sixteen after I finished my GCSEs, and I’ve been every year since. It’s kind of like a homecoming gig for us.”
Before that however, they return to do a UK and European tour, with a pitstop in Dublin, having deemed their recent Irish gigs as “some of the fondest shows from the last year.” With such a packed schedule, keeping to their album-a-year precedent could perhaps prove tricky, but Nash isn’t averse to trying. “We did three albums in three years, which is quite hard to do. That took a lot of work and that also meant we didn’t tour so much because we were in the studio or Jack was always writing. We’ve learnt to make music on tour now, and Jack’s come up with some songs that I’m sure will go on the next album that are very good, so I guess we just need to see what we come up with over the next couple of months while we’re touring and that will determine how soon the next album will be.”
With another gig ahead of him later on, it’s on the promise of a fourth album not too far in the future that we let Nash return to his bed, hopefully this time undisturbed by phone calls from the other side of the planet.
Bombay Bicycle Club play the Olympia on April 30th. Tickets are priced from €22.90. A Different Kind of Fix is out now.