Bombay Bicycle Club, the venerated icons of UK indie, have unveiled their latest musical gem – ‘Turn The World On’.
A testament to frontman Jack Steadman’s introspective journey into parenthood, woven with the evergreen optimism of youth, this track harkens back to the acoustic charm of their 2010 masterpiece, ‘Flaws’. Yet, it carries a newfound maturity, a testament to a band at the zenith of their creative prowess.
As the band readies to drop their sixth studio album, My Big Day on October 20th, 2023, it’s apparent that this is no ordinary record.
It’s a sprawling, unapologetically joyous opus, lovingly crafted at their London studio. With Steadman at the production helm for a substantial part of the record, and the final mix courtesy of Dave Fridmann (known for his work with The Flaming Lips, MGMT, and others), it promises to be a sonic journey like no other.
Collaborations with musical luminaries such as Damon Albarn, Jay Som, Nilüfer Yanya, and Holly Humberstone, alongside an enigmatic fifth guest yet to be revealed, underscore the far-reaching influence of Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s a testament to their enduring legacy in shaping the landscape of British guitar bands.
We sat down with Ed Nash, about their forthcoming album, and his inner punk penchant for Skateboarding videos.
Happy: What are you up to today?
Ed: I don’t have any commitments or plans today actually, which inevitably means I’ll spend the day trying to finish all the tasks/bills that have accumulated recently. I sometimes feel like my life has become an unwinnable game of Whac A Mole, except instead of a mole it’s bills and instead of a big hammer it’s all of my money. Riveting stuff!
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?
Ed: I live in a place called Hornsey in North London and grew up not too far from here too. There’s a deep rooted and rich music scene in the area and over the years the band has become a part of it.
There are quite a few recording studios and writing rooms in the area and I live a few doors down from Ray Davies’ music studio ‘Konk’ where The Kinks, Adele and countless others have recorded. It’s very common to bump into other musicians in my local coffee shop or pub who are recording or writing their records just round the corner.
Happy: Describe an average day?
Ed: At the moment my days vary so wildly that I don’t know if I have an average day. Especially now in the age of making content I find myself doing the strangest things from day to day, this summer the band went skydiving, visited a petting zoo and recorded our own televised home shopping show. Gone are the days when bands just released music and played shows.
The only two things I know for sure that I will do everyday no matter what we have on with the band is have a coffee and go for a run. These two small things are incredibly important to me and make me feel grounded whatever the next Tik Tok trend throws into the mix.
Happy: What did you listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
Ed: Getting into music for me coincided with learning to play the guitar, and as a result I had pretty dubious taste in music for the first part of my musical education… Basically the more guitar solos a song had, and the more ostentatious they were, the better the music was in my opinion.
I spent my evenings listening to and painstakingly learning Guns N Roses, Ozzy Osbourne (the solo stuff not Black Sabbath) and at my most regrettable stage Yngwie Malmsteen. It was only after learning the whole of The Blizzard of Ozz that I realised music wasn’t about how many notes you could play on the guitar but rather what you were doing with them that mattered.
Happy: Over your 15-year career, Bombay Bicycle Club has achieved significant success and acclaim. How would you describe the evolution of your sound and creative approach over the years, especially in the context of your latest album, “My Big Day”?
Ed: I’d say My Big Day is a record that includes all the things we’ve tried beforehand as a band, it’s by far our most eclectic record to date. Our first four albums felt like progressions from one to the next where you could see us discovering new music and learning the ropes as we went along.
We started off as a pretty straightforward alternative guitar band but quickly branched out into Electronic music, Hip Hop and Pop. On My Big Day you can see this progression play out from one song to the next, it jumps from riff heavy Desert Rock to Uk Garage within the space of a few minutes. It’s totally bonkers!
Happy: “My Big Day” is your sixth album, and you’ve taken on more production responsibilities for this record. How did this change in the creative process affect the final product, and what challenges and rewards did you encounter while self-producing?
Ed: At this stage I think we have a pretty good understanding of how we want things to sound so we call in a producer when we want an outside opinion on creative decisions, we’ve all known each other so long that sometimes it’s good to have something new added to the mix.
We very much wanted this outside influence for our last record which is why we brought in John Congleton to steer the ship. For My Big Day it seemed quite clear that Jack in particular knew what kind of record he wanted to make and that we wouldn’t need an extra person to shake things up. I guess the real challenge when you’re self producing is that you need to wholeheartedly trust in your vision and on this occasion we did.
Happy: You recently released the single “Turn The World On.” Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this track and how it fits into the overall narrative of the album?
Ed: While the musical side of the band has evolved throughout our career the lyrical themes have remained fairly consistent, they are always a reflection on what’s going on in our lives at the time of writing.
When we started they were songs about going to parties and chasing girls and gradually matured as our lives did. This song continues that tradition. I don’t want to say too much about it as I think it’s best for people to find their own meaning in a song, but as always it is about taking stock of where we are at this stage of life.
Of looking back at our younger years and looking forward with excitement about what’s to come.
Happy: Throughout your career, you’ve influenced a generation of indie pop and alternative artists. How does it feel to have shaped the sound and inspired so many new artists, and do you have any advice for emerging musicians looking up to Bombay Bicycle Club?
Ed: Recently I bought a relatively nice camera that I bring along on tour and when the band gets together… Since smartphones became commonplace I stopped thinking about the photos I was taking so much as everyone always has a camera on them, and as a result I don’t have many good photos from the past ten years.
They all seem quite half assed like little thought has gone into them. With this new camera I find myself actually documenting the experiences I’m having in an engaged and meaningful way and I know I will look back on these photos very fondly.
I’m not suggesting everyone go out and get a new camera, but I would advise taking the time to properly document your time being in a band or making music because it’s such a precious and special time that is worth capturing. It’s something I wish I had paid attention to sooner.
Happy: Looking ahead, what are your plans and aspirations for the future, both in terms of your music and live performances?
Ed: Our plan is to put this album out and then play as many shows as we can, we’re all dying to get on the road again. Because of our hiatus and the pandemic we haven’t played many shows outside the Uk in about ten years, which blows my mind every time I think about it. I can’t wait to get back out there and connect with our fans again after all this time away.
Happy: Is there a particular moment or achievement in Bombay Bicycle Club’s journey that stands out as a highlight for the band?
Ed: I’m not just saying this because this is an Australian magazine but the first time we toured in Australia was one of the best experiences we’ve had as a band.
It took us a long time to get over and you could really feel the pent up energy at our shows. Aside from the gigs everyone was so hospitable and friendly, I couldn’t believe that we’d made an impact so far away from home!
Happy: What makes you happy?
Ed: I love watching skateboarding videos, I’ve continued to watch them and follow skateboarding even though I haven’t skated myself in many years. It’s amazing how much the sport has progressed since I was a teenager and I get blown away with what people are able to do these days, it’s very satisfying to watch.
It’s also a great resource for finding new music, I came across some of my all time favourite bands in skate videos.