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Originally the solo project of London-based singer/songwriter Dan Smith, Bastille combine glossy ’80s synth textures and arena-friendly choruses into dramatic yet earnest, brooding yet joyful songs like their hit single “Pompeii,” which helped them sell millions of their 2013 debut album, Bad Blood.
Later on, the band expanded on and refined their approach. For 2016’s Wild World, they added hints of R&B, dance, and rock as well as overtly political songwriting, then took a conceptual and confessional approach on 2019’s gospel- and house music-influenced Doom Days.
Born in Leeds, England to South African parents, Smith began writing songs at age 15. However, he didn’t share his music until several years later, when a friend encouraged him to enter 2007’s Leeds Bright Young Things competition. After placing as a finalist, he continued to work on music on his own and with To Kill a King’s Ralph Pelleymounter while studying at the University of Leeds.
After he graduated, Smith moved to London and pursued music in earnest. In 2010, he connected with drummer Chris Wood, guitarist/bassist William Farquarson, and keyboardist Kyle Simmons. Taking their name from Bastille Day — which also happens to be Smith’s birthday — the group became Bastille.
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The newly formed band put a few tracks online and secured a deal with indie label Young and Lost Club, which issued their debut 7″ single, Flaws/Icarus, in July 2011. Later that year, Bastille self-released the Laura Palmer EP, which reflected Smith’s fondness for the cult TV series Twin Peaks.
Late in 2011, Bastille signed to EMI and made their debut on the label with the April 2012 single “Overjoyed.” That August, “Bad Blood” marked the band’s first appearance on the U.K. charts, peaking at number 90. In October 2012, EMI’s re-release of “Flaws” became their first single to debut in the Top 40. Bastille’s breakthrough came with “Pompeii,” which reached number two on the U.K. charts in February 2013 and number 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart a month later.
Also in March 2013, the band’s first full-length Bad Blood arrived, debuting at the top of the U.K. albums chart. Selling over two million copies, the album helped the band earn a 2014 Brit Award for Best Breakthrough Act, as well as nominations for British Album of the Year, British Single of the Year, and British Group. That November, All This Bad Blood, a deluxe version of the album featuring the new single “Of the Night,” was released.
In 2014, they released the third installment of their mixtape series, VS. (Other People’s Heartache, Pt. III), which included collaborations with the likes of HAIM, MNEK, and Angel Haze. They were also nominated for Best New Artist at the 57th Grammy Awards, ultimately losing to Sam Smith.
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Bastille began work on their second album as they continued to tour, and debuted new material at their concerts. One of these songs, “Hangin’,” was released as a single in September 2015. That year, Smith also appeared on the French producer Madeon’s album Adventure and Foxes’ “Better Love.” In September 2016, Bastille returned with their second album Wild World. It hit number one in the U.K., and debuted inside the Top Ten in a dozen countries around the world.
The next year, the band made contributions to a pair of soundtracks, first with a cover of Green Day’s “Basket Case” for the television series The Tick, and then “World Gone Mad” for the Will Smith film Bright. They also issued the song “Comfort of Strangers” on that year’s Record Store Day, while their Craig David collaboration “I Know You” appeared in November 2017 and hit number five on the U.K. Singles Chart in February 2018.
Later that year, the band collaborated with Marshmello on the single, “Happier” and with EDM duo Seeb on the song “Grip.” They closed out the year with their fourth mixtape, Other People’s Heartache, Pt. IV.
In 2019, Bastille issued a string of tracks in advance of their third album Doom Days. Arriving that June, it was recorded at the band’s South London studio and chronicled the ups and downs of a night out with friends. A deluxe edition called Doom Days (This Got Out of Hand Edition) was released with a number of bonus tracks later that year. Bastille’s first outing of 2020 was the single, “What You Gonna Do???” which featured Blur’s Graham Coxon on guitar and guest vocals.