A Life’s Worth of Experiences: An Interview with Ed Nash of Bombay Bicycle Club

10/02/2014

This Sunday, October 5th, something very special is going to happen. Bombay Bicycle Club will be playing the Warfield, and it’s going to be strong. Strong to quite strong.

Bombay Bicycle Club has been a highlight of the 2014 live event season for me. (They played the Fillmore on April 20th earlier this year, you can read the review here.) This is a show that is not to be missed. The group of early 20-something’s plays with the same gusto as if they’d been on tour their whole lives — which is basically true. They bring an energy so breathtaking, so huge, that you can’t help but dance and, more importantly, smile.

Forming in London in the mid 2000’s, the band quickly gained steam and have since taken their tour across the globe. SF Critic recently had the privilege to interview the band’s bassist, Ed Nash, to talk band evolution through new sounds, a life on tour, and some pretty gnarly artwork. Make sure to go grab your tickets for the show this Sunday, and for those across the country check out their full tour schedule here.

SPOILER: SF is the band’s favorite stop here in the States. Booyakasha!

SF Critic (SFC): It seems like there’s been a bit of a change from your previous albums to your newest, So Long, See You Tomorrow. Along with I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose, your previous ones seem a little more underground. What have been the main differences between writing and recording over the years? Was it just a part of getting older, or are you diversifying your musical pallet?

Ed Nash (EN): I think it’s a mix of all of those things. We released all of our albums between the ages of 18 and 23… a period in your life where everything is changing and you are growing as a person, so our music probably reflects that. We are also incredibly restless people and always want to better ourselves — with each album we were trying to push ourselves further.

SFC: It’s no secret: you guys are young. And absolutely killing it, which is all the more impressive. What has it been like to basically grow up on tour? Can you tell me a bit about the experience — obviously it’s every kid’s dream to be a rock star, but would you do it any differently?

EN: Growing up and touring was the best thing ever. It was pretty much the best of both worlds, as when we weren’t on tour, we were back at school doing the same things as everyone else our age. Through touring I have been able to experience things I never would have thought possible… I feel I have already lived a life’s worth of experiences.

The only thing I would have done differently would be to make better use of the free time we get on tour — of which there is a lot. If we had done that we could possibly have released even more material!

SFC: How has your live show progressed over the years? Anything in particular about your newer shows that you’re super excited about? Also, any awesome stories from a day in the studio or particular shows?

EN: When we started out we were a simple four-piece guitar band with two guitars, bass and drums. Over the years we’ve added countless instruments to allow our live show to keep up with the change in direction heard on our records. As it stands now, we have six people on stage playing instruments that range from a mandolin to an MPC drum sampler. We all stared to sing live around the third album and now there are a few songs in the set where everyone is singing in harmony… or are at least trying to.

For about a year we played Lionel Richie‘s “All Night Long” after every show to try and get a party stared. The first time we played the Fillmore in SF the whole venue joined into a massive conga line and danced along. It’s one of the best things I have ever seen at one of our shows.

SFC: You guys are a pretty worldly band — where’s your favorite part of the world to tour? And if you can narrow it down, what about your favorites in the U.S.?

EN: We played a show in Rio a few years ago… it is by far the most beautiful city I have ever been to. The show we played was supporting Broken Social Scene for their last ever show. They were a huge influence on us when we started the band, and I still love them nine years later. It was the show dreams are made of.

My favorite city in the U.S. — and I know this is going to sound like I’m sucking up — is actually San Francisco. Not only have our two shows at the Fillmore been some of the best we have ever done, but I am in love with the city itself. For me it far surpasses every other North American city on every level.

SFC: Can you tell me a bit more about the artwork you guys project at your shows? I remember your 4/20 show at the Fillmore had some awesome and almost creepy artwork projected while you played (which complimented the music perfectly). Can you go into more detail around where you’re getting that (who’s making it), and how it plays into the shows?

EN: The visuals for our live show are a continuation of our album and single artwork. It’s all based on the idea of stop motion photography, especially the work of Eadweard Muybridge. This is all meant to reflect the themes of repetition and looping that occur throughout the album lyrically and with the song structures. This theme also carries over into our music videos, especially the “Carry Me” video — with this album we wanted a coherent package.

We worked with animator Anna Ginsburg to expand the ideas in our artwork. We planned out what was going to happen during each song and she went off to hand draw all of the loops seen in our show. During the show the animated loops are projected onto discs that mirror those on the album cover.

Photo by SF Critic’s very own, Bob Patterson.