English indie-rockers Bombay Bicycle Club have come a long way over the past decade. Their constant curiosity to experiment with their sound saw them releasing four albums in five years which got them from being a fully guitar-oriented indie-rock outfit (I Had the Blues But I Shook them Loose) to a band happily trying out new genres like folk (Flaws) and electronic (A Different Kind of Fix, So Long, See You Tomorrow). Not only have they defined their own sound with this constant experimentation, their tour kept them busy all the way. So, it’s not a surprise to see the band taking a little break to catch their breath following their 2014 tour which ended last December.
This opportunity brought frontman Jack Steadman back to India. He may have performed an acoustic set with fellow bandmate Ed Nash at indie-music festival NH7 Weekender, Pune in 2012, but this time he’s gone solo and brought his funk/disco DJ set along. And just like the band’s varied music style, his set at Bonobo, Bombay included more than just hits of Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Evelyn “Champagne” King and English funk group Central Line. He made sure to give his own unique show with sombre songs like “Everything In Its Right Place” by Radiohead, rap number “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg and Bombay Bicycle Club’s own song “Shuffle.”
I got an opportunity to talk with Jack Steadman right before the gig. Drinking his Bud, waiting for the night to set in, he spoke about his love for Bombay, the food, and the local trains. He even gave a little insight about So Long, See You Tomorrow and the Bollywood songs he sampled for the record.
So, how’s it like back in India? Back in Bombay?
It’s great. It’s been two years since I came here, and I’ve been missing this place ever since. I’ve been here for a week now. Came to Bombay. Did some studio time at Cotton Press Studio, did some recording, even wrote some songs. Been eating more food than I’ve eaten in the past year this week.
I love Indian food.
What are the things that bring you back here to Bombay?
Apart from the food?
I find the city very energetic. It makes me want to get up and do stuff. I just can’t sit around here. Back in London, the place is very chilled and I kind of stay in bed all day. There’s a great phase to this city. I love taking trains. I like the people here. But mainly the food. [laughs] Wherever I go, I eat a vada pav, some Bombay toast and some really disgusting greasy street food. It’s so good though. So good.
You enjoy taking the local trains here?
Yeah, and that’s how I go to the studio every day. I’m staying in Grant Road and the studio is in Elphinston Road, so I’ve a nice commute every day. Get the wind in my hair. Get some hair conditioning.
You announced that the band is taking a break this year following your extensive tour and the release of your fourth album “So Long, See You Tomorrow.”
Yeah, it’s a very casual break. We’ve had a busy ten years. Everyone has their own little things that they always wanted to do, and so now is the time that we get to do those stuff.
You wrote and recorded some songs here? Are we seeing the making of a fifth album?
Well, it’s more like a solo stuff.
Considering that you do have lots of material with you, are you planning to fit it all into your own solo record, maybe?
Right now I’m just writing and it’s pretty casual. I haven’t said much about it, you know, it’s all still in progress. No one’s heard anything yet.
What kind of a DJ set have you prepared for the gigs here?
Well, the DJ set is going to be mostly funk and disco. When I played in Bangalore, everyone seemed very happy. They said they don’t really hear this kind of music in the city, where there’s mostly hard electronic music and EDM. To me it’s all about the 70s, and the classic groove, that makes you want to dance.
Well, this happened when I was here last time two years ago at the same studio. Cotton Press Studio. Really nice studio by the way. At that time, the way I wrote music was by collecting lots of samples. I’d sample them directly and put beats behind them. So I just started collecting old Hindi film songs. And some of them had Lata Mangeshkar in vocals. They have amazing melodies and textures in them. The older stuff of the 50s had a really cool sound. So I sampled them. I didn’t think much about it, they just sounded cool. They had a lot of hooks in them.
Initially we didn’t really know whether it would be a good idea or not. We didn’t want people to think that it was a gimmick. But on the other hand we thought, there’s going to be no other chance in our lives to make a Bollywood music video. And it’s like a dream of ours. So we made sure, we did it the right way, rather than just getting someone in the UK to try and replicate a Bollywood video. To be 100% authentic, we had people in Bombay do it for us. Everyone from the cast and crew were locals. It was all done over here.
With your penchant for Bombay and India, when can we get to see the whole band tour the country?
Well, for now, we don’t know yet, but one day we’ll have to do it for sure.
Listen to Jack Steadman: