Jack Steadman: ‘In these incredibly turbulent times, this album is a form of escapism’
- Credit: Archant
After a three-year hiatus, indie rock band Bombay Bicycle Club are feeling refreshed ahead of a UK tour and the release of their first album since 2014.
It's Friday night and Brixton Academy is jubilant. Bombay Bicycle Club, here to play a special show marking the tenth anniversary of their debut record, haven't finished their set yet, but there's an unplanned interlude as the crowd whoop and whistle and generally make a real racket. It's some time before the band can start their next song.
"It was one of the most amazing things we've ever experienced at a gig," says frontman Jack Steadman, recalling that electrifying moment back in November.
"There was this element of it feeling like it's your birthday at a restaurant and everyone's singing to you, and you don't know what to do with yourself; you don't know the body language to give off. I just had this awkward smile on my face [and thought] 'do we say something'?"
Steadman - together with bandmates Jamie MacColl, Suren de Saram and Ed Nash - reunited as Bombay Bicycle Club at the start of 2019, ending a three-year hiatus which had given each member some space to pursue his own creative interests.
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This sold-out Brixton Academy show was a prelude to a new album - Everything Else Has Gone Wrong - which becomes the band's fifth record when it's released on Friday (January 17). They'll then take these new songs on a 13-date tour of the UK, including a gig at Alexandra Palace on Friday, February 7.
Performing in Brixton "brought back a lot of memories," for Steadman. "It's like we were instantly transported back to being 19 and remembering how exciting that venue was.
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"There's something so special about it. Because of its wonderful curve on the dancefloor you can see every face in the crowd; you get a sense of the people that are there rather than just seeing the first couple of rows of faces.
"The music we were playing was incredibly nostalgic, the sound of our teenage years. You could see that it was the same for other people. You could see in their eyes all these memories coming back."
Turning to the future, and Everything Else Has Gone Wrong - the indie band's first output since their 2014 album So Long, See You Tomorrow reached number one in the charts - is there for those who are wading through difficult times.
"This is an album for anyone who's ever turned to music in a time of crisis, whether personal or political. It's about the solace one can get from listening or playing music when everything else has gone wrong."
It's coming courtesy of a refreshed group of lads, too, who appeared grateful for the break but explained that it "felt as natural as if we'd played a show the night before" from the moment they picked up their instruments as a collective once again.
"We all seem a lot more mature and balanced as people," says Steadman, reflecting on the time spent apart. "We'd been in a band since we were school kids, and being in a band is an incredibly strange way to live. In my opinion you never truly grow up, you've got someone telling you where to be and when - you're not really a responsible adult. It was important to go out there and just grow up a bit."
Bombay Bicycle Club's date with Ally Pally is one of the eye-catching fixtures on a tour which starts next week in Cambridge and finishes on February 12 in Belfast. "We used to rehearse at Jamie's parents' [house] in Crouch End," recalls Steadman. "If you go up to the top of the house you can see Ally Pally; we did a photo shoot there once."
The group who first gathered radio air time as awkward teenagers with their single Always Like This in 2009 will bring out crowd favourites like Shuffle and Luna, as well as new songs that Steadman says are "meant to leave you feeling optimistic."
"For me it's a very creative time, when you finish a record and there's nothing else you can change about it, you get this nervous energy. [You think] oh, could I have done that better? You can channel that in to writing more music, it's a productive time. I'll go in to the studio and keep working."
Steadman ultimately wants this new release to be "a form of escapism in these incredibly turbulent times. You can take a 45-minute break out of your day and just put it on and go to a different place for a while."
Bombay Bicycle Club play at Alexandra Palace on Friday, February 7. For more details and tickets, click here.