It has been about four years now since the beloved London indie-outfit Bombay Bicycle Club announced they would go on hiatus and pursue individual projects. Having started the band as “school kids at the age of 15, 16”, each one of them, indeed, has been busy since going separate ways. Lead singer and guitarist Jack Steadman went on to found a new solo project Mr Jukes, releasing his debut God First in 2017. Bass player Ed Nash dropped his solo debut as Toothless alongside drummer Suren, who has also been working as a sessional drummer for various projects. Guitarist Jamie MacColl even took action outside of music and got a master’s degree in Philosophy, while launching a pro-EU campaign amidst the Brexit negotiations back in 2016.
With the new album due shortly, Suren reflects that the reunion of the band seemed anything but certain to each member of the trio.
“In the beginning, we were talking about doing some kind of a tenth anniversary to celebrate our debut record ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ from 2009. That was what started the conversation in the first place”, he explains.
„And it felt right to also come back with new music of some kind. At first, we thought of just a short EP, but then it developed into a full-grown album”. Reminiscing about the past years, Suren goes on emphasizing the necessity of the creative break. “Actually, a lot has happened. We’ve done quite a lot individually and, of course, that has changed us”, he says, stressing the somewhat unexpected nature of the band’s next chapter.
“I think we were expecting it to be longer before we getting back together – if ever. I guess that’s the only surprise. But in the end, it all happened in a quite natural way.”
Reshaping the sound
Approaching the new record, it seems that the band has done everything in their power to accumulate as much creative input as possible to create songs that not only represent their reunion, but to also reinvent the sound of Bombay Bicycle Club as a whole. “This new album is a bit of a mishmash of different sounds”, Suren explains to me.
“I see it quite like our third album, ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’, as we’re returning slightly more to our guitar roots. There are quite a few guitary songs on there, although you can definitely hear some electronic elements.“
In fact, the new material has many more facets. It maintains the much-adored vital atmosphere of the songs but, otherwise, merges different influences, including inspiration from the „more electronic influenced“ last record, So Long, See You Tomorrow. The album appears to be „some sort of crossover, in terms of what each of us has been doing in the last few years“, the band member tells me.
Changing the routine
Asked about the impact of the individual projects on the current release, Suren reveals that one of the key changes actually concerns the songwriting process as such. “Jack, our lead singer, has always been the main songwriter in the band”, he says and adds:
“The biggest change with this album is that, I think Ed, doing his solo project ‚Toothless’, gained confidence in terms of his songwriting. He has been writing songs for years but he only released them with his individual project. Since then, he has carried on writing and a couple of his songs are actually going to be on our new album. That’s something new.”
Speaking off the new record in this manner, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, indeed, sounds like “more of a collaborative album”, as Suren likes to call it. Trying to mix up the creation process as a whole by involving as many influences as possible, the new songs naturally express the newfound creativity.
A positive outlook
It is stunning how Bombay Bicycle Club, not only through their songs, but also by what I am told about the album, maintain an air of optimism, even when things aren’t looking so great after all. Upon reaching the topic of the title of the record, Suren elaborates on the theme of positivity, which is very essential to the songs as such:
“Some people who have heard the album title think it’s quite negative, but actually it’s completely the opposite. It’s meant to be very positive. To us, it’s all about finding safety, comfort and hope in music – or in anything you want. When everything around you is crumbling and falling apart, find some light in the darkness. You can take it to mean what you want. Some people are taking it in a political way, because the world has changed quite a lot, since we’ve been gone, but actually that was not what we had in mind. Still, if people want to relate to that, they’re free to do so.”
He further adds that the eponymous song Everything Else Has Gone Wrong itself condenses the tone of the album: “It was the last song we wrote for the album and it just made perfect sense to name the album that.”
„I guess I found my peace again
And yes I found my second wind
And yes I found some hope again“
At some point, during the song it almost appears as if the group stresses the necessity of shutting out problems and crisis and just to retreat to the beauty of music. The glow of positivity, of having found new hope, informs the larger part of the tune. That motive spreads throughout the entire record, which is, indeed, strikingly life-affirming.
„Those repeated lines at the end of the song; they are about coming back from the brinks, from the edge. Yes, finding light again coming from the dark is pretty vitalizing. I guess, those lines could literally sum up the whole album.“
In my opinion, such a bright mindset and the constant motivation to push forward and to make what you believe in matter, is exactly what we need in 2020. When a band, after an extended break, resurfaces with a set of songs that are at once substantial as they exhibit their musical progress, it should be more than enough of a reason to keep these gentlemen on your watch.
Bombay Bicycle Club‘s new album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong arrives on January 17 via Caroline.