Drummer Woody of British rock band Bastille chats with ExpatWoman ahead of their RedFestDXB 2020 show
20 January 2020| Last updated on 26 January 2020
An interview with Bastile's energetic drummer
Chart-topping British rock quartet Bastille has been sweeping across the globe on a tour promoting their latest album since last year. They first saw breakout success with their 2013 release of the now-Top 30 Songs of the 2010s - "Pompeii", and are currently enjoying the success of their critically acclaimed third record, "Doom Days".
The band, whose distinct beat and percussion are powered by their drummer Chris Wood, better known as "Woody", was riding a mid-day energy from his friend's wedding ceremony the night before by the time we caught up with him.
Ahead of the "Good Grief" performers' show at Virgin Radio RedFestDXB on Thursday 6th February 2020 for the last leg of their Doom Days tour, Woody took some time out of his busy tour schedule for an exclusive chat with ExpatWoman to discuss their upcoming fourth album, their bucket list in Dubai, who he's excited to see at the event, how tour life changes his drumming style, and much more.
How are you doing, Woody?
"Good, but just enough," Woody, 34, said on the phone as he nursed a mild hangover. "I went to my friend's wedding last night!"
It isn't the first time Bastille performed at RedFestDXB. Do you have a favourite memory from the last time you all came down to perform at the event?
"Yeah, I have a handful of friends from back home who live and work in Dubai, so it was nice to catch up with some old friends while we were there."
Do you feel like you become a different person when you step on stage?
"I've been a drummer for over twenty years now, so that's for most of my life," Woody laughed. He had started playing by the time he was in his last year of primary school. "It has just been part of who I am, part of my identity I suppose. I do know some people who put on a sort of persona, but I wouldn't say I change as such. I probably feel most at home on stage."
When asked if the tour life has influenced the way he plays drums now, he said, "A little bit! You can't just go absolutely ham and try to smash it as much as hard as you can all night every night, because if you're doing like a 30-show tour, you're going to end up getting an injury and you'll also end up exhausted. You're going to have to manage the load a little bit."
Then, "When you play bigger rooms and bigger stages, you need to try and perform for the people at the very back."
Years of playing at sold-out shows and concerts across the world has taught Woody "to be a bit more visual while playing."
The last time Bastille was in the UAE, it was just prior to the release of "Doom Days". The band is now three albums deep in their career and quite a lot has changed between the radio-popular hits of "Pompeii", "Of The Night", "Good Grief" and the current tracks of "Bad Decisions", "Another Place", "Joy", and more.
For Dubai fans and RedFestDXB goers, here's what you all can expect, according to Woody: "RedFestDXB is actually going to be the very last show of the Doom Days tour. We try to have a story arc running through the show as well, with special effects, etc. As we've done this show all across the US last year, we're really proud of" how the performance is showcased conceptually.
"RedFestDXB will be the last time we're doing it, so it's going to be a spectacular send-off."
Chris "Woody" Wood of Bastille | Photo: @BastilleDan on Twitter
What encouraged Bastille to head in the direction of Doom Days' theme?
"The album itself covers more about escapism from the apocalypse. With "Wild World" (the second album, prior to Doom Days), we kind of looked at things just head-on, like with politics and climate change. But after spending over two years touring the world with this doom and gloom show behind us, we realise people go to our music show quite often for escapism, to forget about all that stuff. We were very very aware that this time around, we would offer a bit of hope and a bit of a distraction as well."
The end-of-the-world upbeat party theme of Doom Days was an intentional left-turn from their previous work.
Favourite Bastille record to play?
"One of my favourites is "Fake It" from the album "Wild World". From a drumming perspective, it's quite technically difficult, but to be able to perform it is still loads of fun."
Woody's favourite from the third album is the title track, "Doom Days".
"It's quite short, but the message of the song is powerful so I enjoy that one as well."
Photo: @Kelsee_b on twitter
Changes within a band happens so quickly these days. What keeps ties within Bastille strong?
The comings and goings of most band members see a high frequency, with musicians changing often. Bastille, which is made up of four members - vocalist Dan Smith, drummer Chris Wood, bassist Will Farquarson, and pianist Kyle Simmons - has not changed after a whole decade performing together.
"Every band is different, but it's all about communication. When you're together this long, you end up being more like brothers than you do being friends. You learn how not to push the wrong button, how to avoid upsetting anybody, and just try to be the best member you can be. You learn to be a bit more considerate of the people around you.
"It takes time and you have to learn as you go, but we're all very fortunate to do this job that we love and get to play music with our friends around the world," he continued.
For Woody, he found it wasn't hard to be happy with Bastille.
Any artists you would love to collaborate with?
For Bastille, they love to work with people "who make interesting and exciting music."
"We always try to jump around a bit in genres and try not to be confined in one sort of place. We work well with almost anyone, to be honest."
Photo: @BastilleDan on Twitter
Anyone at RedFestDXB you're keen to see?
"Stormzy is the one - he's doing the day after us at RedFestDXB, and we would love to watch him. He's such a nice guy and he's an absolute megastar in the UK. Hopefully, we get to run into him at some point."
"We're also big fans of Becky Hill for a long time now," Woody added. "Her voice is absolutely insane."
Has it ever been difficult to leave a performance?
"It's always best to leave the audience wanting more rather than have them saying, 'Right, they can go now.' It's definitely about keeping the right balance."
Anything on your Dubai bucket list for this trip?
"Honestly, just hanging out in Dubai and enjoying the sunshine before going back to the gloomy winter of the UK."
As RedFestDXB will be the last leg of their Doom Days Tour, Bastille is set to enjoy a year off before starting work on their fourth album at the end of the year.
When asked about what's in store for the upcoming album, Woody said "a couple of plans" and the rest is yet to be revealed.
Tickets now on sale
Watch Bastille take the stage at RedFestDXB 2020 - buy your tickets now to see them live, available on Virgin Megastore online, any Virgin stores across the UAE, PlatinumList, 800 Tickets, and Book My Show.