ABC Music News

Dan Smith scratches his "punk itch" with guitar-driven new Bastille single, "WHAT YOU GONNA DO???"

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Credit: John Miller

When Bastille dropped their new single “WHAT YOU GONNA DO???” late last month, it was a surprise for two reasons. One, the band had released their latest album, Doom Days, just over a year ago; and two, it’s a much more guitar-heavy track compared to the alt-pop hits, including “Pompeii” and “Happier,” that Bastille’s known for.

As frontman Dan Smith tells ABC Audio, the desire to record a more rock-driven song was partly born out of recording the more “electronic” Doom Days, which was “more about the more emotional sides and the more euphoric sides of dance music.”

“I guess I really wanted to scratch the heavy, rock, indie, almost punk itch that I sometimes get,” he says.

The result, as Smith puts it, is “two little minutes of tongue-in-cheek, angry mayhem,” assisted by extra guitar and vocals from Blur‘s Graham Coxon.

“I was the one pushing for it to be as in-your-face and abrasive as possible,” Smith says.

He laughs, “I guess I kinda feel like, if we’re gonna go there, f*** it, let’s just go there.”

That guitar-driven sound, Smith adds, feels comforting in the time of COVID-19.

“In a year where we’re not playing shows and nobody’s playing shows, to put out a song where I can kind of…close my eyes and imagine that I’m jumping around on stage, there’s a catharsis in that,” he says.

Ultimately, Smith wanted “WHAT YOU GONNA DO???” to feel “spontaneous,” and teases that it doesn’t necessarily reflect the direction of future Bastille music.

“Not to be too annoyingly mysterious,” he says. “But I would see this song as a self-contained moment, rather than necessarily a signal to Bastille having sort of quote-unquote ‘gone rock.'”

By Josh Johnson
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