We’ve been fans of the Bastions ever since they sent us a copy of their Kingdom of Dogs EP, way back in January 2011. Since then, our love for the band has grown alongside the size of their profile – we’ve witnessed them recording their critically-acclaimed Island Living EP, we’ve seen them dislocate limbs, we’ve hired them to play shows for us, and seen them step up to support Gallows on UK tours. With the release of their first full-length album, Hospital Corners, a mere month away, we figured it was high time we caught up caught up with the band’s drummer, Danny Garrod, and their guitarist, Jamie McDonald, to see what’s going on with Bastions before The Tangled Tour kicks off.
So why the decision to not release Hospital Corners on Tangled Talk Records?
Danny Garrod: I was fast falling in love with Andrej Presern [Tangled Talk Records founder] and one does not mix business with pleasure.
What’s the story behind signing to In At The Deep End?
D: We didn’t even look at labels until after we’d finished the record; such was our determination to put our absolute all into the LP. We don’t like sitting on records, all our previous records were recorded and out within weeks of completion. Normally with a bigger release it needs a longer run up, but In At The Deep End understood exactly where we were coming from and just green lighted it. They understood that urgency is important to us, not least because we’re usually planning another record by the time we’ve finished the last one…
What’s with the album title?
Jamie McDonald: Lyrically speaking, the record is influenced and occasionally, directly, written about Jay [Burne, vocalist]’s experiences as a support worker and research psychologist. It covers a wide scope but it holds a recurring theme of failing oneself. As for the title, it’s quite obtuse, but it ties in with what the feel of the record is. Hospital Corners was something I came up with when we were staying in a Travelodge, I think it was after we broke down in Cardiff. The AA paid for it. Thanks AA!
What’s with the album artwork?
J: It coincides with some of lyrical themes, you’ll have to work out the rest…
Given that you’re part of Stu Gili-Ross’ management stable, it’s not hard to see how you came into contact with Frank Carter, but how did you actually go about asking him to contribute vocals to the album?
J: After we finished playing the couple of shows we did on the “Back To The Dives” tour, I kept in touch with Frank through email. I just outright asked him, and he said yes. If you don’t ask you don’t get, right?
Was his contribution (to ‘The Lengths (When Wants Become Needs)‘) something that was added ad-hoc, or was it a planned vocal section you reworked, etc etc?
J: It was pretty much ad-hoc, I asked him without much thought as to where or how we were going to do it. We figured out a placement we thought worked and sent him all the lyrics and a rough of the song. Frank’s a busy dude and though I never doubted his intention, we wern’t going to believe he’d done it until I had it in my inbox! We even tracked the song completely with Jay, just in-case. A couple of weeks later he phoned me straight after he’d tracked it with Steph, “I’ve done some singing on it too, deal with it.” We did.
Up till now, Bastions have released a series of EPs – how differently did you approach writing (and recording) when stepping up to a full-length album?
J: I wouldn’t say we approached writing it in any way different than usual. I’ve always loved records that have a running theme and sound cohesive, and we’ve always tried for that since we started the band. From a song-writing perspective, I guess I was into the idea of doing “more with less”. As I’ve looked back at older songs, they seem so much more “bitty” to me now, it’s all about trimming the fat.
D: By far this has been the most focused record we’ve done, I’d say. Overall, I think we all felt more confident in our abilities to try new things and develop ideas with a bit more force. As a band we felt more locked in than ever, but then again, over 18 months of near constant touring will do that to you … if you haven’t torn each others’ throats out first, that is.
J: We went with Lewis Johns to record because he’s a good friend who is just incredible at what he does. He’s also the only person we’ve recorded with who’s ever seen what us live, so I think that really helped. We were really lucky that we had a lot of time to experiment with some different textures and extra instrumentation this time too. I’m personally happy with how it’s all turned out.
D: And he let me have a big drum sound. Like, really fucking big.
What’s wrong with the hardcore scene?
D: The posing and the fashion.
And what’s right about it?
D: That those who transcend the Hardcore genre definitions are part of one the best communities in the music industry.
Why in the name of Satan did Danny decide to put together this ridiculous shenanigan known as ‘The Tangled Tour’?
D: The term “Challenge Accepted” applies here. It started as a bit of a joke about a year ago and I guess it was always in the back of my mind. We played shows with Goodtime Boys and Battle for Paris on the same tour run in May last year; it was such a blast that it just seemed like the most obvious thing in the world to just run with this insane tour. I’m also planning a full ampVSamp tour as well … details to follow….
What have you got planned next? Well, after you’ve finished The Tangled Tour, your album launch, and those tours you’ve got with End Reign and Manatees in November, at any rate.
D: Europe, definitely Europe.
What other band should everyone find out about (that isn’t on the Tangled Tour tour)?
J: Daggers new record is coming out on Holy Roar, it’s incredible.
D: Up River are definitely ones to watch.
Bastions are the final band making up The Tangled Tour – so called because it features the cream of the past and current Tangled Talk Records roster. It’s going to lay waste to seven towns and cities across the UK in October, and as far as line-ups featuring young British talent go, this tour is pretty much bang-on as far as getting our juices flowing goes:
In addition to Bastons, we’ve talked to all the bands taking part in this almighty trek – so don’t forget to check out our interviews with Kerouac, Goodtime Boys, Battle For Paris, Let’s Talk Daggers, The Long Haul and Veils, before The Tangled Tour kicks off on Friday. OH YES.