Clean Bandit are just blowing up internationally. With their recently won Grammy and success of New Eyes (2014), they are getting more and more renowned throughout the world. The album’s fourth single “Rather Be” placed in the top 10 of music charts in nine counties. In anticipation of their gig at San Francisco’s The Regency Ballroom this Monday April 13, I spoke with Clean Bandit’s Jack Patterson about touring, musical styles, and singers.
How’s the tour going?
It’s going good. We’re in Chicago at the moment. It’s beautiful weather.
How is touring in America?
It’s so nice. The crowds here are so warm. They’re much easier to get going, they’re kind of ready to dance from the outset. Yeh, I love touring in the States. I want to do it permanently.
The B-Side talked to Neil last year about the differences between the UK and US audiences. So they’re different?
They just seem to be more… I think maybe it’s indicative of a general attitude in America which is more positive and ready to cheer you on rather than being reserved and waiting to be impressed [like in the UK]. [American audiences are] just ready to support you from the outset which is cool.
Your music videos – they seem to be integral to your style as a band. Do you come up with the ideas for the music videos whilst you’re recording the songs or after?
Yeh sometimes, it kind of depends. Sometimes we’ll have the idea for the video before the song, sometimes after, sometimes during. Sometimes the idea for the video can influence the music. For our last song we actually had the idea before we had the song, and we’ve wanted to make a video in France for ages. It felt like this was the right moment to film there.
Lots of your videos were shot in so many cool places. Is the country they’re filmed in important or have meaning behind it?
It probably doesn’t tend to have a symbolic meaning or a cultural significance, it’s just we like to explore and try to get to see as many places as we can and take advantage of the fact that there are jobs that do that which is why we get to see many places.
You guys travel a lot as a band. You’ve lived in Moscow and regularly travel to France. Do the places you go to influence the style of writing?
Definitely. Since we’ve been touring in America we’ve met American songwriters and people in the States who we’d love to write new material with.
Is the sound changing since you’ve been on tour and visited more places?
I think it’s been changing since we’ve been doing more touring. I don’t think it’s necessarily because of the locations we’ve been in, more the fact that we’ve been playing much more as a band. I think that our playing together every night is changing the sound, but we want to bring what we’re doing on stage into the studio more.
You recently played with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Classical music tends to be a big influence on the band. Are there more plans to use a more orchestral sound?
Absolutely. That was one of the most exciting live performances we’ve ever done, and it was a real joy to do that. I would love to do that again. We were actually speaking to them about doing more stuff, and to see if that could be part of an album as well – that’d be really cool.
It was an amazing set to watch! It was great how you used the synth sounds and then translated them into a more orchestral sound. How was it making that?
That was really fun. We were working with an arranger called Joe Duddell who had some wacky ideas for some of the stuff we did. A lot of it we just transcribed, but then he had some really clever ideas for some of the synths. We had to figure out how we were going to translate them and [Duddell] suggested things like having a saxophone quartet, so we had that as part of the orchestra, and it worked really nicely.
With regards to your use of classical and string elements in your songwriting, do you come up with the house beats and add them on top, or take a phrase played by the violin then use that to form house and electronic beats around it?
It depends every time. Sometimes it will start from a little synth rift or sometimes it will start with a drum beat. Other times it will start with a vocal idea or just a chord progression. We don’t really have a hard and fast way of doing it. More and more we’re just writing with piano or writing stories down, or writing chords out on paper. We just try lots and lots of different ways which is quite exciting.
Because you use so many vocal artists on your album, do you write stuff for that specific artist. Do you change it when the vocal artist comes along? Or do you chose artists based on the style of that single?
Again, it kind of depends song by song. So for example that track “Heart On Fire” we wrote that together with Elizabeth Troy, so that wasn’t written for someone, the whole thing was a collaboration. But with “Rather Be,” we’d been playing that live for a while and trying different vocalists. So it’s different every time.
Are you looking for a permanent singer or do you enjoy the variation that comes with using different vocalists?
I love meeting new people, and the way the band works allows us to do stuff with new people. But at the same time we’ve got some amazing vocalists who we tour with who are people who you get to know on the road. So we have the best of both worlds really.
Talking of being on the road, in addition to touring, you’re playing at many festivals this summer. Do you like playing the festivals?
They stress me out! I much prefer when it’s our own gig and we get to sound check. [Festivals] always make me nervous as we’ve got quite a complex set up. But the vibe at festivals is amazing, and you get a crowd which is really up for it. It’s also really lovely playing outdoors. I think Coachella is going to be really fun. It’s definitely quite interesting, that one! We’ve got lots of special guests for that one.
Article by Maddy Smith