Chris “Woody” Wood doesn’t hesitate at all when asked what he’s looking forward to most when his band Bastille hits U.S. stages this spring.
“As a group—Buffalo wings,” the drummer says with a laugh via telephone from Estonia. “Apart from that, we enjoy grasping just how big and varied your country is. We like to do different things culturally. Plus, we’re going to New Orleans. That’ll be my first time.”
The English alt-rock band is coming to the Comerica Theatre on Tuesday, April 11, to promote its sophomore effort, 2016’s Wild World, which features the hit “Good Grief.” Bastille—which also includes vocalist/keyboardist Dan Smith, pianist/bassist Kyle Simmons, guitarist/keyboardist Charlie Barnes and guitarist/bassist Will Farquarson—cracked the U.S. market with the song “Pompeii.”
Bastille is known for taking a dour topic, turning it on its head and creating an upbeat pop anthem.
“We’ve made a bit of a career out of dressing up dark subject matter and making it upbeat and happy,” Wood explains.
“I think Dan is a pessimist. I’m the eternal optimist. The other two are in between. We’re four very different people. I think this album overall reflects that more. Before, it was a little more hidden. This time around, we took rock sounds, synth-heavy stuff and bluesy things as well. It’s a broad mish-mash of influences.”
Smith’s songs are based in fact, but they arrive to the record as a well-imagined story, Wood says.
“Well, it’s quite often a jumping off point as well,” he adds about Smith taking anecdotes from his life. “When you write your first album, it’s essentially the greatest hits of your life up to that point. With this one, half of the album was written in backstage rooms in Europe and South America.”
Perhaps the cleverest part of Wild World are the snippets from movies like Weird Science that appear between the songs.
“We’ve made three mixtapes, and for them we sampled bits from different documentaries, movies or hit series,” Wood says. “We wanted to try and incorporate that mixtape feel onto the actual album.
“We had different bits and bobs, some from the BFI archive and more recent stuff like Kelly LeBrock from Weird Science. It gives a different texture to the album, and gives the listener a break, a different voice to latch on to.”
Bastille added texture to its appearances, too. LeBrock joined the band on a recent TV spot.
“It was nice,” Wood says. “She’s absolutely fantastic.”
As for the rest of the recording process, Bastille took it seriously on the road, bringing along co-producer Mark Crew.
“It’s always been fun,” he says. “You should enjoy it. It shouldn’t be a chore. As a matter of fact, Dan is in the room next door writing some new songs at the moment.”
Smith is prolific, he adds.
“It comes in bursts as well,” he says. “I know this sounds cliché, but it’s like a muscle. You have to keep working it. You have to keep knocking ideas out—whether they’re good or not so good.”
Wood isn’t a slouch in the music category, either. He has a studio in his back garden in England.
“The neighbors are absolutely thrilled about it,” he says with a laugh. “I keep my band awards near my snare drums.”
Awards aren’t something that are necessarily important to Bastille, but they’re nice nevertheless, Wood added.
“It’s nice that anyone cares,” he says. “I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But it’s not the reason we play music. It’s not a contest. I just like making music with my friends and I feel immensely fortunate.”
And he doesn’t take his love for Buffalo wings for granted.
“I love my wings,” Wood says. “When we were in Phoenix, I think we actually spent an Easter at a Hooters. It was tragic.”
Bastille w/Mondo Cozmo, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, $29.50-$45.