In conversation with: Bombay Bicycle Club
Katie Fox interviews Ed Nash of Bombay Bicycle Club.
Bombay Bicycle Club are releasing their 10th anniversary live album version of I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose. It was recorded last year in Brixton. I spoke to bassist Ed Nash about lockdown, solo projects and how a break from the band has changed them as a group.
Katie Fox: How have you found lockdown?
Ed Nash: You know, the first one was kind of weird and annoying to adjust to. We’d planned to be on tour for the whole year, so our plans completely changed. I just got my head down making music in the studio and it’s kind of continued really. This lockdown is just an extension of that and when it finishes, I’m not going to be really doing anything different. It doesn’t seem like anything is going on and we can’t play shows or anything so just trying to stay productive at home.
We’d planned to be on tour for the whole year, so our plans completely changed
KF: Has the break from the usual routine of touring changed your creative process?
EN: It would have been nice to do a bit more touring and then get to the point where I was sick of it, whereas we did three weeks or so of touring and that was the start of it. In terms of creativity, it probably made me work harder. You know, there’s nothing else to do so your mind wanders. With the first lockdown, I was wasting time looking at my phone and watching TV and after a couple of weeks of that I really needed to get on with something otherwise I was going to go mad! I’m putting time into music like it’s a job as opposed to just doing it in my spare time or when there is time around touring.
KF: What made you transition from your solo name of Toothless to your own of Ed Nash?
EN: There’s a couple of things. Toothless – I’m really proud of that record I made. It was a real learning process for me, it was learning to do things outside of the band and I put that record out and I decided to step back from it while I worked out what I wanted to do next. The music I was writing was slightly different in sound and I think hopefully a bit better than that. Lyrically it’s more honest. Beforehand I was telling stories, using metaphors and hiding behind lyrics, whereas this release is just me speaking openly and honestly. It didn’t feel right using anything but my own name going forward. Also, Toothless implies a lack of confidence that wasn’t there at the time. Using my own name changes stuff.
KF: How has it been since being back together with Bombay Bicycle Club?
EN: We are definitely stronger as a group and stronger as individuals than before. It sounds quite cheesy but before, up until 2015 when we took a break, that’s all we’d ever done. We started the band when we were 15 and finished at 25 so, all of our adult lives up to that point, that’s what we were doing. We were doing it full on. We were on tour sometimes for 9 months of the year. We needed to find ourselves, to do something just for ourselves, which was what we did. We came back to it with better ideas of ourselves as people and better at communicating. We didn’t fall out massively but because we were touring for so long, you kind of wind each other up or get on each other’s nerves so you need space from each other. Coming back was a real relief and it was nice to get back and play music with the same people.
KF: I saw your acoustic show in Kingston earlier this year. It was such an amazing experience. What is your most memorable gig?
EN: It will sound like I’m just saying this, but the reason we are putting out this live album for Brixton is that show was really special. Playing through that album, having taken a break and coming back to it 10 years later was an amazing experience. The shows we played when we started, you know your first things in life. We probably played really terribly and sounded bad, but there is something incredibly fun about doing that when you’re 15/16 years old. Your friends are there, and you are starting out and starting something new and finding out about yourself. You can never really compete with that experience.
KF: How has the creative process changed since the group got back together?
EN: I guess the main thing is everyone is more confident and confident with themselves as a musician. When you go off by yourself and work – I made my own album, Jack made his own album – you don’t have the same people to rely on. You really have to prove yourself and you don’t have the safety net to fall back on, so it makes you a better player. It also makes you more honest and more confident in a way – I feel like everyone is more outspoken this time around and have better ideas and are able to communicate them more because we’ve lived a life outside of the group.
KF: What’s next for Bombay Bicycle Club and for yourself?
We released an album in January and we were meant to tour this whole year and finish around now. We got to do three weeks and then it was cut short, so first and foremost we want those shows. That’s what we are focused on next. In the meantime, I put a song out today. I’m going to keep on putting new music out under my own name. In terms of Bombay Bicycle Club, we are playing together, doing this livestream, putting out this live album, but it’s going to take a little longer to get all the cogs moving in the machine again. Hopefully if this vaccine works out, we’ll be playing these songs live next year.