Bombay mix

Bombay Bicycle Club.  Picture: Jo McCaughey
Bombay Bicycle Club. Picture: Jo McCaughey
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ONE of the more uplifting moments during a very muddy Leeds Festival last weekend was the sight of Jack Steadman grinning.

The Bombay Bicycle Club singer could barely lose the smile as his inimitable band filled the second stage.

“People always seem surprised that I smile a lot on stage,” he says. “Well, you should try it, it’s quite fun.

“Maybe it is a nervous thing as well... sometimes people smile when they are nervous. It’s probably a mixture of both.”

The well-spoken Londoner has something else to smirk about this week as his band’s third record, A Different Kind Of Fix, hits the streets ahead of their Sheffield O2 Academy debut on October 5.

It continues a prolific three years from a young outfit which won the world over with the edgy pop of I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose and wowed again with the sparse, acoustic folk leanings of Flaws.

Like a greyhound finally out of the trap, there seems little stopping BBC.

“With the first record, even though to everyone else it was brand new, for us it was years old; we were bored of it already,” explains Jack

“We had been in school writing those songs and playing them for years so we were eager to move on straight away. Whereas most bands write a record and then tour for three years and can still be enthusiastic about it, already these were songs about a time we don’t even remember.”

So, as well as displaying a different side to the band, Flaws was something they felt they had to get out there.

“We never thought it would be a big deal, would grab lots of people’s attention or do as well as it did.

“We just had all these acoustic songs lying around so approached the label. We discussed having it as a bonus disc for the first record. It was always just a side thing, something extra, and then it went to number eight and we were just ‘Woo, this is ridiculous’ – not at all what we planned.

“We were doing radio sessions where we just physically couldn’t fit a drum kit in a room so we had to strip them down and people were texting saying ‘I prefer that version to the one on the album’ and it inspired us to do the rest of it.

“And that’s kind of what we’re about…if you have a good enough song you should be able to strip it down and not lose any of its effect. That’s where Flaws came from really.”

Album three arguably combines elements of the previous two; it has edge, it tenders gentle, more acoustic moments, but it also offers more, as playful first single Shuffle outlined.

In order to go places soundwise they had to travel. While debut album producer Jim Abbiss represented a safe pair of hands, Ben Allen’s Atlanta studio offered something off-piste.

“We built up such a good relationship with Jim and we knew he would be perfect for some songs.

“We also knew there were ones we wanted to save for someone else.

“We used Ben for the new exciting ones. We don’t want to be too crazy. The best way is to take it a bit further and then turn back and make it your own.

“There needs to be a good pop song behind the experimentation. That’s the main appeal of Ben to us because he’d worked with Animal Collective who for me are the kings of writing pop songs while also experimenting wildly.

“We really wanted to work in his studio because it was clear he knew all the tricks he could do with his own equipment, instead of where the producer has to get his head round the studio before you even start.

“It was great working in Ben’s own environment and funny because next door there would be all these RnB acts and we could barely hear what we were doing because they were playing their music so loud.

“Tinie Tempah was in there one day. He came in and said hello; he was just pleased to find some fellow British people, so he was very friendly.

“Being somewhere new definitely inspires you to try new things; new equipment and a new producer… they come together to inspire you to be creative.”

Needless to say, their Hamburg sessions offered contrast – cold and snowy compared with the sun and heat of Georgia – while Jack manages to maintain a co-production credit throughout the record, not least courtesy of his bedroom.

“A lot of the time we’d be trying to recreate sounds off the demo and we wouldn’t really be succeeding so we’d just take it from the demo.

“A lot of sounds on the album are me in my bedroom and they haven’t changed.

“We’ve just taken them off my computer and put them on the album.”