- Bastille will headline the annual Jeep® on the Rocks concert held October 7, 2016. Doors open at 6 p.m. Concert at 7:30 p.m.
- Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness will open the show
- Tickets go on sale Friday, June 17
- Reserved and general admission tickets are $39.50 – $59.50 plus applicable service charges. All ages are welcome
- Special parking for Jeep owners
“We are beyond excited to have Bastille and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness playing Jeep on the Rocks this year. This concert has always been a thrilling evening for the Jeep brand and we look forward to celebrating the 75th anniversary of both Red Rocks and the Jeep brand this October,” said Steve Yandura, Director of the Denver Business Center, FCA US LLC.
Tickets for Jeep on the Rocks go on sale Friday, June 17 and range in price from $39.50 for general admission to $59.50 for reserved seating with applicable services fees. Jeep and music fans of all ages are welcome. To reserve seats, visit www.AXS.com or call 888.929.7849.
Jeep owners will have the privilege of parking in designated “Jeep Only” parking areas. Main doors to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre will open to concertgoers at 6 p.m., the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time.
The word Bastille brings to mind revolution, change and the storming of the old by the spirit of the new. When London-based singer/songwriter Dan Smith called his band Bastille, he was merely thinking of his birthday, July 14, France’s Bastille Day. But for the biggest selling new British act of the last year, with hindsight Smith’s choice seems an ominously apt metaphor for their dramatic impact.
The omens that Bastille would make an indelibly huge mark were there long before their March 2013 debut album “Bad Blood” entered the UK charts at number one. Formed by Smith after recruiting keyboard player Kyle Simmons, bassist Will Farquarson and drummer Chris ‘Woody’ Wood, while they only pressed 300 copies of their 2011 independent debut single ‘Flaws,’ its accompanying video, edited by Smith using clips from Terrence Malick’s 1973 cult classic “Badlands,” scored half a million hits on YouTube. Signed by Virgin Records and tipped by a vociferous network of discerning bloggers, after three singles they were selling-out their first headline UK tour before their album was even released. “It’s weird because we never discussed any big ambitions,” says Smith. “With that tour, when we sold out two nights at Shepherd’s Bush Empire we thought, ‘Wow! This is brilliant!’ I don’t think we ever imagined it getting any bigger than that.”
But it did. Infectious fourth single, the anthemic ‘Pompeii,’ charted at number two. It went on to become the second most streamed track of 2013, just behind Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky,’ and so far holds the record as the song to spend the most number of weeks at number one on the Official Streaming Chart… not to mention the most successful song to tackle the niche subject of death by volcanic ash inhalation in the annals of pop.
The album “Bad Blood” followed, smashing in at number one and quickly achieving platinum status in the UK. The most downloaded album of 2013, and the second most-streamed, it’s since sold over 2 million copies worldwide. So Bastille shouldn’t really have been surprised at last year’s Glastonbury Festival when they drew the largest ever recorded crowd in the history of its John Peel Stage. “You can be told all these sales statistics but they’re all abstract,” says Smith. “It’s only when you play live that you feel it, seeing that reaction among our audience. Those are the proper markers of success. Glastonbury was truly incredible.”
Ask Smith to pick a highlight from Bastille’s whirlwind annus mirabilis and he’s spoilt for choice. Possibly the honour of being the first band ever to play The British Museum when invited to perform ‘Pompeii’ at the opening of their Life & Death Pompeii & Herculaneum exhibition. “It was just strange serendipity that the week it opened there happened to be a band in the charts with a song about Pompeii, so they invited us along. We had to sing before the leading archaeological minds, right beside the ancient relics. We were thinking we shouldn’t be allowed to do this, but the moment we started singing it just felt really nice. They ended up asking us to sing it twice.” Or his meeting with his all-time hero, David Lynch, whose 1990 TV series “Twin Peaks” inspired Bastille’s ‘Laura Palmer’ and who asked the band to remix the track ‘Are You Sure’ from his 2013 album “The Big Dream.” “I was very nervous,” says Smith, “but he was so nice. He just stuck out his hand said ‘Hi, I’m Dave. You must be Dan?’ and my head exploded. David Lynch is the biggest rock star in my world.” Or their performance at Bestival when they played in fancy dress as Team Zissou after Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic.” Or possibly the moment when a fan queued up to meet them backstage with the intention of proposing to his girlfriend in front of Bastille. “Luckily, she said ‘yes,'” smiles Smith. “Although it was a bit weird when afterwards he hugged me first before he hugged her!”
Their triumphant 2013 ended with another number two UK hit single, ‘Of The Night,’ an engagingly modern twist on two 90s Eurodance classics, Corona’s ‘Rhythm Of The Night’ and Snap!’s ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer,’ a mash-up first included on the band’s “highly illegal” (says Smith) downloadable mixtapes “Other People’s Heartache, Vols I & II.” “We made those while we were recording the album,” he explains. “They were huge fun, like big brain splurges of sound, even if our record company were worried because we were ripping off film samples and covers without permission. The point was that pop music is meant to be inclusive so we were reclaiming a lot of songs we remembered fondly from growing up, like Corona, Snap! and things like City High’s ‘What Would You Do?’ We put them up online to be downloaded for free, and thousands of fans have, so it’s really gratifying to have been able to share that.”
Hurtling into 2014, so far the new year has seen them nominated for four BRIT Awards (British Breakthrough Act, British Group, British Album, Best Single for ‘Pompeii’), play to their biggest headline crowd yet to 15,000 in Johannesburg and sell out London’s Alexandra Palace. Currently touring America, where “Bad Blood” was the highest charting debut album by a UK act in 2013 and where ‘Pompeii’ has since broken the million download mark, in January they were invited to play an acoustic performance as special guests of Detroit’s Motown Museum. “So we’re setting a precedent for ‘Museum Pop,'” laughs Smith. “I don’t know what’s next. Maybe we’ll be the first band to play between the ribcage of a brontosaurus in The National History Museum.”
Stranger things have happened. If the past year has taught Bastille anything it’s that they never know what’s around the corner. “As a band, our expectations have never been high,” Smith confesses. “That might sound weird after the year we’ve had, but I think it helps. We tend not to revel in stuff and sit on our laurels. Like, when we were told our album had gone to number one we went ‘That’s nuts!,’ then we got drunk and the next day we never spoke about it again. Any kind of success we’ve had, we’re mildly in denial about. But when we stop and try and take it all in… I mean, it’s brilliant. But it’s crazy!”
A divine madness, and one they’d best get used to. As of 2014, the irrepressible storm of Bastille is only just gathering …
About Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
McMahon has had a winding road to this artfully balanced life. This is a man who was diagnosed with cancer at 22 years old, on the cusp of releasing his debut album (as Jack’s Mannequin). Who wed Kelly the following year and then took on an arduous schedule of touring and album releases. Who was nominated for an Emmy Award for his song “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream” on NBC’s Smash. Who sold nearly 2 million albums in a little more than a decade. Who, for much of that time, was struggling underneath the weight of it all.
Despite these outward signs of success – beating cancer, getting married and an Emmy nom – McMahon says the road to recovery was “a rollercoaster ride” that took the better part of a decade. “My body healed faster than my mind and my heart. It took me years to realize that and do the work. I had to figure out how to acclimate to the world post-illness. I decided to take time away from the business of making music so I could pay attention to everything else. I left my label, my management and the name I had been making music under for the better part of my 20s. I moved out of Los Angeles. It was a metaphorical hard reset.”
The time allowed McMahon to process what had happened and to renew his passion for songwriting and record making, to refill the well of his creativity. McMahon also changed his mode of operation, taking the critical step of physically distancing his work and home lives by retreating to a cabin – “a shack, really. It had no running water,” – in Topanga Canyon (CA) to hatch the album. He would spend the weekdays in the canyon immersed in music and on the weekends travel the hour and a half back south to be with his then-newly-pregnant wife. “It was important to me to be completely present when I was home. Separating out the work actually created more space to live a life worth writing about.”
In Topanga, Andrew was able to focus intensely on song craft. He poured his feelings into his work: the anticipation and anxiety about becoming a father, excitement for meeting his new daughter, ambivalence about entering his 30s. Soon after the Canyon sessions, McMahon began working with producer Mike Viola, who McMahon calls “the album’s spirit guide.” In Viola’s Echo Park garage studio, the two of them meditated on a range of classic rock and modern artists.
At the same time, McMahon began to consider the might-have-beens of his life. “I found myself asking, ‘What would have come next if I hadn’t encountered that bizarre chapter of my disrupted 20s?’ As I was writing the new songs, I was able to revisit relationships that had evolved or been dismantled in the vacuum of that disruption.” He adds, “It’s not that I wanted to erase my past. I wanted to explore it, to go back to the point where I had lost myself, where my personal narrative was overtaken, and move forward from there.”
“High Dive” emerged from the sessions with Viola and is the most representative of this sort of Sliding Doors exploration. “‘High Dive’ asks the question ‘If I had never gotten sick, where would I be?’” says McMahon. “My illness put a lot into perspective for my wife (then girlfriend) and I. With ‘High Dive’ I imagined what it would have been like if we’d split up and she’d moved on. In a universal sense, it’s about letting someone go and realizing you were wrong, but it’s too late.” The song buoys McMahon’s gentle tenor, slowly building from a spare composition with a snapping, driving beat, ‘High Dive’ swells into the bridge (“Flashbacks get me close”) and resolves into a viscerally satisfying chorus flush with other voices, McMahon’s piano wrapping around the melody.
Intimate details populate the album, with McMahon writing sometimes obliquely, sometimes frankly about his struggles. “See Her on the Weekend,” a literal recounting of his time in Topanga, drops the aside “I drink more than the doctors say I should.” “Halls” outlines self-sabotaging tendencies in service of his career, “Cut my hair, and I found me a new girlfriend / Thought a broken heart could write a perfect song.” “All Our Lives” is particularly unguarded but even when he’s singing about someone else, an old friend with “a heart so gold, and words so blue / in a body home from hell,” you wonder if he’s not singing about himself in some roundabout way.
The first single, “Cecilia and the Satellite” was actually one of the last songs written for the album. “A few weeks before Cecilia was born, I was introduced to James Flannigan, a British songwriter and producer. I knew I wanted to write a song for her, to show her who I was before she was born and my commitment to protect her.” While “Cecilia” details McMahon’s love in high contrast with what he calls “the impermanence of living,” – its soaring chorus anchored by a kick drum like the steady thump of a heartbeat.
After seeing the impressive results of their session, McMahon asked Flannigan to join him and Viola to help finish production of the album. The three of them bounced around LA in various production spaces and studios until all the details had been tweaked and McMahon was satisfied that it reflected the journey as a whole. “I had been dreaming about an album that sounded like this for years, but I didn’t know it until I heard it. It took all three of us. I realize now how important every piece of the process was – every step on the path and every voice in the room.”
If, as McMahon says, “music is a mirror to the adventure of living,” then it follows that each new chapter of life deserves its own title. As such, he decided his music would go forward under the name Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. “My wilderness is mostly abstract,” he posits, “I forced myself into strange new places on the hunt for these songs, and I met some amazing people in the process. The new name carries the spirit of our collaboration.”
There is a balancing act that permeates not only McMahon’s life but his new album as well, mixing the electronic and the acoustic, the modern and the classic. But even though McMahon may have created two mini-masterpieces: an epic pop album stocked to the gills with anthemic songs and a healthy, bright, baby girl with Kelly, there’s no question which one he’s more proud of.
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