Bastille singer Dan Smith reflects on 'exciting privilege' of working with Hans Zimmer

The UK group is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their first album with a remix of single Pompeii by Oscar-winning composer

British band Bastille have released a remix of hit single Pompeii with composer Hans Zimmer. Photo: Club Social
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A telling lyric in Bastille's celebrated debut album Bad Blood arrives in the middle track Weight of Living, Pt. II.

Over percolating synths and clattered beats, singer Dan Smith croons, “Do you like the person you've become?”

As well as echoing the album’s ruminative themes, it is a salient question today with the UK band celebrating the 10th anniversary of the album with a tour that brings them to Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena on Wednesday.

Speaking to The National, Smith, 37, considers the question he posed himself all those years ago when penning the song in his bedroom.

“I was in my early 20s back then and it is a time in your life where you are trying to figure out things and what you are going to do in a world that felt uncertain,” he says.

“At that time we thought Bastille would be some weird, cinematic, tiny indie band and never imagined travelling the world and playing the kind of venues we are able to play.

“While that itself has been amazing, I am glad that I am still really obsessed with making music and that's what continues to drive me.”

Indeed, Bastille have been relatively prolific since bursting on to the mainstream with hits Pompeii and Flaws, having released four albums and three mixtapes.

The latest song has them looking back to the beginning, with a new remix of Pompeii by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer.

More orchestral than the original, Zimmer adds his touch in an extended version with evocative synths and strings, as well as transforming the song’s key chants into an almost a cappella section.

It sounds like something out of Zimmer’s Lion King or Gladiator soundtracks, which, Smith notes, is partly the point of the exercise.

“It does feel like we have come full circle in a way,” he adds.

“So many of the songs we have, particularly on Bad Blood, have strings or loads of choir parts which I sang.

“So to get to a point where we can do this version with a real choir and orchestra and with someone like Zimmer – who is responsible for so many huge cultural moments for me – is exciting and a privilege.”

It also bears the fruit of the band’s decision to stay the course.

While Bad Blood found almost immediate success upon its release, it came on the back of three years of touring the UK in small venues and releasing their debut 2011 EP Laura Palmer on YouTube and MySpace.

“We always listed outside of what the media landscape hyped as cool,” Smith says.

“So when we had that success it felt really genuine, because of the fact we had toured as a band, slept on floors and driven ourselves around the country playing tiny clubs, all while putting our music online and blogs.

“People came to our music just by discovering it. And because there wasn't that kind of hype around us, when we had that commercial success it put some people's noses out of joint because they thought we had come from nowhere.

“They chose to see us as some kind of manufactured thing.

“Instead it was always a groundswell of support that slowly grew.”

Good timing also played a part in Bastille’s success.

Smith says the band arrived at a period before music streaming platforms arrived to saturate the market.

“And it's getting even more tricky now, particularly for bands from Europe to tour the UK in the post-Brexit world,” he says.

“I feel that we were fortunate to emerge at a time which, looking back, felt more simple.”

Bastille performs on Wednesday at Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets start from Dh199 and are available at

Updated: October 31, 2023, 2:03 PM