Basement are a force of nature.
An explosive, highly intense live experience, the Ipswich wrecking have the uncanny knack of echoing that in the studio.
New album 'Beside Myself' is out now, with the five-piece pushing themselves further than ever - a headlong rush into the unknown, all while grappling with the personal.
With a full UK tour incoming, Basement are ending 2018 at terminal velocity. Here, Andrew Fisher breaks down five key influences on their new album, and the band itself...
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Cro-Mags - 'We Gotta Know'
Coming up in hardcore you’d have to try pretty hard to avoid the Cro-Mags. Their persona, attitude and musical style from the begging to the end is so influential across hardcore that I had to include them.
I would have preferred to find a video from Alpha & Omega because I feel it’s rare that people reference that record before 'Age Of Quarrel', but there weren’t videos for any of the songs I would have chosen.
The intro to 'We Gotta Know' is haunting. Whenever it comes on at a show or in the van, the whole band is air drumming along trying frantically to remember at which point Mackie is going to do the 6 snare/hi-hat hit amongst the rest of the drum fills during the intro. Honestly it might have THE greatest intro ever.
Radiohead - 'Videotape'
I’m gonna hold my hands up here and accept that Alex (guitarist is Basement) is probably a bigger Radiohead fan than me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them and find them truly inspiring and I definitely did a cover of Paranoid Android in Secondary School ‘guitar group’, so I feel I have the authority to talk about them here.
Radiohead, like Bowie, successfully span many genres and are always pushing themselves forwards with regards to musical experimentation. That to me is more inspiring that any one song or band - the ability to completely reinvent yourself and come out on the other side still truly exceptional. I always find myself listening to a new Radiohead release and going, “eh... it’s ok”, but I’ll then I’ll come back to it and realise it’s incredible. It’s like they’re too good for me and I need time to catch up.
This song in particular is a perfect example of their genius and subtlety all rolled into one, in that just like me and a new Radiohead release, you don’t really know what you’re listening to until you finally realise. See the attached video about the use of syncopation in this song that goes almost unnoticed.
Basement never does anything too extreme or different and I think that’s fine, but if there’s ever a song where you listen and feel it’s a little different or a slight diversion from the norm, there’s no doubt I had that feeling too and reconciled it by turning to Thom Yorke for validation, that it’s OK to try new things.
Stephen Bishop - 'On And On'
The greatest musical inspiration to me will always be my father, who was singing to me from the moment I was born and who I can thank for instilling me with an appreciation and adoration of music and melody.
When I got my first Walkman I would go through all my Dad’s tapes or make compilations of his CDs for myself; and one holiday we were in Spain and I think I forgot my chosen tapes so he leant me one entitled ‘Paul’s Growing Up Tape’, which contained songs from his formative years. This song was one of them and it really resonated with me (honestly some of the songs at the time I hated haha, but now I’m trying to recompile them in a Spotify playlist - oh how times have changed).
I asked him why he liked it so much and he said he loved the melody and Bishop’s voice and would always comment on a line in the second verse, “pulls out a ladder, steals the stars from the sky/puts on Sinatra and starts to cry”. That before the second chorus KILLS me, I’m almost in tears re-listening to it.
It’s perfect. I think this song is why I care a lot more about what I say in the second verse than what I say in the first most of the time when I am writing. You have to keep the interest going whether or not it’s a melody change or a beautiful lyric like this one.
David Bowie - 'Oh, You Pretty Things'
My father’s favourite recording artist is David Bowie (do you see a theme here?) and it’s probably the most memorable music from my childhood, alongside Brian Adams, Erasure and Frank Sinatra. I think I would feel comfortable saying that 'Hunky Dory' is my favourite album of all time. It’s the first album I listened to by Bowie, front to back on a school trip to York on a CD Walkman.
I didn’t have any idea how incredibly talented he was and how many instruments he can play. His ability to write songs and stories but not compromise melody and structure is astounding. This Old Grey Whistle Test version of the song is quite perfect - so close to the original but with subtle Bowie nuances that give it extra life and energy.
I was very moved by his recent passing as I hoped one day by some feat of fate to be in the same room as him and tell him on my father’s behalf how much he impacted his life. And then float to my dad afterwards that I met him and he didn’t.
Hey Mercedes - 'Quality Revenge At Last'
I’m a big Bob Nanna fan and without a second thought would say I prefer Mineral over Hey Mercedes or Braid or any other project, but HM definitely had a more direct influence on me as a songwriter in Basement- both musically and melodically. Also Mineral doesn’t have any music videos and a friend of a friend did this one.
After punk and hardcore this mid 90s Emo thing was the most attached I have ever been to a music scene (even though it had finished when I found out about it). I loved the fact that people felt comfortable and that it was even encouraged to express yourself emotionally and that you didn’t have to pretend to not be sad.
I also loved that no one really cared if you couldn’t sing. Hey Mercedes were a different beast however - their song arrangements were so interesting and energetic - in complete contrast to Mineral’s droney repetitive almost hypnotic instrumentals. I love the simple style of Nanna’s repetitive almost jingoistic lyrics and melody in Hey Mercedes songs.
I’m hooked immediately and follow through from start to finish. I love being in Basement but this band has made me miss reunions from Hey Mercedes, The Promise Ring, Pedro The Lion and Texas Is The Reason. If Mineral play shows and I’m on tour I’m quitting the band then and there.
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'Beside Myself' is out now.
Catch Basement at the following shows:
16 Manchester Club Academy (SOLD OUT)
17 Leeds Stylus
18 Glasgow Garage
20 Birmingham O2 Institute 2
21 Southampton 1865
22 London O2 Forum Kentish Town
23 Bristol SWX
For tickets to the latest Basement shows click HERE.
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