Having taken a break after releasing their 2012 full length, Colourmeinkindness, Basement returned this year with the announcement of a tour and a new 7-inch, Further Sky. During their recent visit to Australia, Killyourstereo.com caught up with guitarist Alex Henery and drummer James Fisher to discuss good food, the hiatus, and the band’s future plans.
I know you guys like to source the best food when you’re on tour. Have you found anything particularly good here?
Alex: I mean, I really like Lord of the Fries. I know some people in the band aren’t that hyped on it.
James: It’s kind of novel, but that’s why we like it. It’s just fun, it’s good fun to just put whatever you want on your fries. There was a barbecue restaurant in Canberra, the food was just brilliant. Really good. It was up there with some of the best stuff we’ve had. It was awesome – great ribs, great everything. Some of the best stuff has been the stuff we’ve done ourselves, like kangaroo sausages and stuff. We picked up all the stuff in Coles and had a barbecue the first night. That was in Brisbane. And then in Sydney at Jem’s house in the morning we had a great breakfast. And the market we went to in Brisbane…
A: Yeah, the Brisbane market was great.
J: We got so much great food – bagels, omelette…
A: Duncan had some pulled pork sandwich for breakfast (laughs).
J: That was it – the calamari! That was the best calamari we’ve ever eaten. It was great.
A: It was super fresh, it was delicious.
J: Oh, and Ronan’s going around trying to drink every ale or beer he possibly can, photograph them and just, I dunno, pick his favourite. So he just keeps buying beer (laughs).
A: I think we should put out a zine at the end of it, because he’s probably going to hit like fifty different types of beer by the end of this tour, easy. So he’s big into that. And coffee. The guys are really into coffee at the moment. Ronan, he’s the manager of a coffee shop called TAP in London, so he really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to coffee and roasting – he’s the roaster there. So he’s been doing a huge thing where he’s been tasting and trying the different beans and their flavours and talking to people. So it’s his thing, we’ve been taking a lot of time to make sure we go and check out the local coffee shops. That’s been cool. I hate coffee, but I can appreciate him just getting really into it.
So since the tour’s wrapping up, how’s it been overall?
J: The tour’s been amazing. The first time we came here was incredible. It was so good, Australia is just so cool. Everyone’s so nice and the shows are always brilliant. There’s just always a great vibe.
A: There’s something about the friends that we make in Australia – you know you’re always going to be in contact with them. There’s something about it, it’s just extremely friendly, like as soon as you meet people here, they’re just really helpful, and everyone’s trying to show you cool places or take you somewhere. And there’s nothing behind it, it’s just genuine, like, “Hey what’s up, this is Australia, come and hang out.” They’ve been awesome hosts and we love Australia. I would say the only thing about this tour, it’s been very fast-paced. We had two shows in one day as soon as we arrived. We drove overnight to the next show, played another one; it’s just been nonstop, so a few of us are under the weather a little bit. We probably should have put a few off days on this tour, but it’s been amazing. It’s been just so good. And we got our friend Jhat, who drove us last time, to come; we’ve got our friend Jem, we’ve got our friend Mitch. So it’s been a really good crew.
J: We still find time to do cool stuff though – we’ve been to the beach a couple of times and still got in the freezing cold ocean, just because we have to, because we want to. There’s always time to do everything. If we want to do something, we’ll get up early and make sure we do it.
A: We pet koalas, went skateboarding… it’s been really good, it’s been very quick. And we’re nearly done now, which is crazy.
How’s it been playing with the other bands?
A: I think Toy Boats is one of the best bands to come out of Australia. I think they’re awesome. Every night they sound incredible, they’re amazing people, and I just hope that more people in America and Europe end up hearing about this band. So I’m psyched on them, and I hope it happens for them, because they’re really really great musicians.
J: Apart From This are the best dudes ever. They kill it every night, they’re so good. I just love how they are, they’re just the most chill dudes, they don’t care. They’re literally awesome, what they do is so cool and their music’s cool.
A: With Toy Boats, they have their sound and they know exactly what they’re doing with it, and it’s great, and I’m excited to see what Apart From This does on their next record. They’re at a really cool stage right now; they’re all amazing musicians, so I’m excited to see what that band does next. It’s gonna be good.
You recently released the 7-inch, Further Sky. What was it like getting back into the studio as Basement?
A: As always, we didn’t book very long, we only had a weekend to do it. I think we work best under pressure. I flew over and it was in London, and we just came out and practised for two days before, and kinda got things sorted out, polished up a few of the ideas, got the songs going, and went straight into the studio and recorded it. And had the best time.
J: Yeah, it was so good. It was the best studio. We were privileged to go there, it was an amazing place.
A: Oh yeah. I mean, it’s got an incredible history. It’s super plush, like it makes you feel like… it’s too good for us (laughs).
J: Yeah, it’s got TVs, Xbox…
A: And snooker tables, amazing kitchen… but even just the look of it – it’s got great carpet and stone walls. And they were great. We took kind of a chance, we didn’t bring in an engineer that we knew. We worked with a guy called Dan Goudie, and instantly just got on; instantly he kind of got our humour, he wasn’t like weirded out by us (laughs), so that was a positive. And straightaway we just got down and started recording. I mean, we’ve been talking about where we’d want to go if we did want to record, and I’d happily go back there to record a full length. We have a few options to weigh up, but I really enjoyed recording at Livingston. It was awesome.
And what about the choice to include the cover of Animal Nitrate on it?
A: We’ve always talked about a cover, and we could never agree on anything. And we just thought, “You know what, we’re doing this 7-inch, it’s gonna be a secret… why not?” It was something fun to do, it was something creative, and we went through like twenty ideas, and narrowed it down to probably three – there was a Clash song in there, there was a Cranberries song, there was a bunch of stuff we thought about. But when it came down to it, we thought Suede makes sense, we could put our own kind of spin on it. We didn’t want to change it too much… I dunno, I really like the cover, I like listening to it. It’s got our own little sound to it, and it was just fun to do. I actually didn’t play guitar on it; Andrew played guitar for the whole thing, because he plays guitar, so he’d been jamming it while I was away, and so when we got to the studio… plus I kind of wanted to play computer games with Duncan, so (laughs)… but no, it was super fun. The harmonies at the end are one of my favourite parts.
J: I don’t know when else we could have done it. The next thing we’ll probably do is a full length. But the fact that we were like, “Let’s do a 7-inch,” it was the perfect time. It was a good fun little thing to do before we toured.
A: Yeah, it was just like let’s be creative and have fun with it. There was no pressure – there’s hardly any pressure with our band. We wanted to do it because we can and we thought it’d be fun.
So you mentioned doing a full length next. Do you have any specific plans or…?
A: Yeah, I mean we haven’t really been shy about talking about it, because it’s going to happen at some point. We’re all writing, we all love writing. It’s now just, when? When we would have time. I’m assuming some point next year, but I don’t know any more details than that.
J: We don’t know that much, we just know that we want to do it, so we will do it. But other than that we don’t really know. We’re still busy just doing this bit, like just having fun. After the tour we’ll be like, “Okay, what’s next?” and maybe think about that, or maybe think about something else.
A: But it will happen. And I’m really looking forward to the thought of that happening.
J: That’s such a good part of it. To have a long period of time to record something, like we did with the last album, was really fun.
When you announced that Basement would be touring again, you referred back to the hiatus and said you genuinely thought you were going to be away for quite a while. What changed?
A: Well, when we went on hiatus, Andrew was going back to school to finish off some stuff to do with his career, and that was super important, which is why we kind of had to stop the band for a moment. I thought that we would play shows at some point; I knew that that would happen. But like we said, that was genuine, we didn’t think it would be that soon. The only reason it was so soon is because there was still a demand. There were still people wanting us to play. We didn’t think that would happen – we thought we’d put out the record, some people might like it, and that would be it. Like, we never thought it would be constant, and growing each time, which was mind blowing. So we were still getting offers, and who doesn’t want to travel the world with your five best friends and play music? It just seemed ridiculous not to. So, Andrew got everything sorted with his career; James has graduated, I’m pretty much set up in Boston with my career, Ronan and Duncan both work in London. So it was just like, okay, everyone’s settled, we have time in our summer. It’s basically holidays, so why not? Why would we not want to do that, you know what I mean? It just happened that it was earlier than we thought.
J: Yeah, we did one summer with nothing and it was fine, it was good. I got a job and worked in the summer, but I’d rather go away and hang out, so it came around again and we all kind of agreed we could do something. When we went on break, I had no idea what was going to happen. I had to put it out of my mind, I didn’t want to hang onto it, I was like, “Okay, that was awesome. Next thing, I’ll just do uni or whatever.” And just being away from it literally was the best thing. I appreciate everything so much more now – I always appreciated it, but to have it all again and do more crazy things, it’s awesome. It was the best accidental, cool thing. We didn’t go, “Let’s have a break, that’ll make it better.” It was just that we had to stop it, and came back, and it was the coolest thing to do I think.
A: There was no plan behind it. If anyone ever thinks that, they’re crazy, because it didn’t even cross our minds. It was genuinely like, we literally cannot do this right now – Andrew has to go to school, we have to get things sorted. We did, and there was still the possibility to do it, and why would we not want to do it? We loved doing it in the first place.
So you always knew that it was just a break?
A: I always personally knew that it was a hiatus. Maybe some of the other guys in the band thought that maybe it would be like a lot longer, but I just knew that we had so much fun doing it. And these are my best friends. I just knew that we would play shows at some point again, because we love doing it. I know some bands maybe don’t get along that well, or they don’t really enjoy recording or touring – we love every aspect of it. I don’t think there’s any part of a band we don’t like doing, it’s just fun. Just being friends and making music.
J: Even the boring stuff, when we’re sitting in the van you really think about it, “I’m in Australia, in a van, with my friends,” and we all start laughing and doing stupid stuff. There are no bad parts, it’s all awesome.
You guys have also got some side projects. Is there anything happening with those at the moment? Like Strange Places for example?
J: Yeah, we’re still doing stuff, it’s just a case of – and this is our main thing, that’s just a cool side thing – we’ll definitely keep going with that alongside this because this isn’t going to take over. So yeah, we’ll keep doing stuff; keep playing shows every now and again, record stuff every now and again. Duncan likes the chance to play the guitar rather than the bass, so yeah, that’s great fun. What else is there…?
Crabby Love? Is there anything in the works?
J: (laughs) Yep, probably! We always say we’ll come up with something one day.
A: We might have to follow that up with a second release.
J: Hit, a second hit. Yeah, there’ll be something. It’s so fun, it’s just good fun.
A: I’m in a band in Boston. I haven’t really spoken about it because I don’t really like to until it’s done, you know what I mean? But it’s very close to being finally finished, I’m just waiting on vocals to get done. That will hopefully get done, and it’ll be cool to do something – like Strange Places, maybe do it on the weekend, maybe play shows here and there. But that’s something I’m pretty psyched on. It’s like alternative rock in the most basic sense, like bands like Sebadoh, or Archers of Loaf. It’s fun, it’s a fun and creative band, so it’s something cool to do.
I wanted to know about Tuesdays with Tay… was that your idea Alex? How did that whole thing come about?
A: Yeah, I had a few ideas when Jeff asked me to work for Run For Cover, and we started thinking of ideas of how it could work. And I just thought it’d be cool for people to see what happens every day at a record label. Most people think of it more like Amazon – you know, you order a record and it just turns up at your house, and it’s all like computers that did it. But it’s like, four people who pack up your orders and take time every day to do that. And they’re real people, and you know, I thought it was something interesting to show our work environment. And Tay is a character, and I thought it would be kind of funny if he was just answering kid’s questions, because they always send in questions all the time to the Tumblr. I was like, why not make a video series out of it? I didn’t think anything of it, and now it’s kind of a thing I guess, so… it’s fun. It’s fun to see that. Kids have come up to me in Australia and asked me about it, and that’s great. I can’t wait to tell Tay about his multiple Australian fans.
But there are no episodes going up at the moment…
A: No, not right now. Jeff told me we can just chill, so that’s word from the boss. But when I get back we’ve got some ideas. There might be an episode in America, who knows… there’s another Tay that we know that might wanna answer a few questions, but we’ll see.
You’re directing music videos as well obviously. What’s one of your favourites that you’ve done?
A: I try to make each video better than the last one. I learn about new things every time I do a video, so as the next one approaches I’m thinking about something maybe more creative, or new ideas. The more I do videos it’s all about the idea; it’s all about just getting that idea and making it happen. So the Tigers Jaw one was a really cool one, which is strange because it was an extremely last minute video, but it turned out great. I was actually really worried at one point, but it all came together and so that one’s one of my favourites. I got really good feedback on that which is really nice. And I just finished a video for Cloakroom that’s not online yet, but I think some of the shots in that are some of the best shots I’ve done. I’m excited for that. It’s a little bit weird, but we’ll see what people think. But I really like it.
So just to finish up, realistically, what’s next for the band?
A: Touring when we can… we’ll play when we can.
J: We’ll play when we can and it’ll be awesome.
A: It will be awesome, and we’ll appreciate it and it’ll be sweet. But yeah, we have to look so far in advance. So in August we play Reading Festival. Anna, who’s our booking agent, will come and hang out and it will be awesome. And she’ll be like, “Right, what do you wanna do in 2014?”, so we’ll be already looking at stuff all the way up until next year, and trying to piece together these bits of times that we have free. And that’s the fun part, trying to put these little pieces together, and being like, “Wow, we have something to look forward to!” So like, touring when we can, the record at some point, and have fun. Not take it too seriously.