For Basement’s Andrew Fisher, his main goal now with the U.K. band, other than writing the best songs that they can, is to remain present. That’s his key focus, to be as engaged with the band, the business and the music as much as he can be: as a singer, as a musician, as a bandmate, and as a friend. This is what drives a lot of the lyrics and imagery of songs like ‘Disconnect’ and ‘Be Here Now‘, both taken from the quintet’s latest album, the solid ‘Beside Myself’; in all of its honest, hooky, 90s-tinged alternative-rock glory. But just like any profession or life passion, not every day is an up. We all go through that, and Andrew’s no different. Yet as the Basement frontman tells me, he always likes to remind himself of that day-to-day ebb and flow, so as to stay true to why he started doing this in the first place.
So Andrew, what’s going on with you right now in your neck of the woods?
I’m not too bad, mate. It’s been a long one today. We drove two hours out of Kansas and now we’re in Denver, Colorado. So it was probably 9-10 hours drive-in all up.
Gnarly. Have you gotten used to the long drives over the years being in Basement? I think a lot of people forget about the lengthy travels when they think of bands touring.
It honestly depends on how you do them. For this run, we’re in a normal passenger van, as we split the drives between us all. That’s hard. The first two hours I wasn’t driving and I was just so bored. Then I drove for three hours and that was fine, you just switch-off as you’re focused on not crashing and killing everyone [laughs].
I actually did a massive eight-hour drive from Melbourne, Victoria up to Wollongong, New South Wales earlier this year. When I wasn’t driving it was kinda dull, but as soon as it was my turn, I thought it was great!
That’s how I feel too! And sometimes the conversations not flowing and you don’t want to force it because everyone’s tired and wants to sleep. So it’s easier to sleep or be behind the wheel.
Agreed! So, with new album ‘Beside Myself’, I wanted to talk about the topics divulged on it. In another interview I did recently with Greg Puciato from The Black Queen, he told me how he sees as albums almost like “artistic icebergs”; where the record is the tip and then there’s all this stuff underneath that you don’t see and hear about it. With this record, are there other things that have impacted the writing and lyrics that you didn’t discuss, or that maybe people will assume there’s more to it all?
That’s really interesting. I think it’s both things. I think there’s a lot more that goes on behind it all. If you’re talking lyrically and musically, there’s who did what, how they felt when it was done, where it was made, and how long it took – that all goes on behind the scenes. It’ll take as long as it takes. All people see is the finished product. And if they’re not interested in finding out what created that, they could quite happily be blissfully ignorant. But equally, people could take completely different things that maybe weren’t intended. Now, I think both are very cool. As it just shows how varied and personal interacting with music is, which is great.
For sure. And I think there are some songs that are very clear-cut regarding what they’re about (‘Stigmata‘ talking about depression and mental illness), but then there are others that are maybe more open to interpretation. So both could happen with how listeners take it all on.
Yeah, and I don’t have a hope for it either way, but I like the idea of people taking from it what they will. I don’t even mind if someone doesn’t take anything from it; that they just think it’s nice or equally that they don’t like it. I certainly don’t want anything specific to be drawn from these songs. Sometimes, as you said, it’s pretty transparent with what theme I’m singing about. But I do like it to be ambiguous, as people can then do what they want with it. They can engage with it as how they see fit. They can go as deep or as surface level as they want. They might just like it cause it sounds nice. Both are valid honestly. It’s all how I’m feeling and what I’m doing, so this album is about me. Whatever people think is cool with me!
Stemming from that, though, I wanted to ask about the song, ‘Disconnect’. By including the lyric, “my Prodigal Son, what have you done?“, you must know that people will read into that more, surely? Whether just about you playing a part, maybe something your family or parented mentioned to you that you’re quoting here, or how as the wider song suggests, simply your disconnection from Basement. I’m just really wondering about that song.
See mate, this is the really interesting thing. I have the choice now on whether or not you’re right or wrong, and then it gets out there into the world. And I have to think about if I want that to happen. Because as soon as I say it, how people will interact with it might change. But I don’t want to hide it either. In that song, I’m the “Prodigal Son”, it’s about me; I’m talking to myself. The song’s about me constantly having to feel what it’s like to be in a band, and trying to hold onto what got me here in the first place; not letting all the little silly stuff get in the way and making me jaded. I’m reminding myself, I’m telling myself that it’s okay to have those feelings cause it’s okay to then forgive yourself and carry on.
Thanks for sharing that, Andrew. On that topic of getting worn out, and maybe the song’s mere existence confirms this, but have you ever taken Basement’s music and the success for granted? Just genuinely curious to know.
No, not directly. But indirectly by my attitude, if that makes sense. So I’ve never looked at anything we’ve done and gone, “Oh I don’t care about that”. But the times where you let yourself slip and start complaining to yourself or someone else about, for example, the long drives on tour I mentioned earlier. Just stupid stuff that doesn’t matter like loading in and doing soundcheck. Where it’s like: “are you really gonna complain about the fact that in your entire day there are three or so hours where you actually have to do anything and the rest of it is you hanging out with friends and having a good time?” Cause at the end of it, you get to play live music for people. So in those times, there the times I feel like I’m jaded or taking it for granted but it’s retrospective and indirect; I’m just being lazy and not engaging with what I’m doing.
Yeah, it’s one of those situations where you love it, you hate some of it, but you still love it.
Absolutely! I imagine anyone who reads this will think “What are you talking about!? How can you say that there are bad aspects?” That’s the part that gets me. Of course, everyone deals with their own experiences personally and in their own own way, and no matter what you do, there’ll be times where’s just one thing you want to do during one day. But then there are times where you just feel like not being there, not wanting to be around these people, not wanting to play the show, but the next day will be the complete opposite. That’s when you really start to realise how lucky you are; that’s what I try and hold onto and what I really care about in being creative with my career. This pays my rent, this allows me to do the things I want to do, so I do feel very lucky. It’s all about reminding myself of that.
I think you raise a really good point there; that you’ve not only gonna remind yourself of the good but also be willing to talk about the bad too. I think some people just don’t understand the workload of touring bands and the various issues that can come up financially or inter-personally. They just see the success and the music; it can fly over people’s heads sometimes.
Yeah, it’s like anything. It all comes down to the person. You can be doing the number one thing you wanted in life and still have a bad day. It’s called being human – it just happens. It’s how you deal with that is when the integrity comes into play. You can whine about it and cause issues, or you can try and reflect and challenge yourself to become better and engage with what you’re doing. Just so you’re not doing an injustice to yourself about why you wanted to do it to begin with. And I’ve always wanted to do this.
‘Beside Myself’ is out now via Fueled By Ramen.