Interview: Basement

Returning with their first full-length in four years, ‘Promise Everything’ sees Basement find comfort in soaring melodies combining with lyrics that sees the quintet carry their hands on their hearts. Thoroughly lucid and consistent in its delivery, ‘Promise Everything’ marks a new chapter for the band as they abandon other commitments in favour of taking the band full-time.

Last month they followed up the release of ‘Promise Everything’ with a headline tour. Already Heard caught up with guitarist Alex Henery in Manchester to discuss the possibilities the record could open up for the band, giving up professional commitments, as well as other topics; touring with Brand New, advice for new bands and more.

AH: Now that ‘Promise Everything’ has been released, do you feel this album has opened up more opportunities for the future?
Alex: Yes. It’s good to finally release a full album after the amount of time we had off, and when we came back, we wanted to record something, so we recorded the ‘Further Sky’ 7". We wanted to show (people) we cared about making music, and that the breakup wasn’t just some weird gimmick that wasn’t genuine.

But as for the full completed album, I think there is qualities in the songs that can be related to a more mainstream audience or a radio-friendly sound, which we didn’t really think about when we were writing the album, but it’s still has the energy that we have in our previous records. The main thing that I wanted to focus on this record was melody. I just really wanted to write catchy choruses and catchy melodies, and Andrew (Fisher – vocalist) is really good at writing those kinds of things. So yes, we hope it will open up doors to bigger things, but I’ve always said, so long as we are having fun, we will pretty much do anything. I just want to be in a band that I can look back and still be proud of ten years on. A band that I can look back on with integrity and know that we stayed genuine to ourselves.

AH: I’ve heard you say that the writing period was hard on this record because of you guys living so far away. How long did the writing take on this record and how did you find time to record the album given the distance, and your busy schedules?
Alex: Even when we were on the tour of the States, before the Brand New tour, we would write things in sound check because it was the only time that we were together. The funny thing is we actually did the same thing for ‘Colourmeinkindness,’ we wrote ‘Spoiled’ during our EU tour.

However a lot of it was just whenever I picked up my guitar. I would just be messing around with ideas, and if I thought I liked something I would record it on my iPhone and send it to Andrew. If he thought it was cool we would keep, and it not we would move on. I can’t really write full songs for the most part, I usually write parts, and bring it to group and shape them together.

We did a lot of writing in the studio. What was meant to be pre-production was really writing. It put us under a lot of pressure. I’ve said this a lot but I never want to do it like that again. I want us to go away, all in the same room, no distractions and just write. I’m really excited about the next record.

AH: Was it difficult to give up your professional roles? I know that you worked at Run For Cover and Andrew was a teacher. Do you miss these jobs at all?
Alex: I think it’s scary. With a job like teaching or any job with a salary, you know how much money you’re going to be making. As to now, it all depends on touring. But we made the decision we were going to do it, and I am pretty confident that I can pay my bills, and so long as I can do that, I will be alright. I think for me, it was hard to leave Run For Cover because I love filming and I’m missing all these opportunities that I could be progressing my career in videography, but I can always go back to that.

The band is a one time thing. Tomorrow, people could say they don’t like Basement, and it will be gone. Then I can say to myself that I had a good run and I can go back to filming. I’m still trying to do as much filming as I can off tour and even on tour. I’m still trying to do filming and I feel that will be my career path after the band, but for now, we are full time. It’s hard to manage both, but I think Andrew had the biggest job to leave, and they really wanted him to stay. It was super funny because none of them knew. None of the teachers or the kids knew which was good for him. He could do his job without being distracted.

AH: As you guys are on a tour of the UK now, who takes the role on of being the parent of the band
and who is the kid?

Alex: I would say I’m the dad of the band. I like to organise stuff and sort things out, but luckily we have a touring manager named Alexander “Merch” Merchant. He’s from America. He’s a really good friend of ours and he really helps take all that pressure and stress off me, so when I feel like I’m going to snap or all out of patience, he has the patience to answer any question or get anything sorted. He is essential to our touring regime and he’s awesome.

We’re all big kids. We are all stupid. Our humour is dumb, but we make it work. “Merch” is the glue that keeps us all together.

AH: There is no Midlands tour date of the UK. Was any reason for this and do you plan on playing a Midlands show for your next tour?
Alex: We never purposely miss anywhere out and it’s hard to fit everywhere in, especially in the UK, you don’t want to over tour. As we have a booking agent, sometimes the offers come through and from different promoters and I don’t really deal with that. We are just given the options and sometimes you don’t even think like that you just think to yourself, “yeah great.”

There are talks of us doing another tour that hits different markets. Right now they would call this tour an “A market” tour, as were hitting places like: Manchester, Leeds, London, and Glasgow. But there are talks of doing a “B market” tour that would hit places like Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield and then doing somewhere a bit smaller.

I remember when we first started out, we took two tours back to back, both in the UK, and people were saying that they had already seen us but the UK is just so much smaller than America. You can tour America back to back five different ways and still not hit all the main places. We’re trying to do it the best way. We want to play for everyone, so hopefully at some point this year we will get to do somewhere like Nottingham.

AH: While we are talking about tours, you’ve been fairly busy last year on tours with The Story So Far and Turnover, but before that you toured with Brand New. What was the tour with Brand New like?

Alex: They were super nice! We spoke all the time and we became pretty good friends. We’re still in contact with a bunch of them. They genuinely liked our band and wanted to support us. I think it was a year ago, we actually had to turn down a Brand New tour because Andrew was teaching and we thought that it was crazy. But they came back to us and said that we could make it work, and to let them know when we were available. They actually came to our show in New York before we toured with them which was insane. They said that we should do it again, so hopefully we will get tour with them again soon.

AH: You sang on the last song of the record ‘Halo.’ Was this something you always wanted to do and how did the song come about?
Alex: That was one of the first songs I actually wrote for the record. I wrote it back in 2013. I had an acoustic demo on my iPhone and I just really liked the chords. When I came back to it, I started singing a melody that I really liked, which I hadn’t really done before, and then some words were coming to my mind and I hadn’t written lyrics before. I spoke to Andrew. He helped push it out and write the lyrics. By the end of it I had written the song all by myself which I had never done before. Andrew said that I should sing it and he’s always stoked for me to sing. He wants me to do cool stuff, so I said I would do it, but it’s hard. I find it hard to record vocals and sing live. I don’t think I’m a great singer, but he gave me the confidence to do it. We aren’t playing it live just yet. We haven’t had chance to practise. We will try and add it to the set at some point.

AH: For the song ‘Clouds,’ which is the B-side on the ‘Promise Everything’ 7", did Andrew write the song?
It reminds me a lot of his solo project Honey Milk.

AH: It’s funny because I actually wrote the chords and I sent it to Andrew and he wrote the melody. It didn’t make the album but I really like it. I thought it could have been cool but not this time. We’re going to try and record it acoustic style, or at least a live version to be put online.

AH: Do you have any tips for bands that are just starting out? If they are struggling to find members, get signed, find support etc.
Alex: I think a lot of it, which I learnt from Hardcore, is doing it yourself. It seems really hard at the time, but if you just talk to people like in the local scene, even if you’re not really into their style, just band together and do your own shows. I remember I put a show and brought The Wonder Years to Ipswich in 2008. I knew I could get enough of my friends to pay on the door, to pay them whatever was needed to be paid, and we put our own band on the bill, and that’s kind of how we started off. Then from there, we just kind of got lucky and got put on other shows.

I feel like it’s all a fluke that anyone listens to us. Obviously you try and write songs that people want to hear and be played but at the time of writing, you just make something you want to play. It’s hard but I think the most important thing is to have fun with it. Don’t think about when you’re going to play a 100 cap room, just have fun with it, and focus on being creative with your friends. If it happens it happens.

AH: Finally, when is the “Crabby Love” mix tape out?

Alex: Well, we’re going on tour with Turnstile in the States. Brendan (Yates – Turnstile vocalist) was the one wrote the song, Crab (James Fisher) performed it and I recorded it and I think it’s time for another one. I actually think there was one that was written that we were meant to do ages ago, and we just didn’t do it. But I think this is the tour.

’Promise Everything’ by Basement is out now on Run For Cover Records.

Basement links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Richard Widdowson.


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