INTERVIEW: Basement | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s often the case that a band isn’t fully appreciated until they’ve called it a day. Luckily for Basement fans, the five-piece decided to give things a second shot. Formed in Ipswich in 2009, the band were quickly signed to prolific alt. record label Run For Cover, releasing their debut full length I Wish I Could Stay Here in 2011. Just before the release of their second album, Colourmeinkindness in 2012, Basement announced an indefinite hiatus due to personal commitments, playing what was assumed would be their final shows in November 2012. During their absence, their fan base only seemed to grow, with Colourmeinkindness becoming a cult favourite. Since announcing their return in January 2014, Basement’s popularity has skyrocketed, with the release of their third record, Promise Everything, in January further cementing their status as one of the UK’s most important alt. rock bands. Thankfully, Basement are just getting started.

“Writing music and being creative has always been the main driving force of the band, and as soon as we decided we were going to play shows again we knew we would want to release new material,” explains guitarist Alex Henery. Creating Promise Everything didn’t come without its difficulties: the prospect of making a ‘comeback’ record is a daunting task for any band, but for Basement the main obstacle was physical rather than creative, with Henery moving to America to work as a videographer for Run For Cover in Boston. “We are all close friends and kept in touch the whole time the band was inactive. Practicing was hard as I was living in the States, but we made it work.” Their sheer dedication to continuing what they started led to the band writing songs transatlantically, recording ideas on their phones and sending them back and forth with changes and comments. “We had some practices while I was in the UK, and a lot of songs were shaped and written in the studio. I never want to do that again. I’m excited for our next LP, we have time on our side for this next one.”

Despite the challenges and time spent apart, in Promise Everything Basement created a record that demonstrates their growth as a band without compromising the unique sound they had cultivated; the sound that made Colourmeinkindness such a cult hit. Though their roots are grounded firmly in hardcore and punk, Basement bridge the gap between a number of genres, from emo to grunge to post-hardcore with a touch of American college rock thrown into the mix. While I Wish I Could Stay Here is considered more of an ’emo’ record, influenced by the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate and The Promise Ring, Colourmeinkindness saw Basement hone the more melodic aspects of their sound to create a work of soaring, melancholic alt. rock. It’s not difficult to understand how it gained such cult status with tracks such as Covet and Spoiled providing anthemic moments with passionate sing-along lyrics. Promise Everything takes the evolution of Colourmeinkindness one step further; a mature return which focuses more heavily on lush melodies and swooping optimism, though they haven’t completely abandoned their angsty roots, instead balancing aggression with moments of delicate grandeur.

to tell people my full time job is being in a band feels weird

If Basement’s music managed to provoke a fevered response from their listeners while they were away from the scene, now they’re back, the response is nothing less than frenzied. The first time I saw Basement was at Groezrock Festival not too long after they’d returned to playing live, and the response was crazy, with limbs flailing through the air as stage dive after stage dive took place. It’s quite a strange thing to witness, given that their music isn’t that heavy compared to other bands of their ilk, but Basement are just one of those bands that truly inspire sheer emotion. Though such emotion didn’t end too well for one young fan who attempted to stage dive during Basement’s slot supporting Brand New in Middlesbrough, resulting in a rather painful meeting between metal barrier and face. “We all remember that incident in Middlesbrough,” Henery recalls. “I’ve probably mentioned that in multiple interviews because it was so strange and surreal. It definitely surprises me when people are genuinely so passionate about the songs, like I can see they really connect with them. Sometimes people can be too aggressive and that bothers me, our shows are meant to be enjoyed by everyone and sometimes it just takes one person to ruin the whole vibe. But for the most part everyone has a great time and it can make the shows really special.”

Now Basement is effectively a full time job for its members, most of their time is spent touring, not just Europe but the world, especially the USA where the band are hugely popular. With the band about to embark upon a UK tour this July, appearing at Newcastle’s Riverside on Tuesday 12th, Henery muses upon Basement now being his livelihood. “It was amazing to see people were into the band and cared enough to support the band even if we weren’t playing shows. But it’s definitely strange for me – to tell people my full time job is being in a band feels weird. I feel like I worry a lot about the band providing financially for all of us. This is our main source of income and has to pay for our rent and general life expenses, we have to be touring as much as possible to make a living. But it’s all good, we’re working hard and so far so good. We will start writing for a new LP soon, we’ve got lots of cool tours coming up and we’re very excited to announce stuff. We’re just going to have as much fun as we can while people still care.”

Basement play Newcastle Riverside on Tuesday 12th July.


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