The Revitalized Basement ‘Promise Everything’ and Deliver
The term "overnight success" gets thrown around a bit too liberally, but it's hard to argue with in relation to Ipswich alt-rockers Basement. After taking a short hiatus in 2012, the band returned with a bang via 2014's surprise EP, Further Sky, eventually releasing the Promise Everything LP in 2016. The break would turn out to be key, refocusing their sound into a prism of alt-rock, indie and emo, making for a raucous and satisfying record. Fans responded in kind, providing sold-out tours and a snowball of enthusiasm that had been bubbling under the surface for some time. This year, Basement announced their signing to Fueled by Ramen, and the re-release of Promise Everything, including a re-recorded title track.
Today, they're premiering their video for the title track, shot by the entire band. Guitarist Alex Henery serves as director, with vocalist Andrew Fisher and guitarist Ronan Crix handling camera duties. The clip shows the band playing everywhere from tunnels and parks to grocery store aisles. It's a great deal of fun, its still shots looking similar to a postcard you might get from a friend, the video concluding with our heroes playing (fittingly) in a basement.
Watch the new video above, and read our interview with Fisher and bassist Duncan Stewart. Grab the re-release of Promise Everything from Fueled by Ramen.
These past few years as a music fan have been kind of interesting to me, especially in terms of rock music. It seems like bigger labels have been paying attention to prominent guitar music again, and there have been signings like Basement to FBR, Code Orange to Roadrunner, etc. Where do you guys see the trajectory of rock music going?
Duncan Stewart: I think it was going to come back around. People wanted to hear, as you said, guitar-based bands again. I think there was a period with a lot of singer-songwriter stuff; the mainstream was full of a lot of singer-songwriter stuff like Ed Sheerhan, and that stuff was popular. I do think guitar-based bands are going to come back around, and I think that’s a good thing, ’cause it’s been a while since there’s been a really big new rock band.
It’s hard to connect to. And while I don’t really get my new music from the radio, if you do, there isn’t really a band out there.
DS: Right, yeah. Bands like the Foo Fighters were the last charge of it.
Andrew Fisher: Yeah. And it’s like, if you’re coming into music now ... I don’t know how it is in the States, but in the U.K., there wouldn’t be that option unless you were listening to a specific slot at a specific time that only plays heavier music. Or you went to an independent, online radio. There just wouldn’t be that. We recently did a tour in the U.K. where the van didn’t have an aux. So, we couldn’t listen to our own music, and we’d flip through the radio and would last five minutes, because it’s just the same weird faux dance music stuff that’s just for clubs. I don’t know whether or not music with guitars is going to come back like it was before. I’d love it, too, but otherwise I don’t know — where are people going to get into alternative music? Not everyone has an older brother that goes to shows or stuff.
For sure, having an older relative definitely helped me, but I’m always curious what’s out there for the 13- or 14-year-olds as far as how they approach finding tunes.
AF: My intro to that, kind of as the older brother, was through music TV. MTV2 in the U.K., Kerrang TV and stuff — that was how I got into alternative music.
DS: A lot of our generation in the U.K. was how we got into it. The first music video I saw on Scuzz was Metallica’s “One,” and that completely changed pretty much everything for me.
AF: But then again, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit were on the radio around that time, and that’s how I got into all kinds of alternative music.
DS: And that’s kind of gone now. [Laughs]
AF: Which sucks. [Laughs]
Totally. It’s funny seeing you guys tour with Thursday, because in my mind that was the last wave of rock given any kind of chance to maybe carry the flag forward.
AF: That’s cool. I knew they were big in the sense that they were a band that was around the people we’re talking about ... and [I was] listening to when I was a little older, when I’d already made my path in what I wanted to listen to. But I had one particular friend that would listen to anything that could be considered slightly alternative, punk, hardcore, metal, what have you. He had all the CDs, so bands like Thursday he’d throw at me all the time, though I was more in the punk side of things. [Duncan] was more in the metal side of things.
For you two personally, in Ipswich —which I understand is a small town — how did you get into going to shows?
DS: For me, it was my older brother, the classic. He’s a drummer, and he met some friends through BMX who were in a band; we were in a band and he started drumming for him. He’d be like, “This is my little brother; come play bass for us.” And they were all a good five to six years older than me. So, they’d take me to these shows, and at some point, our paths just crossed.
AF: Even though Alex lived in Ipswich at the time, he went to a school outside of it. I knew him from my weird punk friends at school. Like, you go to school and see what weird pin badges someone has on their bag, like, “Oh, I like them, too.” And through that group, and local schools that were close to each other, I had a friend of mine called Tom, and we both played guitar and sang, so we were like, “Let’s start a band.” We were terrible, but it was the first time we were in bands at like 15 or 16 [and said], “Let’s just play music,” and it was in a very removed ska-punk scene. I got a bit older and got into a bit more heavier, “credible” music, and our paths just crossed in Ipswich.
DS: It’s kind of hard in Ipswich to not ... if you’re into anything alternative, everyone sort of intermingles with one another. There’s so little going, even if you’d never imagine meeting them anywhere else.
For the re-release of Promise Everything, you re-recorded the title track, and it sounds totally different. Was the switch in production a conscious statement on your part about the future?
AF: Nah, I don’t think it was that. The song literally as it was wasn’t the best-structured. The record label gave us the option of, “Do you want to go back to anything? For example, this song could use another chorus.” And for us, at first, it was like, “Well, that song’s done.” And then, because when we recorded stuff we had no time originally to do any prepro, it was just, “Here’s the songs, they’re done now, let’s record it.” There was no time to sit on the songs and think, “This could use a bridge, this could have another chorus.” We didn’t have that option. So, as far as the arrangement goes, there’s that. As far as recording goes, we were recording with a guy called Andrew Scheps in Wales. It was the first time I had ever been with someone in a recording studio who had said everything I wanted to hear. He said, “So, you guys want to do this live?”
DS: Yes, please, absolutely.
AF: “You guys are a rock band. It’s a pretty rocky song — let’s do it live and see what happens.” And we tracked everything live and overlaid the few little guitar bits and vocals.
DS: Up until that point, I never realized how much better we worked that way. We were never given the opportunity to do a real high-quality live situation like that. It made me realize how much I hate sitting in the control room just tracking over and over again, just by yourself while everyone’s a bit disinterested on their phones. Everyone’s in the same room all keeping each other’s attention, constantly suggesting stuff with him. It was so much fun.
AF: We never hated how Promise Everything came out, but it was never 100 percent what we wanted. I remember when we did a live session for something else that never got used, we did a live session of “Promise Everything.” When we went back to the control room, all we could think was, “Why didn’t the [album] sound like this?!” That one take sounded so much more natural, so much more whatever. So, being able to go back to that was a really cool experience. I think the song sounds really sick now; it’s way more close to how we feel when we do it live.
Why do you say Promise Everything wasn’t 100 percent where you wanted it?
AF: A bunch of reasons. [Laughs]
How long did it take to record?
AF: Ten days? There were a lot of time issues, stress, that kind of stuff. It wasn’t a particularly enjoyable situation.
Live recorded songs are often my favorites from certain albums. We were doing this Mellon Collie piece the other day, and one of the things I remember most from the record was the producer talking about how the Smashing Pumpkins recording "X.Y.U." was one of the most intense things he was present for. Is doing more live recorded tracks something you’re interested in?
DS: Definitely want to give it a go, and incorporate. There’ll be some things where we have to overdub tracks. At least trying to keep the live aspect at its core would be awesome, to maybe pick certain songs that may sound better live. There’s definitely a way to work that concept in there.
AF: Yeah. When we did it live in the first place, it was a suggestion, and we’re glad it worked out, but if it didn’t, we would’ve been fine to throw a click on and do the drums separate or whatever. It would be interesting to do the more aggressive tracks live. That’s the great thing about us writing for future records: We’ve now got the time to do stuff, and we can experiment with stuff like that.
What to you attribute having more time to?
AF: For us, we don’t have any jobs outside of the band.
DS: We all had full-time jobs when we were recording Promise Everything, so we had to work it in.
When did you make the break to do the band full-time? Andrew, you're a teacher, right?
AF: Yeah, I was a teacher. Haven’t taught for two years now, which is terrifying. We weren’t able to drop our jobs during the studio process ’cause there was only one day where we could all be in the studio at the same time.
DS: During practice for Promise Everything, we made the decision, because we knew we wanted to do another album. Do that and a few things here or there, keep it on a back burner.
Was it scary to make the full commitment to a band?
AF: Not really. It was more scary to ask whether or not everyone else wanted to do it. I mean, that’s the whole reason we took the first break in the first place: so we could set ourselves up to have stuff that, if the band doesn’t do well, we could go back to.
DS: Everyone had gotten to the point where it was like, “Well, let’s give it a go.”
AF: Never scared about it, just totally excited, having a bash.
So, how did the signing to Fueled by Ramen come along?
AF: We were approached last March at a show by the label. And they rolled deep. There were like 14 people, and they were just like, “Yeah, we’re interested,” and it was super intimidating! That many people interested in the band. [Laughs] There was a conversation between the label we were on at the time and the label we’re now on, and it took a long time, but they were cool the whole way.
Why did they feel like the right fit?
AF: It just seemed like a cool offer.
DS: Everyone we’ve met from the label, there’s never any pretense — just super nice people. We’ve got a very good feeling [that] they seem to have our best interests at heart, they seem to know what we’re about as a band and they seem to want to support every bit of it.
AF: When you dip your toe into this world, I don’t know what you look for, I don’t know how one label is better than the other. But the fact that they have our interests at heart — we’re not going to change anything, and they haven’t asked us to. They’ve just supported everything.
They wanted Basement.
AF: Yeah! Sometimes they make suggestions, sometimes we say yes, sometimes no; they know way more about this world than us. Also, we wanted to do something different than other people. We’ve been in the scene for such a long time with a bunch of other similar bands doing similar things that when this came along, it was like, “I’m pretty sure no one else is going to do this.”
DS: It gave us the chance to branch out, and I don’t think it’s too far removed. So, it didn’t feel like we were jumping into some nameless corporation. We were going somewhere a bit close-knit, ’cause we were in constant contact with the team. I always forget how often we see them — it’s a constant contact.
So, what’s up next for you guys?
DS: We’ve started writing. I guess a bit more touring this year, and focus on writing a new record.
AF: We want to tour, but we want something to tour for. I think we all very much want to do a new album.
Are there certain things you find yourselves wanting to dig into on this record, as opposed to the last one?
DS: I think our last album was very mid-paced. I’m not very good with melody; I’ve always been more interested in rhythm, so I’m more interested in what we can do with drum patterns and different structure, go places we haven’t really gone before. Because Andrew and Alex are so good with melody, I think it would definitely put it in a different place than the last album.
AF: We haven’t even spoken about that, but I’d agree 100 percent. Melody is always going to come naturally, but it would be cool to focus on the other stuff to make it a little more interesting. And without sounding too cheesy or anything, I’d like to get into a bit more heavier stuff. Because we have dabbled with it a bit — some bits that are heavy — but I’d like there to be a bit more heavier stuff.
DS: There’s bands like Hum — they’re super melodic, but also super heavy, experimenting with different guitar sounds and effects. It’s such a fine line to tread with heavy music, ’cause we don’t want it to sound like a beatdown pop-punk song. [Laughs]
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