It’s not often nowadays that you’ll find a band that manages to keep its fan base throughout a fairly substantial change in sound. Basement however, have managed exactly that. It’s never been easy to slot the band into a certain category when it comes to genres anyway, and this hasn’t really become any simpler as the band have progressed. Having come up linked closely with the hardcore scene, but with elements of pop punk and emo in their tracks too, Basement have always had a large number of the alternative bases covered.
I think we’ll always have some fear, but somehow this time around I felt more sure about things – probably just because I was so excited.’
Recent months saw the band heading up and down the UK for their first headline run in a while. ‘The UK tour was amazing. We didn’t have any expectations as such, really I guess if anything we had some reservations. A lot of the guys were unsure of how the shows were going to go – we were doing two nights in each city, and that was pretty scary in case people didn’t show up. I think we’ll always have that fear, but somehow this time around I felt more sure about things – probably just because I was so excited.’ Admittedly, this was a brave move for a band of Basement’s size, but the choice of venues on the tour played into their favour…
‘I guess I’ll always feel more comfortable on a smaller stage, but that’s just because it’s what I’m used to.’ It was only in the last year that the band was out on Bring Me The Horizon’s arena tour, and headlining some of the larger stages at a number of festivals. However, for their own run, as mentioned, the choice of venue was on the whole a lot smaller. ‘A lot of the shows we did last year were pretty big, and we haven’t put anything new out this year so it didn’t feel right to be pushing for bigger venues. Our thought process was that we’d rather play smaller shows and have them be wild. Luckily that’s exactly what happened. I’m not trying to make music for stadiums, but if it doesn’t sound better on better house gear then we’re probably doing something wrong!’
‘Personally, the shows that I enjoy the most are those that I feel that other people are enjoying the most. Live music is so great because you’re sharing an experience with people, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the more people, the better the experience.’ You only have to watch Basement live once to pick up on this attitude. The introduction of the set is quite often a reserved, subdued one – downplayed and simple.
However, once this is out of the way, all bets are off. They’re one of very few bands who can get the crowd behind them from the very outset. As soon as even just the guitar feedback kicks in, there’s an insane amount of movement and response from the majority of the room. ‘I like playing live music regardless, but I’d be lying if I didn’t comment on the face that when I know other people are enjoying it, I enjoy it even more.’
“People want what they can’t have, myself included – that’s just life.”
Prior to their hiatus in 2012, the band achieved a pretty incredible amount in the 3 years following their formation in 2009. This included two full-length releases, signing to an established and well-respected label, and touring globally. Although this is a lot in such a short space of time, it’s clear that the band don’t think it was of any detriment to them in the long run. ‘Putting out two records in three years is a pretty normal thing for a smaller band to do. As for the signing and the touring, that was just luck. I’m just happy that people gave us a shot, and about the fact that they appear to be continuing to do so.’
‘People want what they can’t have, myself included – that’s just life. When we took a break it seemed to create this unobtainable, and newly desirable thing.’ It’s possible that the aforementioned hiatus did, in fact, increase the longevity of the band – were it not for the break, who’s to say that Basement would still be active now? ‘It allowed each of us to develop a sense of perspective. It set us up in the real world with something to fall back on, as well as firmly cementing our desire to be in a band ‘properly’. I’m glad we did it; I look back on my years teaching with the fondest memories – I miss it constantly.’
It’s not a new school of thought, but Basement have been known to acknowledge their belief around the lack of longevity of alternative music as a whole. ‘People seem to stop caring about bands – new stuff always comes along. It’s rare that a band stands the test of time, but even more so in alternative circles. I’m not expecting people to care about Basement forever, and therefore it’s probably not going to be possible for the band to support five people for an extended amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, I would love if it does, and I’m going to put in as much effort and drive into trying to make this last as possible. But like I said, I’m not really expecting it to – why should it?’
‘If I ever feel like I’m out of touch with the world outside of music, I’m going to quit the band.’ For the majority of us, it’s impossible to imagine how easy it is to get swept up within the rapid success and growth of a band, and how this may create a kind of rift between what’s going on with your music (which is essentially your career), and the real world that the rest of us are based in. ‘Let me make a distinction here though; I’m not talking about underground DIY music scenes like punk or hardcore – I will always want to feel in touch with that (regardless of whether I truly am or not), but music is something to be enjoyed, and something which you should allow to enrich your life. It isn’t life itself. I have a bit of an issue with the attitude that some people hold towards the industry side of music – this is not some ‘us vs them’ thing. We’re just people, people that happen to be in a band. Anyone can be in a band. To anyone reading this, go and start a band, please. It will be the best thing you ever do. I don’t feel like I’m in some sort of secret club that makes in in any way distanced from normality. I still watch Scrubs and make my own breakfast.’
“this is not some ‘us vs them’ thing. We’re just people, people that happen to be in a band.”
During the bands hiatus, Fisher went on to become a teacher. Maybe this isn’t necessarily the kind of career that people would associate with a band member – in particular a member of a band member tied so closely to the alternative scene. But why not? ‘It’s made me really appreciate the freedom that I have in my day to day life that comes from being in a band. I get up when I want, I eat when I want, and I can use the bathroom when I want (ask any teacher about this, it’s a BIG deal). The fact that I can focus all of my energy on being creative is incredible.’ It’s interesting to note how a career that is in many ways at the complete opposite end of the spectrum to being in a full-time touring band can offer such a level of perspective. ‘On the negative side of things, it really highlighted the fact that I struggle with focusing all my attention on stuff that directly affects me. Even when I was working in retail, I was serving someone else, and this became especially prominent when working as a teacher. My every day life saw me serving as a function for others. It’s very strange adjusting from that, and I’m still finding it hard at times to justify my current life choice.’
A lot of you reading this will be or will have been at some point in bands, or involved with bands in some direct way. So, you may want to take note of the Basement view on whether or not there is a need to dedicate 100% of your time and efforts to a band, in order to become successful or to be regarded as professional…
‘If I may swear, that is bullshit. Being in a band full time is a luxury and a blessing. I don’t deserve to be called anymore professional than anyone else. Just because I can afford to spend all of my time doing this, does not mean that I deserve it more than anyone else. That’s absolute nonsense. If you’re good at what you do, you are good at what you do. It doesn’t matter if you do it in your spare time, or in every waking hour. However, I will say this: if you are in this incredibly fortunate position and you squander any of the opportunities being put in front of you, then you are an idiot. I write constantly. I always have. I try and do something creative every day and I am so thankful for the fact that I can do that. In a sense, if that makes me more ‘professional’, then I feel comfortable with that title. But I know that I am one of the lucky ones.’
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