Ipswich band Basement went on indefinite hiatus in 2013, just after releasing their second record Colourmeinkindness. Accruing a dedicated posthumous following, the band came back with a three song EP in 2014, showing that a break hadn't stopped their progression in style, and then announced another full length in Promise Everything last year. Now, the time has finally come to experience that baby in full!
If Colourmeinkindness epitomised the grunge worship that defined 2012, then Promise Everything sees Basement finding the perfect balance between aggressive and melodic. It sounds like Jimmy Eat World via Soundgarden, so, basically it has everything you've been waiting for in a rock record since forever. I won't go on about it, but you can stream Promise Everything below exclusively on Noisey in the UK, and read our interview with guitarist Alex Henery about the record, arcade games, US vs UK food, and his fondness for Adele.
Noisey: Hi! You guys went on indefinite hiatus soon after releasing Colourmeinkindness. How have things been for you guys since you started making music again?
Alex Henery: Things have been great, it’s definitely taking a bit of time to be used to, with the band being our full time “job”. Even calling it a job seems so weird, but I guess it is now. It’s a cool feeling to dedicate all our time to the it. Previously we would just get part time jobs and then quit to go on tour. But the main things feel the same, we’re still friends, still really passionate about being creative and writing music together.
You went on to accrue a pretty devoted following after that. Were there ever any doubts or concerns about whether people would take to the new material?
I mean it’s impossible to ignore the audience, however when in the studio you have to completely block out any expectations and just write music you like and music you want to play live. The most important thing is that we’re all happy with what is being written. When we get excited about a track in the studio it’s the best feeling, I’m not sitting there thinking, "I wonder if people will like this?" I like it, so who cares what anyone else thinks?
While Colourmeinkindness felt fairly grunge heavy, on Promise Everything you seem to have found more of a balance between aggressive and melodic. It feels bigger and bolder than anything you’ve done before.
Yeah, that was a concious decision. I wanted to expand on my favorite moments on CMIK, I loved the songs with strong melodies and also still wanted to keep the energy from previous records. So "melody" and "energy" were the main criteria for this new album, fusing them together well was our main goal. And I think this is the most cohesive record we have ever made. It flows better than our past efforts, and I think the song writing is some of our best. Also the production from Sam Pura gives it a bold sound, without sounding over the top.
What kind of things were going through your minds when writing the album, and what moods would you say define it?
This record touches on themes of finding your place in the world, relationships, self worth and searching for meaning. I can’t speak for Andrew as he wrote all the lyrics on this LP except on the song "Halo", which he helped me write. But those are the things I hear when I listen to the record. The emotions and themes in the songs are something everyone can relate to, people can interpret the songs meaning however they please. I think that adds a personal level to it, it could mean one thing to one person and something completely different to someone else.
Youv'e been living in the US for a few years now. Where and how did you find yourselves writing the record and did the geography present any challenges?
We wrote a lot of ideas and would send them back and forth through emails and our group chat. However I personally never want to write a record in that way again. We made it work this time, but in the future I would like to go away and spend long periods of time together in the same place and write a record with no distractions. I think some of our best song writing is when we are together and ideas are flowing naturally. A lot the ideas we had were shaped or changed we were all together in the studio. There was a definite time pressure, and as much as I don’t want to admit I think we work well under pressure, it forces us to get things done. But on the next LP I would like to utilise the time we have to make sure we don’t have to rush anything.
How would you describe Promise Everything to someone who hadn’t heard Basement before?
When anyone asks what the band sounds like I just say, “Have you ever heard of Jimmy Eat World? It’s kinda like that but a bit more abrasive.” When they say they don’t know who Jimmy Eat World are I just say we’re an alternative rock band.
If you had to pick one song on the album that you're the most excited about, or that represents the tone you wanted to strike on Promise Everything, which would it be?
"Aquasun". It’s a song that my mum likes, but also a song that someone who has listened to us for year would like. It’s catchy and driven, it’s also super fun to play. I also really like "Brother’s Keeper".
“Aquasun” is probably going to be a fan favourite. The video is full of fish and arcade games, which pretty great. What’s the best arcade game according to Basement?
My favorite at the Felixstowe arcade is probably the 2p Horse Betting game. But last year when we were on tour in the States we went to go see a Sicario at the cinema and there was a game call Down The Clown, where you had to throw balls at these toy clowns. Needless to say we all got addicted and probably spent $20 playing that game trying to beat each others score. The game would also insult you when you missed the clowns, we were all shouting and screaming, getting so mad at this stupid game.
You’re touring Europe with Tigers Jaw and Alex G next month. On a scale of Tay in every episode of Tuesdays With Tay to Homer Simpson at an all you can eat buffet, how excited are you for that?
Well Tay likes America too much to leave, so probably Homer? But yeah that tour is going to rule. I love both bands, and Alex G’s new record is amazing, easily one of my favourites of 2015. Plus we have known TJ for years, so it will be nice to hang with them for a few weeks. Last tour we went paint balling and destroyed the other bands, so maybe we can go play a game on our off day.
Basement have a huge fanbase in the US, but in terms of the band's identity do you feel a stronger connection to the UK or is it not hugely important to you?
It’s not super important to us, however we love touring America, it’s hands down the best place to tour as it’s so convenient. We also have way more bands that we are friends with in the States, so it’s fun to put together tours with people you like hanging out with. We don’t really know many bands in the UK, other than those in the hardcore scene. I like Adele though, she’s awesome and she’s British. When "Hello" came out we listened it everyday of tour for two weeks straight, our bassist Duncan hated it.
Let me level with you, Brit to Brit. it’s no secret that American bands on tour tend to hate our national cuisine. Except fellow Run For Cover dudes Modern Baseball, who we asked to review British tour food recently and they described Nando’s as “the triple handclap emoji of the culinary world.” So, whose food is better? US or UK?
America has a wider choice of food and so is the better of the two, I mean I just had Shake Shack for lunch and their burgers are insane. However England has the best savoury food, the bread, the fruit and veg is next level. Like, seriously, Hovis bread makes me want to move back to England, bread in America sucks. Other great meals in England: shepherds pie, bangers and mash, fish and chips, meat pies, Greggs, and honestly our supermarkets are a million times better. Shout out Tescos and Sainsburys. And finally, England has tea and Hobnobs. Enough said.