Interview with Basement: Dive Into Me

Interview with Basement: Dive Into Me

—by , April 27, 2016

04-27 Buzz - Basement (Photo by Harley PethyBridge)

Starting off the new year on a strong note, Basement released their highly-anticipated studio effort, Promise Everything, in January. Since reuniting in 2014 after a two-year long hiatus, the newly refreshed U.K.-based pop punk quintet picked up right where they left off—with a clear perspective, and thriving aspirations to continue forward as a full-time touring band. At the start of their reunion tour that fateful summer, Basement released their EP, Further Sky, with the intentions for a third full-length record to soon follow.

Considering how much time has passed since Basement unveiled Colourmeinkindness before going on their hiatus in 2012, it’s evident that Promise Everything was expected to be a huge studio success. Delivering many standalone tracks throughout, including the mesmerizing number “Aquasun,” along with their energetic title track, “Promise Everything,” there’s no doubt that Basement surpassed many expectations by presenting fans with a blissfully progressive direction that is reminiscent to alternative rock icons like Jimmy Eat World and Failure. Making their return to the United States since their run with The Story So Far and Turnover this past fall, this will be the band’s first time back in the U.S. supporting the new material off of Promise Everything.

            A few weeks before Basement started their U.S. tour with Turnstile, Defeater and Colleen Green, I had the chance to talk to guitarist Alex Henery about the reception of Promise Everything so far, and their return to the United States. Henery even shared with me a few surreal stories from some of Basement’s recent tours, as well as newer acts that he’s been personally listening to while on the road.

So, it’s been a few months since Promise Everything was released. What has the record’s reception been like so far?

            Yeah, I think it’s been good. We’ve only done one tour so far, and that was in Europe. We did a whole mix of songs from the past three LPs, and we played a lot of new songs—I think we played at least six or seven songs from the record [Promise Everything]. It went really well, and people really seemed to like it. We’ve cut a few songs from the set, and we plan on figuring out which ones sound best, but for the most part, people seem to be very into it, so I can’t ask too much more than that.

Considering the amount of time that has passed since releasing Colourmeinkindness and also reuniting as a touring band, did you anticipate for Promise Everything to have a lot of overwhelming expectations from the very beginning?

            Yeah, I mean… kind of in a way. I guess the pressure didn’t come until afterwards, after it was recorded, and I was thinking about people hearing the songs that we had. But the pressure in the studio, I wasn’t trying to think about it, or I didn’t really dwell on it too much. It wasn’t actually until when we had the songs done where I started over thinking, “Are people going to be into this?” or whatever. But we just let it go, and we just tried to make the best album of songs that we’ve had. You know, I was thinking more on the creative level. Like, I wanted to create great album art, and T-shirt designs, and all of that kind of stuff as well.

But yeah, we don’t do it [for] people, we make the songs that we do want to play and that we like, but it’s so far so good—the kids seem to be receptive, which is cool.

When the record came out, I heard many comparisons to seminal acts like Jimmy Eat World, Failure, and even Soundgarden. What would you say influenced the direction of your sound on this record particularly?

            Well, I’ve been a huge Jimmy Eat World fan since I was a kid. I remember it being like… Bleed American was an important record for me in high school. Then, when I got into Failure that was also a big influence too. So yeah, maybe I can definitely understand why people would draw those comparisons. Autolux, they’re the biggest influence on this one. Because it was just really catchy, but strange kind of songs, and just… I don’t know, they just had energy and had that distortion, but still had really cool melodies.

And that was the main thing—I just wanted to write catchy songs and interesting parts. Something that people might be into. Yeah, I don’t know, there is definitely a progression in this record from past attempts, but we wanted to make it a bit more coherent and stuff. But yeah, who knows, I’m siked that people are comparing it to legendary bands, so hopefully that’s a good thing.

At the time when Colourmeinkindness came out, bands like Title Fight, Superheaven, Turnover, and Citizen have also put out records that appeared to be inspired by alternative music from the ’90s. As these bands progressed and matured since then, how have you personally seen these styles kind of shift and change within the last couple of years?

            I think people are finding their place and are finding out what kind of band they want to be. And for us, we really wanted to focus on melody. That side of the band that we wanted to push was to write really catchy songs, but I still want it to be energetic, and I still really wanted people to enjoy the live shows.

I feel that a band like Turnover is growing into their own, which is really cool to see, and that they’re doing well. Citizen is taking their own path, and they’re trying to do their own thing and it’s cool. I feel like as we’re growing up, we’re figuring out like, what bands we actually are, other than maybe our influences, so it’s cool to see everyone come kind of into their own, which is pretty exciting.

Pretty soon, Basement will be starting up their upcoming tour across the United States with Turnstile and Defeater. How does it feel to come back and tour the U.S. now that your fanbase has had the opportunity to fully grasp and get excited on the new record?

            Yeah, I’m really excited. Not only am I really excited about the tour package, I feel like it’s a really strong and interesting package that hopefully kids would want to come check it out, and I feel like it’s totally diverse.

We have Colleen Green opening up, which gives the tour package a completely different vibe as well. We’re trying to make tour packages with people that we’re friends with and that we get along with, but also we really back their music. I love all of the bands on tour, and I am hoping that it would draw a diverse crowd and that it wouldn’t just be hardcore kids, or just pop punk kids or whatever; it would be a whole mix of people, which I think it would be really fun. So that would be really cool.

I am excited to play in the States again, which is the one of the best countries in the world to tour. It’s so convenient, it’s so easy and the weather is going to be great, hopefully. Europe is cool, but there’s something about America—I don’t know, it’s our fifth tour in the States, and we just know how to tour here. We have a lot of friends, and I love the places where we can go and eat (laughs) so that’s going to be cool. So yeah, I’m really, really excited; I love touring America.

There’s no doubt that playing in Basement, you’ve been given the opportunity to travel to many different countries and have seen many beautiful places. Recently, what would say were some of your favorite experiences out on the road?

            Getting to tour with Brand New was a huge experience—you could never, not even dream about doing that kind of stuff. You know, you just think it’s impossible, but we got to do that, which was really cool. It was our first tour where we got to play in really, really massive venues, and tour with a band who kind of gets it and has been around for a while. They were really nice and gave really good advice, and we became good friend with them, so that was amazing.

On this recent tour, we got to play in some countries that we’ve never played before. We played in Budapest, and we played in Hungary, and I was like, “No one is going to come to this show.” We went in there, and there was 400 people there, and it was one of the best shows on tour.

Even when our trailer broke down in Austria, we got to… well, our tour manager at the time had to go find a new tire. He was going around to the local people (laughs), trying to get people to sell him their new spare tires, and no one would do it. Eventually, he found someone on a goat farm, and she actually loaned us a whole trailer that we borrowed for two shows that we gave back to her after our trailer was finally fixed. But in that period of time, we went hiking in the Austrian mountains while he was doing this stuff (laughs), and we actually went skiing and snowboarding, so we made the most out of our time off. We only missed one show in Rome, but that was an awesome experience.

Going into Japan, I think that was probably one of the bigger culture shocks with places that I’ve ever been, and that was incredible. Almost every day, it was just such an amazing time that we got to explore an amazing country with such a rich culture, and it was really out of this world. It was awesome, I got to take so many amazing photos every 10 seconds just because everything was different in comparison with Western culture, so that was really fun. It was definitely one of the most interesting places we’ve ever toured for sure.

While you’re out on the road, and also work in the music industry for a label like Run For Cover Records, does that also give you the chance to personally digest and come across new music on a frequent basis?

Yeah! On tour we’ve been listening to the new Porches record quite a lot—they have a new record out called Pool, which is really good. We listen to a lot of Alex G.; we were touring with them in the United Kingdom, and they are really awesome as well. I really love the new signing at Run For Cover Records—it’s the band Pinegrove, and they just put out a new record called Cardinal. Oh! Steve Hartlett from Ovlov’s new band, Stove, I’ve listened to them quite a lot on the road. Yeah, those three or four bands are really cool.

Very cool! I’ve been really siked on the new Pinegrove record lately as well! Jersey represent!

            Yeah! I love it! They’re killing it, and it’s awesome.

Now, once your upcoming U.S. tour is all said and done, what are you looking forward to the most about the rest of the year, whether it would be supporting the record or getting to travel to new and unfamiliar territories?

We’re playing the Reading Festival this year, which will be pretty fun. The lineup is kind of whack this year compared to past years where it’s been just amazing, but still we’re really excited to play. It’s our favorite festival back in the U.K. so that will be really cool. Also, we’re really excited to go back to Australia with Turnover, which is going to be really fun. I mean, we talk touring plans and cool stuff often, but yeah, we’re still working on some things.

I’m excited to get back to Boston for a little bit to relax just because I’ve been traveling nonstop, but yeah, I’m really excited for Reading Festival and Australia—that’s going to be super sick.

 

Basement is currently on the road with Turnstile, Defeater and Colleen Green. The band will be playing at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on April 28, The Theater Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on April 29, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on April 30. Basement’s latest studio effort, Promise Everything, is available now on Run For Cover Records. For more information, go to basementuk.com.


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