Interview: Basement: Out of the underground

Basement: Out of the underground

With arenas in their sights and new album ‘Promise Everything’ surging forward, Basement are coming up for air.

Much like every underground British band ever, after Basement broke up, their appeal and influence flourished. If you cared, you cared a lot. So when the band announced their reunion in 2014, it was a certified Big Deal. Testing the water with their ‘Further Sky’ EP later that year, it wasn’t until the release of ‘Promise Everything’ that we got to see what the second coming of Basement really involved. 

Rather than more of the celebrated same, Basement’s third album saw the band push things forward. Rolling the dice and moving away from what the band once were, the record was an all-or-nothing gamble, but one that paid off. If you think that’s where their progressive nature ends though, think again. Turns out Basement are just getting started. 

“We wanted to explore more and focus on melody. We wanted to really write catchy songs as best as we could but still have the energy that we had in our previous records,” starts Alex Henery. “We had to try and find a balance but people have responded really well.” With four tours already under their belt since the release of ‘Promise Everything’, Basement have had plenty of opportunities to get face to face with their fans. “It’s cool to see people are really into the new songs as much as they go off to the old stuff. It reaffirms that we should keep writing music. People are still into it what we’re doing, which is awesome.”

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‘Aquasun’

Despite the positive reaction, Basement aren’t letting it go to their heads. “We’re just normal people, normal friends,” promised Alex. “We’re not trying to be some rock band, there’s no pretense with us. We just want to write music that people can enjoy and take something away from.” Sure, the live show offers an instant hit, but Basement want to affect on a bigger scale - beyond bruises in a mosh pit. “It gets me psyched that we’re doing something right but I also want people to realise that they can start a band too. There shouldn’t be this crazy distance between them and us. I want kids to know they can go home and start writing music with their friends, because that’s how our band started.”

With three distinctive albums, all with their shape and personality, Basement have more play than ever in their live show. Rather than jarring, it opens things up. “All the songs work really well. The set gels and nothing really feels out of place.” As with any new space, “it’s really fun to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

And while the individual tracks are finding their place, Basement’s newfound confidence has never felt more comfortable or at large. That more melodic edge has opened the band up to new tours and new opportunities. Reading & Leeds seems a given, T in The Park, sure. Riot Fest however is definitely a Big Deal and as for Made In America Fest, Basement will be sharing a bill with the likes of Rihanna and Coldplay. It is, in Alex’s words, “just insane. We’re always down to try new things. We’re having fun, we’re all getting on and we all think it’s a good idea for the band so I’m stoked. We’ve been to Australia, America, Europe and we’ve still got more places to go. This year has been incredible and we’re only halfway through.”

Basement: Out of the underground
Basement: Out of the underground
Basement: Out of the underground
Basement: Out of the underground

“We took a risk and we went for it.”

Alex Henery, Basement

And as much as 2016 has been a victory lap for ‘Promise Everything’, the band are still learning. They’re finding out how to be around each other for months on end, for starters. “As friends, you have to adapt to being around each other so much. You really have to comprise and make it work because you sleep together, travel together and play together. It gets pretty intense at times time but it’s cool, we’re making it work. We’re just really grateful that we’ve just been given this opportunity to go full time and make this band more than a hobby.”

Part of that curve has been discovering people give a shit about their band, a lesson that really hit home at a sold out headline show at London’s Koko earlier this year. The band, “unsure if we could do that,” felt like that venue was way to big for them but Alex assures that, “You have to try something different. You can’t keep playing the same venues. We took a risk and we went for it.”

Despite the constant reinforced message that people like Basement today, and not the rose-tinted nostalgia for the Basement of old, the band aren’t getting carried away. “We never get used to it. We turned up to the venue last night not knowing if anyone was going to be there. None of us dared to look out to see if anyone was there but then we went out, we played an amazing show, and that was in Newcastle. We’ve only played there once before as a support band. I think it’s always new to us - we never turn up to a venue and expect it sell out or us to do well, its always a surprise for us. People actually came to see us? Sweet.”

‘Promise Everything’ live at Koko, London 

All of these lessons lend themselves to Basement figuring out where they fit in 2016. “I see our peers and the people we started out with, other bands we’ve played shows with over the years and I feel like we’ve always fit into that Run For Cover alternative scene. Now I’m thinking, ‘How far can it go?’” After touring with Brand New and a tantalizing tour with certified massive band Bring Me The Horizon before the year is out, Basement are starting to believe that “maybe there’s the possibility to do something a bit bigger. If we’d stayed the same, stayed in our little world, then it would never have grown. You have to take a risk every so often.”

Moving out of the underground and its various cliques, the band are now “finding our place as just being an alternative rock band but seeing if we can push that. It’s cool to mix it up and figure out what is possible for us. We’re still trying to figure it all out but we definitely don’t feel confused. Pushing forward with what we’re doing now and seeing how people respond to it, it’s been good.”

And those good times? They’re just going to keep on rolling. “I’m stoked to see what’s next. I’m stoked about writing and recording another record and seeing where that goes. We’re just excited to create art as a group of guys. It’s early days but we want to record. We just need to figure out the timeframe and start work on this idea of a new album. Everyone’s been writing but I guess when we get together and start fleshing out ideas, we’ll see where we are at. Then it’ll be exciting to piece this weird puzzle together and see what happens at the end. “

Basement’s new album ‘Promise Everything’ is out now via Run For Cover. They support Bring Me The Horizon on their huge November arena tour.

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