Having just signed to a major label (oooooer!) and with a new fancy-pants reissue of their ace record ‘Promise Everything’ out now, things are zooming at full pelt for Ipswich band Basement, and things show no sign of letting up.
Mid-way through a near-totally sold out tour, we caught up with frontman Andrew Fisher for a good old natter about the band’s earliest musical obsessions. Turns out, he and his bandmate brother James Fisher spent a fair portion of their childhood learning 60s rock songs on the recorder (umm) and putting on their own shows to make up for a total lack of local music scene.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
The first real gig that I paid into, and wasn’t like a battle of the bands, was Less Than Jake at Norwich in 2003. That band Allister opened up and I was SO into them and I’d never ever heard of them. I even went and bought a CD and got it signed!
Were there a good supply of venues in your hometown?
Absolutely not. I would always have to travel to London or Norwich for shows, it was really annoying. I remember someone I knew missed the last train back to Ipswich once and had to sleep at Liverpool Street station all night until the earliest train the next morning. In fact, we started putting on shows in pubs in Ipswich to try and combat that problem. We did pretty well I think. Some of the best shows I went to when I was younger were shows I helped put on. That’s a pretty cool feeling.
What was the first song you developed an obsession for?
My brother and I had best friends that were both brothers too, and both sets of parents were close as well, so we all spent a lot of time together. I have no idea why, but we became obsessed with the song ‘My Name is Jack’ by Manfred Mann. My dad played it one summer evening and we thought it was so shit that it was actually brilliant. We’d play it on repeat and march round the kitchen, pretending to all play recorder. I think I actually learnt it to play it on the recorder as well.
First song you ever bought with your own money, and why?
I was obsessed with buying CD singles from Woolworths. I don’t know if I can remember the first one ever, but one that stands out is ‘Boom Boom Boom’ by The Outthere Brothers. This was at a time when I had no idea how to actually formulate a specific taste in anything, and my whole life was a mishmash of everything I thought the world wanted to be. I would buy chart music and pine over Nike Air Max 97s. That’s all gone full circle now.
What’s the story behind your first instrument?
I was obsessed with guitar from as soon as I knew what it was. I asked my dad for one and he reluctantly obliged, assuming it would go in the cupboard under the stairs along with the remote control car and the kite, but I took it next door to our neighbour who had a piano so we could tune it, and I learnt four chords and I never stopped. I took it everywhere. I learnt to read tab and then how to hear songs and work out how to play them. Never had a lesson, just went with it. Took me three years until someone taught me how to palm mute. Seven until someone showed me I was holding the plec wrong. You live and learn.
What’s your worst musical habit?
In the band, it would be being extremely critical of everything I do, and being able to hear imperfections when I’m recording that no one else hears. In general life, it would be latching on to a band or a particular record, and only listening to that for months until I get bored of it and end up hating it.
What inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?
Well obviously day to day experiences have a big impact on me, with regards to lyrics, and my immediate environment affects that. So I guess just life in general. Actually film has had a big impact on me. Sometimes I see a film that resonates with me on a personal more emotional level and it makes me think of a similar experience I have had and sort of amplifies that and inspires me to write about it. A older song we wrote called ‘Plan To Be Surprised’ is an example of that. It’s the last line of the film ‘Dan in Real Life’, which for whatever reason I really connected with. I also just love that line.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given as a musician?
Day one of our first ever tour with Tigers Jaw and End of A Year/Self Defence Family, we were all stressing about making it to the stage in time because there was an issue with something that wasn’t our fault. Pat from Self Defence, who was well versed in all ‘band’ associated things just turned round to us and said something along the lines of, “don’t let anyone tell you what to do” and assured us that being slightly late for something that is beyond your control won’t affect anything. That had a big impact on me and I try my best to live by that advice now. I think it’s working pretty well.
If you could be in a band from the last two decades, which would you pick, and why?
Probably Radiohead, because then I could say I’m in one of the greatest bands of all time that never compromised in any way to anyone over anything and changed the way people perceive rock music.