After seeing Basement play live for the second time recently, it dawned upon me just how majestic this band are. Having been a self-confessed fan for a long time I hadn’t ever really considered how interesting and inspiring their journey to success has been, especially as a band that so many people may never have heard of. In fact, I don’t think it is a push to suggest that they are one of the best and most genuine bands to come out of Britain in a very long time.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Basement are a band from Ipswich who went away for a while back in 2012 but thankfully returned to the surprise of many fans, both new and old, in 2014. They have managed to create countless anthemic songs while simultaneously cultivating their own unique sound. Any doubt that someone may have regarding the calibre of catchiness that Basement provide need only witness their Live In London video from 2012. In many ways the recording serves as a mere foundation for this argument, as the band have matured extensively since then.
There is an indisputable classic quality to Basement. Many people have attributed this to their similarities to bands such as Nirvana or Jimmy Eat World, but personally I think that high quality songwriting, both musically and lyrically, always leads to moderate nostalgia. Songwriting that balances perfectly on the precipice between catchy and clever is a rare thing, so when you hear music with that attribute it is something you are bound to treasure.
The first time I got to see Basement live was after their reunion. Having stood at the back of the venue drinking overpriced Red Stripe for some time, my friend Tom and I realised part way into Basement’s set that there was no way we could continue our nonchalant ruse. I always love live music, especially when it’s a band I listen to regularly, but this was something else. I hadn’t felt so passionate about seeing a band in years. One major lesson I learnt was that when you’re in your twenties it’s a lot easier to smash through a crowd than when you’re fifteen, but getting involved is just as enjoyable. For the first time in a long time I didn’t have a voice the next day, or the two days after that. For me, that was a special gig, and I got to see a very special band.
That’s the main point really, how often do you ever feel that something is special? Some moments in life really stand out, and whether that experience is something tiny like the taste of an amazing beer, or something pretty massive like graduating, they are all things that should be appreciated. Basement, in my opinion, are something special, and while listening to whatever their next release is may not be quite as big a deal as having kids, I know whatever they bring out will be pretty fucking great.
However, all of this admiration doesn’t quite cover the realisation I had about what makes Basement an inspirational band. As much as I might have high praise for these five blokes from Suffolk, the best thing about Basement is undoubtedly how they have developed. If you do watch the Live In London video, and I highly recommend you do, then around the forty two minute mark Andrew Fisher, Basement’s frontman, says a few words about the band. He says that the other four guys in Basement are his best friends, and that while they haven’t been going for long that it’s been ‘really good’. To put this all in context, that show in London was right before the band were going away for a very long time, or so it seemed.
The fact that Basement were willing to call it all quits in order to pursue other things almost straight after the recording of their second album; Colourmeinkindness, says so much more about the band and their music than anything else could. They loved what they were doing, but they were being realistic about other commitments in their lives, so they called it a day when things were still on a high. Needless to say tons of people were incredibly disappointed about this news, myself included, but it added a legitimacy to the music that Basement made. The stories that their songs told weren’t mindless nonsense written by a team of twenty people in LA, they were real, and the band were regular people. Ending Basement in order to fulfill other ambitions illustrates, in part, exactly why so many people identify with their work. Everyone has to make tough choices like that in life.
Of course, people always want what they can’t have, and as soon as Basement were gone their fan base swelled. More people found out about them, and, much like the incredible appreciation people had for American Football prior to their reunion, there was an almost fatalistic acceptance that the music people were falling in love with may never be heard live again.
In early 2014 a little message appeared on Twitter. All that was written was ‘Hi’, and just like that Basement were back. They released Further Sky, a three track EP, in summer 2014. It showed a clear shift toward a sound that was more mature and melodic. It was a welcome return, and even though the EP was only three songs long I can testify that they never got boring for myself or my friends that summer. In many ways it helped soundtrack a transitional post-graduation time for me, and it’s got a real place in my heart. But then again, so does every Basement record.
I am of the opinion that creating music that consistently finds a place in people’s lives is a skill that only great bands possess. While the definition of great may shift from person to person, you would have a hard time finding another contemporary British band whose music connects with people in quite the same way. Basement are deserving of all the adoration they receive, and while they may never be the biggest band in the world, I don’t think it really matters to them or to anyone else. Frankly, that’s exactly how it should be when you’re creating something genuine.