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:: Spotlight :: Interview with The Basics

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The Basics is a Melbourne band that could be described as one very influenced by 1960s pop with added touches of rhythm and blues and rock. The band has toured constantly for the past three years and now reach a major pinnacle in their career with the release of a debut album “Stand Out Fit In”. The band is presently doing a series a shows in the lead-up to a big album launch night on Saturday, June 30, 2007 when they play Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre in a launch extravaganza. I met with Kris Schroeder to discuss how far the band has come in reaching this milestone.

Kris explains, “Wally and I met about five years ago quite randomly. I met one of Wally’s mates at a going away party and arranged a jam night. We sat around playing all sorts of stuff. We talked about making music and I was asked to sing a couple of numbers. We got another guitarist until filling the spot permanently when Tim answered our advertisement some time later. That became our line-up, along with our touring keyboardist. Everything has gone slow and steadily but kept moving forward. Particularly that we don’t belong to a certain scene it has moved quite well.”

Q. Do you enjoy being independent?

A. Unless you belong to a current sound or taste, then record companies don’t have a great deal of interest in you. There isn’t much money in records and they need to ensure that they can get an instant return. Artists like us take a bit of time to develop into something tangible. We’ll look at overseas markets for a label. Essentially, we are our own record company as we can get the promotion, distribution, put in some money, and general organisation of business. We needed control of our destiny so we’ve taken on this task ourselves. It takes time to work our own identity let alone an audience working out our identity.

Q. You have built a great rapport with the audience, even placing a set of cards in the album package to give you greater identity with fans. Is it importnat to be close to them?

A. We’ve just treated people as people. Obviously, there’s a relationship. We try to show respect and the people will respect us back; i.e. come to the shows and buy the records. There’s a little too much rock and roll attitude that has brought down the industry a bit.

Q. How did style of the band build from the initial forming?

A. The idea for the style of The Basics came from starting as a covers band. Seeing the reaction to a song like “Gimme Some Lovin’” by the Spencer Davis Group, where any age group would respond.
That fitted our personalities.
(Note: the band does a very good version of the song Besame Mucho, once performed by The Beatles, and a terrific old Spanish/Italian hit)

Q. There may be those who believe that you're living in the past. What are your thoughts?

A. There are perceptions and detractors around. It only makes the people that love us, love us more. It’s more insulting to our fans than to us. It’s about having a common link between the composer and the audience. The audience finds something that they can relate to. Somebody saying to us that we’re living in the past and is irrelevant is actually saying to the audience that “your tastes are too old”. It’s an insult to everyone concerned. Critics have to see it from a cultural perspective than a simple musical perspective.

This is just the type of music we write’ like what The Strokes and Jet might do. It’s not contrived or calculated. We’re not trying to be like anybody. We love that style of music and that’s how the songs come out.

Q. How does the songwriting come together?

A. Wally and I have written together on several tracks while others have been done individually. Then we come together to tidy them up. Obviously, we come together for the arrangements. There’s different means of collaboration. The album gives people a good cross-section of what we’re about. Different singers and different instruments from when we first got the tracks ready for this album about 18 months ago.

Q. With your constant touring experiences, what have you learned?

A. Australia is an amazing place and has a lot of crazy characters and some beautiful places. Once you get out of the cities it’s a very different place. It probably makes you feel more Australian. Having seen most of Australia now, it makes you care more about where we’re going. It’s a special service we provide when the country people don’t see bands often.

Q. Your big launch night promises to be stacked with entertainment. Tell us about what we're expecting to see?

A. June 30 is our main gig at the Athenaeum Theatre, which will be the album launch. It’s an all ages show, completely seated and will be a mixture of music and comedies. Four support bands will be playing short sets and three comedians will be appearing. We will be performing the album in its entirety.

Q. Your drummer Wally De Backer is quite a talent, having his own side project Gotye…

A. Yes, Wally’s whole life is music. He has few ambitions outside it. The Gotye project and The Basics exercise two different sides to his creativity. There has been a fair deal of pressure on him because Gotye has done well.

That album was a kind of therapy for him – it took three years to make. He’d play some of the songs to me over time and I thought they were pretty cool. There is pressure on him to go full throttle with that. The two projects can work off each other well, I believe. They complement each other. He’ll do a follow-up for Gotye when he gets around to it.

Q. What are the future plans for this year?

A. Aug/Sep/Oct is when we’ve locked in a trip to Japan and the UK. We’ve played with a couple of Japanese bands recently and we're looking forward to getting a good response there.

We’ll have another album out in early 2008 and we also want to do a tour between Adelaide and Darwin – to document with a couple of other bands. Festivals are on the agenda as well. We've played Tamworth and Homebake before.

"Stand Out, Fit In" is available through MGM Distribution now.

See The Basics at the Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday, June 30, with several guests. It's an all-ages variety show.