In many ways, Basement are the band everyone should want to be. Developing from album to album, for their fourth album, 'Beside Myself', they've signed with scene dominating label Fueled By Ramen. It's just the latest spurt of growth for one of the most cherished and respected bands of their kind. We caught up with vocalist Andrew Fisher to find out more.
Hey Andrew, how are you feeling for the record?
Pretty excited! We’ve been working on it for a little while, so everyone’s just looking forward to showing people the album and being able to play the songs live. Everyone’s in good spirits.
It’s also your first release with Fueled By Ramen, how does that feel?
Really good actually. We re-released the last record [2016’s ‘Promise Everything’] with them, but this is the first that we’ve done start to finish, and they’ve been really, really great. They’re super supportive, and let us get on and do what we want to do. They’ve helped us in any way we’ve needed them to.
Did that add any pressure?
No, honestly it was the complete opposite because we had so much more time and the general vibe from the label we were getting was just a lot of support. I felt personal pressure to make sure that what we were doing was good, and to make sure that we were putting stuff out that we were proud of, but that’s healthy. We all put pressure on each other in a helpful, natural way, to make sure that we were doing the best we can for the five of us.
You’re on album number four, what weight did that bring to the table?
There was no intent or statement. There wasn’t any reason for writing a record other than we were a band and we felt like we needed to be creative and put something out. We spent a lot more time on it because we wanted to put out a bunch of songs that felt good together, that we were proud of.
Number four is weird; once you start putting out more than two records, you don’t just want to keep churning out music for the sake of it. We’re a band who love being a band, and one of my favourite things is writing and being able to be creative.
As long as people keep supporting it and we still feel enthused by it, I think we will still keep making it, and I’ll always be focused on being creative.
It feels like there’s an air of introspection and vulnerability that’s running through ‘Beside Myself’?
Yeah, absolutely. There wasn’t anything that I was aiming to do; it came out as whatever happens, happens, and in the moment I wasn’t focused on anything specific - there wasn’t anything I really wanted to talk about or say. Those kind of themes came out after the fact.
I obviously knew what I was talking about when I was writing it but the kind of thread throughout - introspective thought, vulnerability, looking at yourself and trying to work out and make sense of what’s happening, those things came out afterwards when we were looking back through the songs. That’s where the title came from - this idea of me looking at myself, or critiquing myself. Just talking about I’m feeling, or what I’m thinking.
Is that cathartic for you?
Absolutely, it’s always been like that; sitting down, having a guitar, and all of a sudden there’s a song. That in itself is a sense of catharsis, without even getting into it emotionally because you start with nothing and something comes out of it. That feeling of creation is awesome.
Lyrically, thematically and emotionally, it’s really, really helpful, and really important to me. It’s something that I’ve done from a young age. Learning to write it was all writing stories, or, honestly to a point, writing songs, even before I could play the guitar properly, I was always fiddling around with words. It just feels good to try and get them out.
I think I use the band selfishly for that because it’s a good emotional outlet and a way to kind of, not even deal with stuff, but to think about stuff, and talk about stuff, even if it’s to myself. Sometimes that’s what lyric writing is; it’s you talking to yourself, in a helpful way.
That definitely comes across in the first single, ‘Disconnect’.
I try not to be too obvious with stuff, but sometimes it depends on how I’m feeling and how it will come out. With that song, it’s very hard to appreciate what you have and what you’re doing, and sometimes the little everyday stuff gets in the way, and you start to lose whatever it is you’re feeling the appreciated for. Sometimes you need to check yourself.
I am incredibly lucky, with the life that I lead, being able to be in a band, being able to live in America. I’ve got a great family. Everybody has their own stuff that they have to deal with, and everybody has their own levels of sadness, happiness, whatever it is, and sometimes you just need to check yourself and appreciate what you have. Trying not to lose the love that I have for being in a band because sometimes, that goes! But I do love it, and I am grateful that I get to do it every day.
You’ve also tried your hand at story songwriting with ‘Ultraviolet’, how was that?
That was a completely new venture for me because I have always admired songwriters that can write stories. It’s amazing; you can follow some songs from the start to the end and sometimes it’s harrowing with how cool it is. That’s the first song that I’ve written about something that’s had nothing to do with me. It’s about the Westminster attack last year.
My dad used to work in the city, [and] it’s just one of those things that really connected with me. It really hit me hard. I really struggled with it, because there’s a lot of conversation that happens at the moment around ownership of ‘things’, and whether people have the right to talk about them, and I was kind of struggling with whether I had the right to talk about something I’m not involved with.
I really didn’t want to make a point about it. It’s not a political song, in any way, and it’s not for anyone, I just had an emotional connection to it, and I just started writing. I feel somewhat of a charlatan because I’ve never had that experience and I don’t want to undermine anyone that’s been involved in it and lost anyone… does that make sense?
Yeah, you want to be respectful with it.
If I were looking at it from the outside with someone else doing it, I wouldn’t question it, but I think I’m very self-critical, now more so than ever. I’m hyper-aware of how what I do can be perceived. When it’s just about me, I don’t care, I don’t care how someone takes it because I’m talking about myself, but because this is the first time I’ve entered into a situation that I wasn’t directly involved in, there was a lot of apprehension. And I think that’s okay. I think with any kind of creative art; whether it’s music, or film, or literature, I think people should be able to talk about thing that they’re not directly involved in, or have been involved in.
Taken from the November edition of Dork. Order a copy below. Basement's new album 'Beside Myself' is out now.
Featuring Maggie Rogers, Sundara Karma, Kurt Vile, LANY, Parcels, Sam Fender and more.