After a three year hiatus, Melbourne-based trio The Basics are back with their fifth EP, soon-to-be-released eighth studio album, and an Aussie tour kicking off in December. Recently returned from world travels, The Basics – sick of watching the soap opera of mediocrity that has become Australian public life – have decided to do something about it, beginning with the release of The Lucky Country, a rock’n’roll rant against the age of entitlement and the leadership gulf in the Abbott-Shorten-Palmer-Milne circus. Natalie O’Driscoll caught up with frontman Kris Schroeder to discuss music, politics and phoenetics.
Can you explain to me the origin of the band’s name?
It was probably the best of a bad bunch, even to this day we’re not really sure how it came about. When we started it was just Wally [De Backer] and I. I was on guitar and he was on a stripped back drum kit, so it really was just the basics. It was a very un-creative name really. That’s why as we’ve grown we’ve kept the spelling but changed the pronouciation of our name to The BAZZ-itch ((/ˈbæzɪtʃ/)) The actual phoenetics are on our wikipedia page.
I can’t read those phoenetic things!
No one can! That’s why it’s funny. Just a kind of an esoteric joke.
I can’t define your sound without using about seven hyphens. Have you guys ever managed to nail down a description for your music?
No we don’t know what it is either. We write a song, and then the song defines what the sound is. One thing could sound more 80s, another more 60s, another one more now. I think genres are just bullsh*t anyway, created by an industry that needs to efficiently produce results.
You rode the wave with Triple J a while back and then kind of dropped away from the playlist. Have you had any feedback from Richard Kingsmill about The Lucky Country?
He played it on Sunday… I don’t know what he thinks though. You’ll have to ask him!
Tell us about how and why you got back together after your hiatus. Was it always on the cards?
I was living in Kenya and our record company were putting together a Best Of, and a B side, and we were going through all the material and listening to it all, stuff we recorded and hadn’t released. It kind of reinvigorated the experience. So I came back and we did a gig and that become one, two, then six, and in that time I’d wriiten a lot of new songs including The Lucky Country and we learnt that as a band, and it just kind of became that way.
You’ve just registered The Basics Rock’n’Roll Party (BRRP) in the hopes of running in the next Victorian Election. What do you want to achieve out it?
Innovation, education and rock’n’roll. It’s all highlighted on our facebook page, and that’s where most of our attention is going to be. By innovation we mean new ideas. We want to encourage fresh ideas rather than just following a blueprint of how things have been done. Coming up with new ways of tackling old problems… Our “heaven” is a clean house with the latest appliances and that what we’re taught to strive to achieve in life. It’s crazy.
While we’re discussing politics, as someone who has first hand experience of contracting a severe illness in Africa (Kris contracted malaria three times while living over there), how are you feeling right now about Australia’s response to the ebola crisis?
I can appreciate both sides. I guess most people don’t know what Africa’s like but I do. I can understand the fears and I can understand how they’ve been fuelled by various media sources and by government responses. I mean it’s hard to know. Obviously we should do more, because we can. So you know if you can, then yeah I think you should.
What do you want people to think about when they listen to your current EP and album?
I guess that there’s another way. Learn to consider other people’s viewpoints, you know there are lots of ways of seeing the world. Ultimately though the thing about music is people get out of it what they want to do, it’s just a collection of songs. Maybe some musicians set out with a goal like that, but we haven’t even decided what the album is going to be yet. Whenever we write a song we just want to connect with people and make them think.
This album has a very distinctive philosophical concept. In what ways to do you think it is musically different to your previous stuff?
What can I say? It’s completely different. It’s just a progression of our sound into the next one. We’re always pushing ourselves to explore new territory that we haven’t done before.
Who writes the majority of the lyrics?
Between Wally and I we get it done, although The Lucky Country (song) was completely me actually.
The band has long been involved in Indigenous causes. Do you have any indigenous performers on this album?
No, we recorded it all ourselves. For sure would consider in the future, but we wouldn’t do it just as a gimmick or a token move, cause there’s plenty of that around already.
What has the response to the Basics been like overseas? Do they get you?
Yes, absolutely. They f*cking love it. They love it more overseas than they do here in Australia. That’s the way it is though, any band has to make it overseas before they get noticed here. They’re constantly asking us to come over but it’s difficult.
THE BASICS LUCKY COUNTRY TOUR
December 16/17: Newtown Social Club – Newtown, NSW
December 19: Sol Bar- Maroochydore, QLD
December 20: Old Museum- Brisbane QLD
December 27: Corner Hotel- Melbourne VIC
December 31: Princes Wharf 1 “A Taste of Tasmania NYE”- Hobart TAS
January 1: Cataract Gorge “The Basin Concert”- Launceston TAS
January 3: Rosemount Hotel- Perth WA
January 4: Mojos- Fremantle WA
February 13: Aurora Spiegeltent @ The Garden Of Unearthly Delights- Adelaide SA