These guys play the sort of music that catapulted The Beatles to world wide fame and ferocious adoration. They have captured a particular moment in time, the point where music became fun, light hearted, playful, before it took too many drugs on tour and became disillusioned with everything. It is this almost virginal excitement that make The Basics so appealing.
Of course they are far from musical virgins themselves. They’ve been playing since the start of the millennium, in which time drummer Wally did his whole Goyte thing, winning the hearts and minds of the country in the process. But now it’s all back to The Basics (goddamn it I was trying so hard not to use that line in the whole article and it comes out in the second paragraph. Well now it’s out of the way at least.)
Throughout the whole of August they’re travelling back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne, playing Tuesdays at the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills, and Thursdays down at The Evelyn.
So why the travellathon?
“Total marketing ploy” Tim responds. “We did it last year and we couldn’t think of anything else to do so we’re just re hashing old ideas really”. Fair enough. Points for originality (sort of) I guess. Not worried about the carbon emissions though? “Nah we got the offsetting enviro-friendly tickets”. Phew. Hurting the environment is pretty un cool these days.
Doing all the travelling, you must have a special vantage point to make an assessment on the music scenes of different cities, what strikes you?
“Oh you know, the differences are over hyped. At the end of the day Aussies love their music. Brisbane is only really just emerging as a rock city, people up there are loving it. Perth has always been a solid music city.”
How are you received in Sydney?
“After a few beers everyone loves Chris.” It’s not hard to believe – they’re very presentable young gentlemen. Polite and charming and well dressed from head to toe in vintage grey suits. It’s a look that perfectly compliments their sound.
Their music is bright and melodic, with a driving rock beat that dares you not to dance. They’ve taken that late 50s band stand feel and given it a motown twist that’s not really like anything else being played at the moment, and it’s delightfully refreshing. So much stuff today is about how shit everything is, the aim almost seems to be to assault the ears as much as possible. These guys, however, take your senses to the millk bar for some sodas before driving up to the look out and hopping in the back seat for some heavy petting.
I asked them about their motown sound though, and was met with a bemused look. “I don’t know if we have a motown influence, but if we do I’d say it came from our early years, playing covers in the bars around Melbourne. Things like the Four Tops went down really well so I guess we saw something in it for some white guys like ourselves” He says, tounge firmly in cheek.
“Yeah, we wanted to call it brotown, but we’re not New Zealanders”.
Whatever label you give it, it’s a pop revival and It’s being led by the Basics.
We head up to the main room of the Hopetoun to watch the support act for the night, the Maladies, who are holding the fort in fine style with a unique alt country set. They perform with power, driving the blues through some spooky terrain, anchored to a rock soul. It’s a great performance, gee-ing everyone right up for the well dressed Melbournians.
Before we go on, is there any particular reason for the Hopetoun being the venue of choice for the Sydney dates?
“Hah, Paul (owner) won’t pay Tim for his bar work unless we do the gigs” they laugh. “We’ll probably have to lug all the gear out too. Lucky we only play with 2 triangles and Kazoo”.
“Nah but it’s always been one of the homes of live music in Sydney, you know? It’s the ideal spot for us.”
It’s clear as they take the stage. You feel transported right back to the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, watching The Beatles getting their start. In fact it’s almost uncanny. With songs like “She’s gonna be late” “Karolina” and “I could go on”, they play with almost sickly sweet brightness that can’t fail to put a smile on your face.
They’re funny and relaxed on stage, sharing an easy and comfortable repartee with the audience and each other that add to the cozy feel of the whole performance. It’s the sort of thing you just don’t want to end.
But of course it has to at some point, as Harry Chapin said there are planes to catch and bills to pay. Albums to record, too.
“Yeah, the songs on our myspace (and indeed a big chunk of their set) are from our first album which we released 6 years ago, and we’re re-releasing it soon. So we’re having a re-release before we even release any new stuff.”
And when can we expect the new ones?
“We’re working on a new record, it should be out April next year. We’ll be releasing a couple of singles between now and then to keep the excitement up. In fact we’ve got a track being mixed at Abbey Road studios now which is like a bit of a dream come true right there.”
Hah, told you so.