In 2002 Wally De Backer (of Gotye) formed a band with two of his mates, Kris Schroeder and Tim Heath. Their style was unconventional and infectious from the start. Indie pool, rock no roll, reggae, ska, country, and over their ten-year-plus career the guys marked up more than 1,000 shows. Three years ago it all went quiet and they drifted off to their various other callings but, thanks to a whim, the three melodious indie pop rock muppets are back, and this time they are doing it for the joy!
‘We hadn’t seen much of each other and Kris and I caught up in Paris last year,’ says Tim.
‘Wally has been busy with Gotye, Kris had been in Kenya, so this time when we got together again it was more about catching up as friends and playing music because we like being together. The tour started off as a few shows. It’s good not having much ambition and not trying to sell anything, in fact it was the most enjoyable tour to date; and to top it off we have had the biggest crowds we have ever had!’
Tim believes that the face of music has shifted during the decade he has been a musician. ‘I think the consumerism of music, or the consuming of music, has changed the way it works. People are downloading one song often as opposed to a whole album. Wally found that when he was touring internationally that the audience would wait for the number-one song they all knew and once they’d heard it they left. He said it was a bit disheartening!
‘Of course our audiences aren’t like that! It’s quite refreshing!’
Although Tim believes that while social media have taken with one hand, they have given with the other.
‘It totally contradicts what I said about how people consume, but on the other hand some people have access to bands now and many of them would never have had a shot in the past. You don’t have to rely on Triple J any more to build up a following – there are bands around now who wouldn’t have had the success they enjoy now were it not for the internet.’
So how does it work with The Basics?
‘Kris and Wally generally write the songs and they will bring them to rehearsal or send through an mp3; then we rehearse it and try different ways of playing it and mess around with tempos and rhythm, and because its a three-piece you are limited to what you can create – it’s always pretty speedy though and with the harmonies it creates another instrument.’
It’s the three-piece harmonies that have set The Basics apart.
‘When we started it was early 60s stuff and it’s slowly changed; the three-part vocal is unique in this day and age. It’s really enjoyable when you are in tune; most of the time it’s easy, although sometimes you will be playing something in a different timing from what you are singing… too many beers certainly don’t help – you have to be on your toes. If the guitar drops out or a bass drops out it’s glaringly obvious in a three-piece!’
So what should we expect from The Basics at Mullum Music Festival next week?
‘Set-wise – expect the greatest hits – a broad range of stuff we have done over the years from the first album to the last. It’s a good mix, mainly all upbeat, dancey, good times!’
The Basics play Mullum Music Festival 21–24 November. For program and ticketing information go to www.mullummusicfestival.com.