The Basement Tickets
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(The Basement are also a US hip-hop group) At the start of 2003, The Basement launched to a whole heap of praise from the UKs leading music press. In fact the whole country was getting a bit giddy for the Northern Irish fourpiece. Then The Basement disappeared. Little did we know that they were working night and day on Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs, a debut album that is set to bring The Basement back to forefront of the British Music scene. Several years ago, before they were called The Basement, John Mullin, (singer, guitarist and song-writer), Mark McCausland (lead guitar) and Declan McManus (drums) got together in their hometown of Omagh, knowing they wanted to do something with music. "We decided to decamp to Liverpool the first chance we got," says Mullin. "There was no real mystical reason for Liverpool. It was the first place we hit land after Northern Ireland." It was a fortuitous place to settle. Within a few months, they met bassist Graeme Hassall and began to rehearse day and night. Living in "a proper shit-hole" (their flat, not the city), they started to make a name on Liverpools rich, rising scene. They were soon discovered by Alan Wills who signed them to his Deltasonic label. The Basement name came as a nod to Dylans Subterranean Homesick Blues because, as Mullin says, "the place we were living and rehearsing in was like a basement and Mark used to take the piss out of me because of the line in the song that says Johnnys in The Basement. So it stuck." In mid 2003, the band released Medicine Day, the first real sign of their vast potential. A furious, jangly, pre-Beatles piece of melodic pop, topped with Mullins throaty, distinctive voice it was a brilliant calling card. It piqued interest and left many baying for more. They followed this in 2004 with Do You Think Youre Movin On and then The Basement went away to work on the album. On recording the album Mullin explains, "I was never comfortable with the idea of walking into the studio with some guy youve never met and the clocks on and youve got to make magic. "It was more about finding a situation that was comfortable for us. Producing the album was fellow Irish-man Mike Crossey at Liverpools Motor Museum Studios. Since work started on the record, two entire albums worth of songs have been scrapped. It wasnt because anyone thought they werent good enough. We wanted the album to be the best it could possibly be, for us to be proud of it. To give themselves a musical education of a different kind, the band spent four months travelling around Ireland and playing in pubs with old men who they freely admit were far better musicians than us. Once theyd reached their final evolution, and with hundreds more songs under their belts, The Basement re-entered the studio. This time, it took a mere three weeks to record the finished article. You can hear a band at the height of their powers on Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs. Like the Flying Burrito Brothers with hips, like Van Morrison letting loose with some back-street white-boy soul shouting in his early, essential Them years. Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs is a crafted debut that already sounds like a living and breathing classic. Mullin builds simple, captivating songs about the people you meet and the things you read and see. This is not a break-up album, but its certainly an album that feels as though its lived and been battered a bit. "But its never in the mes and yous and Is," says Mullin simply. Mullin is a front-man other bands would kill for. With hooded eyes and furrowed brow, he has a possessed Irish air that suggests much more going on than hell ever tell you. And hes talking himself down. His lyrics are not just some cut-and-paste job, some smart observations on life. He has Shane MacGowans ability to turn the mundane into high, pointed art. This is just the start of The Basement. This is a record with rare depth, with a wonderful melancholic air and an urgent bounce a record that demanded to be written. In a few months youll wonder how you ever got along without The Basement. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.