“We’ve really made an impact completely aside from the numbers,” states Kris Schroeder of his Victorian election loss last weekend. Schroeder is a founding member of Melbourne rock ‘n’ roll band The Basics, who have been kicking around since the early 2000s. Schroeder’s latest venture was starting ‘The Basics Rock ‘n’ Roll Party’ (BRRP) alongside his bandmates Wally De Backer and Tim Heath, which recently ran for the Victorian Election in some of Melbourne’s inner-northern seats. Despite their lack of political know-how, the party received the 500 signatures required to register for the electoral roll.
“We’ve been pretty socially aware and active as individuals and as a band for years now, particularly in areas like Indigenous rights and other reforms that border on the political sphere, so suppose this was just the next logical step” Schroeder explains. The modest amount of media the BRRP received throughout their campaign revealed concern that the party was merely re-hashing policies that already existed. Of these whispers, Schroeder says “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. A lot of people were concerned that what we were doing will take away from The Greens. No! It’s going to open up the same message to an audience that might otherwise write them off due to the political baggage that any party inevitably accumulates through the dilapidation of existence.”
Of course, one of the founding/current members of The Basics is none other than Wally De Backer, better known globally as Gotye. The group quickly discovered that the majority of the media were only interested in De Backer’s involvement in the party rather than their policies and ethics. Schroeder explains, “Unfortunately that’s what you get when you deal with entertainment writers – they don’t really care about the integrity of the story, they are instead interested in an easy A to B, and to try and de-legitimise what we were doing”.
Perhaps the entertainment media did succeed in making us – or at least some of us – think that. But for now The Basics are back to music, and it’s unsure if they will return to the world of politics anytime soon.
They do have a new single on the radio however, as well as an EP titled The Lucky Country. Although Schroeder states “all focus is back on the music for now,” the EP does have a very political agenda. The song ‘The Lucky Country’ explores “looking at who we are as a nation, and what our expectations are of our government.” Schroder goes on to explain “It was written about 18 months ago when i was living in Kenya, well before the federal election and the rise of Tony Abbott. It was written in thought about how people were slowly trying to degrade [Julia Gillard’s] character and degrade the confidence people had in her.”
“A lot of people ask us when are you going to put out another album? It’s not a matter of when, its why. Like, what’s the point? But then, that became the theme for our EP and album”. Some may be quick to compare the group’s newer music to that of Midnight Oil, particularly given that the lead single is called ‘The Lucky Country’. While this may be so, Schroeder takes it all in good humour. “I didn’t even know that Midnight Oil had a song titled ‘Lucky Country’. I was actually cruising iTunes looking for our EP one night and came across the song, and I considered myself to be quite the Midnight Oil fan… I’m very stoked to have our name in the same sentence as a band such them.”
The Basics managed to spend some time at Abbey Road Studios in London last year between March and July. “We recorded 16 songs during our time there. Five ended up on the EP and the rest will hopefully be on the album”. When asked about working in an environment such as Abbey Road, Schroder says “‘I’ve personally been there before and spent time recording and writing in their studios. It’s the one place in the world where you actually feel like an artist, like a professional one, not just a hack. It makes all the other crap you wade through worth while.”
The Basics have started a new chapter in their careers. They have ditched the sugar pop and are exploring new sounds, ideas and thoughts within their music. “There aren’t a lot of rock bands doing what we are doing at the moment, and in the past our messages have perhaps been a little too cynical because we were afraid of what people might think of it, but hopefully it might inspire another band or artist to do something similar. It’s not about commercial success, it’s about being part of the bigger picture.”
The Basics are on tour throughout December and their EP The Lucky Country is available on iTunes via ORiGiN Music. Tour dates:
December 16th & 17th
Newtown Social Club, Sydney
Sol Bar, Maroochydore
Old Museum, Brisbane
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
For more information visit http://www.thebasics.com.au/.