The Basics
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The Basics

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"Gig Watch: The Basics - Empress Hotel, Fitzroy"

from the review at

Riding the fine line between the past and the present, retro and revoloutionary, it's a case of "all eyes on us" whenever they take the stage. This is the skill of Melbourne three piece The Basics.

They've stood face to face with legendary producer George Martin, and their music has touched the iconic Abbey Road studios. They have friends in Paul Kelly and The Cat Empire, while their drummer and lead singer's (Wally De Backer) solo career at Gotye has earned him an Aria nod for 'Best Independent Artist'. But why haven't you heard of them yet?

They have been absolutely blasting their way through pretty much every live venue in Melbourne for the past few years, and just by looking into the crowd, you'll notice that they have something special going.

Making my way on a cold Thursday night to the Empress Hotel, one of the most traditional 'Corner Local Pubs' I've seen since A Country Practice, I was nothing short of a little excited. The Basics had played the last month or so here, shows which I always managed to miss, and several of my friends had been harping on about "this awesome live band". Over the course of about a month, I would rather regularly check in on their MySpace page, which supplied me with one of the catchiest and most endearingly fun loving pop ditties I've heard in a long time Just Hold On.

I challenge anyone with a functioning pair of ears and even the most minimalistic interest in music to avoid humming this tune less than a day after hearing it. It's simple, it's complex - but most importantly - it's just a fun song.

Waiting until just after midnight for the boys to take the stage, I think we can safely assume grumpiness had started to set in. But I was determined to enjoy what had been promised to me as "A friggin good gig". And I wasn't disappointed.

It's the perfect blend of Beatles with the subtle hints of mod-rock. Their on stage banter was relatively inclusive, while their actual performance was so superbly tight. It's a very rare thing to see a band who execute their songs so perfectly live, it really was a pleasure. From Just Hold On to the 60's inspired Rattle My Chain, The Basics just kept on upping the ante.

De Backer, without doubt, is one of the most talented musicians going around the music circuit at the moment. Not only is he a mad man on the drums, his vocals are second to none...making them first. I couldn't get over the crisp clarity of his vocals - especially considering he was beating those drums like a monkey on speed. His side solo project, Gotye, has also started to make waves - so perhaps that will be the spark the boys need to make their way into the public eye.

Overall, a fun - likable - traditional night at the pub gig. Certainly a band to keep an eye out for.

Set-List: 3 out of 5
When a band is new, it can be quite hard to win over a crowd with all unfamiliar songs. Yet, there was something about The Basics which was so familiar. Perhaps it was the Beatles factor, but every song seemed like you'd loved it for 10 years. The final drum solo on Rattle My Chain was amazingly impressive - with De Backer having to have a bit of a lie down before the final encore.

Lighting & Visual: 3 out of 5
I know I should have, but for whatever reason - I've never actually been to the Empress. I don't know why, it is after all, one of the few pubs remaining with regular live bands playing. Something that the Pokies have well and truly outlawed. It's cosy, retro and has a real warmth to it.

The only problem seemed to be for the band, who without having a backstage area, had to literally wait onstage before going on with their encore. It was almost awkward. Other than that though - great venue, great band.

Overall: 85%

- By Sean Lynch (

"Just Hold On "Cokemachine Glow" Review"

By Aaron Newell recently caught up with Irwin [“White”], who, we have recently discovered, is a somewhat-distant relative of our very own Edgar White, and who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Irwin is seven years old and has a very big imagination. His father is the sound engineer for many of the local pubs in/around Melbourne, and Irwin often goes with his dad to work. Dad says that his son’s teachers often praise Irwin’s creative flare, but “Really he’s just the world’s youngest pathological liar, the little shit.” His dad is fast-tracking him via private school for leadership of the Liberal Party. The interview is reprinted with the permission of both Irwin and his Dad.

We met Irwin during recess and, over Strawberry Big M’s, we discussed the last gig he attended.

CMG: What was the last gig you attended?

Irwin: It was The Basics. They have a new album coming out. It’s called "Stand Up With Your Pants Up, You Wankers!"

CMG: Don’t you mean "Stand Out / Fit In"?

Irwin: That’s what I said. Do you like them? [Whispers: Say yes, say yes, say yes, say yes, say yes…]

CMG: Yes.

Irwin: I knew you would say that. You look like you’re one of those guys who is not as dumb as you look or people say.

CMG: Thanks.

Irwin: Last night at The Basics’ show their drummer was Animal from the Muppets.

CMG: Really?

Irwin: Yeah, and except he had the voice of what my dad calls “sweet soul brother music” singers.

CMG: Did you know that he also makes “sweet soul brother” music without the band?

Irwin: Yes and his name is Wally de Backer and his other name is Gotye and his album is called "Red Blood-Drinking Finger Painted Robot Vampire Wankers Will Kill My Teacher" and it has lots of good songs on it that are too sophisticated for me to appreciate properly.

CMG: That’s exactly right. So what did you think of The Basics’ show last night?

Irwin: Everyone was talking about how can the drummer bloke Wally sing like he’s on the CD but drum so hard at the same time. And then a crazy person ran on stage with a giant hoop and he moved it over Wally’s head like magicians do when they make girls float in the air. It would not go through his neck no matter what, and the guy then started yelling stuff. He said “Look! Wally is real and not a giant drum-playing marionette sort of like Animal from the Muppets except not pink and fuzzy and has rags for clothing!”. My Dad says there are crazy people in this city. He was given a take-away pint of snakebite and then everyone asked him to leave by throwing him out.

CMG: Your Dad?

Irwin: Yes. And also the guy with the hoop, too, except they were not the same. Do you like Weezer?

CMG: Not the newer stuff, but "The Blue Album" and "Pinkerton" are really good.

Irwin: I’m not allowed to listen to "Pinkerton" until I’m positive thirty years old, but I think The Basics sound like Weezer, except also like old music, when music was good, when I was negative 25 years old. Which is why they all wear nice suits like back then. Like on that label which had Bruce Wayne as the boss, and Commissioner Gordon as the other boss.

CMG: Motown.

Irwin: No.

CMG: Motown?

Irwin: Yes. Motown.

CMG: Tell me about The Basics’ single from their album.

Irwin: They have two other guys. One is Kris and he plays bass and sings and one is Tim and he plays guitar and sings and on this song which is called “Just Hold On” they do backscratch vocals make the track really go bop bop bop bop and it is a love song about how the band loves each other.

CMG: Are you sure?

Irwin: Well it’s not about [makes finger-quotes] "girls".

CMG: What else?

Irwin: They are not from Sydney because they do not have pink fluoro shirts on and are not an-drog-y-nous.

CMG: That’s a big word!

Irwin: My Dad says they remind him of drive-through movies where I was invented by him and Mom. And it’s really bouncy and fun. And it’s like blues but has more of a beat and people in the pubs dance the Herky-Herky to it and I laugh so hard.

CMG: Do you think it sounds like “Rhythm and Blues”?

Irwin: I know what that is. And I know that Weezer does not sound at all like Jodeci. And I’m "allowed" to listen to this AND I really like it too, which also makes it different from Jodeci. So I answer “No”. I have to go back to school now or my teacher will shoot me out of a cannon into a pit of olives across the ocean. My teacher is made of dandruff, from his head to the bottoms of his trainers like in that Def Leppard song, except just all dandruff. He has to wear Safeway bags to not leak, and even then sometimes we throw echidnas at him when he’s not looking.

CMG: …

Irwin: Was this interview in French?

CMG: Well, thanks for the Big M, Irwin.

Irwin: No wuckins mate. -

"Just Hold On "Beat" Review"

By Simone Ubaldi

I love these brazen Mod-revivalists, three lads whose music is unashamedly uncool - in the short term sense of the word - but flush with youthful enthusiasm and razor sharp melodic hooks. The depth and maturity of Wally de Backer's voice is incredibly charming, the harmonies are solid and the song sticks as well as any early Beatles' number would do. It's sort of amazing to hear music this simple sound so good. - Beat Magazine

"Time Off: With This Ship single review"

TIME OFF (Brisbane)
The Basics
With This Ship

The Basics are no doubt one of the hardest working bands in the country- for the last few years they have tirelessly toured the nation, playing their way round Australia’s dwindling circuit. Their sound has changed considerably over these same years, and ‘With This Ship’ is a watery mélange of the Australian big- budget indie pop bands whose influence they have no doubt soaked up over the years. There’s shades of The Boat People, Augie March and even Eskimo Joe with the falsetto hooking chorus and moderate new wave-ish 80’s overtones. Despite this it really doesn’t sound too similar to any of those bands, and with clever songwriting sets it in a different class to a lot of acts doing the same things. They should be commended for this single which will no doubt strike a chord with audiences of the bands mentioned above. They should, however, be berated for appearing nude on the back cover, albeit with dangly bits obscured. Gross.

- Time Off (Brisbane)

"Beat: With This Ship single review"

With This Ship shows sharp evolutionary growth for The Basics who have
stretched themselves beyond the adorable kitsch of sixties rock 'n' retro.
The depth of composition and arrangement of the new Basics single is closer
to Wally's work in Gotye, although solid guitar work and lovely vocal
harmonies are still the focus. More than anything, it sounds like Split Endz
at their thunderous best - a soaring, infectious and gorgeously crafted pop
song from three incredibly talented musicians. Go you little horses. You are

By Simone.
- Beat (Melbourne)

"Drum: With This Ship single review"

Wally De Backer returns from being Gotye and brings back some of his
production budget and values. Making The Basics something less, er, basic.
With insistent verses that lead to glorious anthemic choruses (in a good
way), plus not overworking the 'relationship as sinking ship' metaphor as
many would, The Basics make the pop music of true quality you always hoped
they had in them. Okay, they might have left out some of the sailor samples
in the middle, but that's a minor quibble in a song bordering on fucking

- Ross Clelland, Drum - Drum (Sydney)

"Rave: With This Ship single review"

It's an unusually strong week for indie-pop, with the majority of songs
tailor made for instant repeat listens. The Basics are, or course, qualified
specialists in this area. However, while the Melbourne three-piece have been
adored from the indie-pop bleachers for some time, they're still best known
as either a killer live band in the old-schoo lindie/soul style or being the
band Wally 'Gotye' De Backer drums for. Could you recommend a specific song
to listen to? That may change with With This Ship, which shows a just slight
change in focus, but results in a sharp broadening of the group's appeal.
First the change. That stead-fast, feelgood beat and harmonising that has
marked The Basics as the traditional powerpop torchbearers from Even is
still their finest attribute - but there's an unmissable contemporising,
with production that sounds like it's less from a garage in the 70s and more
from a big fancy studio in 2009. Smoothing the tough edges off an indie-pop
track is often a fatal error, revealing its empty, charmless core (see last
week's End Of Fashion single), but when the song is as infectious as this,
it shows what stadium pop-rockers Snow Patrol could sound like if they
started writing interesting songs again. It's not squeaky clean,
made-for-mindless-consumption, featuring growly sailor voices and some
compelling percussion (is that a typrwriter?), but With This Ship begs to be
heard by folks who have never before crossed paths with The Basics.

- Simon Topper, Rave - Rave (Brisbane)

"Rip It Up: With This Ship single review"

With This Ship takes the Basics' sound out of The Espy and into stadiums,
with the sort of building sonics Chris Martin constantly cracks a fat over.
Packing some of the canny hooks which saw De Backer's Gotye project become
such a hit, The Basics keep it absurd via some silly maritime banter in the
background (like John Lennon's customary foolishness on Beatles outtakes)
and a video featuring nudity, an octopus and pirates. What a treasure! -

Scott McLennan, Rip It Up
- Rip It Up (Adelaide)

"The Basics are the hardest grafters in town - but which one?"

by Brett Winterford

An audience with the Basics is about the most fun you can have for five bucks on a Tuesday night.

First, there are their dapper grey suits and neat haircuts - an obvious nod to the early Beatles.

Then there's the music. The Basics perform upbeat guitar pop inspired by the early '60s, complete with three-part harmonies, Love Me Do lyrics and lanky gusto.

Throughout April, the three-piece is promoting their coming debut album, Stand Out/Fit in, with a tri-state residency.

The band are playing three consecutive nights every week in three different Australian cities, an idea pioneered by acoustic troubadour Josh Pyke.

On Tuesdays, the Basics play at Surry Hills's Hopetoun Hotel, Wednesday nights in Brisbane at Fortitude Valley's Troubadour and Thursday nights at home in Melbourne at Fitzroy's Empress.

This makes their weekly routine intense, if not excruciating. Bassist Kris Schroeder, for example, still works a full-time job.

"After work on Tuesday afternoon, I take a taxi straight from [work] to Melbourne airport," he says.

Their schedule is further complicated when you consider that their singer-songwriter and drummer is Wally de Backer - whose bedroom recordings, Like Drawing Blood, under the Gotye name, became one of the most critically acclaimed Australian albums of 2006.

Gotye started simultaneously with the Basics without people expecting either would take off as much as they did.

The first Gotye record (2003's Boardface) sold a modest thousand copies. Second album Like Drawing Blood won the Australian Independent Record Labels Association award for most outstanding new independent artist and the Australian Music Prize award for outstanding potential, as well as being voted by Triple J listeners as their favourite album last year.

But Schroeder says his bandmate's "other" project is no problem for the Basics, as the success of Gotye has been more critical than commercial.

Sonically, the Basics are far away from the sampled and atmospheric Gotye. Their only common ground is de Backer's ear for a pop hook and his supremely elastic vocal cords.

Schroeder first met and jammed with de Backer at a Melbourne party, asking if they could meet again for a more sober collaboration.

"I asked him, can you sing?" Schroeder says. "He said he could try. So I gave him Long As I Can See The Light by Creedence Clearwater Revival. And he sings and I was like, shit, can he sing? Understatement of the century!"

Aside from references to the early Beatles, the Basics' debut nods to both the grittier Kinks and the kind of white-boy reggae that a re-formed Police would envy, which is most prevalent on the first single, Lookin' Over My Shoulder.

"We love the raw energy of [classic '60s guitar pop]," Schroeder says. "It's fun. It's like hard rock without the volume - instead it's heavy on the energy."

And live, energy is what you can rely on from the Basics, providing they can squeeze in some sleep.
- Sydney Morning Herald

"Stand Out/Fit In "The Dwarf" Review"

Add The Basics to the “what’s hot” list. Out of nowhere, one of the hardest working and underrated rock acts in the country has unleased an absolute pearler of a debut album in Stand Out / Fit In. In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been surprising. The Basics are led by drummer/vocalist Wally De Backer, who moonlights as Triple J favourite Goyte, and the reviews of their live performances have been nothing less than glowing.

There’s only one place to start describing the goodness that oozes out of Stand Out / Fit In: at the beginning.

The album explodes with the energy of “Rattle My Chain”, which has the unique characteristics of a rock song that can get people onto the dance floor. With its jarring guitars, smoke-edged vocals and smart drumming arrangements, this song is an excellent choice to introduce this album of goodies.

Following up is the contrasting “Memory Lane”, a softer track about lost love that, against convention, does not aim for the easy emotional vote nor feel the need for over-dramatisation. As a result, The Basics’ uncanny knack for creating rich and endearing melodies is not compromised in attempting to fit the typical love song mould. What we get at the end of the day is the story of a man asking for a second chance told in a memorable way.

One outstanding feature of Stand Out / Fit In is that harmonies rule and most songs are instant sing-a-longs. Even the swampy rock of “Have Love, Will Travel” becomes a sing-a-long track because The Basics know how to keep the lyrics simple and the chorus catchy. The use of handclaps interestingly juxtaposed with a dirty pub feel creates a track that is one part seedy, two parts dark and three parts a helluva lot of fun.

Having the word “radio friendly single” written all over it is “Just Hold On”, an upbeat tune about a relationship that seems like it is at the crossroads. De Backer’s vocals on this track are sweet and emotive, telling a story in themselves. Yet, however good the other songs on this album are, there is no denying the highlight is “Lookin’ Over My Shoulder”. Seamlessly incorporating the flute, the song creates nothing less than paranoia and nervousness while still retaining the band’s sense of playfulness.

“Hey There!” is a different proposition altogether. Channelling the cool vibes of Reel Big Fish at their best, this track makes the most of its fun horns and cheeky lyrics: “Hey there don’t you dare take my little baby far away from me / yeah you if you do don’t think you’ll be getting very far”. And the softer side of the band is on show on “(Love, Love) Speak to Me”. While it takes a little while to get going, once the strings kick it and the track is fully up and running, it is just as impressive as other offerings on the album.

The later half of the album sees The Basics abandoning the concept of having a particular sound as they experiment with all types of genres under the motto: “if it sounds good, play it”. If sing-a-longs are your thing (have I mentioned a lot of songs on this album are instant sing-a-longs?), “Sound Off” will be right up your alley. Sounding like a crazy musical interlude from a light-hearted romantic comedy of the 1950s, the toe-tapping, hand clapping and bright lyrics will bring a smile to the surliest of people. In a similar vein, “The Two Words” has a beach movie feel to it, helped along by its wink, wink lyrics and mischievous euphemisms. “Three Cool Cats” is decked out in sunglasses as it displays a jazzy, bossa nova feel to it with smooth harmonies. “Bitten By the Same Bug” has tinges of reggae but with darker undertones while “That Girl” sounds like a stage show tune. All these songs stand out, but at the same time fit in with the feel of the album.

Stand Out / Fit In is close to unfaultable. It’s time to jump on The Basics bandwagon because the ride is guaranteed to be a blast.



With This Ship (single)- 2009
Stand Out/Fit In (LP) - 2007
Lookin' Over My Shoulder (single) - 2007
Just Hold On (single) - 2006
For Girls Like You (EP) - 2005
Call It Rhythm and Blues (single) - 2005
Get Back (LP) - 2004



“a soaring, infectious and gorgeously crafted pop song from three incredibly talented musicians”
- Simone, Beat Magazine. (Single of the Week)

“shows what stadium pop-rockers Snow Patrol could sound like if they started writing interesting songs again”
- Simon Topper, Rave Magazine

“a song bordering on f#%*ing marvelous”- Ross Clelland, Drum Media

“With This Ship takes The Basics’ sound out of The Espy and into stadiums. What a treasure!”
- Scott McLennan. Rip It Up

“Puts a musical punch right in the belly of pop mediocrity” –
Peter Cobbin, Senior Engineer, Abbey Road Studios.

2008 was a busy year for Melbourne trio The Basics; they toured relentlessly to some of the most remote outback areas Australia has to offer, making new friends and fans in high schools, indigenous communities, community centres and pubs and clubs along the way.

2009 already promises to be a huge year for the band. To kick things off, their new single With This Ship was released in February to strong airplay on Australia's Triple J radio, and their first tour of Australia's eastern capital cities easily sold out 300 capacity venues.

With This Ship is something of a musical map, charting the often unpredictable and tumultuous ocean of relationships. It illustrates the hope-filled struggle of fighting against the tide of personal history, but also the hopelessness sometimes encountered when trying to mend rifts in relationships ravaged by hurt and time.

But fear not. The Basics’ lush vocal harmonies will lift you over the swirling symphony of stormy guitars and lay you softly on the shore.

With This Ship heralds a significant new direction for The Basics. While retaining the band’s trademark three-part harmonies, they are forging a bold path towards an altogether unexplored musical landscape.

Mixed by Peter Cobbin (U2, The Beatles’ Anthology, Lord of the Rings) at the famed Abbey Road studios in London, and featuring production contributions from prominent New York-based engineer Michael Brauer (Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, Bob Dylan, John Mayer), and local wizard Francois Tetaz (Architecture In Helsinki, Lior, Gotye) The Basics are certainly keeping good company.