Wednesday 17th January 2018
Blending raw energy, hip-hop influenced grooves and the syncopated grind of 9 bit guitar, The Baskervilles aim to reflect the voice of anger for anyone in society feeling like they are “currently being dealt a bleak future through the decisions made by the elite few”. Speaking with band members James and Aaron, they explain the political message behind their latest single “Kalashnikov” and what has encouraged them to pour out their anger in this hard-hitting track. Having spent the past year working with producer Tom Donovan, the band have been working hard to push the boundaries of rock music, so I was keen to find out how The Baskervilles formed, how they’re finding their feet in the music world, and most importantly from such a driven band, what we can expect next.
Hello! Please could you tell me some more about the history of the band; where and how did you meet, have you been in bands previously, and what made you decide to form The Baskervilles?
James – So me and Aaron were in a band together, Callum and Blair were in a different band together and we all sort of got tired of our respective outfits and wanted to try something new. The Baskervilles has been our chance to really make the music we want, we don’t set boundaries on what it should be and just follow the ethos of if it feels good, do it.
Your third single ‘Kalashnikov’ was released in December. How are you finding the response to your music so far?
James – The response has been incredible so far, we get all kinds of people commenting on it, tagging their mates on Facebook, that sort of thing.
Aaron – Being on an Indie label means we get to be hands on with everything involved with releasing a single, we learnt a lot with our first two releases and that has really paid of with ‘Kalashnikov’ in terms of reach. Having complete strangers message us to say how much they have enjoyed the track has really been amazing.
You explain that the single is the “voice of anger for anyone who has the sense that we are currently being dealt a bleak future through the decisions made by the elite few.” What is it about this message in particular that has encouraged you to write so passionately about it?
James – I think it’s the zeitgeist right now. ‘Anything is possible’ used to be a ubiquitous message of hope, now it’s like a warning. The president of the US just tweeted a nuclear capable dictator to call him short & fat, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE KIDS. In this country it’s a tad more subtle but the sentiments the same. Grenfell tower is a black smouldering monument to that disparity, the wealthiest borough in the country ignored the pleas of it’s residence to improve fire safety and action was only taken once people literally burned to death. We have a situation where Windsor police have been instructed to crack down on homelessness in the run up to the royal wedding. There is a justifiable anger that the homeless in Windsor are far more likely to see the inside of a cell than anyone directly responsible for people burning to death in Grenfell tower.
How did you find the experience of writing, recording and editing the music video for the single, and who came up with the concept?
Aaron – Creating videos is something I love doing almost as much as making music. One of the biggest benefits to making our own videos is that we can treat them like a visual extension to the song, though this doesn’t necessarily mean a video must be a perfect translation of the lyrics into visual form. With ‘Kalashnikov’, I wanted to create something that visualised the conflicted theme of the song in a way that wouldn’t make the video feel obviously political. Yes, the lyrics do have a political edge to them but at the heart of it the song is conflict. I’m always quite drawn to ideas that contain self-reflection or an internal struggle, and so the idea of having James face off against himself felt like the natural story to tell. The whole band worked really hard on this video, we built the set together, shot the video over two long nights and all contributed ideas that made it into the final edit. I’m very proud of the Kalashnikov video and am currently working on ideas for the next single.
You spent the last year working with producer Tom Donovan. How was the experience for you, and did he help you achieve your aim of trying to push the boundaries of rock music?
James – Tom Donovan is all you hope for in a producer, the guy has an energy that is completely contagious and I don’t think we could of done what we’ve done without him.
Aaron – I think most musicians want to push musical boundaries to some extent, whether that’s their own personal boundaries or the boundaries of an entire genre. Working with Tom has definitely pushed us to try new things in our music, as a band we get really excited about finding cool sounds or creative production techniques. We’re now using Ableton Live during our live shows, which means we can bring all the cool and weird sounds that excite us in the studio to our live performances, pushing our live sound in directions we couldn’t before. I think as long as we’re making music, we’ll always be trying to push some sort of boundary.
Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?
James – There could be one on the horizon, we definitely have the songs for it but we’ve got no money behind us except our own so we prefer to do it single by single in order to compete with our more well-heeled contemporaries. We have often mused aloud about releasing Blair back into his natural habitat but worry his peers will no longer accept him.
Let’s talk instruments; what do you all play and when did you learn?
James – I play the guitar & sing I learnt around 16. Callum plays the guitar but it’s left handed so make of that what you will. Aaron plays the bass and is hoping to learn mid to late 2018. Blair plays the drums and has been known to play dead when startled.
What’s your writing process as a band, and how do you all come together to create the final tracks?
James – Normally I’d come up with a riff and maybe a chorus and show it to the guys. They all sit in these chairs and spin round if they like but stay facing the other way if they don’t. It’s pretty brutal on me but it’s a tradition we try to maintain. Then we have a little home studio where we all get together and turn it into a song, lately we’ve been writing at Toms which has been really working for us.
Being in the early stages of your music career, how are you finding the process and have you been given any lasting advice?
James – The process is pretty bizarre to be honest, you can sit & plan stuff for days but nothing ever goes the way you think it will, it’s best to just go with it, write the best stuff you can and enjoy every second your on stage. We once supported Matt Cardle and I remember asking him in his dressing room how he achieved such success, and he said “who are you and how the fuck did you get in here?”. That advice has really stuck with me, it’s pointless questioning everything and looking to others because who we are and how we got here is really beyond our control. Thanks for everything Matt.
How is the year looking for you with live dates, and are you hoping to get to any festivals?
Aaron – We have a number of shows coming up this month in London, Colchester and Liverpool, all our live dates can be found on our website (http://www.thebaskervillesofficial.com). Our big goal for this summer is festivals, but it’s too early to announce anything on that front.