Basement Revolver are feeling pretty optimistic for a band that often focuses on the somber side of life. Their self-titled debut EP, released in July on Fear of Missing Out Records, received a lot of attention on various blogs and magazines, garnering praise from more than a few fans. But despite the band’s growing popularity, they are still attached to their southern Ontario roots, keeping them focused on their plans for the future.
They recorded their EP at TAPE studio in their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. With the production of Jordan Mitchell and Adam Bentley, they opted to record live off the floor. “We really wanted it to sound as close to our live sound as possible,” frontwoman Chrisy Hurn tells me. “It was a great experience and everything came together well.” The songs on the EP do have the sound and feel of a live performance, but the band manages to keep things tight with skillful musicianship and a keen attention to detail.
Their slightly ragged style is a big part of their appeal, helping to propel their first single, “Johnny,” to streaming success. The song has just surpassed 300,000 plays on Spotify alone, and its popularity is only growing. “’Johnny’ is probably one of our most ‘listener friendly’ songs,” says Hurn, “so I think we expected it to get a little bit of attention, but not nearly as much as it has. We are all extremely grateful, and also very happily surprised!”
Soon after its release, “Johnny” caught the ear of Thomas Woodward at Fear of Missing Out Records, an independent label based in London, UK. He was instantly taken by the track. “[It was] such a melancholy yet immediate song,” he tells me, “[and] I loved the authenticity in Chrisy’s voice.” He reached out to the band and signed them, intent on releasing the rest of their EP on his label.
Together, they decided to release it both digitally and in cassette form, a decision that Hurn says has gone over well with fans. “At shows, people tend to be skeptical at first about buying a cassette,” she says, “but when we explain our choices, people seem to be pretty excited about them. I think we have the lo-fi/shoegaze world to thank for making cassettes popular again! We also just really love the aesthetic of a hard physical copy in the form of tapes.”
Basement Revolver definitely dwell somewhere in the lo-fi universe. Their sound has elements of shoegaze, but it’s also heartfelt and melodic, which often draws comparisons to fellow Ontarians Alvvays. “We hear that comparison quite often and we are honoured,” says Hurn. “Alvvays is a great band and we love their music.” Still, she and the rest of the band hope that people will listen to them for their own unique qualities. “We just hope that people don’t keep us in that box!”
There are numerous similarities between the two bands, but Basement Revolver pull from a myriad of other sources for inspiration. At the moment, Hurn is listening to Dilly Dally, Angel Olsen and PUP, but the band as a whole maintain that their biggest influences are Mewithoutyou and Sufjan Stevens. “I know we sound nothing like either of them,” Hurn admits, “but they have been long time favourites and have hopefully reached our music through osmosis.”
Perhaps more than anything else, the very experience of living in Hamilton has informed the music of the band. The southern Ontario city, sometimes called Steeltown or The Hammer, has a reputation for harbouring a vibrant music scene full of young talent. It’s also know for its rough-around-the-edges industrial landscape, which has found its way into many of Chrisy Hurn’s lyrics. For a long time, she trekked from the city’s downtown to the suburbs every day. “[The] contrast between the rough and tough downtown and the quiet suburbs has really affected my writing,” she says, “particularly in ‘Words’ and ‘Lake, Steel, Oil.’ The landscape is a part of my day to day life and so it becomes a part of my story telling.”
The band will be continuing to tour in support of their EP, and their label is toying with the idea of bringing them over to Europe next year. At the moment, they’re planning on heading back into the studio this fall and winter to record a follow up, which Hurn says will feature a different side of their sound. “The music that we have been writing lately has felt a lot more heavy, and we are really loving it,” she tells me. “You can hear hints of that in some of the songs, like the end of ‘Lake, Steel, Oil’ or ‘Family’ on the EP. We are hoping to bring that out with upcoming releases.”
For now, we’ll have to be content with the four songs that Basement Revolver have given us so far. It seems like their story is just getting started.