WITH YOUR HOST
CLICK THE LOGO ABOVE
INTERVIEWS JIM BASNIGHT
HE ROCKED, HE ROLLED, HE SURVIVEDSeattle native JIM BASNIGHT chased that rock n roll dream all the way to New York City and Los Angeles, California with his band THE MOBERLY'S back in the 1980s. At decades end, THE MOBERLY'S disbanded and BASNIGHT chose to move back to Seattle to reconnect. Bear in mind this was 1992, the year that the music industry descended on Seattle, made "grunge" a fashion statement and shined the light on a new set of rock legends like NIRVANA, PEARL JAM, ALICE IN CHAINS, and SOUNDGARDEN. Strange, that one of Seattle's own never broke through in the same way, given the fact that his embrace of garage rock/power pop was what defined THE MOBERLY'S sound in the eighties and viewed as a reference for many bands of that era and locale.
JIM BASNIGHT TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT
HIS FORTHCOMING RETROSPECTIVE
A LIFE IN ROCK N ROLL
AND MAKING IT BIG
(DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT)
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
BASNIGHTS twenty five years of music making are about to be catalogued into a CD retrospective entitled, WE ROCKED AND ROLLED: 25 YEARS OF JIM BASNIGHT, THE MOBERLY'S AND BEYOND (BETTER THAN YOUR RECORDS). Judging by his extensive catalogue, this retrospective promises to be a voyage through everything thing that makes rock n roll fun, with the garage power pop of THE MOBERLY'S and his other band THE ROCKINGHAMS to the jazzier-acoustic feel of THE JIM BASNIGHT THING, and the BEATLES-meets- THE BEACH BOYS-meets-THE KINKS and everything in between feel (with every instrument imaginable) of his latest group THE JIM BASNIGHT BAND.
This is certainly one of the most over-looked catalogues in the ever-winding history of rock and popular music, but with all that BASNIGHT gives in his live performance and the ceaseless enthusiasm o fhis latest label, something is about to happen.
ROCKWIRED spoke with this popsmith over the phone on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Here is how it went.
You were telling me about this CD of your thsts coming out. It's a Retrospective?
It's a Cd on a label that is based in New york City. the label is called BETTER THAN YOUR RECORDS.
How many years does this retrospective cover?
The title of the album is WE ROCKED AND ROLLED: 25 YEARS OF JIM BASNIGHT, MOBERLYS AND BEYOND. THE MOBERLY'S was a band I was in coming up in the 80's. We lived in LA for awhile and were in New York City for a while. We worked in seattle for a couple of spots in our career. I was the lead singer and the main writer but they were two completely different line ups. One of them has a full length CD on a German Label and the other has a full lenght CD on a french label. I just put out a BEST OF...for both of those albums on vinyl in Italy and I've also put out a BEST OF THE MOBERLY'S on a Japanese label called WIZARD IN VINYL. It's a well put together package. The vinyl pressing is also well put together also. It's a high fidelity pressing.
After the MOBERLY's broke up, I recorded some stuff in LA actually, the last years I was there and that ended up being my first solo CD POP TOP which came out in 1993. I moved up here to Seattle in 1992. It's been 14 years since I've moved back up here to Seattle and I've been making music full-time ever since. I got a band together here after puttingout the POP TOP CD and I had quite a good bit of buzz going on from press from the being with THE MOBERLY'S up here in the northwest. We put together this band called THE ROCKINGHAMS, which was this power pop garage rock kind of band. Eventually we put out a CD as THE ROCKINGHAMS after doing some shows and apearing on a bunch of compilations.
On the side of that was this project called the JIM BASNIGHT THING which had more of an acoustic-y kind of jazz meets BEATLES-BEACH BOYS and different kinds of instruments, a lot of harmony vocals, and violins, trumpets, piano, and all kinds of stuff like that. We eventually put out an album that pretty much stands up pretty well agianst a bunch of other JIM BASNIGHT releases. This was arounfd the the time that the ROCKINGHAMS were winding down and the JIM BASNIGHT BAND was coming together which did everything from all my career as well as my new career and also incorporated a little bit of the JIM BASNIGHT THING with violin and trumpets and female and male vocalists. That sound was also used in my latest CD RECOVERY ROOM.
So that 's what been going on around here. I've been playing all over the Northwest I went ot New York for a week to play a bunch of dates for the new CD that's getting ready to come out on the label there. I was surprised that for the first hour or so, it was all requests. People new my music and would yell it out. Theere is a cool kind of nght club scene going on in New york. There are not a lot of live bands , but dj's playing music from different eras of rock n roll and one of the things that's popualr now is power pop, music from the eighties and stuff so I'm kind of getting a good vibe from that and I'm finding that my music is fun and that people like the beat. the songs are good and they fit well with what's going on today. I'm busy all the tme and I've got a show that's really good.
I was just noticing you list of covers. T-REX - Boogie On!
We just touch on T-REX a little but I love T-REX. We do 20 CENTURY BOY, JEEPSTER and BANG A GONG of course. I love T-REX! It was one of the first concerts I ever saw. I also love THE KINKS!
I do to, but all I've got is this cheap greatest hits thing, that isn't all that definitive.
Yeah, I understand what you mean. And of course I love BOWIE too. I've been going through my whole glam rock phase and listening to a lot of LOU REED. I found a live CD of his which was released in 1972 around the time that THE TRANSFORMER album was released. I love all that stuff is really great! One of the greta moments in my life was playing bass with THE JOHNNY THUNDERS BAND.
You played in JOHNNY THUNDERS BAND? I didn't read that in the bio!
I don't really push it. I only played for a month and a half. It was a fill in gig and it was kind of "scandalous" because it was a pretty tawdry situation going on back there. I've never really been acknowledged as one of the bass players there.
How did it begin for you? Music , I mean. What made you realize that this is what I've gotta do and I'm gonna go ahead and do it?
When I was a kid growing up, I loved music and listening to the transistor radio and going to the stores and buying the records. It got to a point where I realized that I could write songs. Ever since then I've written about 500 songs probably. I really love getting up and playing and having a good time on stage. I've played all kinds of music with all different types of musicians and I've realeased about 6 CD's. I've never made it big or gone Hollywood. I was therefore seven years and in New York I was there for three and a half years.
For a while there, in the early nineties, it seemed as if the music industry descended on your hometown of Seattle.
That was a weird deal. I came up here, because i had reached the end of my rope in LA because of this day job that I had. My first marriage had broken up and I had lost my sobriety. I came back to Seattle to reconnect with my old man because he was getting ready to pass away which he did about a year later. He and hung out for quite a while and I thought about going back to LA but I decided to stick around because the music scene had changed and there was a lot going on. I never realy got much of a bump from the Seattle music scene. Their view of what I was doing was that I was power pop and not what was happening in Seattle but i disagree. I had alot to do withte development of the scene in Seattle going back to the mid eighties before anything had really happened and my band THE MOBERLY'S brought in a lot of the same influences that became emblematic of the grunge era. Not the dirty metal side but more the garage punk glam kind of side of that. We used to do shows on Central where the whole thing kind if started and the house would be packed. In retrospect i moved to LA in 1985 people in Seattle had this attitude that we didn't stick it out and help build the scene up in Seattle.There wasn't that much of a connection between myself nand the big movers an shakers of that Seattle music scene so I just did my thing and s lotof people really liked what I did and respected me for who I was. I just maintained the ability to make a living as a musician ever since I came back here in 1992.
I showcased the band DJ MONKEY not too long ago. You know those guys?
JOEY ALKES is the guy I know very well. He co-wrote a number of my songs with me. We've spent a ot of time writing songs together. JOEY's a great guy and a great talent and just a fun guy. We've had a lot of fun hanging out together in LA. When I go down there, I always get a chance to see him. DJ MONKEY is a really good act, I like what they do. He's a great guy. Crummy basketball player, though.
Explain, if it's explainable, the creative process in writing a song.
There are about three, four different ways. One way is, hearing a melody in your head and even a lyric at the same time and fleshing it out with a guitar. Another way is just playing the guitar and coming up with a cool melody or chord progression and then writing a lyric for it.Something that comes to you. Another way is to basically write a poem, and taking a guitar and writing around that , melodically and letting that fall into a musical place. Another way would be to take something that someone else has and giving it your spin.
What do you want people to walk away with after hearing your music?
I want people to walk away feeling that I'm a serious persona and a deep person that has a perspective on the world and that I love life and that I want you to smile and have a good time. If they walked away humming a tune, that's great for me.