A Chat With: Basketball Knees

Wassup! Today we have a special Out Town Edition of A Chat With! We talk with Toronto based band Basketball Knees! They have a show on June 1st here in Ottawa at Bar Robo, so go check ’em out!

How would you describe your sound?

Joel: I guess the easiest way to describe our sound is just: indie rock, but we try to do a lot of different stuff within that umbrella—lots of dynamics, some different song structures, hooks, harmonies, fuzz and screaming when necessary. But overall we try to put emphasis on blending being catchy and accessible with being a little bit weird
and unpredictable. We also keep things fresh by sharing songwriting and instruments and lead vocals, so there’s a little bit of variety. Some fun buzz terms to throw around: scuzz pop, power punk, mid-fi diy, post-punk for children.

Amye: I second “post-punk for children”!

Who are your influences?

J: We get Pixies comparisons a little bit, who I do like, but I way prefer The Breeders. Immediate influences on our sound would be bands like them, Yo La Tengo, Royal Trux, Guided By Voices, Destroyer. We love the Flying Nun label, the Teen Beat label. Lots of 90’s bands, I’m realizing. The biggest thing Amye and I probably bond over is maybe not as obvious in our sound but: Kate Bush, XTC, Bjork—classic pop weirdos!

A: Right now it’s all ABBA, The Supremes, and Blossom Dearie. I’m a grandmother, you see. Oh, and Sun City
Girls.

What’s on the horizon for your music in 2019/2020?

J: Right now we’re in the beginning stages of our first ever tour, which we’ve craftily organized so that we play different cities over the span of several weekends so we don’t have to take too much time off work. (Gotta keep the day jobs happy!) We’re playing in Montreal on May 31st, Ottawa on June 1st (at Bar Robo, which you were kind enough to feature on your site!), Kingston June 8th, Windsor June 14th, London June 15th, Hamilton on June 21st and back in Toronto on June 29th. Aside from becoming grizzled weekend warriors, we’ve also been writing songs for a new album (some of which you can hear us play live!), and we plan to begin recording in the fall/winter! Oh and we’re also going to finally shoot a music video at some point, we swear.

A: I’m going back to school for a year beginning this July to study music. I don’t need any prayers!

What is your creative process?

J: Honestly it’s pretty straightforward! Typically Amye and I will write our songs separately, more or less fully formed, then we bring them to practice and jam them out, and we add or subtract ideas as we play them more. Stefan is really great at coming up with cool drum parts off the top of his head, and if it’s one of Amye’s songs, I
just try to come up with basslines that support the song and slowly try to make up some harmonies and backup vocals as I get more familiar with them. Sometimes parts of songs are born out of jam sessions (“Marquee Moon”), or we’ll combine efforts to add parts to each other’s songs (“Couch-shaped Box), but usually we write by ourselves—I feel less self-conscious that way!

A: In all seriousness sleeping in hot parked cars has yielded results (“Lavatories of Hell/Subterranean Gardens”)
and in the winter the songs seem to come and go in the dark.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

J: My songs will be inspired by either an inside joke between friends, books or stories I read, or life events that I turn moderately cryptic or write them from different perspectives so they’re not just boringly biographical—or I’ll just start with a riff that I flesh out into songs when I can think up some words. Sometimes I also just keep a list of good song titles and then try to flesh them out from that.

A: I’m very, very much inspired and invested in the tragedies of children and professionals alike.

How do you deal with nerves before a show?

J: Lots of bathroom breaks! Also, it actually does get easier the more shows we play. I used to get really bad stage fright and now I’d say the excitement and dread are more balanced, 50/50. I do sometimes get the irrational fear that I’ve forgotten all our songs, about 15 minutes before we’re set to play. Does that happen to
anyone else?

A: Bathroom breaks cannot be recommended enough! And skip the wacky lettuce now that it’s everywhere, chums!

Fave venue you’ve ever played at?

J: Oh man. We just played a really fun show at Doors Taco Joint & Metal Bar in Hamilton which was a really fun time, and is fresh in my mind—it’s converted from an old house and has a really fun DIY feel. But I’d also have to say Horseshoe Tavern because that place is one of my favourite venues to see shows, so it was really fun to get
to play there.

A: Doors was a blast but I, too, will have to give the Horseshoe the edge. Hecking unreal!

Craziest thing you’ve seen at a show?

J: One time, when I used to have the energy to go to music festivals, someone hit the singer of the Mars Volta in the head with a pita. That was pretty wild, I guess.

A: Does it have to be in the waking world/meatspace? I’ve been horribly late to at least a dozen Marilyn Manson shows in my dreams and I once watched a band of furries play “Hey Jude” in Second Life.

If you could tour/play a show with any line up who would it be?

J: Our first show we saw together as a band was Mary Timony playing Helium songs—and I think that would be the craziest/best dream come true to get to open for her somewhere.

A: I love Kal Marks. I also think it would be wild to open for Sparks since they’re, in my opinion, still vital and I believe groups like us owe them a great deal.

10.Advice for new musicians/band

J: I think for a long time I’ve been very nervous to message people to ask for shows, or been nervous about organizing shows, but the more I do it the more I realize everyone is just really nice, and we all like music and have the same goals. So just play as many shows as you can, meet people, and have fun!

A: Don’t take anything for granted and just enjoy the living hell out of performing and creating! Don’t be afraid to be yourself; I think there’s so much emphasis on “being yourself” these days that we really don’t know what that may mean. For me, at least, that means many exorcisms… but that’s okay! Take care of one another.

Any shout outs you want to make?

Shout out to Sarah, Annie, Peter Crisis, Nigel, Johnny, and anyone who sings their voice.

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