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Basic Cable interview with Luca Cimarusti

With six minutes of recordings being the only real proof that they exist on the internet, Basic Cable might not be on many people’s radar. But when I stumbled upon their flexi-split with Endless Bummer on Notes + Bolts via Permanent Records Chicago, I managed to track down what few details are out there about the ever elusive Basic Cable.  I found a three track demo on Bandcamp that smoked nearly every single I’ve heard this year right out of the gate and promptly set about obsessively tracking these dudes down!  “Blonde Ambition” might be the best song of 2013 with it’s absolutely ridiculously blown out drums and guitars, echo and reverb drenched vocals, strangled through the imploding sound that encompasses the demo.  Not since The Mummies had I heard a band that so brutally swept me off my feet with devastatingly catchy hooks and guitar, choked through a pin hole of sound and viewed through the peephole of classic 60’s garage rock.  As much noise rock, punk and hardcore as they are classic garage and psychedelic, I don’t think that Basic Cable really gives a damn what I, or anyone else, thinks of them or their sound for that matter; and I think that’s a damn good thing!  Basic Cable’s their own band.  Forged from decades of combined experience inside the Chicago scene and perfected in the crucible that is live performance.  And don’t go thinking that I’m just whistling Dixie here either folks, there’s a link below to back up all of my clumsily made claims and make as many points of its own!  If you like music with more balls than brains and enough brawns to back up any beef that might arise from the resulting situation, Basic Cable is your band.  Click the link, listen to some good f***ing music and read an interview with bassist Luca Cimarusti, the only member of the band who owns a computer, so you know you’re not going to read much elsewhere; soak it up where you can find it and spread the good word!  Word on the street is they might have something coming up soon on the Permanent Records label, maybe…  You’ll just have to read on and find out.

What is Basic Cable’s current lineup?  Has this always been the lineup or have there been any changes made since the band’s inception?

The current lineup for Basic Cable is me, Luca Cimarusti on bass guitar, Michael John Grant on guitar, Joel Bednarz on guitar, Ryan Duggan on drums, and Matthew Hord on synthesizer.  Michael does most of the singing, but Matt and I do some too.  This has always been, and will always be the band’s lineup.

Are any of you in any other active bands at this point?  The more people I talk to the more I realize a lot of musicians these days have more than one thing going and I love playing musical connect the dots; nothing beats cheating though!  Have you released any music with anyone else?  If so can you tell us about it?

We’ve all been pretty active around town in the present and in the past, and mostly with each other.  Our synth player Matt currently plays bass and sings in the noise-punk band Running, whose last LP came out on Castle Face Records.  For a long time he and I were the rhythm section, him on bass, me on drums in Heavy Times (HoZac Records).  Before that, Ryan and I played together in a punk rock band called Loose Dudes where I was on bass and he was on drums.  I also currently play drums in the Disappears side-project E+.  Michael has played around a bunch, mostly as a solo project and sometimes in short-lived bands with the rest of us.  Joel and Matt played together in a weird hardcore band like a decade ago but he hasn’t done a whole lot since, which is too bad because he’s a really good guitarist.  We’ve been in a bunch of old bands over the years too like Catburglars, Alright Alreadies, Why Intercept?, Black Ladies and a bunch others, but that shit’s all ancient history.

Where are you originally from?

We all live in Chicago, Illinois, AKA Chiraq.

What was your first real exposure to music?  Was your home very musical growing up?  Were either your parents or your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested in music?

My first musical memory is the opening synth line of “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen.

If you had to pick one defining moment of music in your life, a moment that changed everything and opened your eyes to new possibilities, what would it be?

I saw Juicy J over the summer and it was the best show I’ve ever seen.

Where is Basic Cable located at these days?


How would you describe the local music scene where you’re located currently?

There’s always tons of shit going on.

Are you very involved in the local scene?  Do you prefer playing in town or on the road?

We’re definitely involved in the scene here, and have been for a long time.  I used to be more so, like I’d go to four shows a week sort of thing.  I’m an old man now though.

Do you feel like the local music scene has had a large influence on Basic Cable?  Has it influenced the way you sound or played an integral part in your history?

We’ve got a ton of friends who are super involved in town.  Without those relationships we’d have nothing.

When and how did you meet?

We’ve all been friends for a very long time.  Most of us have known each other for about ten years.  Longer for me and Michael, we met each other in junior high.

How did Basic Cable become a band and when did that happen?

The five of us kind of had a weekly tradition of getting Sunday brunch.  We’d get pretty toasted on Bloody Marys and talk shit.  One day we realized that we could do the same thing with instruments in our hands.  After a brunch in January we went to the space and that day wrote the three songs that made up the demo.  Everything went pretty fast after that.  I’m pretty sure our first show was in April.

Basic Cable seems to be perfectly descriptive of the band’s sound but I can’t quite explain how or why ha-ha!  Who came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?  What does it mean or refer to in the context of the band?

I don’t know what the band name means.  Someone just told me one day that we were going to call the band that.

While we’re talking so much about the band’s history can you tell us about your musical roots.  I love your sound and I’m curious to hear who you would site as your major musical influences?  What about the band as a whole rather than individually?

I listen to a lot of very ignorant hip-hop music like Juicy J, Migos and Nephew Texas Boy.  I think the other guys in the band might like more guitar-based music, so I’m sure that has something to do with where the sound comes from.

Can you describe Basic Cable’s sound to our readers who haven’t heard you yet?  I’m terrible at describing and labeling music!

High-volume punk rock 90’s Sub-Pop throwback outer space sci-fi bad vibes noisy rock and roll.

What about Basic Cable’s songwriting process?  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out and compose with the rest of the band?  Or is there a lot of exchange of ideas and jamming in the practice space that is distilled into songs?

One person comes to the space with an idea and we try to turn it into a full song with as little effort or time, and as much beer as possible.

Do you all enjoy recording?  I think that most musicians, myself included, can really appreciate the end results of recording.  There’s not a lot out there that beats holding an album in your hands knowing that it’s yours and you made it.  Getting into the studio to actually record that material though, that’s a whole other matter.  How is it in the studio for you all?

This has been one of the first bands I’ve actually enjoyed recording with.  Most of my experiences in the past have brought me a lot of exhausting, drawn-out sessions rife with headaches.  Everything with this lineup has been super-fast and smooth.

Do you do a lot of prep work before you record getting arrangements just the way you want them and tightening stuff down or is it more of an organic experience with room for change and variation?

Just make sure it’s tight and jump into it I guess.

Let’s take some time and talk about your recordings.  I know you self-released a cassette tape of the four song Demo EP that’s up on your Bandcamp page.  When was that?  Who recorded that material?  Where was it recorded and what kind of equipment was used?

The demo was recorded by us in our practice space one night.  We just kind of used whatever equipment we had laying around.  I think we borrowed some mics from out buddy Adam Mohundro.  It actually came out on Priority Male Tapes, a label run by our synth player Matt, which is no longer exclusive to tapes.

How many copies was the Demo tape limited to?  Are there any plans to re-release that material on a physical format?

I think Matt only made about 25 of those tapes.  Not sure if he has any plans to re-release it, but he’s never repressed anything before so I doubt it.  He’s a big fan of making things difficult for consumers.  One of the tracks, “Blonde Ambition” wound up on the flexi split and everything else was re-recorded for the LP.

You also had a flexi 7” split with Endless Bummer on Notes and Bolts/Eye Vybe Records.  You contributed the track “Blonde Ambition” to the split which can also be found on your Demo tape.  Is there any difference between the versions that appear on the single and the tape?

It might be remixed but I’m honestly not sure anymore.  We had like four different mixes, so I’m not positive which one ended up on the flexi.

How many copies was that Endless Bummer flexi limited to?  Is that out of print?  How did the collaboration with Endless Bummer come about?

There should still be some around.  You’d have to holler at Kriss from Notes + Bolts or Karissa at Eye Vybe.  I only have one.  Liz and Lance from Permanent play in Endless Bummer, and they’re friends, so the match-up was obviously a good idea.  Kriss offered to do it.  We had the material recorded, so we all jumped at it.

You guys also have your first full-length album coming I’m Good To Drive out on Permanent Records, one of the absolutely best shops and labels out there, any time now!  Was the recording of the material for this new album much different than the session(s) for your Demo tape?  When and where was the material for I’m Good To Drive recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

We recorded the LP in a giant art gallery with Mike Lust.  The room had like twenty-foot-high ceilings and cement floors, so everything was reeeeeeally loud.  It was done almost entirely live and everything just seemed to click on that day.  We did it over the course of two nights, probably a collective, twelve or thirteen hours.  I think part of the reason it came together so easily is because we, for once, weren’t too drunk.  Mike didn’t use any post-production effects or anything, just wisely-placed room mics and excellent mixing skills.  He also drank a lot of our whiskey.

What can listeners expect from the new album?  Is I’m Good To Drive going to be a limited release?  Is there a scheduled release date for that yet?

We got test presses at the end of October so I’d imagine it’ll be out soon.  They can expect high-volume ignorance.

How was it working with Permanent Records?  They’re one of my favorite places in the whole world and their label kicks never ending ass as well so I was stoked to hear your album would be dropping on P-Rex!  How did you originally get hooked up with them?

We’ve been friends with Lance and Liz for a long time.  Ryan’s done a ton of art work for the shop and Running’s first LP was on the label too.  When we first put out the demo, they were immediately interested, and it was kind of a no-brainer to go with them.  Good people who we like a whole lot and can trust, the label just seemed like the perfect home for this LP.  They’ve put out stuff by a lot of peers who we love and respect like Obnox, Cave and Brain Idea AKA Brian Idea.

Does Basic Cable have any music that we haven’t talked about?

That’s everything at this point.

Other than the upcoming I’m Good To Drive 12”, are there any releases planned or in the works at this point?

Nothing officially planned, but we work pretty fast so I’m sure we’ll have a bunch of new songs real soon.

Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to pick up a copies of your music?

Probably the Permanent Records mail-order site.

With these insane international postage rate hikes what about our poor international and overseas readers?

Order it from Permanent.  Money’s just paper anyway.

And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news lie upcoming shows and album releases at?

We don’t have a Facebook or anything.  We have a Bandcamp page.  I think that lists show we’re playing?  I don’t really know how to use computers, and I’m the only member of the band who owns one.

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year if any?  With the New Year quickly approaching what about touring plans in 2014?

We’re in the works for setting up a tour to SXSW with our friends in Radar Eyes.

You have played with some seriously killer bands!  Who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

They’ve all been just peachy.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?


Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share with our readers here?

They’re all pretty childish.  Not sure how many other people would actually find them funny.

Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music?  With all of the options available to artists these days I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the certain methods that they do?  What about when you are listening to and or purchasing music?  If so why?

Nothing wrong with a good ole vinyl record.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us about it?

I have a bunch of records and tapes.  I download a lot of stuff too because I’m kind of poor.  Matt has the most physical music out of all of us probably.  My collection is about half the size of his.  He’s rich.

I grew up around music and there’s something awesome about physical products to me.  Having artwork to look at and liner notes to read provide a glimpse into the artists’ minds that created it and makes for a more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Yeah I feel the same way.  Permanence is important.

As much as I love my music collection I can’t take it with me on the go.  Even with my CDs and tapes I could never manage to get what I wanted to listen to in the car with me on the go and not manage to mess it up somehow.  Digital music has changed all of that and when you team it with the internet it has been even more of a game changer!  It’s exposed people from all over the world to music that they otherwise would never have the opportunity to listen to.  But with the good comes the bad and digital music is rapidly changing the face of the music industry as we know it.  As an artist during the reign of digital music what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

I just want people to hear it, I guess.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can, and I can spend hours wandering around online listening to random stuff all I want but I always make it a point to ask musicians such as yourself for their tips.  Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of?

The best bands in Chicago right now are Disappears, Oozing Wound and Rectal Hygenics.

What about nationally and internationally?

Nationally: Spray Paint.  Internationally: Brainbombs.

(2012/2013?)  Basic Cable – Demo – digital, Cassette Tape – Self-Released (Limited to ? copies)
(2013)  Basic Cable/Endless Bummer – Basic Cable/Endless Bummer split – 7” flexi – Notes + Bolts Records/Aye Aye Records (Limited to ? copies)
(2013)  Basic Cable – I’m Good To Drive – 12” – Permanent Records (Limited to ? copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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