Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
The group the Basement took their name from a line in Bob Dylan's song "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which should give listeners a clue to their influences -- the band puts their greatest emphasis on their songwriting, and mix up folk, pop, and country sounds with a tuneful, organic approach. The Basement were formed in early 2002 by three longtime friends, John Mullin (lead vocals and guitar), Mark McCausland (lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Declan McManus (drums, and not to be confused with the similarly named artist better known as Elvis Costello). The three had grown up as passionate music fans in Omagh, a small town in Ireland, and after years of comparing notes on favorite albums and working on songs, they decided to pull up stakes for England in hopes of launching a musical career. After settling in Liverpool ("It was the first place we hit land after Ireland," according to Mullin), the three friends joined forces with bassist Graeme Hassall and moved into a shabby below-ground flat where they devoted their days to rehearsing. After attracting the attention of the Deltasonic label, the Basement released their first single, "Medicine Day," in the summer of 2003, which earned enthusiastic reviews and turned the unknown Irish expatriates into a band with buzz. A second single, "Do You Think You're Movin' On," was similarly successful, but rather than rush into the studio to make their debut album, the Basement instead took an unusual tack, working on songwriting and arranging material during the week and heading into the recording studio only on weekends, giving the songs a chance to mature before the disc was completed. The Basement and producer Mike Crossey went through dozens of songs before finding the right combination of tunes to form 2006's Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs, which earned the band enthusiastic press in Europe and the U.K. In the spring of 2007, Illicit Hugs was released in the United States by Zealous Records, and the band came to America for their first stateside tour.