Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Basement What?


John DeGroff

Whatzup Features Writer

Published July 22, 2004

Heads Up! This article is 18 years old.

Ever come across a band that surprises you? One

of the great things about doing these articles is

getting to hear bands and musicians I’m not

familiar with. Upon first encountering the

self-titled second release from Basement What?,

my initial reaction was “…hey, pretty good

band. Kind of alternative/roots rock

stuff…”

But something clicked, and after repeated

listenings, I discovered just how subtle these

guys’ chops are. Of course, this particular CD

contains the song Basement What? is getting

national recognition for: “My Beer.” This tune is

a frat party anthem if ever there was one. It’s

the jazz influences and nice mix of

instrumentation you’re not expecting that makes

this band worth hearing.

Basement What? are the creation of Dave George

(guitar, vocals) and Nick Young (guitar). The

first incarnation of the band was realized in

1995 while Young and George were both students at

Ball State University in Muncie. In the very

beginning, the band started by jamming with

friends in the basement of one of the dormitories

on campus. According the band’s website

(www.basementwhat.com), it was in the basement of

1104 Wheeling Avenue, Muncie, that George

suggested calling the band “Basement”. Someone

responded with “…what?”, and the rest is, well,

history, according to their site. For a time,

some of the band’s early fans simply called them

“The What?”

Their path followed familiar territory most

bands cover. Local gigs in Muncie, with dates

expanding their base to the rest of Indiana. From

the beginning, though, the band was into writing

their own material. Their first recording

sessions in December of 1997 yielded the debut

project U Listen To What?. Apparently,

this album is now kind of hard to find.

In 2000, Basement What? signed with Thirtieth

Century Records, an independent label out of

Connecticut, and released their second project,

the self titled Basement What?.

Since that time the band has undergone a few

changes. The current lineup now consists of

founding members George and Young, with Pete

Jacobs on bass and Lou Grant on drums.

“The current line-up of Basement What? has only

been in existence since 2003,” said bassist

Jacobs. “Actually, our first gig together was in

December of 2002. This December, we will have had

this lineup for two years.

“Lou and I played in another band [the Shelly

Dixon Band] from this area for about three years.

The way we actually met was that in that other

band we were looking for a guitar player. We

auditioned Nick Young to be in that band with us.

The reason Nick even auditioned in the first

place was because Basement What? didn’t have a

rhythm section. In the process, Nick thought

“…maybe these guys would want to be in two

bands.” Nick approached Lou and I about joining

Basement What? in addition to the band we were

already in. We were a little hesitant at first,

but we went ahead and did it. The chemistry. when

the four of us started playing together. was so

incredible that Lou and I basically stuck with

both bands for a short time, and when the other

started to fizzle out we cut it loose and have

been wholeheartedly pursuing Basement What? ever

since.””

That was obviously an excellent choice on the

part of Jacobs and Grant. They joined a band that

is beginning to garner a lot of national

attention. The aforementioned song, “My Beer,”

has been included on compilation CDs put out by

Billboard Magazine, Oasis CD Duplication and

X102.3 in Fort Wayne (Extreme Essentials,

Volume 4). The song was also featured during

the annual Bob and Tom Radiothon Benefit last

March.

Because of this, Basement What? has received

press from well known music publications such as

Billboard and Rolling Stone, and has been

selected as opening act for bands such as SR-71,

Shinedown, and Seven Mary Three. “My Beer” also

landed in the Top 30 of the most downloaded songs

on what was formerly MP3.com. Not bad for a song

it took George and Young all of 20 minutes to

write.

“It’s a song that’s fun to play, and people

request it all the time,” said Jacobs. “Whenever

we play it, people dance and go crazy.

“But then again, it’s so tongue in cheek, it’s

like if that’s what we’ve become known for, then

if that’s not what we do, it could be a problem.

As a matter of fact, we have some fans who have

been fans since the guys started the band back at

Ball State who don’t like us to play “My Beer.”

They say it’s a dead horse, you’re beating it,

and you guys are better than that.” But it’s

catchy, and people like it, so it’s hard not to

play it.”

There’s no danger of Basement What? becoming a

one-hit wonder though. The current self-titled

project has enough nuance and texture to it to

win Basement What? a whole new legion of fans.

The tracks were recorded sporadically between

spring and winter of 2000. The jazz-flavored

material on several cuts is the work of producer

Ed Collins, who also played drums and some bass

parts. Matt Albro, Basement What?’s original bass

player, is also on the project. Keyboards were

played by Jeff Peterson of the band The Why

Store.

Basement What? are recording again continuing

the same kind of “song at a time” approach

they’ve used before. There’s no definite release

date yet, but the project will probably be

available by the end of the year. And what can we

expect on this next one?

“We’re definitely pop-rock music,” said Jacobs.

“Some bands, especially in this area, seem to be

afraid of those words. They don’t want to be

“pop” because they think that makes them like the

Backstreet Boys. When we think of “pop,” we

think of The Dave Matthews Band, or Train, or

John Mayer, that kind of stuff that is a little

more current. Just anything that’s very catchy

and hook-laden. We kind of orient ourselves to

that kind of stuff. We like the kind of music

that, the minute you start playing a song people

are tapping their toes.”

“Basement What? also concern themselves with the

timing of their local appearances. “We’re doing

something different from what a lot of bands in

this area do,” said Jacobs. “By that, I mean

there’s a lot of bands here who tend to play only

Fort Wayne, Indianapolis or just the surrounding

towns. We basically try to make our ripples

bigger. We play in Louisville, Chicago,

Cincinnati. We play in Bloomington because that’s

where Indiana University is.

“Of course, we play Fort Wayne, but when we do

play here, we want it to be an event. We try to

play a venue in any market only so often so that,

when people see us, it’s been awhile. And it’s

going to be awhile before they see us again. We

only play here every so often because we’re

trying to build little legions of fans in markets

all over the place.

“Fort Wayne is so important to us because three

of us are from here, (George is from Valparaiso),

and we really feel that the music scene in Fort

Wayne is a vibrant, growing, breathing thing. I’m

very proud of Fort Wayne and the music scene

here.”

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