Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Song of the Day: 'New You' by Basic Elements

Pre-World Wide Web, it wasn't hard to miss stuff. Yet a quarter of a century into life on the internet and I'm still constantly amazed by how much "Kenneth stuff" still misses me. (Blame it on information overload.) So it's only fitting that an '80s new wave band from home town -- whom I'd never heard of despite vociferously collecting albums from the era, including Arizona bands Killer Pussy, Tone Set and Phantom Limbs and Detroit locals Figures on a Beach -- did finally land on my radar via a kind blog reader who grew up near me in Mesa.

From 1985 to 1990, the New Wave band Basic Elements played stages all over greater Phoenix, opening for bands like The Bolshoi, Gene Loves Jezebel, and even early incarnations of Gin Blossoms. In those days, the band members were high school students from the Paradise Valley area, and often, they were politely asked to leave the gigs they had just played. 

“We were playing in bars with grown-ass adults and alcohol. We were 15, 16, 17 years old," says Jonathan Goldman, who plays synthesizer in the band. "We would be playing the [Mason] Jar and [owner] Franco [Gagliano] would come and say, ‘You guys gotta go now. We’re going to lose our liquor license.’ So, we would go get high in the back.”

Early MTV and an obsession with Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" set the stage for what came next.

“We were going to the ‘gear for guys’ section at Judy’s in Paradise Valley Mall, and wearing our mom’s shoulder pads and eyeliner, asking the girls at London Fog how to do our hair like the Thompson Twins, and in 1984, that meant getting our asses kicked. The lightbulb kind of went off when [bassist William Preston Bowling] and I saw 'Revenge of the Nerds.' We were like, ‘Yeah, we should start a band. That’s how we won’t get our asses kicked.’ It was a survival mechanism,” remembers Goldman.

(I can so relate to this -- right down the shopping sprees at Judy's -- although my early '80s band, A La Plage, never got nearly as far!) 

Thirty-five years after their debut, Basic Elements in October released "Hide," the first of five original songs they recorded with producer Ed Buller (Psychedelic Furs/Pulp) 

In addition to Goldman -- whose Twitter profile describes him as "Synth player for the greatest '80s band you’ve never heard of" -- Reardon reports that bassist William Preston Bowling, guitarist David Youseffi, vocalist John Denis and drummer Matt Barton got back together to record the songs in Los Angeles, where Bowling and Goldman now live. The songs were all part of the Basic Elements repertoire during its original five-year incarnation. 

Which brings us to 2021, when the band just put out a lyrics video for its latest release, "New You."


I checked in with Goldman to see what projects the band has lined up for 2021 and found out they'd just shipped limited edition cassingles for "New You" to (famed) Zia Records where they will be available exclusively. (The B-side features the original archival recording of the same song.) The band will be on  93.9 FM KWSS (Zoom interview) to promote said cassingles on Feb. 11. And the third single, "Scream 4 Love," will be released on Feb. 12. (Live lyric video will be featured on DJ Jake Rudh’s Twitch on Feb. 13.) He said they hope to play live again in the near future -- perhaps in Arizona in the fall.

And below, check out two versions of the band's previous single, "Hide,"  one from the 1985 Arizona State Fair and the spruced-up 2020 version:

Basic Elements performed “Hide” at the Shadow Mountain High School talent show in 1985, where three of the young men attended. (They opened with a cover of U2's "New Year's Day" to soften the crowd.) 

More info HERE.

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