Club parties that manage to celebrate a decade of making people dance tend to make a big deal of the anniversary, and rightly so, lasting ten years in one of the most competitive businesses is worthy of a mention. So what about the achievement of making it to twenty five years? Back To basics, the Leeds basic party that has been delivering a cutting edge soundtrack for its army of followers around the world for a quarter of a century is getting set for a global tour to say thank you to everyone that has supported them over the years.
One of the most significant things about the success of Back To Basics is that it has remained true to its principles throughout this time. Launched by two former punks – Allister Cook and Dave Beer – the party offered an alternative to the mediocre entertainment that was on offer at the time, embracing the new youth movement and delivering what would be a soundtrack to multiple generations. With countless opportunities to jump on the bandwagon of selling out and cashing in commercially, Back To Basics stayed true to its message, relying on its continued creativity both through thought provoking, eye catching flyer artwork and a relentless dedication to bringing its cult following the very best music from exciting new and established DJs.
Allister Cook sadly passed early in the journey, the victim of a car crash on the way to a gig, but Dave Beer and everyone that he has surrounded himself with since has created a fitting legacy to a truly gifted and visionary mind. Back To Basics is an iconic part of the club scene, remaining as relevant today as it was in the early years. Tour dates are building through the club world, with clubs all over the globe keen to play their part in congratulating the party on reaching a quarter of a century, not to mention offering clubbers a chance to enjoy the unique party atmosphere that it creates. We caught up with Dave Beer as e finalizes plans for the 25 Year Anniversary tour…
Back To Basics celebrates its 25 year anniversary, a quarter of a century delivering the famous party vibe to generations of clubbers; is that something you though possible when you first started hosting the party?
To be absolutely frank, I didn’t expect it to last more than six months. Back then, clubs generally didn’t. The only reason we started a night was for somewhere for our mates to go and to stop all the convoys of cars following us everywhere we went and bringing it on top, cos everybody knew that we knew where the party was. There were no clubs playing the sort of music we were into. We had to go to Venus in Nottingham or Flying in London to get anywhere close to the music we were into. Rave had gone mad, the Hacienda was full of gangsters, the E’s were shit, the love had gone and it felt like the party was over. Those were in the days of illegal raves; I believe they now call it the Summer of Love. But we were sick and tired of white glove wearing, whistle blowing, glow stick waving, sweaty, cheesy quavers (ravers)… Andrew Weatherall quoted Allister Cook (Basics co founder) who is sadly no longer with us due to a car crash on his way to a gig, as “the man that would have changed the sound of British house music”. He was truly exceptional and his anarchistic approach to music was the essence of Basics and still is to this day… Never conforming to cooperate bollocks. That’s why we never sold out like all the other brown nosing super clubs that were destroying the scene. Without naming names, you know their logos as they’re printed on everything from t-shirts, baseball caps to teacups and salt & pepper pots. Anyway, you couldn’t get in to ours with a t-shirt and baseball cap cos it was designed for the more discerning clubber. It said on the first flyer, “For those with long trousers and sensible shoes ” and we purposely ran it in a gay club to keep out all the wrong elements. So going back to the question, it’s something short of a miracle lasting 25 years as we wouldn’t let most people in, which uncannily is probably a key to the success and longevity as it made people want to get in even more.
What prompted the idea to launch your own party back in the day?
There wasn’t a club in our area that we wanted to go to. We’d been going to the States and Ibiza and totally gone bealeric in the true sense of the word. Considering we (myself and Ali) were both ex-punks, we still had that attitude and were very inspired by what was going on in London, New York and Ibiza at that time. Not to mention the local constabulary wouldn’t leave us alone as we were running so called illegal parties and the criminal justice bill was imminent, virtually making having fun illegal.
You have always adopted a principled approach to the party both in the music policy – refusing to follow any trends – and in a determination to deliver world class line ups; is this something you would attribute to the success and longevity you have enjoyed?
Without sounding rude, you do the math! My Grandad used to tell me, “If a jobs worth doing, then its worth doing right”. Yes, we’ve always been about the quality and equality. We’ve always taken pride in being at the forefront and cutting edge of house music. As well as paying homage to the old masters and pioneers, we’re always looking for fresh talent even to this very day. There’s no better feeling than discovering a new artist, giving them a platform and helping them grow. Sometime, I’m truly humbled and feel like a proud dad when I look back and see what they’ve gone on to achieve. Some people say I should be millionaire, which I probably would be if I had asked for 20%, but it’s never been a business to us, it’s a way of life! In the case of Daft Punk, 1% would have done, lol. The respect they still give me is worth more than all the money in the world.
Back To Basics has discovered countless new talents and offered a vehicle for numerous DJs to showcase their ability, many of whom have gone on to international acclaim. Who are particular favourites of yours that have transitioned to a bigger stage and what makes them special?
I’m honestly proud of them all but I’m blessed with having the best residents on the planet. It’s not easy to become a Basics resident but once you are, you’re part of the family for life. No contracts, just contacts. They’re the ones that hold the night together. Amongst the other DJ’s, ones that spring straight to mind and I’ll try and do this in some kind of order… In the beginning we were the first to bring over the Americans such as Josh Wink, Danny Tenaglia, Derrick Carter, Sneak, Masters At Work, Francois K, Deep Dish, Erick Morillo, Franky Knuckles, David Morales… and later on Claude Von Stroke. It’s impossible to name them all but they all became better DJs after learning a lot from our residents and taxi drivers. Which brings me to the English; I’m happy when I see what’s become of DJs such as Sasha, Oakenfold, Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada, more recently Jamie Jones (God bless his cotton socks), Richy Ahmed, Miguel Campbell, Denney (watch this space), and still the Don to this day, Mr. Andrew Weatherall. For those I missed out, soz, I’m running out of time. Anyways, pull your socks up as we’ve got some new kids on the block like Josh Plews and the Gas House Kids, Ethan Marin and Tom Midgley. I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t say anymore.
The Back To Basics iconic artwork grabbed almost as many headlines as the music, was creating that image and theme an important part of the process of building a successful brand?
Firstly, its not a f**king brand. Never has been, never will be… But yes, art has a massive part to play in what we’ve done. I’d like to consider us as the club that put the “art” in pARTy. I designed every one of them alongside my good friend, Nick Gundill. In the early days, the flyer was the visual representation of what your club was about. I was so precious about them that sometimes the party would have already happened by the time the flyer hit the street. They’ve become so iconic that we’ve had exhibitions at galleries such as The Barbican, Selfridge, Harvey Nichols and Leeds Gallery. Our most iconic image with the queen’s head, which we plagiarized from The Sex Pistols, which went under the hammer at Sotheby auction house and I never got paid for.
The 25th anniversary tour is starting to take shape, where are you looking forward to playing and why?
We’ve already confirmed some crackers; a particular highlight will be Glastonbury, where we will open Glade. We intend to document the tour journey in a fly on the wall “Rock n Roll” style, travelling the entire globe and paying homage to the cities and DJs that have inspired us. A cross between Spinal Tap, the ‘Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’ and ‘Midnight Express’. My idea is to finish the tour at Burning Man, where we will burn an effigy of the queen and bow out disgracefully. The queen is dead, long live Back To Basics.
What does the tour package include?
Chaos, mayhem, destruction and the best parties and music you’ve ever experienced. Each party will see a selection of basics residents and a guest who has played at ‘Basics’ over the years playing at each one.
For more info on the tour, email email@example.com