Interview with Mike Ivey of Basehead
Conducted via email 11/08
Jerry Actually – When “Play With Toys” came out it was greeted with a decent amount of attention, but by the time “Not In Kansas Anymore” was released, Basehead seemed to have faded back into obscurity. Was I just not paying attention to the right channels, or did your audience pick up the ball and then drop it?
Mike Ivey – Actually, the fade back to obscurity was after “Not In Kansas Anymore,” and after we recorded the follow-up “faith” which didn’t get a major label release after parent label Imago’s BMG distribution deal ended. Prior to that Kansas sold about as much as Toys, we did got some press, and we toured opening for Stone Temple Pilots, Butthole Surfers & fIREHOSE, as well as on our own and in Europe. Therefore the fade to obscurity was a bit more gradual than described above.
Jerry Actually – In regard to the question above question, basehead came about a few years before the massive proliferation of the internet and the whole peer to peer file share phenomenon. Do you think if basehead would have been more in line with this that things would have unfolded differently?
Mike Ivey – Actually, things unfolded the way they needed to. “Play With Toys” came out right just as Soundscan was in the process of rolling out, and that multi-year run ended right before the internet really got going, so I feel fortunate to have experienced the record business prior to the traditional industry model falling apart. I’ve always been skeptical of the panacea of promises of the internet age, particularly in regards to how artists are supposed to be paid for work when everything is available for free. But in general, it’s a cost-effective means for marketing and communications in the 360 degree-DIY business model that the future seems to be calling for.
Jerry Actually – To me your music was very pioneering. I come from a rock and roll and metal background and when I first heard Play With Toys, I was impressed by not only the use of instrumentation but the more melodic nature of the music you were making. I sense influences of it in bands as diverse as Outkast and Cake. What, if any, influence do you feel basehead had on shaping future music?
Mike Ivey – I don’t know.
Jerry Actually – To the influence end, who are some of your musical influences? What/who are you listening to currently?
Mike Ivey – Blues music and people in all forms, styles, and colors. Music created by live musicians playing real instruments. Analog-based recordings pleasing to the ear. Gospel. God.
Jerry Actually – Since ’92 the face of music in both tastes and the function of the industry have changed quite a bit, how do you see the future unfolding for crossover music and bands getting their message across to their fans?
Mike Ivey – Be a band. Be part of a community of music fans (particularly live music), and not only out to make fans of your band. Music-making isn’t simply for industry and for-profit-making purposes. It’s an art. Historically, music and musicians’ roles and responsibilities in society were to communicate, inform, speak to and for the people, not just to entertain them. For the future, music needs to be more relevant to the times and to a broader cross section of the people. Don’t stress the categories, make good music, and as a profession, hopefully a reasonable industry model will soon work itself out.
Jerry Actually – I see (from the Wikipedia entry) that you’ve recently been active with basehead again. If that is the case, can you tell me what is in store for basehead in the future?
Mike Ivey – We’ve been performing as basehead 2.0, an alt.rock.funk.gospel band (guitar, bass & drums trio) playing songs from the most recent recording “Rockalyptic Music” as well as “Play With Toys.” Perhaps there will be a use for, and/or re-release of the previous recordings, and I also have a background and interest in film. What is in store for basehead’s future is a continuing faith in God, with hope in my neighbors, nation, and new President, and a suspicion that these interesting times will produce some interesting music.