In Conversation With Bare Minimum
Photos by Lina Phan
Sat backstage at the Circulation Winter Launch Party in the Basement, we caught up with two-thirds of the lovely Bare Minimum, a self-professed musical “thing” which defies the label of band or project.
Although Bare Minimum has only been formed for the past year or so, Jack Keegan (vocals) and Sam Carson (drummer, also in PEACH), are certainly familiar with the York/Leeds music scene. Funny enough, the group met whilst studying in York and were formerly part of a seven-piece group called The Bramble Napskins. (We enquired about the significance of this unusual band name but there was no definitive answer). Interestingly, although Bare Minimum’s bassist (Ben Judge) could not be there on the night, having double-booked the gig with a date with his girlfriend, the remaining members brought along one of the former Bramble Napskins, saxophonist Alex James, who lathered their live set with a jazzy feel.
While they might still be open to the odd collaboration with individual band members, Jack noted how different Bare Minimum felt from their old band, which had been “just a bit of fun”, and could be described as a range of folk, jazz, and pop which created an overall sound definable only as ‘New-Age Yorkshire’. In contrast, Bare Minimum seems to be a more organised and slicker outfit, with plenty of scope for being creative.
Band member for the night, Alex, jokingly described Bare Minimum as “saxophone solos interrupted by vocals” – but he was swiftly put down by Jack and Sam, who expressed how exciting it was to be part of a new group which had so much more musical freedom. Indeed, they noted that with Bare Minimum they have been able to cut loose from the restraints that make a commercially ‘good’ song, and have become more self-assured with their music. Jack and Sam suggested they wouldn’t even term it a band – “it looks like a band, sounds like a band, and smells like a band, but it’s not a band….it could be an experience, but that’s been done by Hendrix…a project? An occurrence?” Eventually they settled for calling it just “a thing”.
Jack mentioned he has performed at the Basement countless times; notably was for his final performance for his MA in Jazz and Improvised Music, for which his lecturer came down to assess. The gig was played in support of Leeds-based PEACH and was described a little “rough around the edges”. This type of passionate performance is not unheard of for Bare Minimum, a detail we learnt when listening to Sam’s anecdote on a gig recently played in Manchester in which the sound technician complained about his drumming being too loud. “He was quite rude about it actually, telling me to play with my wrists”, Sam joked.
Although they didn’t point towards any specific musical influences, Bare Minimum stated that Biffy Clyro, Primus and Jeff Buckley as some of their favourite bands. Jack suggested it just depended on his mood, but mentioned some of the all-time greats such as Led Zepplin, The Beatles, and even Alice Cooper as having had some sort of influence on them as musicians over the years. Some of their favourites on the local scene include The Howl and the Hum, The Magic Eye Pictures, and Me, Thee and E. They noted that they have certainly benefitted from their links with PEACH, which has given them the opportunity to play more gigs both in York and Oldham – although this has also left Sam with no social life given that he drums in both!
Bare Minimum have come a long way since their launch, where they reminisced about months spent practising with a Guitar Hero drum kit in their pyjamas. Their strong work ethic, great sense of humour and fantastic live sets suggest that they will be breaking onto the local radar soon. At present, the band are experimenting with different sounds and machinery and are recording an EP – be sure to catch them in the new year at their release show which sees them back at the Basement on 26th January 2018!