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Only Sibling Vocalist/Guitarist Alex Basovskiy Discusses the Melodic Rock Group's New LP

Photo courtesy of Other People Records

Other People Records has been on an absolute tear of late, COVID be damned. Having recently dropped new records from the likes of Gleemer, Modern Color, and Ways Away; the label has more than sustained that Midas touch with the debut full-length from Only Sibling.

Get Well Soon is the note-perfect aforementioned album offering from the self-dubbed NYC “Loser Rock” band. The collection finds them expertly walking the line between a '90s Chapel Hill sound, modern emo’s more propulsive and rambunctious instincts, shoegaze, and something altogether unique and decidedly theirs.

As resigned or defeatist as it may come off, the taut collection feels far more celebratory and hard-earned after subsequent listens.

Beneath the bummer summer first impression is a band that refuses to go quietly. At times, it calls to mind the gauzy and textured vibes of their friends and labelmates Gleemer.

Elsewhere, Only Sibling call to mind Drug Church but more so their forebears in the mighty Seaweed. There are deft and subtle injections of both heavy alt rock a la Heart Attack Man or Webbed Wing and modern gaze bands akin to Narrow Head, Downward, and Slow Crush. 

For those seeking out visual accompaniment, Only Sibling boasts a number of videos that capture the “slack motherfucker” Superchunk era, mining from something that’s as aggressively insistent as it is laid back and unbothered. Inasmuch as the band pulls from myriad timestamped subgenres, the lyrics explore oft-ignored themes.

Hyper-literate and appropriately meta, lyricist Alex Basovskiy goes in on the self-sacrifices often needed to give oneself over to art, paying no mind to the fallout that oftentimes tends to be its bedfellow. It’s a stellar introduction to the band, should you have missed their superlative 2016 EP, What Keeps Me Up at Night

Whether or not the album’s eerily prescient title was intentional, it speaks to the urgency with which we need to get our collective shit together, if for no other reason that to see this band live. 

The aforementioned guitarist/vocalist Alex Basovskiy was kind enough to spend some time with No Echo, albeit virtually. Dig it. 

Obviously, I could punish you about most of the tracks, but “Mt. Holly” is a standout. It’s deeply evocative and, if I’m right, was informed by an intense tour story. Care to elaborate on the event that preceded the track and how it informed the song itself? 

That’s right. Basically, we were on a highway somewhere in Pennsylvania early in the morning after an overnight drive. At this point, everyone was super worn out so we were all out of it. Damian was driving and I was sitting shotgun. Out of nowhere, we see the van directly in front of us try to swerve out of the way of a woman checking her car on the shoulder. She flew over the hood of the car, so we pulled over to see if there was anything we could do.

A marine with medical training stopped as well, so luckily no one trying to help ended up inadvertently making the situation worse. The woman seemed out of it but was conscious, so when the ambulance came I was relieved and thought she'd be fine, but a few days later we looked for news articles about it and found out that she had actually died in the hospital. The craziest part was that her mom and daughter were both in the car and watched it all happen.

The whole situation kind of just reminded us how easily your entire life can change in the blink of an eye. The woman lived in a town called Mt. Holly, so we named the song that. We had crazy luck on that tour because a week prior, a car right in front of us had a tire blow out and drove right into the barricade too. I think we were pretty over driving when we got home from that tour.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lyrically, there’s a great deal of inward looking reflection and an almost hopeful defeatism if that makes sense. There are bits of what feels like a reckoning of sorts. It feels quite personal at times and, as a listener, those are the moments that pull me in the most.

If you’re comfortable with it, give us a peak behind the curtain into the inspiration and process. 

A lot of the lyrics ended up being a combination of all of our ideas. We’re all really close friends, but we have a weird dynamic where we really don’t talk to each other about personal stuff that may be bothering us. The record kind of turned out to be our way of just talking about all the stuff we didn’t want to talk about. Personally, I was in a weird place with the end of a relationship and a bunch of family issues.

I realized how unsupportive the people around me were in terms of me pursuing music, so a lot of the songs ended up being about that. I guess I developed a willingness to prioritize music to relationships with people close to me, so calling it hopeful defeatism is pretty spot on.

That was part of the reasoning behind us adopting the term "Loser Rock" to describe ourselves. As a band we’ve also always had a bunch of self doubt, so that inevitably became a topic on the record as well. Jordan sings on one of the songs, and his song is about a family member very close to him.

Additionally, there’s a through line on the album that seems to analyze pursuing passion even at the detriment or dissolution of relationships. Is that a difficult thing to balance, especially when things are on a collective pause like the one we find ourselves in? 

For sure. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have half of the songs on the record I think [laughs]. I think it's all about having the right people around you. You can't pick your family, but having friends or loved ones that understand what you do definitely helps a lot. I'm very lucky to have an amazing girlfriend that gets it all. I think putting everything on hold would be pretty awful otherwise, but we've just been watching movies and hanging out every day, so I'm not complaining at all.

Having recently reviewed the Gleemer record, how was it recording with Corey Coffman? It sounds lush and big but still organic. 

It was so great. For a while we were racking our brains trying to figure out who to record with. One of the guys at the label suggested Corey and we were immediately all on board. If you ask any of my friends, they can vouch for the fact that I don't ever shut up about Gleemer. They have the perfect vibe and I think Corey captures them sonically super well, so I was really excited to work with him.

We ended up working together really well, and I think he ultimately helped us hone in on our sound. He understood what we liked and how we wanted to sound, so I think it ended up being a really organic relationship. That dude's an evil scientist.

Clearly, you seem to be well versed in a great deal of '90s alt rock, shoegaze, and myriad other things. There’s been a Renaissance of sorts but you have a unique way of blending things seamlessly. What’s the writing process look like? Was there a lot of care given to the sequencing?  It feels so intentional and flows so well.

I think that all just comes from the fact that we listen to a bunch of stuff. Obviously every band can say the same, but I've always just tried to write whatever without consciously forcing anything. I never wanted to tell myself to write a song that sounds like a '90s band or whatever the case may be. As far as the writing process goes, I record demos in my basement, so a lot of the times I send the rest of the guys full songs or parts with bass and drums already included. I think that helps give context to everything and ultimately makes the writing process smoother.

We end up rewriting the rough ideas a ton together because we want to have a clear idea of everything well before ever stepping foot into a studio. The sequencing ended up being a priority too because I think that can end up being a make or break deal for a record. It's our first LP so I think we felt a little out of our element when it came to figuring out the order, but I think we ended up with the best possible sequence.

The world has changed a bit since you dropped “High Violet" single. That said, the video is the perfect visual accompaniment to the single and captures the vibe really well. How that’d come to pass? It looked like it was super fun to shoot.

Side note, where’d that Metallica shirt come from? My old ass had that in the mid-'90s! 

Thanks a lot! It was fun but also stressful to shoot [laughs]. We decided to shoot that video ourselves because with the budget we'd have for one video, we ended up making four. There's obviously a trade off because we're by no means professionals, but I think that also helped put our own personal stamp on it more.

We rented a camera setup that I had absolutely no experience with, so that was kind of stressful. Then figuring out how to use it, but also teaching everyone else to use it for the shots they needed to take of me was stressful as well [laughs]. We had a pretty limited time-frame to film it, but somehow we made it happen. It was all shot on Staten Island where we live, and we tried to get some different scenery.

If anyone knows of Staten Island, they usually think it's just a quiet suburb. That's definitely partially accurate, but we wanted to show some other spots too. We also don't know much about cinematography, so we threw in some references to the bike riding intro shots in Donnie Darko [laughs].

And that shirt was actually given to Damian by his dad who got it at a show in the '90s! He still has a collection of shirts and I'm always trying to get him to sell me some. No luck yet though [laughs].

All things being equal, we’d all like to imagine we’ll be seeing shows sometime in 2021. Alas, you join the ranks of bands that have put out great albums in the strangest of times. What’s the run up been like? Is it difficult to feel like there’s momentum? What’s the future, should we have one, for Only Sibling? 

We had a bunch of stuff planned and would have been on tour right now if not for everything going on. It's definitely a weird time, but if anything, I think right now people want to find new music simply because they have nothing else to do. It's hard to gauge momentum at times like this for sure, but we've been getting positive feedback with all the new stuff which is super cool.

Right now, we're just focusing on the videos and just trying to engage with people however we can. We also worked on some stuff to send out to people randomly with their pre orders of Get Well Soon. I'm definitely itching to tour though, so as long as it's feasible, you'll definitely see us on tour in 2021.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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We all know the new Hum record rules, but what’ve you all been listening to to stay sane during Camp COVID? 

The new Hum record is definitely sick. We've also been super hyped on a lot of the stuff some homies have been putting out. The new Gleemer and Modern Color records are great, shout out to the OPR team.

Also shout out to Sweet Soul, Have a Good Season, Slumped, Honeymoon, Seer Believer, Drowsy, Photographic Memory, NVM, Derek Ted, No Dancing, Bad Luck, Super American, Suntitle, and Mundy's Bay. They all put out good shit recently if you're into some good ol' rock n roll.

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Get Well Soon will begin shipping around August 14 via Other People Records and can be pre-ordered here.

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