On 19 January I went to a concert at the Postgarage Graz to see several bands I had never heard of before. Not that those bands were unknown to the world, they just went under the radar in my Australian life. However, they had made themselves a name in Austria, and it was then that I discovered The Base, an outfit from my hometown of Graz. They are an alternative or indie rock trio – Norbert Wally (vocals, guitars), born 16 May 1970 in Graz, Albrecht Klinger (vocals, guitars, bass), born 1 February 1965 in Linz, and Karlheinz Miklin jr. (drums, percussion, vocals), born 15 January 1971 in Klagenfurt – with an impressive list of nine published albums. They had formed in 1989, (the same year I moved to Sydney), and had their breakthrough with „Jet Crash Kills“ in 1996.
I checked them out. Their website is cool and current, so I sent an e-mail to pre-order Secret Second Thoughts, their tenth album, due to be released in a couple of weeks. Front man Norbert Wally replied within hours on a Sunday morning and I was blown away by the friendly response, and the hand-delivered CD on the night of the concert. Their live performance was very professional, and the crowd had a fantastic time listening and dancing along, even though their gig didn’t start until well after midnight as the night’s main act. A heightening experience!
Now, let’s talk about this new album. The lyrics are smart, intelligent, and worth listening to: „It’s a safe bet that the sun won’t set/ When no one saw it rise today/ The tide runs high against the black of the sky/ And the clouds begin to party big way/ I don’t wanna wake up with a mouthful of rain/ But I suppose I got nothing better to say/ The rats don’t leave the ship/ The rats don’t leave the ship/ The rats won’t leave the ship yet“ are the first lines of the album, and then we discover another gem, beautifully visualized in the band’s promotional video.
The album offers solid rock songs, but the real strength of the unique voice of Norbert Wally shines in slow tunes like this: „I promise I…/ I’ll leave some coffee in the fridge for you/ And I can spare a cigarette or two or three/ And leave the lighter on the chair/ How I wish you were here/ But I don’t know if I wish you would stay/ If I could bare to see you/ Every night and day/ Or if it’s easier to say…/ That I leave a light on for you/ I leave a light on for you/ I leave a light on for you“ which is a romantic ballad in itself, sung with a soft and tender voice.
He can shout and yell, whisper in your ears, stroke your skin, for he has the sexiest voice on this side of the world. Norbert Wally’s charisma on stage reminded me in some ways of Jim Morrison, or Michael Stipe. The girls melted on the dance floor, their hot faces smiling, even my girlfriend and I were dancing along like other patrons half our age. One of their beautiful ballads asks „(Would I Be) A Good Santa Claus?“ and my answer would be for sure: Yes, because „You Turn Me On (Yeah)“, which is one of my personal favorites on the album.
I definitely need to get my hands on some of their earlier releases, too.