Up-and-coming local act emerges fully formed on debut album
Tristan Huygen and Nick Wellman went to Grove City High School together, but the two didn't meet until senior year.
“I came into music from the academic side,” said Huygen, seated next to Wellman at a Downtown coffee shop. “I could read music and was in jazz band and marching band. I played guitar. … And Nick was this great songwriter.”
Fellow classmate and drummer Liam Bailey introduced the unlikely pair, and soon they were making music in Huygen's basement. “Do you remember the first interaction we had?” Wellman asked Huygen, who couldn't remember. “Tristan had a blues-rock band in high school, and I took one of the songs they recorded and made a beat out of it — the beginning of a solo section that I looped over and over again. It was really ridiculous.”
“Oh, yeah! It was hilarious,” Huygen said. “I was like, ‘Who the hell is this guy?' He made a trap beat out of a blues-rock song. So we started hanging out almost every weekend. He would come over, and we'd record covers and his original stuff. Eventually we started bringing Liam in to play. ... Everything we did stumbled its way into existence. We never had an official start to the band or an official start to the record.”
Though the indie-pop act's beginnings may have been haphazard, the debut album from the Bascinets, which now also includes Grove City alum Nick Shew on bass and Brooklyn Ludlow on keys, sounds fully formed. “I always wanna sound like Elliott and John,” Wellman sings on Always Want to Be Your Friend track “Lalala,” and while aspiring to the heights of Elliott Smith and John Lennon is a goal of many young bands, the Bascinets ably incorporate those influences and more (Belle & Sebastian, '90s Brit-pop) while still maintaining a sound all its own.
The record was in the works for a year and a half as Huygen, who studies music recording at Capital University while three of his bandmates attend Ohio State, tracked the album at Capital and at home. In the early stages, Wellman wrote songs that were influenced by a difficult transition.
“I went to OSU for a little bit, but I was having an awful time,” Wellman said. “I think I was trying to convey going through a change period — feeling uncomfortable all the time.”
The record also explores the complicated, yin-yang nature of human relationships, particularly the complexity of friendship. “It's like the name of the band. A bascinet is a knight helmet, but a [bassinet] is something you put babies in. We like that duality,” Huygen said. “It's either a knight helmet or a baby carriage. That came out of a joke. You were saying you were going to buy a bascinet.”
“Oh, it wasn't a joke,” Wellman said. “It was serious. I was on eBay looking to get a bascinet.”