Basic Elements emerged from the crucible of the 1980s post-punk epoch, a time when the air was thick with the rebellious spirit of musical innovation. This band, whose members hadn’t yet seen their eighteenth summers, swiftly became fixtures of the Phoenix scene. They shared stages with the Gin Blossoms, Gentlemen Afterdark, and Caterwaul, and greeted national touring acts like Bolshoi and Gene Loves Jezebel as their opening act. Despite their precocity and burgeoning acclaim, the group’s chapter closed in 1991, the year they scattered to disparate paths: one to chisel forms from marble and bronze, another to conjure stories in the producer’s chair, and the third to navigate the currents of real estate.
Decades, have lapsed, and in that time, the cityscapes have transformed just as their individual lives have. Yet, in a turn as unexpected as it is delightful, Basic Elements has found resurrection in the sun-soaked sprawl of Los Angeles. The revival of this new wave ensemble is not a mere echo of past glories but a striking reentry into the cultural conversation—a distilled essence of 1985, injected straight into the heart of the modern music scene, undiluted and thrillingly alive.
With a series of new wave singles already under their belt, Basic Elements now returns to the forefront of the scene with what might be described as their most audacious undertaking to date. Shakin‘ arrives as a tumultuous celebration, a piece that evokes the frenetic energy of the Violent Femmes and the idiosyncratic charm of Sparks. It’s a number brimming with clever, biting lyrics and a chorus that invites- no – implores the listener to join in with its infectious refrain.
Shakin‘ was conceived in the youthful exuberance of 1985, penned by band members who were navigating the terrain of their teenage years. It is this genesis that renders the track a seamless fit for the universe of a John Hughes film, suffused with the vibrancy and the raw, untamed spirit of that era. This unabashed eighties verve is precisely what ensnared the attention of Chris Applebaum, the VMA-winning director renowned for his collaborations with the likes of Rihanna and Britney Spears. Applebaum, inspired by the track’s essence, proposed a tribute to The Breakfast Club as a means to visually encapsulate the song’s core.
However, amid the thrill of engaging with a luminary of music video direction such as Applebaum, Basic Elements made a conscious choice to pause, to reflect, to ensure that Shakin‘ was presented in a manner true to its origins—the raw, unchecked pulse of teenage rebellion. It is a time capsule that captures the heart of its epoch while resonating with the tenor of today.
Watch the video for “Shakin’” below:
At the helm of Basic Elements are founders John Denis, Jonathan Goldman, and William Bowling, complemented by the dynamic Dan Konopka and Gene Micofsky. Opting for a generational handover in their latest video, the band enlists their daughters, including Kansas and Parker Bowling—both with screen credits in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood—to forge an all-female reinterpretation of the group. This creative succession not only honors their legacy but also intertwines the band’s past with a burgeoning artistic future, symbolizing a vibrant familial tapestry of music and film.
“I loved “Shakin’” the second I heard it, but it wasn’t until my kid said it was “cool” that I knew I had to make this video,” says Applebaum.
“Shakin’ is all about trying to play it cool even though you’re dying on the inside 100 times a day,” says vocalist John Denis. “I think every kid can relate to that, plus some adults.”
The band is currently in the studio recording their first new material in over 35 years with producer, Mark Howard (U2, Iggy Pop, R.E.M.) and plans to release the new songs in 2024.
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