Basement Recess leaves the fraternity house

Basement Recess, made up of lead singer Ollie Davidson, guitarists Adam Boss and Lee Johnson, bassist Jack McMurtrie and drummer Eric Sander, play Park Tavern on St. Patrick’s Day. // Photo by Jenna Guiher Student Publications

Nothing screams indie rock more than a band born in the basement of a fraternity house. Basement Recess, the brainchild of five members of Tech’s Sigma Nu fraternity, has been dominating the local music scene in recent months.

Lead singer Ollie Davidson, guitarists Adam Boss and Lee Johnson, bassist Jack McMurtrie and drummer Eric Sander inherited the band from their fraternity predecessors, and they have transformed it into something entirely their own. 

They bestowed the name “Basement Recess” on the band after their beloved practice space in Sigma Nu’s basement. 

“It’s not just like two words that we slapped together,” Davidson said. “It’s something that represents what we do.”

The group has collaborated to release two original songs: “firefighters” and “chained to a stranger,” both released under the name ØLLIE on Spotify, and they are set to drop a new song, “messengers,” in April. 

The songwriting process begins as all things do for the band: in the basement. McMurtrie explains that the creative undertaking of writing songs is a “collective process.” He says that one person will come up with an idea and “that spark is harnessed into something and then we have a solid foundation. And then one other person might come up with the next spark that moves into that next connection.” McMurtrie says that after the song is complete, “We all have a piece of it in there.”

Even with only a handful of songs out, the band has clearly found their sonic identity, drawing from artists like Cage the Elephant and Declan McKenna and injecting it with their own signature charismatic lyricism and original instrumentation.

Basement Recess has attracted a devoted fan base on campus. Through word of mouth, the band has played dozens of shows. McMurtrie says, “They’re always out there and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to see Basement Recess.’”

“It’s all about who you know, and literally who hears you,” Davidson said. “We played Park Tavern, and the manager heard us. They’re like, ‘Wait, you guys should come back and play.’”

This support from their fans and the connections they have made over the years have really paid off for the band. Davidson recalls the first time one of their songs was recognized by a stranger: “There was this guy that was standing at the front, and I didn’t know who he was. He came up to the front of the stage and was like, ‘Play firefighters!’”

“That was definitely a standout moment for me when I felt support from Georgia Tech, and I was like, ‘Oh, people talk about us!,’” he said.

The band’s most recent gig was at Park Tavern’s Shamrock Fest on March 16. The three-hour-long set spanned a wide variety of genres and decades, appealing to every individual in the audience. They played iconic oldies such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire” as well as newer, well-known songs like Declan McKenna’s “Brazil” and The Backseat Lovers’ “Kilby Girl.”

Basement Recess has a wildly dynamic stage presence. From the moment the band stepped onto the stage, they drew the crowd in and left them
hanging onto every lyric. 

Throughout the night, the band’s energy only escalated, making the audience more and more rowdy. “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers marked the peak of the crowd’s enthusiasm, as they jumped up and down and sang boisterously along with Davidson.

A standout from the set was an electric performance of “Hotel California,” punctuated by Boss’ flawless execution of the notoriously difficult guitar solo.

The band ended the night with Prince’s “Purple Rain,” capping off the passionate set and permanently imprinting “Basement Recess” into every concert-goer’s mind. 

While the future of the band is relatively unknown, there are some things that the band knows for certain. 

“I like being on stage. I just want to play music,” Davidson said simply.

If you are in the market for a new indie band to gatekeep, you do not need to look far. Basement Recess has got it all: thrilling concerts, tastefully original songs and that down-to-earth feel that can only be captured by a band that began in a frat basement.