Album titles often come in flashes of brilliance or drunken hazes but for Basement Jaxx’s Felix Buxton, the idea behind their fifth album Scars was far more painful.
“I got mugged by eight hoodies for my pushbike on the way home one night. I wasn’t badly hurt but it fuckin’ scared me. It’s probably one of the scariest moments of my life,” he recounts in disbelief. “Scars are the things that stay with you and that incident definitely gave me one.”
Buxton hasn’t had the best luck. In 2004, he got robbed at knifepoint by a crackhead and another later overdosed outside his house. But then again, he does live in Brixton, one of London’s most notorious suburbs. Maybe he should consider moving?
“Felix has had a very dramatic last couple of years which makes for great material for the album,” says music partner Simon Ratcliffe, who, for the record, lives one suburb away and has never had any trouble.
Street crime aside, Scars sees Basement back to their brightest after their underwhelming 2006 album Crazy Itch Radio. Ratcliffe concedes that record – which drew on eastern European influences and featured a cast of mostly unknown singers – was distracted (by the arrival of his first child) and a little rushed (so they could support Robbie Williams on his European tour).
“We were always unsure about doing that tour because Robbie always seemed the polar opposite of what we were trying to do,” laments Buxton. “In the end, it was probably the lowest point of our careers.”
Scars, in comparison, boasts a new cohesion and returns to the dancefloor with an impressive guest-list of collaborators including Kelis, Yoko Ono, Lightspeed Champion, Boston soul man Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and Amp Fiddler (formerly of Parliament). They also spent a couple of weeks in New York recording tracks with Santigold (on the dubby ska trip of “Saga”) and Florida crunk crew Yo Majesty (“Twerk”).
Their current single “Feeling’s Gone” features our own pop prince Sam Sparro. “When he came into the studio, he told us he used to serve me pizza in this restaurant in Brixton but he was too nervous to say hello,” says Buxton. “Which is strange because he doesn’t seem that shy. Maybe he’s come out of his shell now.”