Since the inception of GW indie-rock band Home Remedies, senior guitarist and vocalist Zach Basile said the band’s trajectory has been a “wonderful miracle of failing upwards.”
When the group first took shape in April 2022, Basile said they started opening for other indie and rock musicians in D.C. including a performance in the University Student Center, landed gigs through friends on the fly and drew small-but-devoted audiences at campus shows while scrambling to finish writing and recording projects. They’ve since grown into an established force within the GW and D.C. music scene, with shows taking them all the way from the confines of Foggy Bottom to the local limelight of D.C.’s venues like the DC9 Nightclub.
The crew took to Union Stage Friday, their biggest venue yet, where they played before a crowd of eager audience members. Within just seven months of coming together, the band released their debut album, “Live from Before,” last November, and went on to build a loyal fan base of more than 200 monthly Spotify listeners, 590 Instagram followers and hundreds of fans packed at their live performances.
Home Remedies’ songs are instantly recognizable by their purposeful lyricism, enthralling guitar riffs and drum solos and youthfully energetic performances. Their music filled the venue with a vibrant catharsis as they partnered with the audience to both sing and scream. The end of each song felt like an emotional release, and the audience left each exhausting dance break more invigorated than when they entered it.
“There was no reason to believe that this group of four random white guys would coagulate into something more than just four white guys who disperse, but it did,” Basile said.
The band consists of two guitarists and vocalists – senior Basile, a softly sung force of emotion on stage who rocked out on both an acoustic and electric guitar at Union Stage, and sophomore Max Cohen, whose on-stage ad-libs, energetic stage presence and wild dancing livened the crowd. The audience devoted several chants to bassist and junior Andrew “Gibby” Gibson, a quiet-but-undoubtedly talented player whose complicated and dynamic bass lines beautifully backed drummer and sophomore Isaac Appelbaum’s spirited playing, which inspired the audience’s giggly headbanging with each careful and powerful beat of the drum.
Their Union Stage show saw plenty of stage diving, manic dancing and no shortage of fun banter between the band members. Engaging their audience with silly bits in between songs, every listener was completely enthralled by the performance, beginning to end.
“Part of what makes Home Remedies so special is the live experience,” Gibson said. “Just playing live shows and going crazy – people have a great time.”
Home Remedies formed as mutual friends in the GW music world from WRGW Radio, the Student Musicians Coalition and other music fans connected the now tight-knit group. Each member of the band entered GW with varying levels of music knowledge and education, but together they formed an ensemble last April when they performed their first show at Fossil Free Festival, a celebration of student organizations on campus devoted to social and political activism, in University Yard. They performed some of Basile and Cohen’s solo songs as a band, playing on the strengths of each musician.
Gibson described playing in the band as “learning how to fit into a four-piece puzzle,” which he said is a challenge that has helped them evolve as musicians.
“It’s a sharing space – you get to share what you know about music and how you perceive it with other people,” Gibson said. “I think your instincts get sharpened by people telling you that what you’re doing is bad or ‘You need to do that a different way.’ Steel sharpens steel or whatever.”
“We were all dull blades,” Basile added.
Cohen said he appreciates the band’s power to improve on the music he might produce alone. He said he bounces his ideas off fellow band members during the writing process to draw on their tastes, skills and ears, allowing his initial vision to grow and expand.
“I’ll write a song, and I’ll often have a pretty strong idea of what I want it to sound like,” Cohen said. “But going to band practice, I am regularly, happily surprised by something not being exactly what I had envisioned but being better or in a slightly different tone or shifting a different way.”
Senior Nico Schwed, the band’s manager, said much of Home Remedies’ music is an “outgrowth” of the shared experiences of this generation, including themes of isolation, anxiety, confidence-building and self-exploration.
“A lot of the band’s roots are heavily intertwined with COVID and quarantine and coming back from COVID and quarantine,” Schwed said. “I think it’s a reflection of what it’s like to grapple with our version of existence in a lot of ways.”
Cohen said climate activism also heavily influences Home Remedies. The band’s upcoming record, “Goodnight Moon,” explores the issue of eco-anxiety in its concept and lyricism and follows an arc of choosing gratefulness for the natural world over wallowing in dismay.
“A lot of songs are about recognizing the beauty of the earth and your companions and friends and familiar places and immortalizing them and thanking them,” Cohen said.
Basile said writing and performing with the band has helped him cope with and express his anxieties regarding climate change, hoping this music offers people with similar worries a tool to process their emotions and “connect” with fellow students. The Union Stage show offered a communal experience, with much of the audience holding hands, dancing together and glancing at each other between songs with loving smiles.
“There’s one thing to be in your head and be like ‘God damn, we’re so f*cked’ and it’s another thing to scream it in front of a bunch of people who also feel f*cked,” Basile said.
As Home Remedies works on its upcoming record, Schwed said the new album will showcase a “folksier side,” with more vocals, different percussion and a new use of harmonies.
Going forward, Basile said the band has more plans than they “have time to execute.” They are demoing their upcoming record, recording a single set to release in March and playing at Songbyrd Music House March 31.
“Given everything that we have done and have shown so far, I think the sky is the limit,” Schwed said. “As long as we can stay committed and consistent and we can be on our sh*t, our trajectory will just go up and up.”
This article appeared in the February 13, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.