It was a recording project in 1982 that brought Doug Cowen together with drummer Ben Hahaj, lead guitarist Randy Simpson (no longer with the band), and bassist Charley Neises. The group recorded four of Doug's original songs in one day at ASC Studio in Mishawaka, Indiana to produce a 45-rpm single of GIRLS COME OUT, with I WANNA LOVE YOU on the flip side. The record was financed by Doug and credited to DOUG COWEN AND THE BASICS. The name "Basics" was chosen to reflect the group's passion for
traditional rock and roll. The GIRLS COME OUT single didn't head up the charts, but it did get some local airplay and some encouraging responses from RCA and Geffen Records. The Basics quickly became regulars on the local scene, playing the South Bend Ethnic Festival, opening for legendary Blues singer John Lee Hooker, and headlining at the area's top club, the Music Box in Mishawaka. A typical show by the Basics mixed a dozen original songs with a list of current hits and rock standards, with a notable weakness for the Beatles, Elvis, and the Monkees.
The Basics broke up after less than two years together and went their separate ways, more or less.
Ben operated a recording studio, dubbed RED BARN PRODUCTIONS, out of a barn in his back yard. Doug was a sometimes-partner and sometimes-client of the recording studio, often enlisting Ben to relive the old days behind the drum kit. Ben closed the studio in 1987 and concentrated his efforts on establishing his current business venture, Priority Computers, Inc. Not only a builder of businesses, Ben has also been a builder of houses (he built his own house in Michigan where he lives with his wife Chris and a cat named Johnny) and a racer of cars in his spare time (he has time to spare?). Charley published a book about the Beatles titled THE BEATLES READER (1984, Pierian Press, Ann Arbor, MI, currently out of print -- sorry) and developed a career in various aspects of the local print media. On the musical front, he stayed home and wrote and recorded quirky songs with Mark Schroeder in the conceptual band THE TOUCHTONES, plus some experimental music under the name BROTHERS IN SOUND with Greg Marchant. Always a frustrated graphic artist, Charley eagerly answered the call when Doug requested artwork for several of his recording projects. After the breakup of the Basics, Doug continued his career path of recording, releasing records, and performing. His 1988 self-produced single of the Terry P. Smith classic "Easy Love" became a local favorite and eventually went on to receive national airplay on the ABC Radio Network. His solo CDs have been THIS IS MY LIFE, THIS IS MY HOME (1993); EDGE OF REALITY (1994); and VALENTINE (1999). Songwriting has always been at the center of his art, and his songs have earned attention from Davy Jones, Tommy James, and producer Chip Douglas. Doug also signed a publishing deal with "Looking Good Music" out of Malibu CA in 1991. In July 1993, WNIT-34 featured Doug playing his original songs on an installment of the "Across The Dial" TV show, and he was a regular performer at several local festivals. In the mid-1990's Doug became a founding member of THE BENDERS, a popular rockabilly band that played through out the Michiana area and furthered his exposure on the local scene writing and performing radio commercials for the South Bend based radio station WHLY.
Doug and Ben reunited with Simpson as The Basics in 1999 and resumed playing a slate of rock favorites mixed with Doug-penned originals. A succession of bass players filled out the band until Charley joined the fun and completed the reunion later in the year. Along with regular gigs at The Sports Page and the American Legion Post 303, the Basics performed at the South Bend Ethnic Festival, the Mishawaka
Summerfest, the Nappannee Apple Festival, Potawatomi Zoo Bop, Covaleski Stadium Beer Garden, and the Vietnam Veterans' Reunion at Howard Park. A highlight of the busy summer of 2000 was opening for "The Byrds Celebration" at the final Grangerfest, the video portion of which was beamed live on the Internet. A bonfire and an empty whiskey bottle provided the inspiration for Doug and Charley to collaborate on DOES THE BOTTLE BURN?, thus renewing a songwriting partnership that began with THAT'S WHAT SONGS ARE FOR in 1982. The group established NINETEEN/82 RECORDS in 2001 and the band released the GUILTY/BABY BLEU CD-single, recorded and mixed entirely by the band.
The Basics promoted the GUILTY/BABY BLEU disc with a live performance on Channel 34's "Open Studio" program in September 2001. The performance included the debut of IN A CROWDED ROOM, slated to be recorded for the upcoming full-length CD.
2001-2004 (and beyond)
In late 2001, the Basics retreated to their private recording facility, NoBARN STUDIO, to record original tracks for a full-length CD. In keeping with the do-it-yourself philosophy of the GUILTY CD-single, guest musicians were kept to a minimum and all mixing and mastering was supervised by Ben. The finished CD, titled BITTER/SWEET, was released in 2003 and it immediately garnered glowing reviews from online e-zines. Although the Basics are still unsigned by a major label, the BITTER/SWEET disc brought the band to the attention of Summer Salt/EMI, with whom they signed a representation contract for the marketing of the band's songs. As of early 2004, the band was back at work at NoBARN STUDIO,
recording new songs for the next CD . . .
Check out the artist's website:
1. In a Crowded Room
2. Bittersweet Road
3. City of the Dead/Long Way to Hell
4. What if and What is
5. Does the Bottle Burn?
6. Unlike Me
7. So Lame
8. Ignore the Daylight
9. Every Day Rain
10. Baby Bleu
11. Little Fool
12. Turn it Around