Heavy hitters


They don't play songs they don't like: Jess Osborne, Holly Scala and Amber Scala are Basha.

They don't play songs they don't like: Jess Osborne, Holly Scala and Amber Scala are Basha.

Photo/Kent Irwin

Basha performs at the Holland Project, 140 Vesta St., on March 24. For more information, visit http://basha1.bandcamp.com.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” said Holly Scala, about the band name Basha. “It’s just something our older sister used to call me as a kid.”

“According to some source, it means ’king’ in Hebrew,” said Amber Scala, Holly’s sister and bandmate.

The Scala sisters liked the sound of the word. They thought it would stick in people’s heads. Before adopting the name, they were just two siblings with a couple of guitars and a handful of Green Day covers.

“Our dad loved ’80s big hair music,” said Amber. “That’s what we grew up listening to. He was the music figure of our family.”

It’s fitting that the style Basha would eventually adopt owes much to the alternative music of the ’90s and early ’00s, a generation that desperately sought to depart from their fathers’ garages lined with Quiet Riot, Poison and Def Leppard posters.

Garage rock, pop punk, and grunge influences meld into a thunderous crash around the harmonious voices of Amber and Holly. Fuzz guitars, heavy drums and driving rhythms, offset by a sense for melody and tunefulness, build a mood that’s a bit like the word Basha itself: at once childlike and destructive, and a bit sentimental and imaginative.

The Scala sisters recall the days prior to meeting their drummer, Jess Osborne, with pause.

“We started out all acoustic,” said Holly. “We played a lot of open mics. We thought, since it was just the two of us, that we needed to play folk music, like, boring music. So we really just stopped playing because we were sick of it and bored.”

A trip to Europe renewed the girls’ passion for writing songs. They came back to the U.S. and started looking for a drummer. A mutual friend, who happened to be the vocalist of Drag Me Under, knew someone. He invited Amber over to the grocery store where they both worked, and pointed her out.

“We realized we don’t have to play songs we don’t like,” said Holly. “So that’s when we tracked down Jess, and everything clicked.”

Osborne, like the Scala sisters, regarded the overblown music of the 1980s in a similarly exasperated manner, due in no small part to her shared surname with one of that era’s rock idols.

“Ozzy Osbourne is not a father figure to me,” said Osborne. “But I do get asked all the time if I’m related to him.”

Osborne does, however, trace her rock heritage to her real father, who taught her some basic moves on the kit. Her parents were not interested in attending any concerts as chaperones, so she snuck out to see them. In high school, she gathered with a group of friends and started a short-lived riot grrl band.

“I’m kinda fidgety—I like to be constantly moving, so that’s why I like the drums,” said Osborne.

Before long, the newly christened Basha went to the Sound Saloon to record a five-song EP with Jeromy Ainsworth. The eponymous release uses narratives, both fictional and true, to explore themes of love, old age, and critical thinking.

“We wrote ’Find A Way’ about people’s ignorance,” said Holly. “There are people who are overly positive. They live in a bubble. It’s kind of frustrating. They’ll say, ’I don’t bother myself with the bad news.’”

“It’s just about being more aware,” added Amber.

Like all great alternative music, musical skill is under-emphasized, in favor of catchy songs and high energy.

“I know my guitar skills are very lacking,” said Amber. “But each song allows us to push ourselves a little more, and we can say, ’We can do this.’”