Monday 22 July 2013

Heaven's Basement // Interview & Live Review

Heaven’s Basement may  be one of the hardest working bands around. Their relentless touring has gained them a hefty reputation for putting on one hell of a live show. Their much anticipated debut album “Filthy Empire” came out earlier this year and the band has been riding the crest of a wave ever since. Est.1987 headed down to the sold out Manchester Sound Control show to catch up with the guys and chat about their live show, recording the debut and how they’re “fundamentally all too idiotic to get real jobs”…

Heaven's Basement at their sold out Manchester show

Heya guys. How’s the UK tour going so far- are you enjoying it?
CHRIS [Rivers, drums]- Yeah, it’s been amazing.
AARON [Buchanan, vocals]- Yeah, the best headline tour we’ve ever done. The reaction from the audience has been mental. We’ve always had this thing of trying to make the shows as exciting as possible, and it’s finally paying off because they’re going insane. We’ve had a couple of people who’ve broken their arms. We don’t want to encourage that but it’s an awesome example of how excited people are getting.

You’ve toured pretty much none stop; whether it’s festivals, support slots or sell out headline shows, all before the album was even released which I guess is a credit to the songs and the live performance. Is it nice to finally have the album out there now?
AARON- Yeah, definitely. The album has basically opened up so many more doors. It took a long time to get it because we wanted to do it right. Now that it’s out there it allows us to promote the band on a bigger scale.
CHRIS- We’re already looking ahead next year for an even bigger headline tour and at what we’ll be aiming to do then.
Aaron Buchanan on stage in Manchester
I guess you’ve played pretty much most of the venues in the UK now; which is your favourite venue?
CHRIS- Oh wow, that’s a really good question. It depends; there’s certain club venues that are amazing, I always enjoy the Camden Underworld, Manchester Academy 3…
AARON- We always have a good go at Nottingham Rock City and Sheffield Corporation; two bloody good venues. Trillions in Newcastle- that was my first ever show that kicked off and I was like “oh, nice”.

British rock in general is really strong at the minute; is it nice being a part of that scene?
CHRIS- Yeah, it is. I mean we’ve always done our own thing and find it difficult to find other bands to tour with because there aren’t that many bands like us. I think a lot of bands who’ve stood the test of time through history have done that; AC/DC, Metallica and The Rolling Stones. Obviously they’re massive examples, but they’ve been going a long time and have gone through ten different scenes that have been and gone and survived. We, on a much smaller scale, have that same mentality.

You touched on it earlier that you’ve been together since 2008, but you waited to release your debut album earlier this year. You’ve had line-up changes and I guess you’re where you want to be musically. You only get one chance for a debut album; is this the strongest that and you felt it was the right time?
AARON- Yeah, I mean there were opportunities in the past to release a debut album, but we didn’t do it because we didn’t feel in the right place; whether that was the line-up or the songs or enough experience on the road. When we finally pulled the trigger last summer that’s when it felt right as a band to do it. Over the first few years we toured Europe off our own back, released a couple of EPs and built up a fanbase and got a deal. There’s no point in rushing it because, like you said, you only get one chance at a debut album.

You  worked on it with Goldfinger’s John Feldman; were you fans of the band?
AARON- Literally never heard of him, until he was put into the pot and we were like “Ah Feldman”, and then did our research [laughing].
CHRIS- It all came about really quickly and we went to meet him at his house in LA and instantly hit it off. He comes from a totally different place musically but it just worked and we decided right there and then to go with him and got it done in about a week. 

Heaven's Basement front-man Aaron Buchanan

We interviewed Blitz Kids [HERE] who recorded their album with him and they said he works quickly, in the moment and knows his direction. Did you enjoy working with him?
AARON- There was definitely a bit of push and pull. I think there’s quite a lot of strong personalities, but I think that it wouldn’t have come out the way it is without that friction.
CHRIS- We’re a strong minded band and don’t let anyone push us around and there were points when we had to stick to our guns and Feldman started understanding. He’s a great producer.

You have an incredible reputation for putting on an amazing live show- and it comes across on the album. How easy or hard was it to transfer raw power on to the record?
CHRIS- I think the best way to get that energy onto the record is to literally not give a f**k about mistakes. So many bands and producers these days can over think everything; we just knocked everything out in a couple of takes and it’s rough around the edges, but we wanted that.
AARON- The most important thing to remember about an album, at least for us, is that it’s just a souvenir to take away at the end of a show. I like to think that we play better live than we do on the album. We’ve had time to learn the songs and craft them and make them interesting for an audience. 

Heaven's Basement rock Sound Control
You’ve had a little taster of America with the album and a few shows- do you like the scene out there? More US this year?
CHRIS- Yeah, I love it. The country’s so big; touring the middle is so different from LA, and New York’s great. We’ve done gigs on beaches and I loved every minute of it.

And I guess the English accent goes down well?
CHRIS- Oh yeah, that’s all we have going for us [laughing].
AARON- America is an important factor on this album, but it’s a pretty daunting place when you’re touring it. We’re going to be back and forth for the next eighteen months.
CHRIS- We’re all about putting far too much on our plate, unfortunately [laughing]. We want to go to Japan, Australia and South America.

Do you think you’ll ever get sick of touring?
CHRIS- Nah, playing music every night and the fact that we get to do it in all these amazing places, we’re very privileged. That’s a combination of us working hard and a little bit of luck in there as well, and persistence.

Guessing you haven’t started thinking about the next album, but you’re not wanting to wait as long to release the second?
AARON- Bloody hope not [laughing]. If it did take that long then it would be because we’re not going to release something that’s not up to standard. But at the moment we’re going to spend the next year and half on the road, it’s where the band belongs. We’re not really the sort of people that like being locked away in a room. I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of touring, maybe physically tired. I went home three or four months ago and it’s not often that my house is empty, but my dog was away, my nan was on holiday and I had half an hour to myself without my mates and I was like “Errrr…”.
CHRIS- It’s a bit of a jail sentence lifestyle [laughing].
AARON- Fundamentally we’re all too idiotic to get real jobs.

 And here's what happened when Heaven's Basement took to the stage...

Aaron rocking the Manchester crowd
It’s little surprise that tonight’s Heaven’s Basement show here at Manchester’s Sound Control is a sell out, and sold out long in advance. The band’s impressive live show reputation brings fans in old and new, and the buzz in the room even before the four-piece take to the stage, hints that tonight will be pretty special. The sun may be blazing outside but it is even hotter inside and, as the band take to the stage, it isn’t set to get any cooler any time soon.
From beginning to end Heaven’s Basement’s set is unstoppable; water bounces from Chris Rivers’ drums whilst front man Aaron Buchanan bounds energetically up and down the stage and is already out in the crowd and we’re only on first song, the soaring “Welcome Home”. The long awaited and much anticipated debut album allows the live show to kick up yet another notch and the quartet blast through the set, including ferocious hit single “Fire, Fire” and album tracks including old school fans’ favourite “Nothing Left To Lose”. “Are you feeling electric?” asks Aaron to which the crowd respond with an almighty roar; they know what’s coming. Progressive, fast paced, thrashing with a huge chorus to boot “I Am Electric” is an instant crowd stirrer and the energy from both on and off stage is relentless; Aaron spraying the crowd with water to cool them off. 
Guitarist Sid Glover in Manchester

Vintage style riffs brought together with Aaron’s distinctive pure rock vocals the set is dynamic and the boys have earned every bit of their impressive reputation. The slower, melodic and heartfelt opening of “The Price We Pay” offers another side to Heaven’s Basement, with Aaron showing off his impressive vocal range; and it allows the crowd a respite from the heat in the room before the song bursts into its own with a full sounding finale.

Heaven’s Basement is a band that is in demand and quite rightly so. The crowd tonight hang on their every word as Aaron encourages shoulder mounting  whilst guitarist Sid completes an impressive guitar solo during “Jump Back”. The electrically charged live show ends with an almighty encore of “Executioner’s Day” culminating in a circle pit and Aaron walking out on top of the sold out crowd. A gutsy and fearless performance tonight proves that the hard work is paying off; Heaven’s Basement are far from the basement. 9/10