HEAVEN’S BASEMENT - Drinking From The Fountain Of Hell
February 18, 2013, a year ago
By Aaron Small
England’s newest rock export HEAVEN’S BASEMENT is quite literally taking the world by storm. It’s not every day that a band overflowing with such charismatic energy comes along. Comprised of vocalist Aaron Buchanan, guitarist Sid Glover, bassist Rob Ellershaw, and drummer Chris Rivers, Heaven’s Basement deliver instantly memorable and insanely catchy rock ‘n roll. Their just-released album Filthy Empire is simply stunning, and their live shows are even more impressive! These guys give it their all every single night, leaving everything on stage and the audience screaming for more. BraveWords.com was invited onto the Heaven’s Basement tour bus in Toronto for a chat with the boys.
Filthy Empire is being marketed as your debut album, but you actually have two other releases: The Unbreakable EP, which came out in 2011, and the self-titled debut from 2009.
Rob – “Those were just self-released EPs; we were touring all the time so we needed something to sell. We actually recorded and printed them ourselves; it was very much homemade, but they kept us on the road for the first two years of the band, and ultimately led to Filthy Empire.”
‘The Long Goodbye’ appeared on the Unbreakable EP, and it’s also on Filthy Empire. Why did you decide to carry that song over?
Sid – “We re-recorded it.”
Rob – “And it was Aaron singing on that one. The original was a recording we’d done before, and then we put Aaron’s vocals on it.”
Sid – “This time we were in the same place at the same time, we recorded it together and tweaked it slightly in the verses.”
Rob – “That EP, Aaron joined just as we recorded it. So there’s a couple of songs that were around before (with original singer Richie Hevanz). Whereas with this (version), we redid it and made it our own.”
Chris – “With the album, we just wanted to put together the strongest bunch of songs that we had in our whole arsenal, our back catalogue of songs. It’s not like the whole world has heard the Unbreakable EP, so we wanted people to hear ‘The Long Goodbye’ on the album.”
Sid – “It’s the same with ‘Executioner’s Day’ which is on the first EP.”
Rob – “It’s a time-stamp of the history of the band up until now, and we wanted it to be the best songs we wrote. The older songs still sound great live and they fit the sound of the album.”
Heaven’s Basement is a brilliant name as it conjures up such a visual. Who came up with that?
Sid – “It was weird ‘cause I was actually trying to name the room that we started the band in. We were in Brighton and it was one of those where the street level is above the living room, so you’re kind of in the basement. I was just coming up with names for a room and then it stuck for the band. Like you were saying, it conjured up all these images; it spoke to us in different ways.”
John Feldman, who worked with BLACK VEIL BRIDES – a band Heaven’s Basement will be touring with in April – produced Filthy Empire. How was John in the recording studio? Did he push the band hard?
Rob – “We push each other pretty hard; I think that’s fair to say. John comes from such a different background than us. We grew up listening to ZEPPELIN, and he’s more of an English punk kind of guy who absorbed THE CLASH and early POLICE. It was really good fun ‘cause we took him out of his comfort zone, and he took us out of ours, and we met in this wonderful place in the middle where we’d punch each other until we both agreed the song was awesome.”
Sid – “He’s exactly the same and completely different.”
Rob – “It’s such a fun vibe in his studio. It was really exciting.”
Chris – “Between us four as a band, we had such a clear vision anyway of what we wanted; so Feldman got on board with that. There’s a lot of bands out there that don’t care as much as we do about every aspect of the album. We’re all very driven, and the actual tracking of the album was very easy, fun, and quick; we cut the album in ten days.”
Rob – “John was very keen from day one when he saw how the band worked; we wanted to get our own thoughts and feelings into the album. I think maybe with some of the bands he’s worked with before, that wasn’t the case. It was a catalyst the whole way through.”
Heaven’s Basement is signed to Red Bull Records. In North America, everyone is well aware of the energy drink and the sporting events they sponsor, but not a lot of people know about the record company. Was Heaven’s Basement the subject of a bidding war?
Chris – “It’s not like we’re on a Red Bull bus, it’s just fortunate that they’ve got this off-shoot.”
Rob – “It wasn’t so much a bidding war with other labels, what really impressed us about Red Bull is, they came to see us in 2009, that’s the first time we met them. When it came down to just three of us in the band, before we had Aaron we tried some stand-in singers, we played Sonisphere and the label still spent 40 minutes chatting with us. From 2009 until February 2011 when we first toured with Aaron, they always kept in contact with us; and they came to see our fifth show ever with Aaron and they were like, ‘You guys have done it now. This is the lineup; we want you guys.’ Then over the next couple of months we sorted out a deal. It wasn’t just a flash in the pan, or a jump on the bandwagon; they really liked the band.”
Sid – “Red Bull was there from fairly early on. They liked us, believed in us, and wanted us on the label. We just weren’t in a position where we could sign.”
Chris – “Various European labels would come and see us and be interested in signing the band, but we signed with Red Bull because it felt right, and purely for that reason.”
Heaven’s Basement has filmed two very different videos, for the songs ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ and ‘Fire, Fire’, both of which are available to view below, and have been watched numerous times on YouTube.
Sid – “It’s another arm of creativity; it’s another way to be artistic. You can enhance a song with a video, and get a message across that maybe was underlying in the song.”
Rob – “For people who don’t know us, they can put a face to the music and see who we are, what we’re all about. It’s very interesting that you said they were two very different videos, because they were both actually treatments for ‘Fire, Fire’; we liked them so much we used them both.”
Chris – “They were shot in similar locations and done the same week.”
Sid – “Our band has always been about the live experience, so a video is just another way to see us perform – and how good Chris looks topless.”
‘Be Somebody’ is built upon a very common sentiment that runs throughout rock ‘n roll. In 1984 W.A.S.P. sang ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’. That feeling drives not only rock musicians, but everybody, the desire to make a mark.
Sid – “We’re all from fairly small, little places; and you get very bored; that’s probably the reason I left. You have a hunger to get out and see the world. It’s not necessarily that you want to be famous and successful. I think it’s very apt for our debut album because this is the start of our journey. It’s like a mini-theme that goes through the album, there’s a couple of songs that say stop sitting on your ass and moaning, just take a chance and see what happens.”
Chris – “Hopefully it’ll inspire people to think in that way and encourage them to do something. No matter how small it is, just do something.”
In ‘Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch’, the phrase “Jumpin Jack Flash” appears as part of the lyrics, is that in tribute to THE ROLLING STONES?
Sid – “Yeah, there’s Jumpin Jack Flash, Telegram Sam, and Ziggy Stardust – they’re three characters from English rock music.”
Chris – “The only reason we did that was to get Mick Jagger and David Bowie on stage with us one day to sing it; might be a little difficult to get Marc Bolan.”
As far as musical inspiration for Heaven’s Basement goes, it seems to be pretty much classic rock, predominantly from The UK. Is there anything else you listen to that may surprise people?
Sid – “At the end of the day, we’re just music fans. We don’t just sit around pining over the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
Rob – “We all have our own little niches; we have a correlation of bands (that we listen to), and then we all go off on a tangent and listen to stuff like RAMMSTEIN.”
Chris – “You’ve kind of got to do that kind of stuff, otherwise you just become really stale; the ideas you create are going to be exactly the same.”