interviews

Heaven's Basement Interview - December 2013

by Duncan Everson

Heaven’s Basement

Heaven’s Basement are ending a very busy year by supporting Black Veil Brides on the European leg of their latest tour and releasing the Special Edition of their debut full-length album ‘Filthy Empire’. With a headline UK tour booked for March next year (including playing The Fleece on the 25th) it seemed a good time for Live-Music-Scene to speak to singer, Aaron Buchanan about touring, recording and music in general.

You’ve had an awesome year this year, what with your Download performance and the album coming out (twice!), do you have anything left to do this year or ambitions left to fulfil?

My ambition? Because I’m not a massive drinker when we’re on the road, I like to keep my body in relatively good order, so my ambition is to get absolutely smashed at the end of this tour! And it will be like a rolling sort of hangover, get drunk, hangover, get drunk, hangover, get drunk, probably till about the middle of January. Making up for lost time basically!

Who books these tours? You’re all over the place!

Oh, the UK’s easy! You wait till the American bands come over and play Europe! We’ve done shows before where we’ve done one in Spain and the next night we’re in Helsinki!

Have you got any band ambitions left now?

The most important thing about being in a band is that you always look to grow. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing like we’re doing at the moment, which is like the club circuit and support slots or you’re playing Wembley Stadium. If we play Wembley Stadium tomorrow I still want to do something bigger next year. It’s not an entity in my mind…the only thing, I think, when you get to a point like Led Zeppelin and you’ve played to 600,000 people over two nights, that’s when you can say “I’m probably done!”

Yeah, there’s not much left. Broadcast from the moon?

Yeah, that’s right. And I’m a bit of a fanny when it comes to space and stuff like that so you won’t see me up there, ha ha!

Heaven's Basement

There must be bands that you haven’t toured with yet, anybody in particular that you want to play with?

I want to tour with Biffy Clyro and I want to tour with Muse. Those are the two flagship bands of the moment in the rock industry and I mean modern rock industry, like music has moved forward. And made a good move. In my opinion anyway. I think those are two phenomenal bands, there’s a reason they are as successful as they are and I would love to support them. I wanna get to meet those people and play music with them.

I always think of you being a bit like The Answer. Have you ever played with them?

I’ve never listened to them in my life. Not in an ignorant way, it’s just that I don’t really listen much to older style music. It doesn’t do much for me when new bands are trying to do an old style of music, this is the furthest I will reach back into the world of what people consider hard rock. I don’t consider Heaven’s Basement to be a hard rock band by any means, it’s a rock band. It’s what today is in the rock industry. I always wanted to play for a rock band, Heaven’s Basement is a rock band and that’s what I wanna do.

So you don’t really listen to anyone from the current hard rock scene then?

It really does depends who it is but not so much hard rock no. It depends, I mean The Smoking Hearts I would consider to be a metal/rock/punk/hardcore band, something like that – I don’t really care what sub-genre you call it, if you’re screaming down a microphone, that’s metal and I will come and listen to you cos that’s kinda what I like.

Heaven’s Basement seem to be a bit different to most bands in that your acoustic stuff is as good as your “electric” stuff, do you have any plans to release any?

We have released a few things online. We’ve done a few sessions in various studios and just sort of put it out there. I don’t really consider Heaven’s Basement an acoustic band. It’s something that happened by mistake. We got invited in 2011 to go and do an acoustic set at Download festival and obviously said yes; because that was the only opportunity we had to play Download, so we were like “Fuck yeah!” The response that we had from that basically meant that the year after that we played to 6,000 people on the Pepsi Max stage and this year to 20,000 people on the second stage. So there was a reason to do it. But I certainly don’t consider Heaven’s Basement an acoustic band. Not that we don’t have the ability to do it, it’s just… if we were gonna do it, we would have to sit back and really think about it and get a sonic sound from a set of speakers that would make people go, “That was really good!” I think Alice In Chains, the MTV Unplugged, they had it perfect. I wouldn’t want to do anything less than that.

I thought the Lady Gaga cover you did [‘Do What U Want’] was brilliant…

It was alright!

I know they do the Live Lounge albums, is there any chance it might end up on one of those?

I don’t know, I haven’t heard anything about it. I think we only had about four days to learn the tracks and we were like 47 or 48 shows into a 50 date tour, so we were all feeling the pressure and all feeling pretty rushed and pretty tired. Not tired in a negative way, it was something we wanted to do; it’s just our bodies - well my body - it’s like waking up in the morning is now a task. And for me on the road, I’m usually “Yeah, let’s go and play a show!” but not over the last week or so, definitely not. We did the best we could. We make a few mistakes but I would like to think we’d get on it. That would be great.

There seems to be quite a buzz about it online.

It’s had over 100,000 views on the internet. What is that about!

After this tour, you have two months off, how do you adjust to “normal” life?

I always describe it to people, when I go home…it took me a long time to work out how my body peaks and troughs when I’m on tour and off tour and I think I’ve finally got it down. We’ve been on the road since August last year now and it takes me about two weeks, I think, when I go home it takes me that long to remember what it’s like to be the personality that I am at home. Because it’s my job to entertain people every single day, or as many days as possible, even when I’m not on stage, if someone comes up to me in the street, like if we’re staying in Bristol overnight and they see us, because we’re a British band people recognise us and I have to constantly be like…if somebody wants a picture then yes I’ll definitely do that and if they want to talk for a bit then I’ll do that too. Sometimes I’ve been in my own home town, Norwich, shopping around and there’s a fan and I’ve had to take literally half an hour out of my day “let’s just talk!” It’s not a tough thing or a horrible thing, it’s exactly what I wanted to do – I wanted to make sure people get the vision that I have when it comes to playing music and that is my job. It’s my job to entertain people and make sure people have a fucking great time and I always wanna be approachable to people. I don’t ever wanna be one of these people that gets a reputation for being an arsehole. I like Karma, I believe In Karma.

If you only had three albums to listen to for the rest of your life, what would they be?

The ‘Duality’ album by Slipknot. A fantastic album, I liked their stuff before that but as soon as I saw the ‘Duality’ video on television I was like “I definitely wanna play for a metal or a rock band of some description”. Um…the Queen album – there are many, many Queen albums that I love – but there is something in the ‘Made In Heaven’ album that is so ghostly, that makes my spine tingle when I listen to it. And this is no discredit to any of the other albums, I like the whole spectrum of Queen from the 70’s right up to the early 90’s, there was just something about the ‘Made In Heaven’ album. And then, probably something like ‘The Puzzle’ by Biffy Clyro, just because the spectrum of sound, the quality of production and the way the lyrics lend themselves to the music is just brilliant, it really is.

Would you ever consider using the PledgeMusic system at all?

Do you know what, I was watching a thing the other day that the singer of the Dresden Dolls [Amanda Palmer] put up. A fantastic thing; I posted it online because it was incredibly mind-opening and she did a thing that was very similar to PledgeMusic but it was in America. As a punk, vibey underground band, which is what the Dresden Dolls started off as, and now I’ve done my research because I really didn’t know much about them beforehand, she made a lot of connections with people and would literally go couch-surfing, which is something that I have done before. Literally got on the internet and found couchsurfing.com. I think the first time I did it I went to Boardmasters in Newquay and ended up just pitching a tent on concrete in someone’s garden. And I had this guy wake me up in the morning who was like “What the fuck are you doing in my house? Nobody told you, you could be here.” And I said, “Yeah, your son or someone did” and he asked where I was from, so I said Essex and he was like “nice one, want some beers?” So it went very, very well. I mean it could have gone horribly wrong but it was great!

Heaven's Basement

But she went out there and made all those basic connections with people when she was touring and when she asked a couple of years later for an amount, I think it was maybe $10,000 or something like that, she actually got given over a million! Just because so many people that she’d met and made a connection with, they’d found a mutual respect between the two of them. That is awesome. PledgeMusic is maybe something that I would consider if I didn’t have what we have now, which is a record label that are willing to fund the band because it’s something I would probably have to do. I don’t intend to just disappear from the music industry after five or six years. Even if I’m not a successful musician, I still wish to produce music. It depends on what your relationship with your audience is, I wouldn’t feel out of place by doing that to our audience because if they want to hear something and I haven’t got the tools to do it, then the only way I’m going to be able to do it is with their help. The way that I would thank them would be to hopefully give them a quality product they can take away and listen to for God knows how long.

Have you got any plans for next year after the headline tour? Any new music or actually have a rest perhaps?

The likelihood is we’ll probably be asked to do another album by the label sometime by the end of 2014. I don’t think it would be wrong of us to ask for just a couple of months to ourselves, you know. We’ve done 170 shows since January 2nd this year and we did another 40 shows in the two months prior to that. That doesn’t include all the acoustic sessions that we’ve also done, and the radio sessions that we’ve done and I can guarantee we’ve put in about 150 -200,000 miles on the road this year. That’s probably including flights as well. I would like to think we would get a little bit of a break but it depends how we feel. If there’s a creative juice flowing then harness it I guess!

Would you consider re-recording any of the older material that’s become very difficult to get hold of now?

I’m not hugely interested in imitating someone else’s music, for me personally. That’s a conversation that will eventually come up. Ritchie [Hevanz – original Heaven’s Basement singer] was a great vocalist and he had his own stamp on things. I think we took the best tracks from those EP’s and put them on the album. I don’t see it for me personally, if the other guys want to go…if Sid [Glover, guitarist and backing singer] wants to sing, they’re more than welcome but I want to start afresh. When we go and do the next album, I wanna be like, “Right, Day One.” We’ve all got ideas in our phones and stuff, so let’s go and make the most of those ideas, let’s make music that people haven’t already heard.

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