Heaven’s Basement

Recently in the country for Soundwave, Heaven’s Basement have been one of the rising stars in the UK circuit for the past few years now. While they were in Sydney, vocalist Aaron Buchanan took some time to chat to killyourstereo.com about the band’s first visit to Australia, and about their debut album ‘Filthy Empire’. 

To get things started, talk us through your time in Australia so far.

Me? Absolutely nothing so far. All the other guys went out and got themselves absolutely smashed last night. As a vocalist, I don’t get to do that on tour, I have to wait until the end, and then I get absolutely hammered.

The other guys were hanging out with Tom Morello last night, from Rage Against The Machine. Apparently he was doing a DJ set somewhere. I’m sure that would’ve been loads of fun.

I reckon today we’re going to head down to Bondi Beach, and ]we might] go see the Sydney Opera House.

What are your thoughts on the rest of the Soundwave line-up?

I don’t really know too much about who’s on it to be honest. Sometimes we just turn up these things without really knowing what we’re doing. (laughs) Although I do know that Biffy Clyro are playing. I’m a massive fan of them. I really want to go see them, but I think they’re clashing. Megadeth were on it, and I’m not too fussed about them pulling out, but our touring manager loves them and was really disappointed. I was really looking forward to seeing Sevendust, but they pulled out too.

Being one of the lower end acts on such a huge bill, lined up against bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Green Day, Alice In Chains and all of those guys, do you feel any kind of pressure being lined up against them?

Last year, we did over 170 shows, so I think right now we’ve got our art more or less down. The one thing that kills me is the tiring side of travelling. I don’t necessarily feel pressure, cause as long as my body’s in working order, I feel pretty good about getting on stage.

The trick at festival’s for a smaller band like us is to reach as many people as possible and to play the best set possible so that people leave thinking “I wanna see that band play again sometime!”. If we can do that, then I’m really happy with how we went.

You guys are playing some low key sideshows in some pretty small rooms with Black Veil Brides while you’re down here. How does playing smaller show like that compare to playing to thousands of people at a festival like Download?

You can’t really compare the two experiences. An outdoor show is an entirely different experience to playing a show in a small room. The most important thing about those two shows is making sure that you leave the same positive impression. The best phrase I’ve ever heard is that “a good band can make a stadium feel like a club and a club feel like a stadium.” There’s definitely a relationship between the two. If you’re a band that has worked up through the club circuit into arenas and stadiums, you’ll be a far better band than a band that just got big overnight and has only played in stadiums.

We’re all about putting on a very real show no matter what context we’re playing in – We live for the live show and everything that happens up there is real. No backing tracks. I want everyone to be able to walk away having had a personal experience. I don’t want to travel around the world playing the same s**t show everywhere I go. When someone meets another person that’s seen Heaven’s Basement, I want them to be able to share two completely different experiences.

You guys did a European tour with Black Veil Brides last year, which I’m assuming went pretty well since you’re playing with them again at these sideshows. Share a bit about that tour?

Well, we were originally meant to tour with them in April, but that got postponed and we ended up having to go out in November through December for four weeks. We did all of Europe and the UK. We’re very lucky that since we have something of a diverse sound, we get to tour with stacks of different bands like Halestorm, Seether, Ugly Kid Joe, Buck Cherry, Black Veil Brides, and dozens more. There’s this awesome cross section of audiences now that are watching the rise of Heavens Basement, and it’s inspiring.

With this being your first time in Australia, what are you hoping to get up to in your off days?

I want to see as many beaches as possible, I wanna see no f**king spiders. I’ve heard about your whitetails, redbacks, funnel webs and nope, f**k that. If there’s one thing I really want to see while I’m down here, it’s a wild kangaroo, though I’m not sure if that will happen.

You guys released your debut album, ‘Filthy Empire’ last year – Tell me a bit about the writing and recording for that album?

We spent over a year getting the ideas for that album together. A lot of the songs on that album are literally nothing like they were when we started writing. The opening riff to Welcome Home was a riff to a completely different song called ‘Sleepwalker’ or something like that. There was a few people who came in and helped us on it. We worked with a guy called John Feldmann in the end. We had worked with a few other guys and it just wasn’t working out. Like, we got the good sounds of the instruments and everything, but the songs didn’t seem to work out, so we ended up with John.

We spent four and a half weeks with Feldmann just working on lyrics and melodies, and different variations and all of that, and then we recorded it all in about eight days in the studio.

The title of the album – ‘Filthy Empire’ – What does that mean to you guys? Why did you choose that?

It was an amalgamation of two or three different titles that we had. Everyone had their own ideas and we just kind of stuck them together and we were like “f**k yeah, this is pretty good!” It’s one of those things that spoke to us on different levels. You can take it as a reference to the music industry, or even the porn industry. The government. Any big corporation basically.

Heaven’s Basement and Filthy Empire are names that just go hand in hand. Heaven’s Basement is basically the ‘shitty little room’ that every establishment has where all of the bad s**t goes down. It’s just really dirty. Every establishment has all of those things that go on behind the scenes.

You chose ‘Fire, Fire’ as the lead single from the album – what was it that made you choose that rather than any of the others?

It’s the song on the album that gives you everything about Heaven’s Basement in one hit. You’ve got riffs coming out of your arsehole, you’ve got solos coming out of your arsehole. You’ve got vocal brutality, and you’ve drums being smacked as hard as possible. I can’t even remember how many snares we went through on that recording. There is a point at the end of the song where we’re all pretty much soloing over the top of each other.

It’s got everything about us that we wanted people to hear first off. We could have released something like ‘I Am Electric’, or ‘Nothing Left To Lose’, but ‘Fire, Fire’ is just a brutal onslaught of riffs. If you like ‘Fire, Fire,’ you’ll like the rest of the album.

How do you think the album has translated into the live environment?

It’s been really, really good. There’s a lot of bands that hit the stage with backing tracks, or they’ll drop the tuning down so they can sing their songs, and we don’t. It’s very real. If we’re having a bad day, you’re gonna get that through our performance. We try to set the bar as high as possible, but like I was saying earlier, we want every show to be an individual experience.

When do you think that fans could expect a follow up to ‘Filthy Empire’?

Nope, we’ve peaked and now we’re quitting. (laughs)

Yeah, of course. We’re planning to stick to the road until about December, and then we’re going to hit the studio at the start of next year to do our next album.

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