Heaven's Basement

Interview: Heaven’s Basement – Aaron Buchanan

Heaven’s Basement are about evolution, growth and reaching new heights. Defiance, risk taking and self-challenge are the bands hallmark. Having toured across Europe playing hundreds upon hundreds of shows alongside bands such as Papa Roach, Shinedown, Buckcherry, Black Stone Cherry and appearing at festivals such as Sonisphere and Download; Heaven’s Basement are a band who’ve built their reputation on a setting Britain’s underground alight and then taking that energy to bigger stages across Europe.

Although the band have been at the forefront of the UK scene since they formed in 2008, a number of band changes have stopped them taking that spring forward. With a new EP released earlier this year titled ‘Unbreakable’, the band are now looking forward to releasing their debut album with their tightest unit to date.

At the end of June I had the chance to talk to their new frontman Aaron Buchanan about joining the band, their brand new EP and also touring.

Be sure to check out the bands official website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

How are you doing?

Very good thank you.

As you’re the new guy in the band, what were you doing before you joined Heaven’s Basement?

I had been working for a little bit and previous to this I was in another band. It was because of that band that I ended up getting into Heaven’s Basement back in the days when it we all used MySpace. So I emailed one of the boys [from Heaven’s Basement] and they emailed me back and it sort of went from there.

How many bands had you worked with before this opportunity came up?

I worked with two or three other bands before this but for one reason or another we never managed to take it to the level that we wanted to and we disbanded. Some of the other boys are in other bands now and obviously I ended up here.

When was it you emailed them and got the ball rolling?

Last August I believe it was. I went down to a studio with the band and we sort of chilled out for a bit before going over a few of the songs that I had learnt in the weeks before hand. After that I pretty much got on the train and received a text message from [Chris] Rivers asking if I wanted to come back down in a few weeks time. We lived together for a couple of weeks and got to know each other then I packed up my job and that was it [laughs].

[Laughs] What was your job?

I was just a waiter.

I take it that the connection was almost instant if you just packed everything up and moved in with them?

Yeah we were all on the same page and it was actually like that from the very beginning. For me it was a case of that I wanted to walk in to a band who were on the same page as me and wanted to do the same sort of things and they were on the lookout for a singer who was on that same page as them so it just worked. We’re here to do music, nothing else. We don’t want to sit around on our arse all day and just do nothing, we want to do this, we want to produce music and go out and mess things up a bit. Cause some collateral damage to peoples hearing [laughs].

Does that mean that this is full time now with every member, no jobs or anything to get in the way or fund you?

Yeah full time. The only money we make is the money from the band which at this moment isn’t a lot [laughs].

So when it was decided that you were the new vocalist and you were moving in with them, did you start to get nervous at all because of the bands history and how established they have become within the UK especially as a live band and that was now on your shoulders?

Funnily enough I didn’t actually realise what I was getting myself into when I auditioned for Heaven’s Basement because previously to auditing for them, I had never actually heard of them [laughs]. As odd as that may sound to a majority of the fan base because obviously they have been going for some time and they’ve done a lot of things, a hell of a lot of things before I joined. I sort of just stepped into it and we got to know each other over a few months and people here and there and then it wasn’t until it went online that I had officially joined that I was like ‘oh god what have I got myself into!’ But it was great and I received a very warm reception and I just appreciated everyone welcoming me like that.

Going live was obviously going to be the major task as you would need to win over the old fans so was the reception much the same or were they reversed during your first few performances?

It went very well but of course there will be fans out there who would prefer to see the old line-up but bands are about evolution. People will come and go and people will always have a different outlook on life. We still talk to some of the guys from the original Heaven’s Basement as I have got to meet them in the course of the last few months and they are wicked! We’ve got smashed and it has been brilliant! [Laughs]

That’s not something that you expect to hear too often are original and past line-ups of bands hanging out together.

I know. Especially with the likes of Johnny [Fallen, former Heaven’s Basement vocalist], he’s been around every now and then and we’ve had a good drink and some fun. There’s absolutely no hard feelings between any of the old boys which is great.

Heaven's Basement Unbreakable ArtworkLet’s talk about the new EP ‘Unbreakable’. How has the initial response been from the fans to it?

Phenomenal. It is selling stupidly well online and throughout the tour we actually sold out at one point and had to restock so that was great but of course we lost a bit of money over the few days that we didn’t have CDs to sell. The tour has been going good and the EP has sold really well and it is still selling well so there is nothing to really complain about. Every time I go onto our Facebook page there are kids constantly linking it out to people and these people are adding us every day so everything right now is just incredible.

Considering that the rest of the guys have been working together for a few years now, when you joined and started to write with them was there anything different as to how they write?

Not really. Obviously it’s different working with new people but me and Sid [Glover, lead guitarist] gelled very quickly. We would just sit in a room until four/five in the morning writing up our ideas and going over them as we tried to get as many different original ideas as we possibly could between us without influencing each other in different directions. After that we would split and then start tracking ideas and working things out from there and that’s generally the way that we work as we like to come to up with as many fresh ideas as possible then whittle them down until it becomes the song. Although in saying that, there are some songs like ‘Leeches’ and ‘Close Encounters’ which literally just came together. Sid would come into the room with a track which was pretty much 98% done and all we needed to add were a few bits here and there and that was it. Some of the tracks that haven’t been released were ones that we worked a little bit harder on but we’ve put them to one side as we still have ideas in our head that could enhance them and make them better. We’ll never release something that is ever half arsed or is not as good as we think it can be. Everything on the EP we felt was very strong and to be honest we released that knowing it was strong so when it boiled down to the likes of an album then we know we’ve got to pick up the pace and make it better than the EP. We’re not one of these bands who want to write album tracks at the end of the day, we want to write songs that kick it and make a mess [laughs].

Were all these songs on the EP written when you came in then if that is what your aim is?

Actually no. ‘Paranoia’ I think was originally done with Johnny and he performed it during live sets before I joined and ‘The Long Goodbye’ was another track which was recorded but I don’t think it was released on the previous EP. There was another one but I can’t think off the top of my head what it is. ‘Leeches’, ‘Close Encounters’ and ‘Let Me Out Of Here’ are original songs, the newest ones since I have come in.

‘Unbreakable’ was that a new one?

Ah ‘Unbreakable’ was another one that was written before I joined. It was performed during live sets but it had never been recorded.

So that leaves ‘Guilt Trips And Sins’, was that another original?

Yes it is.

So for these four songs, as they are the most personal ones to you, what do you chose to write about? Is it personal experiences or do you take an idea or a story to build on?

‘Guilt Trips And Sins’ boiled down to a scenario that I got myself into and I didn’t really know how to get out of it; I want go into too much detail [laughs] but frankly I shit myself up a little bit. So yeah that comes from personal experience and the same with ‘Let Me Out Of Here’ which is a whole track about trying to find a way out of being the person that you are. Sometimes you’re not always proud of the things that you have done and the person that you’ve become and I think for me that helped me get my head into the right space of moving on. That was one of the first tracks I actually did with Heaven’s Basement and I think that was the track that set up the rest of the tracks to come and we got more into the groove with stuff like ‘Close Encounters’ and then we thought “let’s mess this up” and we went with ‘Leeches’ which is a dirty punk track. So yeah it definitely comes down through experiences. ‘Leeches’ was about some knob that I had met a couple of years ago who was constantly there, sucking the life out of everything that I did. It didn’t matter how good something was or how much effort I had put into it, it was just never good enough. There are so many people out there these days that just don’t chill and have a beer and be friends. I think this can relate a lot back to times for Heaven’s Basement also before I joined and when we were writing it we decided that it had to be on the EP and to get it out there.

When it comes down to the album and like you said, you have to make sure everything is much stronger than the EP but could you see any of these four songs being strong enough to make it or do you want to release completely brand new material when you do it?

I don’t know as of yet but as I said I think the aim of releasing that EP as it was, was to make sure we had set ourselves up in the correct frame of mind that we have now got to write fifteen tracks that are absolutely nuts and then whittle them down into maybe ten or twelve tracks that will end up being shortlisted to the album. With the tracks that are already written and the tracks that we are going to write I think we’ll probably have around thirty to thirty five tracks that will be in the pot to again, be whittled down for the final cut. In my heart of hearts I would like to say that none of the tracks on the EP will feature on the album but it all depends on whether we feel we can come into a better song. I think that’s a fair comment [laughs].

Are you working on the album right now or are you aiming to tour a little before you jump back into the process?

Yeah we are and we live together so we have a little room downstairs below my bedroom that we just go to, mess about and get some ideas together and we’ve always got a phone or a microphone in the room recording what we are doing so we don’t miss anything and every now and then we come across a special moment which we try stick into the music. I think it’s the way I feel most comfortable writing and the same for them. It’s not like we’re under any pressure as we’re all here, we have all the time in the world, well I say that but we don’t, we have to get this out pretty quickly, but we make time for each other and time for the music and from that comes what you hear on our CDs.

Heaven's Basement Aaron BuchananThe big question when you have the album finalised is will you pitch to labels to have them assist in the workload or do you think you will do it on your own?

Funny you should say that actually. Obviously over the last few years Heaven’s Basement have had quite a few labels interested in the band and it is the same sort of story right now. There are labels who are interested in us but it’s just a case of if they can offer us more than what we can offer ourselves so to speak. We don’t want to end up tied into a contract that is going to impede on the productivity and the future of the band as we want to make a career out of this. We don’t want to be left in a situation that we cannot do this anymore because the label isn’t pulling the stocks out to help us achieve what we can achieve and we know what we have to achieve to make this a career for the rest of our lives. It all depends if we think we can go out there and not have to worry about a label immediately, if we can then that is something we will take into consideration but if a label comes up and they have their heart in the right place, which a lot of labels don’t because it’s a business, everyone is out there to make money but we’re not just out there to make money, we’re also out there to make a live show kick arse. That’s what we care most about as writing is glorious and recording is amazing but all we want to do is get out there and play shows.

Returning to the EP for a quick second I want to ask what it was like to work with Bob Marlette to produce the new tracks.

Bob didn’t actually come over to the UK to do the EP for us but there were a few tracks that we had him produce. I’ve read a lot of good things about Bob Marlette and I haven’t had the chance to meet him yet.

So did you just send him the material in order for him to produce them for you?

Yeah I’ve not got to work with him yet but I think when it boils down to the album he is the man that we want to do it and hopefully that will come together. The boys always speak about him so he seems like someone that I would love to work with.

You’ve mentioned a few times now that you want to get out on the road and kick ass and get messy and last month you went out on a co-headline tour with Jettblack so how did that go?

Great, absolutely great. I didn’t expect it to be as half as amazing as it was, I expected it to be good never as good as it actually turned out to be. It was one of those things again that I just jumped into the deep end or I should say pushed into the deep end [laughs]. Every night was so intense and it turned into such a busy tour with a crazy schedule. We had press at almost every show and the amount of people at every show was incredible. I’ve not experienced that sort of warmth before, not in this industry anyway [laughs]. We had a great laugh with the guys from Jettblack, they are a quality bunch of guys and I’d highly recommend that everyone go check them out and say hello to them at a show. The tour was just such a great success that we can’t wait to get out there again but we need to get the album done! [Laughs]

You also performed at Download but was that an acoustic set that you did or was it an electric?

Well we called it an acoustic but it was Heaven’s Basement acoustic which is just us being as acoustic as we want to be so we kept it loud, that’s what we do [laughs].

How did it go down because you played when it was raining?

Yeah it was pissing it down, awful weather but we walked on stage to quite a considerable amount of people just standing there with their brolly up but it was wicked.

The next big one for you is of course opening the main stage at High Voltage which will be a massive occasion for the band.

Absolutely that is going to be amazing. I met Danny [Bowes, vocalist] from Thunder the other night at the Metal Hammer awards and we had a chat and he is just a quality gentleman, what a guy. I’m really looking forward to seeing them as I haven’t heard much about them recently.

Yeah they did split up and this is a special one off appearance.

Yeah it should be very cool to see them. Truthfully I’m a little gutted we’re not playing on the Saturday as I love Thin Lizzy and I know it’s not the same with [Phil] Lynott but I would have loved to have seen that, well we’ll be there but we won’t be getting to play that day. Dream Theater are a quality band as well and in previous bands that I was in before I dabbled in that style of music. We’re all very excited for it and we just want to get out there and smash it up a bit [laughs]. We don’t want to be one of those bands who walk onto the main stage sort of…

Half arsed?

Yeah exactly. We’re there to put on a show and obliterate them.

Well good luck on the upcoming shows and I’ll hopefully catch you later this year if you tour the UK again.

Thanks very much man.


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Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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