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Stereoboard Chat To Heaven's Basement Ahead Of The Launch Of Debut Album 'Filthy Empire' (Interview)

Friday, 14 December 2012 Written by Anna Ghislena
Stereoboard Chat To Heaven's Basement Ahead Of The Launch Of Debut Album 'Filthy Empire' (Interview)

Having just returned from yet another tour, this time supporting Seether around Europe, Heavens Basement are preparing for the launch of their explosive debut album, 'Filthy Empire'. Singer, Aaron Buchanan, caught up with me to talk about this; childhood role models and the perfect New Yearís Eve.

ImageSo, you have recorded the new album in LA with John Feldman (Black Veil Brides/Papa Roach) Ė how did this come about following your work with Bob Marlette (Slayer/Tracy Chapman/Sabbath) on the Unbreakable EP?
Weíd met up with various people and we wanted to test the water with each producer, basically people who we enjoyed having in the room. Feldman wasnít on our radar, we didnít even know who he was really, but we got the chance to work with him and do a couple of tracks. It went really well and we came up with some really good material. We were in America to meet with a few producers but didnít feel this was necessary in the end. We wrote loads of music, did Download Festival and went on to record everything in eight days, working day and night.

What do you want the new album to achieve?
Itís got to be something we enjoy playing live and that people who come to see us would enjoy hearing live. We want people to listen to it and, in my view, Iíd like their children to hear it and their childrenís children to hear it, in the same way that we have listened to bands over the years, generation by generation.

What have you written about on the album?
It varies. It depends on whatís happened during our time with each other or away from each other and whatís happened on the road and off the road. Thereís tracks on there about sex in taxis and its just the actual title of the album, 'Filthy Empire' that spoke to us all on very different levels. Obviously we each went away and we all had our ideas about what the album could be called and when Filthy Empire came out of the work, we knew it was like a political thing; a pop at the music industry; even about the porn industry; it can speak on so many different levels for the band and about the band.

It sounds like you have some pretty explosive tracks on the album. Which ones are you most excited about?
I think 'I Am Electric' is a fantastic track. I really like 'Fire Fire' too, itís a stonking track. I was really happy to get my chops around 'Executionerís Day' because that was a song written way before my time in Heavens Basement. Itís a great track and I was really happy to get the opportunity to perform it. It is always part of our stage show so it was a necessity to have it there.

'Fire Fire' is a song that seems to have everything on offer, it must be a great one to do live?
Yes, it always gets a good reaction when we play it, right from day one. The reason that we released that song first is because it is a perfect example of what Heavens Basement is. If we could put our show into one song, that is how it would be. It may not be the most fantastically structured song, but we love it and it goes down a treat and it is a great way of saying that this is what Heavens Basement is, summed up in one.

'Nothing Left To Loose' is the Red Bull Crashed Ice 2013 signature song now. Have you actually tried a bit of downhill skating yourselves?
We havenít because, unfortunately, I am the only one that doesnít actually need any limbs to play an instrument, whereas the other boys, well, they do! We did go to an ice hockey game the other day with Red Bull and we ended up out on the ice and asked ourselves should we really be doing this? We are touring the whole of next year and the last thing we need to do is break something!

So, a small handful of songs from the previous EPs, like 'The Long Goodbye' and 'Canít Let Go', appear on the album. How did you go about choosing which tracks to include?
It was a case of what songs were best for the purpose of this album and which songs we could make sound the best. Some of the other tracks, especially from the older EP, were sung from a different perspective by a different singer who had a completely different voice to mine. To some though, we have given a new lease of life and they sound like tracks we all own as a four piece, so for them, it was ideal that that they were on the album once we had breathed new life into them.

The band has seen many changes over the years, but you seem like a pretty tight unit now. Do you regard this album as your stamp of longevity?
I hope so. Five years from now should have seen us getting better and better. Itís all about progression and building towards something that is even better than it is now. So yes, Iíd like to put a stamp of longevity on this.

You have just returned from supporting Seether around Europe and prior to that Halestorm. Over the years Heavens Basement has built a prolific reputation by touring with an enviable list of artists. Have these influenced the band along the way?
Definitely. Even having only been on a couple of tours with the band myself, just to be able to stand on the side of the stage or in the audience watching these bands do their thing, there is always something I will study, either a good thing or a bad thing, and take it away and use it. As a frontman I am always watching and learning from other musicians. Every time we go on stage we want it to be better than the last show. So watching other artists on tour is a huge advantage.

So, digging a little deeper into your influences, what was the first album you ever bought?
I believe it would have been a Queen album although I canít quite remember which one as I was probably twelve years old at the time. I still have them all though, around ten of them.

Have they shaped any aspect of your debut album?
Definitely, yes. As a child I spent a lot of time trying to imitate the voices of the artists I liked and Freddie was regarded as one of the great singers of all time. As a kid thatís exactly what I wanted to be Ė to have that kind of voice. Without Queen my voice would have shaped up very differently - singing like that strengthened it.

Apart from the exciting release of the debut album, what else do you have for us to look forward to in 2013?
Wow! There are so many things happening, some that Iím not even allowed to say right now. Weíve got some festivals lined up around Europe and UK; we have a cracking tour about to be announced in February celebrating the new album. Before that we are doing our first tour of Canada with Buckcherry in January.

Wrapping the year up then, name three of your most memorable highlights of 2012?
Firstly, getting the album done was the most memorable moment of the year. I will never forget that last day when we were like, wow, weíve actually done it, itís all over! Then, secondly, the Halestorm tour, because it was my first ever tour. I was so happy to be out on the road and experience all this crazy stuff that I have never see or done before. And, finally, the most poignant part of the year, was when I felt that we were a solid unit and had really grown as a band, it really made an impression. For example at Download festival we expected to walk out and do our electric set to just a few hundred people but it was absolutely rammed, it was awesome.

Finally, how would the band spend the perfect New Yearís Eve?
Well, I can imagine we would go to some underground club. Nottingham Rock City always stands out as a party venue for Basement really, weíve had some pretty tragic nights there. I think one of the first nights I went out with the band there I ended up in a terrible state. Yes, I would imagine that we would go out and get absolutely hammered!

Heavens Basement play a Christmas show at Camden Barfly, London on Tuesday 18th December 2012. 'Filthy Empire' is set for release on 4th February 2013 via Red Bull Records.

Heavens Basement UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue December 18th 2012 - Barfly Camden, London
Feb 4th - Bristol The Croft
Feb 5th - Rugby The Vault
Feb 6th - Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Feb 7th - Grimsby Yardbirds
Feb 8th - Manchester Star And Garter
Feb 9th - Nottingham Rock City
Basement Feb 10th - Southampton Joiners

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