With yet another critically acclaimed Download Festival set under their belts and debut album Filthy Empire flying off the shelves it’s time for another UK headline tour.
RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with frontman Aaron Buchanan to get the latest on the Basement.
rushonrock: Just take us back to Download last month and that massive second stage crowd…
Aaron Buchanan: We couldn’t quite believe it. I think we hoped for a big crowd – Download has become something of a home gig for Heaven’s Basement. But that big? It was crazy. Over the years it’s been a grower for us as far as festival crowds are concerned and we thought there would be a few people coming back from previous years. But nobody expected that. It was unbelievable. But it doesn’t matter whether we play to 300 people in a packed club or a few thousand at a festival – we always give it everything we’ve got. Having said that, when we walked out on stage at Download the adrenaline was really pumping!
rushonrock: What has it taken to grow your crowd so significantly in the last 12 months?
AB: Well, we just keep playing. A lot of people ask us how we have got to the level we’re at right now. But there’s no quick fix. It’s about playing as many live shows as we possibly can. As a band you’ve just got to play and play. I’ve been with the band for the last twho-and-a-half years and in that time I must have played between 150 and 200 shows. It’s non-stop. But every time I step on stage I learn new things. And I want to do new things. I piss the label off a bit because I’m always asking ‘can I do this and can I do that?’. I feel I can always doing things better. As a band you’re always hard on yourselves and you always feel you can make improvements here and there.
rushonrock: Is it easier having an album out – something you can really focus on and push?
AB: Having an album out is a huge deal for any band. It’s hugely important to us. It’s certainly reignited people’s interest in the band and we’ve had radio play all over the world. It’s been a huge part of 2013 for Heaven’s Basement. But we’ve been lucky enough to play most of the songs from the record for a long time now and we know them inside out. A lot of bands don’t have that privilege – when a new album’s out they’re straight on the road promoting it. The first two tours with a new album are the most important and we’ve made sure we’re right on top of that. But we’ve been lucky to have that time to get it exactly right.
rushonrock: Executioner’s Day made the cut despite the fact that it’s been around for some time – how important was it to keep that trademark HB tune?
AB: It was a question we asked ourselves when we were making the record. It’s a song that’s been played in the Heaven’s Basement set for many years now – long before I came on the scene. It would have been wrong to ignore that fact on the album. And from a personal point of view I wanted to put my own stamp on it – just as I do in the live set.
rushonrock: Success has been a long time coming for Heaven’s Basement – did the band ever doubt themselves?
AB: I don’t think there was ever any doubt about where we were going or what we could achieve. When I joined the band it felt as if we were starting from the beginning anyway so it hasn’t been too much of a slog. Of course everything that the band had worked so hard for in the past remained relevant but to a degree we did start all over again. We started off at the bottom but that’s what any ‘new’ band has to do. The name’s the same but the band’s a very different animal. We went from playing in front of a few hundred people to a few thousand people but we’re one of the lucky few in terms of bands who can do that. I look back at where we came from and think ‘F**k me!’.
rushonrock: Download apart what have been the highlights of the last year?
AB: Download, for me, WAS the highlight. How do you top that? It was the best thing in the world. But there have been other highs. We’ve been very well received in the US. But when you’re English and you’re in a band it’s a pretty easy sell over there! Right now Europe and the UK is our focus and the US can wait. But we’re lucky that there’s a huge demand for us right now everywhere – whether it’s Europe or the US. We don’t take anything for granted though and we’re doing our best to keep everyone happy.
rushonrock: You’ve chosen to release a couple of heavier, hard rocking tunes as singles so far – do Fire Fire and I Am Electric more accurately represent the sound of Heaven’s Basement in 2013?
AB: I think they’re both a stamp of identity where this band is concerned. They’re not the be-all and end-all but they’re certainly reflective of where we are and what we do. They’re the tracks that people are most enthusiastic about when we play live and they’re the songs that people want to hear. That’s a good feeling for us. I think both songs show that Heaven’s Basement are moving forward. The idea is to evolve and grow and write better music. But for now they’re the sound of Heaven’s Basement.
rushonrock: Are you ready to up your game again on the UK tour this month?
AB: Of course. That’s what we do. Whenever we do a headline tour it’s a very, very big deal for us. And there are a few surprises that we’re ready to throw in there this time around. We’ve got a bit more time to play what we want, when we want. It’s a chance for people to see the other side of Heaven’s Basement – not just the band that blasts through a festival set in a short space of time. It’s going to be a great tour – I caught Buffalo Summer’s set at Download and I’m delighted they’re supporting us. It’s a great package of British bands.
rushonrock: What’s on the agenda for the remainder of 2013?
AB: I think we’re planning to be out on tour in the UK again in December. We’re back in the US in September and then moving forward we could be touring again in February! And maybe we’ll end up in Australia by accident…
rushonrock: What about a new album?
AB: We spent so long writing the last album that we just wanted to spend some time playing shows. Right now the priority is to play the current album and play it to death! We write new songs – or bits of new songs – every now and again – so there’s always stuff in the melting pot. But when we write a record we really put our minds to it and at the moment playing live is the priority.