The band have undergone several line-up changes since its inception back in 2008, but now enjoy a settled line-up of vocalist Aaron Buchanan, bassist Rob Ellershaw, drummer Chris Rivers and guitarist Sid Glover. And, with a fantastic debut album ‘Filthy Empire’ under its belt, Heaven’s Basement are now embarking on a headlining tour of energetic live performances. We met Sid Glover before their show at the Star and Garter in Manchester to discuss the new album, touring and the band.
PHIL: What would you say were your major influences?
SID: Personally I came from a lot of blues guitar, a lot of old guys, all the way through to classic English rock bands, anything really as long as it’s good. But there’s never been a model for us because even though everyone shares similar influences the difference is we all know when something’s good. That’s the main thing. For instance me and Rob will listen to something and go ‘That’s shit!’ or ‘That’s wicked!’ and we don’t know why it is but we both can tell, and that’s important to us.
PHIL: Heaven’s Basement initially formed in 2008 and since then you’ve had one or two line-up changes. It’s taken you five years to release your debut album ‘Filthy Empire’, was there not a danger of the songs losing their freshness over that time?
SID: The album has twelve tracks and there are a couple of songs on there that are from our early days. And the reason we put them on is because they sound more aggressive, they sound more relevant, and they’ve improved on every front. The reason it took so long was we needed to find the right people to make our first album, because being good is one thing but this is 50% better.
PHIL: When a major member, like a singer, leaves the band was there any thoughts that the band would give up?
SID: Just because it wasn’t the right path for the guys who left the band, I’ve never doubted or questioned it. There was one point there was three of us left and one was a guy who’d we’d met six months earlier, and it was like, alright this is gonna be a hard road but this is what we’re gonna do. It wasn’t a case of let’s stop and do something else. We sucked it up and turned near destruction into something good. It’s taken us a year and a half, but we’re now at a point where we’re stronger than ever.
MEL: What happened to your former band members?
SID: We had a bass player (Rob Randell) who had a complete radical reversal of headspace he met a girl and wanted to settle down and all that stuff. Our singer Ritchie Richie Hevanz), he was a bit older than the rest of us and was at a slightly different stage in life. We were hungry and ready to fight for it but as the band got busier he didn’t think he could keep up with it commitment wise. Jonny (Jonny Rocker), the other guitarist: he broke his finger just before we were about to go on stage so he couldn’t play with us. He still did the rest of the tour with us but just hung out with us and partied. That allowed us to play as a four-piece and it helped us realise we could do it. He’d already been thinking he wanted to move into doing more studio work and stop playing live so it naturally happened that way. We’re still mates but it just evolved in a way that was right because I can’t imagine the band working with any of the other guys in it. Chemistry wise and music wise it’d be different but now we have a band that’s hungry and passionate and on the same level.
PHIL: What is it you like about touring?
SID: Just playing, especially doing these headline shows. These are the first shows we’ve done in two years where we haven’t played to somebody else’s crowd and people are there to see us. It’s a different vibe; it’s just electric, because when a band’s playing well and we’re playing really good at the moment as a band, we just have fun with the people who’ve come to the gig.
PHIL: You tour constantly. When do you find time to write new songs?
SID: I’ve started taking a guitar out with me on the road now, so whenever there’s any down time I’ll sit in my hotel room and try and write some songs.
PHIL: How do you feel playing in places like the Star and Garter?
SID: It’s good. If you look at the band’s gig list for the next year we’re gonna be playing everything from bars to stadiums, outdoor festivals and clubs, so we’re getting to play every kind of place.
PHIL: I think that places like the Star and Garter are for die-hard Heaven’s Basement fans, whereas if you tour with a big band you expose yourself to people who may not have heard of you before.
SID: Yeah you’re playing to people who’ve never heard of you so it’s different because when you start a show like that you can’t expect the audience to go crazy and love it. So, at the start of the set it’s a different mentality; you just do your thing and watch the audience change and make sure that by the end, when you walk off stage everybody’s going mental.
PHIL: I was quite amused when I saw you were playing the Star and Garter because the first time you played Manchester was to 50,000 people supporting Bon Jovi so you seem to be doing things in reverse.
SID: It’s just different. We’ll play anywhere.
PHIL: How did you manage to get the Bon Jovi gig?
SID: We lied. We said we were from Manchester and we were an up and coming band. Chris is from Manchester so we just made sure he did all the talking.
PHIL: If you’re not all from Manchester how did the band form?
SID: Again this is the time it takes to form a band. It happened from touring in different bands, meeting different people. It’s a slow process of elimination to get passionate and committed people as well as a lot of luck.
PHIL: When you were recording the album, how did it feel handing over your work to a producer?
SID: Well that’s the thing; we didn’t intend to record the album when we did. We went to meet producers and audition them to see if there was any ‘click’. When we met Feldy (John Feldmann) it was blatant from the first day how much he wanted to produce our album because we were a different band altogether from the ones he’s worked with. He’s from a different background, he’s pop-punk and we’re rock n roll so there was this odd mismatch that was fuckin brilliant because it made a friction that was really creative. We’d have such different ideas from each other, and we were equally as passionate, which was great because we’d get to kick it around so by the point we got a song that we both loved and said yes that’s it. I spoke to Feldy not that long ago and we agreed that the album wouldn’t have been as good if we’d have let either one of us have too much control. He was the perfect producer for us because he knew when to step away and let us do our own thing, and when to come in with advice.
PHIL: He more or less kept your vision on track?
SID: It’s one thing to have a vision, and another to achieve it, and Feldy really helped us. Don’t get me wrong we had a lot of altercations about stuff, but it’d be about things people won’t even realise or listen to, the tiny fundamentals.
PHIL: With the album being your baby, was it hard not to be precious with it?
SID: No, I’ve learned to be surprisingly detached about it because all I want to do is make a good record and write some good songs so I’m pretty level-headed when it comes to all that stuff. But it was a pleasure to work with him because he was a real energetic guy and I love being around energetic, creative people.
PHIL: Now you’ve had time to live with the album, is there anything you’d change?
SID: No. We recorded the thing in eight days, and to have built up to something for that long, and then do it all in eight days was good because there was a lot of songs that we wrote in the studio. Like, we just jammed ‘Heartbraking Son Of A Bitch’ which came out in about twenty minutes and then we recorded it. The way it worked was Feldy would record with Aaron and Chris during the day and then at night me and Rob would go in and do all the guitars because we had such a clear idea how the album should sound Feldy just left us to it. Most of the solos are improvised because we didn’t time to fuck about so listening to it for me is fun because I go back and hear things that I’ve completely forgotten.
PHIL: Now your album is out, how do you feel about downloading?
SID: I don’t mind it. It’s not like I grew up in the eighties and nineties when the record industry was booming so this is all I’ve ever known. The way I see it is it’s a way to get the music out there; the music can get out to someone’s phone in seven seconds and I think that’s a good thing. Whether you illegally do it even though there’s not that much excuse to go nicking it anymore because it’s cheap and easy to buy it. If you told me about a band that you wanted me to check out, I’d go on my phone and just get it. So I think it’s a good thing, you’ve just got to use it right.
PHIL: How do you feel about all the stuff of periphery of being in a band; giving interviews, making videos, stuff like that?
SID: We got to shoot our first video, and doing your first proper video is a trip! It changes but being in a band is what we love doing so anything to do with being in a band I do. Even interviews, I know some people really get bored with them, but what’s better that to just sit around to chat about music.
PHIL: How do you see the future unfolding for Heaven’s Basement?
SID: The last few years I had down as a plan and predicted every step of the way, but I have no idea what’s going to happen from here on. It was all about getting the band working, making an album, and we’ve done all that so now it’s winning the rest of the world. We’re going to be touring everywhere and I can’t wait to see what happens now we’re essentially handing it over to the music loving public and then they’ll decide what our future is.