On a clear and busy night in London, Chris Rivers, drummer for Heaven’s Basement, apologizes for the background noise as he steals away to the quietest street corner he can find. Leaving America the day before, Heaven’s Basement has flown back to the UK, only to return in ten days. Rivers explains their hectic schedule, “Yes, it’s pretty intense at the moment. We’re back and forth between Europe and North America but we love it.”
Heaven’s Basement formed in 2008 as a willful, headstrong, energetic and committed group ready to take the music world by storm. This aggressive band incorporates the talents of Chris Rivers/Drums, Sid Glover/Lead Guitar & backing vocals, Rob Ellershaw/Bass & backing vocals and Aaron Buchannan/Lead Vocals. They are undeniably an English rock band with their roots deep in the UK but ready to tear it up and blast it out since they first formed. “I am from the city of Manchester, England, just northwest of London and Liverpool. My city of Manchester produced some fantastic bands over the past twenty years like Oasis and The Smiths. Another band mate is from New Castle from the north-east, another from London and from middle England. We are really spread out all over.”
Finding a place to play was never an issue, “We formed to play music and perform for any place that would have us. We would play pubs and there were venues where we would actually have to build our own stage out of dining tables and things like that nearby. Our mindset from day one was ‘we are going to do this and we’ll play anywhere that will have us, be it a house party, a pub, a street corner or anything.’ We’ve always played our original music from the start. Maybe throw in a cover of another band now and then for fun, but we had much rather do our own stuff really. Our mentality is we believe that LIVE is where a band has to really prove themselves. There’s nothing for you to hide behind or to get away with anything. It’s the best way to make an impression on fans. We grew up listening to bands that were known for their great live shows. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Muse…these are bands that influenced us as live performers. We absolutely love touring and being on the road. We love the challenge of opening for a band and going on stage in front of X-amount of people who don’t know anything about us and win every single person over. Or we attempt to win every single person over. It’ what we get off on more than anything.
The band seemed to rocket to stardom as they were performing time after time at venues around England, their name spread as quickly as their fan base. “Within six months of doing exactly what we set out to do, the name started to spread and eventually we began to get offers to support bands like Black Stone Cherry, Shinedown, Buckcherry, and Papa Roach. It just escalated from there. Two years down the line we were offered a deal with Red Bull Records and we secured the label deal with them, recorded and released an album, etcetera, etcetera”, declares Rivers. Invited to open for Bon Jovi the same year they formed, the group spent the rest of the year recording and playing smaller clubs as their fan base grew with each show. It would seem the guys never slow down as their tour schedules included festival after festival and country after country. “We played Download for first time last year on the 3rd stage and played on the acoustic as well. This year we’re playing on the 2nd stage, being with several other bands on the bill. The year before we were actually there as fans….and now look! It’s great fun and we really enjoy playing it.”
The list of festivals and shows for the band would give a seasoned band member a shake or two and the first two years might have caused a couple of member changes. “We are really good as a team, as a band now. The lineup is what it is now from to the end of the band basically, that’s how it’s going to be. The member changes are like the natural evolution of the band. People come and go and a lot of it depends on commitment. Everyone has their own certain amount of commitment, whether it be ‘this is my life and I’m going to do this forever’ or ‘this is not for me’, when they get out there on the road and we’re crazy busy. So the guys that left figured out it wasn’t for them when we were away from our homes for so long at a time. It has turned out that we have the best of the band remaining and now we’ve found Aaron and Robbie and Heaven’s Basement as it is now, we’re cemented as band”, Rivers states proudly. “We are together mostly 24/7 about 80% of the year if not more now. The main this is respecting each other. We all have different personalities, likes and dislikes different things. Being together with seven or eight people on the road when we tour and we have to accept that now and then someone will inevitably piss you off or wind you up, but you soon get over it and get past it. We have very little arguments within the band itself and when we do, it’s forgotten about pretty quickly and we’re over it. It’s a cliché thing, it’s like being with brothers all the time. We all grew up with brothers so we have a good relation base and we get along really well.”
Coming to America to catch a fan base put them a bit on edge, but as Rivers explains, they were taken by surprise. “We opened for The Darkness back in October in LA, which was our first ever show in the states. We were told by several people in the UK that the US crowds may not be as receptive as the European crowds. Before that moment we went in with the mindset and were prepared for people to be standoff and unappreciative, but it has been the complete opposite. Every show we have played in the states which is only ten to date, has been so much fun. The two festivals last weekend were amazing and fun to watch cross sections of the crowds really getting into our music. We get the feeling that America is looking for a new English rock band and for the last couple of years we’ve felt this is true. There are only a couple of new English bands that are doing well in America, like Young Guns. We know that there have been some amazing UK bands in the past. We are from a small island which is a lot smaller than some American states and we as a band are proud that we can bring our music to America, very proud. And we really appreciate the fact that there are American rock fans like English rock music.”
Hailed as one of the best live bands in Britain by Metal Hammer and Kerrang, they just completed a tour last month around Europe with The Black Veil Brides, Seether and Halestorm… hopped across the pond played in a few cities in America. “New York City was the first headlining show we ever played in the states and a good number of people turned out. It was in a small kind of hot sweaty bar, but it’s what we were used to. And thinking about it now, it hits home how much we are really doing at the moment. We consider ourselves very lucky to tour the states and Europe month by month at the same time. There are not very many bands in our position and we feel really privileged to do that.” Catching a couple of U.S. music festivals before returning to the UK, Arizona hosted them for KUPD with Stone Sour and they also graced the stages at Carolina Rebellion. Once home in the UK, they were off to London for a Kerrang!Radio session. Unbeknownst to the guys, they were nominated for ‘Best British Newcomer’ by Kerrang.
With so many festivals and touring one would be surprised to see when this foursome would have time to be in the studio. Their debut album, Filthy Empire, released February 4, is currently on the top 10 on XM Sirius XM OCTANE with the single Fire, Fire. “We had come to the point where we needed a name for the new album. Right about the same time, we were in LA by the pool soaking up the sun since we don’t get a lot of that in the UK and we advantage of it every chance we can….anyway we were spit-balling names to each other, writing names down and Filthy and Empire were two separate words on two other names and they just stood out. Anyone can take Filthy Empire and make it what it means to them. It could mean the government, place work, industry, anything like that, so it really stuck with us.”
Without a doubt, Heaven’s Basement is a force to be reckoned with. “We aim high and another cliché thing is every band wants to headline stadiums and festivals, and so do we, that’s our plan. When recording a debut album, we aim for the highest bar, with albums in mind like Appetite for Destruction. Even if it’s a few years past, we want people to think back and say ‘wow that was one of the best debut albums ever’. Maybe we’ll never reach that level, but we still have that mentality and that’s still what we aim for. If you don’t have that kind of ambition, there’s not really any point in doing it. If you want to do something, you need to strive to be the best there is. Even if you don’t reach the bar you still need to have the ambition. So hopefully with the new album with the next couple of years will continue to move us up the ladder to move us up to a headlining band.”
Returning to the US, the band starts on another leg of a tour in New Jersey and New York before heading to ROCKLAHOMA. A few more US cities and they jet back to England and grace the stages of DOWNLOAD and several more across the Netherlands, Sweden and Wales. “In the next year or so we have our eyes on the next album. Take another step up and aim high. Look at bands like The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith and be that band that will be touring still in forty years. Some people may laugh at that these days, but it’s happening and we want that. It’s the only thing we’re good at so we have to do it!! HA! It has taken us three or four years to get where we are and appreciate everyone and can’t wait to meet our new fans, so come on out and introduce yourself.”