Heaven’s Basement pulls out all the stops
When Heaven’s Basement vocalist Aaron Buchanan calls up one afternoon, his band is getting psyched for a gig at the San Diego House of Blues that night. The British act has been touring the States as opener for New York City hard-rockers the Pretty Reckless, and according to the 23-year-old Buchanan they’ve been pulling out all the stops.
“We’re a pretty excitable group of people when we go on-stage,” he points out, “and we like to bring a bit of entertainment to people’s lives. So I think tonight’s gonna be another one of those nights.”
All this talk of an excitably entertaining English band has me thinking of another mightily melodic limey quartet, the Darkness, which played a stunning show in Vancouver last year that was pure guitar-rock bliss. Turns out Buchanan’s group played its first-ever U.S. show with the Darkness at L.A.’s Nokia Theatre last October, and he’s not the least bit surprised by how impressive they can be live.
“Yes, ’cause they’re British,” he quips. “In fact, [Darkness frontman] Justin Hawkins is actually from about seven miles up the road from where I live. It’s hilarious, because we literally flew halfway around the world to play a show with them, and they used to play in a pub around the corner from my house.”
Like the Les Paul–loving wildmen in Darkness, Heaven’s Basement owes a fair amount musically to the glammier rock acts of the ’70s. But on “Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch”, one of the tougher tracks off its debut Filthy Empire album, Buchanan makes backhanded references to Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan, and David Bowie. “I ain’t Jumping Jack Flash,” he vehemently declares, “I’m no Telegram Sam/I ain’t Ziggy Stardust/I’m just a heartbreaking son of a bitch.”
“The reason I put those lyrics into that song was because there’s so many stereotypes in the industry,” he explains, ”and I wanted it to be, like, ‘That’s not who I am. This is the modern world of music.’
“Queen was my classic-rock band of choice when I was a kid,” he adds, “but I never delved much deeper into the world of it until I joined Heaven’s Basement, ’cause I was quite into my modern metal.”
Although Heaven’s Basement has been around since 2008, Buchanan didn’t join until 2011, taking up with guitarist Sid Glover, bassist Rob Ellershaw, and drummer Chris Rivers. That same year, the group got signed to Red Bull Records, which, with a name like that, must have loads of cash lying around, you’d think.
“Yeah,” agrees Buchanan, “but they’re intelligent at spending. They won’t invest in something they don’t see a return from. And they obviously see something in Heaven’s Basement that is worth investing in.”
Sure enough. And apart from that, there’s all the energy drinks you can guzzle, right?
“Aw, yeah, I know. God, those things are… As much as I love Red Bull for all they do for us, I mean, I couldn’t drink that stuff.”