At Leeds Cockpit a few hours before Heaven’s Basement take to the stage for their headline show, we speak to the founding members Sid (guitar) and Chris (drums) about their extensive touring, stadium tours and festival performances.
HTS: It’s early into this UK tour, but how has it been so far?
Sid: It’s been amazing. We didn’t really know what to expect to be honest because it’s the biggest tour we’ve ever done, the venues are much bigger than what we’ve ever done before but loads of them have been selling out and the crowds have been awesome.
Chris: It’s the loudest I’ve ever seen crowds sing our songs. The crowd is really loud, louder than the band. It’s amazing.
HTS: You’re going straight into Europe following this UK tour. What’s the difference between the UK and Europe?
Sid: Well this is the first time we’ve ever headlined in Europe so that’s going to be different.
Chris: In terms of the gigs they’re pretty similar. Not quite as big as some of the UK ones but touring Europe has its perks. We’ve gone to all these amazing cities. It’s interesting to see where are days off are so we can plan what we want to do.
Sid: Yeah, that is basically what happens. Everyone checks where their days off are and which beer pool we’re going to be going to.
Chris: We’ve got days in Berlin, I think one in Munich and one in Oslo so it’s brilliant.
Sid: The Munich one we looked at earlier and we’ve got to get to Barcelona which I assume is quite a long drive. But it’s just fun. You get to go on holiday with your mates.
HTS: You’ve toured with huge names like Bon Jovi, Papa Roach and more, did touring with those develop you as a band?
Chris: Definitely. Playing with bands that make you up your game is a good thing, you just wanna race your game. You tour with like Jacoby from Papa Roach; it’s just amazing to watch people who’ve been doing it that long tearing it up every night. It gives you motivation. And we love going out and playing to a crowd we’ve never played to before. It’s a challenge to kind of steal their fans. I love it, with a tougher crowd it’s more of a challenge.
HTS: The band started in 2008, and you released two EP’s, and five years later in 2013 you released your debut album ‘Filthy Empire’. Was the five year wait perfecting everything?
Sid: It was definitely deliberate. We actually put off record deals and turned down a few things and put off doing the first album because we had a bar in our head that we wanted to hit and also we kept having setbacks; we kept having different line-up changes and different members. You don’t want to have a guy come into the band and then go straight into your debut album. You need to develop as a band. That’s the reason we did the second EP, because Aaron (Vocals) just joined and we wrote a bunch of songs so we thought lets record those and then tour for a year. But we actually got signed pretty quickly after that so the process started.
Chris: I remember a certain label wanted our EP and at the time we were in Holland with Black Stone Cherry, just five of us in a van and there was no reason to, we were doing really well. We were like getting to every gig and touring around Europe as an unsigned band, and the EP was doing great.
Sid: The only thing there was they want us to give them something and you’re just going to take from us and do very little. I mean we are a pretty self-sufficient band. We only signed the deal when there was a deal worth signing for us.
HTS: You’re very well known for your consistent touring. What motivates you to keep going?
Chris: It’s kind of all we know now. It’s actually really weird when we have time off now.
Sid: We just got back from Soundwave Festival in Australia, we only had four days off but every when to shit. We came back and it was the most post-tour blues ever. We all cut our hair off; Rob came back with two new nose piercings. We’d only been off for four days!
Chris: To be fair, we started touring this album in August 2012 really and it’s been full on since then. Only have a week in between tours. Downtime is weird, it’s like when you get in a bed that’s not moving on a bus it’s like ‘what’s going on?’
Sid: We had January off, and that’s the longest we’ve ever had off ever. Since me and Chris started the band back in 2008. It just doesn’t work. It gave us time to start writing a few ideas on our own. On the road we sketch ideas and write little ideas. But time off lets us sit down and actually write some stuff. But you’d think, we’ve got time off, we’re going to chill out because we’ve been on it for two and a half years solid but then New Years isn’t going to happen, and then when you catch up with your mates you forget that they haven’t been partying so you come back and they’re like ‘wanna grab a few beers?’ so you end up having a more heavy break than you did on the road. I was like I need to get back on the road so I didn’t die.
Chris: When we first started we were committed to touring straight away all around the UK. We’d go to random places like in Highlands and Scotland before we could get gigs in Manchester and London so we played absolutely everywhere. Even in the year with the line-up change we just got people to stand in on vocals and carry on, on the road. We did a European tour with Halestorm and Theory of a Deadman, and a headline tour as well. Until we dragged ourselves off the road in 2010 to find a permanent singer, when we were like we should probably find someone to be in the band now.
HTS: Despite all your touring success, you have lost some band members along the way. How did that change the sound of your band?
Sid: It has changed the sound of the band but not necessarily because they left. Just because it gave us time to grow on our own. As in, the person I am when we started this band is very different to the person I am now. I was a child when we started.
Chris: Obviously with Rob and Aaron coming in, it’s two other guys coming into the band with different influences that come into the band. It’s been a natural progression.
Sid: It gave us three years on the road to see how things work. I write music completely differently to how I used to. Now there’s more of a sense of identity and direction. You just get better at writing songs. It actually helped because it gave us time a few years to get our shit together.
Chris: You release where the bar actually is.
Sid: And it toughens you up. We’ve had basically everything happen to us now. We know we can handle nearly anything that is thrown at us.
HTS: You held auditions for singers?
Chris: It was at the end of 2010. It’s funny, within half a second of meeting someone you know if they’re going to be the guy. With the vibe and Aaron was actually the last batch of ten guys, we started getting guys from Canada and Spain.
Sid: People were flying over from America and Europe so it was getting ridiculous. We were like ‘he’s got an alright voice’. But he wasn’t a finished article. We didn’t want a singer to come in and join the band, we wanted a guy to come in and join the band and develop together. That’s why we did the EP, it wasn’t a meeting of two worlds. We actually grew as a band.
Chris: He’s quite a quiet guy, but that’s the thing with a band. It’s completely different personalities across the board and that’s what makes the chemistry and everything work.
Sid: He’s a completely different guy now to when we first met him.
HTS: Your new single which is coming out next week ‘Can’t Let Go’ was produced by Bob Marlette. How did that come about?
Sid: Well originally it was. But we re-did it for the album, and that was John Feldmann that did the album.
Chris: Bob was one of the first guys we worked with and he’s great. He’s an old school rock producer. He’s a good dude and we just had some fun doing some tracks with him. We actually just went in to Fedlmann’s house when he wasn’t there and recorded. He was on tour, (and no disrespect to him) we didn’t really care; we just wanted those songs on the album.
Sid: I actually wasn’t even there. I had a problem with my visa so I was in Italy. We came and played Download Festival and then we went back. But there was a question if we wanted to put those tracks on the album so we played Download and there was a guy from the label there and he was like ‘holy shit, these are awesome!’ So we went back and recorded them in like half hour. So they went and tracked it and it was awesome, because I just turned up and they had already done bass, drums and vocals.
Chris: It was the quickest session we have ever done recording. We’re pretty quick at recording anyway because we want to capture the live feel. We just knocked out the song.
Sid: ‘Executioner’s Day’ is the first song we ever wrote as a band so I’ve pretty much played it every day of my life since I was 18. So we literally just played it once live. The whole album we recorded in 9 days so we didn’t really have time to make it sound perfect. If you listen to the album on headphones you keep hearing weird things.
Chris: The whole polished sound doesn’t really work with Heaven’s Basement just the way we play our instruments. It’s rough around the edges but in a good way. There a lot of better musicians out there that are better than us.
Sid: They could do a lot of things you couldn’t do, but they can do a lot of things you couldn’t give a f**k about doing.
Chris: Yeah, we’re a band working together. It’s about being in a band and touring and playing with passion. I don’t wanna sound harsh, there are some amazing people out there, but that’s just not what we’re about.
Heaven’s Basement are currently touring the UK and will be heading to Europe in April. Check out the dates below.
THU 20 MAR – VOODOO / BELFAST, N. IRELAND
FRI 21 MAR – VOODOO LOUNGE / DUBLIN, IRELAND
SAT 22 MAR – ACADEMY 2 / MANCHESTER, ENGLAND
MON 24 MAR – THE FORUM / CHESTER, ENGLAND
TUE 25 MAR – THE FLEECE / BRISTOL, ENGLAND
THU 27 MAR – ELECTRIC BALLROOM / LONDON, ENGLAND
FRI 28 MAR – WHITE RABBIT / PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND
SAT 29 MAR – ACADEMY 2 / BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
SUN 30 MAR – THE HAUNT / BRIGHTON, ENGLAND
TUE 01 APR – LE FORUM / VAUREAL, FRANCE
WED 02 APR – BIEBOB / VOSSELAAR, BELGIUM
THU 03 APR – LOGO / HAMBURG, GERMANY
FRI 04 APR – MELKWEG SW / AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
SAT 05 APR – MATRIX / BOCHUM, GERMANY
MON 07 APR – VEGA JR / COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
WED 09 APR – JOHN DEE / OSLO, NORWAY
THU 10 APR – FANGELSET / GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN
FRI 11 APR – KLUBBEN FRYSHUSET / STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
SAT 12 APR – NOSTURI / HELSINKI, FINLAND
TUE 15 APR – MAGNET / BERLIN, GERMANY
WED 16 APR – CENTRUM / ERFURT, GERMANY
THU 17 APR – CHELSEA / VIENNA, AUSTRIA
SAT 19 APR – ROCK N ROLL ARENA / ROMAGNANO, ITALY
SUN 20 APR – SCHUUR / LUZERN, SWITZERLAND
MON 21 APR – STROM / MUNICH, GERMANY
WED 23 APR – ROCKSOUND / BARCELONA, SPAIN
THU 24 APR – MOBY DICK / MADRID, SPAIN
FRI 25 APR – SALA AZKENA / BILBAO, SPAIN