banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

INTERVIEW – Chris Rivers, Heaven’s Basement – February 2014

| 1 March 2014 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Chris Rivers, Heaven’s Basement – February 2014

It took Chris Rivers, drummer with UK’s loudest export Heaven’s Basement, ten years, three band names, and seven ex-bandmates to finally make it down to Australia for Soundwave festival, playing Arena Joondalup on Monday 3 March. SHANE PINNEGAR gets the full story.

Heaven's Basement 01

Heaven’s Basement are Sid Glover, Chris Rivers, Aaron Buchanan & Rob Ellershaw

Formed in 2003, Hurricane Party was the first incarnation of Rivers’ band, releasing the Get This EP the following year. After Katrina demolished New Orleans, a name change was warranted and the band became Roadstar, releasing two albums before disbanding in 2007. Three quarters of the last Roadstar lineup returned the following year as Heaven’s Basement, and over the course of two EPs and last year’s excellent Filthy Empire album – and a couple more lineup changes – they’ve evolved into a formidable band.

Rivers agrees that 2013 was when everything finally gelled for the band.

“Yeah, definitely,” he says down the phone line, “we had been on the road all year. We have been touring both North America and Europe at the same time, really taking on the whole world in one go. Obviously that is extending with Australia for the first time and hopefully other parts of the world as well.

“So it was the perfect year, really, since our album came out – we have always been a live touring band, ever since we started. We would just play shows every single night across the UK and obviously we eventually spread over to Europe and worked on the album and now we have spread over to The States and Canada as well. It has been great!”

Heaven's Basement 02

Rivers says he didn’t know much about the mighty Soundwave Festival before they were added to the bill, but he’s done some research since then and likes what he sees.

“Up until this year I didn’t know much about it, but obviously since we got the slot on there we have heard things about it and we spoke to friends that have played. Everyone says that it is a fantastic festival. Basically, I think it is five or six shows that we play and travel around with some great bands and two weeks over in Australia playing music. Sounds good to us!

“Yeah, it is going to be great,” he laughs, “A few of our crew has worked on it with other bands in the past. They said it is one of the best festivals in the world that they have ever done. We are really excited.”

Not that they’re doing anything special to prepare – they haven’t got a chance, with tour dates locked in right up until they get on the plane.

“We are just doing our thing really,” he explains, “at the moment we’re touring and that is going to be pretty much up until the moment we fly to Australia. As far as set goes, that is an ever-changing thing really. From show to show, tour to tour, we change certain aspects of our set. Apart from the album, we also have two EP’s as well so there are twenty songs, twenty-five songs, to find different places in the set.

“So it’s fun to mix it up and drop these songs in at different places and things like that. So we’ll just carry on doing our thing and every show is a little bit different in terms of the energy we put out on stage, and might [see us] jumping into the crowd and come back two minutes later, things like that. We don’t plan it too much, sometimes, but it is positive and in the moment, [with a] off the hook vibe to it as well.”

Heaven's Basement 03

When discussing Hurricane Party and Roadstar, Rivers becomes a little more… not guarded exactly, perhaps pragmatic is the better word.

“The main difference with those bands,” he says with a deep breath, “the actual guys in the band were really cool, we got along really well but we always had… the organization behind the scenes was not the best in terms of management and things like that. At the time we were a lot younger and naive to the way of the world and the way the actual music business works and stuff, so there was a lot of hindrance from that side of things and the reason Heaven’s Basement started was to make a fresh start, for us five guys to get away from all of that and starting fresh… Five guys, let’s go play some stuff and build it up from scratch, the way it should have been done the first place.

“So that’s how it started really, Heaven’s Basement, and it’s only me and Sid [Glover, guitar] left from the last version of that band as Roadstar and all the others left before the start of Heaven’s Basement. Now we are obviously a four piece and we have Rob and Aaron [Ellershaw and Buchanan, bass & vocals respectively], they were the final pieces of the jigsaw really.

“It is a case of the way the planets aligned really,” he continues, “and the main thing was always about the same people mentally wise, with a like-minded ambition to go in the same direction, and it was about finding those people at the time. For me, personally, Heaven’s Basement is a step up musically as well. Those bands were important in terms of getting experience and touring and things like that. It was all a step in the right direction for what Heaven’s Basement eventually became, and was born as.”

The evolution from 2008’s self titled EP is unmistakable, with the band sounding more assured and rocking with each release. Rivers says the EP was just another brick in the wall for the band.

“Yeah, pretty much. The first EP came out in 2009, I think. Then after that, Richie [Hevanz], the original singer, he left at the start of 2010 and the original bass player left, just a few months before that as well, and then [guitarist] Johnny Rocker left, so in a space of six months, we were down to two members left of the original band.

“By then, we had gotten Rob, our bass player, he replaced the bass player pretty much straight away – that was a very instant change. In the summer of 2010 we actually played Sonisphere festival with a stand-in singer, because we carried on touring for a year, maybe – actually it was about eight months we carried on touring with various stand-in singers across the UK, which was interesting.

“Maybe in the hindsight it wasn’t the best move,” Rivers reflects, “because you aren’t working at full strength musically onstage, but we wanted to keep on touring and keeping in the eye of people. We did not want to go away and disappear into oblivion trying to find a singer, so we continued touring with stand-in guys and eventually we would find our permanent guy.

“So at the end of 2010 we met Aaron and figured pretty much straight away that he was the guy that was going to be our new singer. And then with Red Bull [Records], we have been in contact with them really since the end of 2009, they came to see us with Papa Roach at Brixton Academy, and they was really into the band, it was all going well, but with the line up change, obviously, we couldn’t commit to [signing] with them.

“So, we went away, and got that sorted. In the meantime they left us to it and it was like, ‘Guys, when you get it sorted, come back to us and we will see where you’re at.’ Then when we got Aaron, and they came to see on our first tour with Aaron and we signed a deal after the fourth gig of the tour. The label has always been there and really supported us and we felt that they’re really different to all the other labels out there, they have a different mentality. It was a fresh outlook on the way we should be doing things and we just kind of meshed, mentality wise, it was just an instant click, really.”

Heaven's Basement 04

Signing to Red Bull Records might set alarm bells ringing for some, wary of the implications of being tied up with a corporate behemoth, but the drummer says it’s all been smooth sailing so far.

“The cross promotional stuff we’ve done,” he explains, “we’ve gone n’ played in Sweden and Canada, they’re like skiing events and racing events and they’re freakin’ amazing. We basically got to go to Sweden for a week, played a half an hour set and then have a party for the rest of the time, that has been amazing. We are doing the soundtrack to a few events as well, like the Crashed Ice event, which is a downhill skating event, and probably a few biking events and stuff like that. So it’s all been good, it has not been too heavy and not been too much in the face as like, ‘Heaven’s Basement – Red Bull, Red Bull, Red Bull’

“We was always very cautious and wary about the brand being attached to the band, because we are not into that, and the label actually feels the same. It is not something that we throw in everyone’s faces. But it has been a good thing.”

Having perservered through the different incarnations and under different names and with different bandmates for this past decade, Rivers agrees he’s needed a combination of dedication, belief and plain old stubbornness.

“Definitely all of those things actually,” he laughs. “Self-belief has always been there, that has got to be the most important thing of any person in a band in my opinion because you go through so many ups and downs in a band. Without self belief or dedication then you are just going to fall on the first hurdle. We have seen it happen so many times with bands over the last four, five, six years. Bands that we have toured with in the UK that have come up and we have been like, ‘Sweet, here is another band like us that we could team up with,’ and that band goes through this hard time and they just disappear into oblivion or they go through a radical change in musical style because that is the way they think that’s gonna help ’em.

“You have got to stick to your guns and you have just got to crack on. All the great bands throughout history have been through ups and downs, if you can’t get past a few hurdles, you’re kind of doomed from the start. Also, yes, that goes hand in hand with dedication and stubbornness as well. Again, relates to the same thing, when we’ve had knockbacks in the past by people, it has just made us want to go out even harder and prove that person wrong.

“Also, we have nothing else to do – it’s the only thing we’re kind of half decent at doing!”

Heaven's Basement 05

Has it been worth ten years of struggle?

“Yeah, definitely,” he laughs, before elaborating. “I’ve got to tour everywhere, play some amazing shows, playing the drums and being a band and writing music and recording is everything that I have always wanted to do.

“It has been a struggle in terms of getting to the part we are now – a constantly touring band with an album out there to the world, but some of my favourite times were in 2009 and even 2010 when we had the line-up change when it was just those guys touring around in a van playing gigs and stuff around England, playing these little shitty shows, but it felt like we was doing something really good. It sounds like us guys versus the world, which is a really clichéd thing to say, but we’d turn up places and have to build a stage out of dining tables in order to play our music. It has always felt really good, yeah.”

To wrap up, I give Chris a chance to tell Australia why they should check out Heaven’s Basement at Soundwave.

“I think to anyone who likes a live, energetic rock n’ roll show,” he explains enthusiastically, “we are very much an old school mentality band in terms of our live show – it is just guitar bass, drums, vocals – it’s edgy and it’s unpredictable. There is nothing else apart from those instruments making the sound of the band. Every show is a bit different, it is in your face. We are all about crowd interaction, so the more people that watch, the more off the hook it is going to be.”

Don’t miss ‘em!




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad