Five years since forming and several line up changes later, it’s fair to say Heaven’s Basement have somewhat exploded onto the music scene since the release of their debut album Filthy Empire. Sandwiched between appearances at some of the biggest festivals across Europe is a headline UK tour. A sold out Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton brings them their highest pre-show ticket sales, and it’s easy to see why this quartet are making a mark. Striding ontage brimming with confidence and passion for their art, they have the crowd in of the palm of their hands from the opening chords of Welcome Home. The setlist is relentless and commands the attention of the audience from the pounding beats of I Am Electric to an acoustic Price We Pay with the energy levels never once dipping. The crowd are only too happy to mirror their enthusiasm, bouncing around and singing along at the top of their voices, particularly in the brilliant Nothing Left To Lose. Vocalist Aaron Buchanan is one of the most charismatic frontmen around, bounding around the stage and even taking part in a little crowd surfing. As the final part of the Heaven’s Basement puzzle, they appear a solid unit with a bright future.
Fire Fire and Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch send the crowd into a frenzy and by the time the foursome walk off stage, the chant of we want more is being yelled by everybody in the room. Returning to blast Executioners Day, a tired, thrilled, and extremely sweaty audience make their way out knowing they’ve just seen one of the leading names in the future of rock.
2013 has so far been another crazy year for Ginger Wildheart. The amazing success of his second fan funded album projects Mutation and Hey! Hello! (which is released commercially from Monday!), the reformation of The Wildhearts, non stop touring and news of a new Pledge Music campaign on the way, is there any stopping this guy? The answer is definitely not.
2013 has already been an incredibly busy year for you, what has been your favourite part so far?
There really have been too many great moments to isolate any single one. Being acknowledged by Classic Rock by being given an award was amazing, as was the whole occasion, Hey! Hello! being received so well in US and Japan, The Wildhearts shows, the Slash tour, playing with Courtney….aaaahh, the whole year has been amazing! And I have a feeling that next year will be even more insane.
Your Mutation project was something completely different to 555%, did it worry you at all what peoples reactions may have been, or were you confident the fans would love it, as they clearly did?
As I said in the Pledge video I don’t expect everyone to like everything I do, for me that’s part of the relationship with a band or artist. There are albums by Cheap Trick, Sparks and Zappa that I just can’t listen to, but I love that they have the drive that makes them want to make these albums. I will always warn people that my albums might or might not be to their taste, but that’s why I try to make Pledge albums collectible, so they can sell them on if they don’t like them.
Where did the idea behind Hey! Hello! come from?
I had wanted to play all the instruments on an album for years now, and when I decided to make a power pop album I figured it’s that time. I specifically wanted the songs to have an element of AC/DC basics in the rhythm section, but with accents that hit every syllable and to be honest I don’t know any drummers who would do that better than me, being as i wrote the songs and know where all the accents are.
The Hey! Hello! album has been extremely popular, was this something you were expecting? And how did this contribute to the decision to release it commercially? We love it.
Nothing about Hey! Hello! has been anything like what I was expecting. In fact I was expecting very little apart from people saying “it’s catchy, I like it”. I guess it’s happened at the right time where the world is in steady turmoil, that and the current heatwave presumably makes catchy, fun pop more appealing that it might normally be.
Whatever the reason, and there’s no point in trying to find one, I’m really enjoying seeing this funny little project develop confidence in front of a new and loving audience.
Are their any plans to tour either Mutation/Hey! Hello! (or both) further?
I really don’t know what will happen as far as playing live with either of those two. It’s not something I want to spend too much time dreaming about when I could be writing new material for new projects. I’m a man possessed these days, and tend to just run in the direction of my inspiration. And I’m really enjoying the recording process more than I ever did before. Having said that, if I start getting into recording that’s usually when a ton of touring work will turn up.
You have already indicated that work will begin soon on your next Pledge campaign, what sort of thing can we expect from that?
It’s the Ginger Wildheart Band, my touring solo group, featuring Random Jon Poole, Denzel, Rich Jones, Chris Catalyst, Victoria and now Bryan Scary, our newest recruit. So many talented people and a private residential studio for two months. What could possibly go wrong? Don’t worry, you’ll be in there with us to find out. The music is going to be an insane array of styles that I’m hoping will redesign what a rock album should sound like. I’m crazy excited about this one.
Interacting with fans is a big part of what you do, why is it so important to you to keep them involved?
They’re the boss, they pay my wages. I will never understand bands or artists that don’t want to maintain a close relationship with their fans. Surely you want them to be proud to be on your side, right?
I’ve always believed that you should do the right thing by your people, and that feeling only gets stronger every year.
You have recently hinted at your disappointment in the UK press when it comes to independent music/artists, why do you think it is that they tend to shy away from giving exposure to new/independent music?
Because they’re slaves to the advertisers that plough money into their mundane little rags. That’s why these companies hire editors that will happily tow the line, and if they try to make too many waves they’ll just replace them with another faceless, passionless drone who will do what they’re told. It’s an insane situation that stinks just as bad as the cookie cutter bands they feature.
Just as long as the general public don’t buy the bullshit, and mistake this for the real face of UK music, then I’m fine with it. Who cares about passionless journalists and identikit magazine attitudes anyway? The reason why I get frustrated is because a gullible public could actually believe the shit these mags try to feed you, and lose sight of the underground scene.
We’ve seen too many great things disappear to make way for advance, like vinyl, CD’s and DVDs, the inevitable casualties of tech war, but I won’t sit around and let the live circuit and independent bands suffer the same fate. I’ll go down fighting if nothing else.
You have inspired many other bands/artists to go down the Pledge route, and also won awards for your own efforts, how does it feel to be a kind of spokesperson for keeping it DIY?
It feels very frustrating right now, because not enough people are taking notice of the slow death of an actual DIY scene. But I’m a strong believer in water finding the right level, and suspect that there are a bunch of young kids who are more interested in their sound and songwriting than getting their entire body covered in tattoos.
Shit, if half of these bands spent as much time writing as they do being inked we’d at least have a few decent songs, but once again it’s style over substance, and this traditionally makes way for a bunch of pissed off youth saying “fuck this”.
That’s the punks spirit I pray to see now. It is the only thing that’s going to take the power away from corporate stooges and refocus attention on actual music.
Music will save lives, not haircuts.
What advice would you give new bands wanting to break through? And is there any bands/artists at the moment you want to shout about?
I’d just say do things your way, play hundreds of gigs and write better songs. Everyone, including me, needs to write better songs.
Get amazing as a live band by playing every shit hole with electricity, and if you’re great word will get out, I’ll hear, and I’ll get you a gig.
The passion that Baby Godzilla have at every single show they play is the passion I want to see from everyone.
Lose your shit, lose your voice, lose your mind, but make it count.
You only have this chance, don’t waste it by trying to fit in or join the trends. No one really cares about that shit anyway, and you will not make lasting fans if you look and sound like everyone else. Trust me on this.
Lastly, congratulations on the amazing reception the Earth vs shows received, are their any other plans to fit in anything else Wildhearts related into your tight schedule?
No plans as of right now, but then the real stuff happens when you’re busy making plans, right? So I’ll avoid making them and just enjoy the ride, if it’s okay with you.
Hey! Hello! is released on Monday 22 July, get involved with what is probably the best album you will hear all year!
Day two got off to a little bit of a murky start with the all too familiar dull clouds and rain that we are used to at a British festival, but nevertheless we trooped on and made our way to the arena for another day of great bands!
First up for us today were Krokus on Main Stage 1. They got things off to a loud start, full of energy and very entertaining, getting the crowd involved as much as possible and not letting the rubbish weather effect their performance, or the crowds enjoyment. We then took a wander over the The Valley to see Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, a name we had heard but the music we hadn’t. What a pleasant surprise they were, sounding like early Black Sabbath meets the spacey psychedelic 13th Floor Elevators, definitely a band to check out!
Back over on the Main Stage, 3 Doors Down delivered a set that reflected the weather, a little bit miserable. They were too downbeat and needed some more energy in their set. Most of the crowd seemed to enjoy it, but sadly for us they were lacking. Now Witchcraft on the other hand, absolutely incredible. Again, another band we had been hearing a lot about, and they gave us a brilliant set. Their bluesy hooks and high energy set reminded us a little of Graveyard and they were a lot of fun, another to invest in we reckon.
From the fun to the pretty crazy with Down. Always a great show, but today was extra fun. The French crowd were insane and the circle pits huge, they injected some much needed life into the day. Phil Anselmo is a crazy frontman, taking any opportunity to punch himself in the head with his mic, leaving himself bleeding by the end of the set, that’s dedication. Accept followed and although completely different, just as much fun. The chants of Balls to the Wall echoed through the field, and the atmosphere, despite the weather had definitely picked up.
Time to get old school with some Paparoach, who sadly left us feeling like they were trying that little bit too hard to be something they weren’t. Frontman Jacoby Shaddix showed great confidence, maybe a little too much, but just shouted himself through their set. Last Resort however did get the crowd going for the last few minutes. A band who never has to prove how cool they are is ZZ Top. They ooze talent, effortlessly cool and they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. A set full of big tunes and some bonus dancing from Billy Gibbons. Bullet For My Valentine had the job of keeping us going before the mighty KISS took to the stage, and they did a pretty decent job. They were high in energy, and just played and played, no fuss. They may not be one of our favourite bands, but they know how to play.
Finally, the hottest band in the world were ready to hit Hellfest. KISS burst onto the stage to Psycho Circus and played a set full of killer hits and left the crowd in awe. Explosions, fire, lights, everything you expect them to be, completely over the top but utterly brilliant with it. They may be getting older, and they may not have the moves they used to, but they always deliver a fantastic show, that is no question. Paul Stanleys voice sounds a little strained as they come to the end of their tour , but he still finds the energy to fly over the crowd whilst performing Love Gun, pretty epic. And after the complete bravado of KISS, we have the gritty riffs of Korn to close the night. With Head now back in the band, it feels like a return to form for Korn. They deliver a fantastic well mixed set, with lots of old and new songs for the fans, they perform with precision and are almost perfect. Without a doubt one of the highlight sets of the weekend.
For festival season this year, we took ourselves off to Hellfest in Clisson, France. We fancied a bit of a change from the dull weather of England, only to be greeted with more rain there, can’t have it all! Anyway, what a great weekend we had, tons of brilliant bands and lots of new ones discovered! Here is our report from the first day…
Kicking off a festival on the mainstage is no easy task, but Kissin’ Dynamite aren’t fazed at all. They grasp their opportunity and deliver an energetic half an hour to get everyone pumped for the weekend ahead. Following them on the mainstage 2 are SSS, a very different group from their predecessors signalling the heavier of the two stages; they even get the first pits of the festival going. Black Spiders are up next and have the crowd following their every command. Opening with the brilliant KISS Tried To Kill Me (who are of course headlining the Saturday), they’re a great band to get the crowd going, even encouraging the middle finger salute as early as a Friday lunchtime, what more could you want!
Back to mainstage 2 and Vektor take to the stage for a very screechy set with no stand out tracks. Nevertheless, their fans are out in force and they receive a good reception. Bouncing out next are Swedish quartet Hardcore Superstar straight into the snappy drum rhythm of opener Moonshine. Frontman Jocke Berg has great stage presence and is bounding round the stage with the energy of a 5 year old! His charisma creates a great connection with the crowd and their set is perfect festival material with plenty of audience participation required. Pioneers Saxon blast through a set of classics which are always received well at festivals and a welcome addition to any line up.
On with another great festival band and it’s Europes turn. Despite the fact that the majority of people will be turning up for the massive Final Countdown (which went down a treat of course), they are thoroughly enjoyable to watch and Joey Tempest vocals are still on top form. The heavy rhythms of Testament boom around the field to a huge showing and the thrash pioneers blitz through a frantic set, lapped up by their audience. A switch in the line up presents Twisted Sister earlier than expected and they absolutely steal the day. Declaring in their earlier press conference that they are the best around and they challenge every band playing over the weekend to top them, they stick to their word and deliver a fantastic set full of energy, passion and precision. They are without doubt one of the bands of the weekend and are always an absolute pleasure to watch. The huge We’re Not Gonna Take It encourages 3 encores of the chorus, one started by the crowd which echoes round the field before frontman Dee Snider counts the band back in, long live Twisted Sister! The Who's My Generation signals the beginning of Whitesnake's set, and whilst the big hits such as Still Of The Night and Here I Go Again please the crowd, the newer tracks fall flat and there are a few too many solo’s to keep the crowds full attention. David Coverdale's voice is sadly not what it used to be as he croaks through the higher notes, when he decides to attempt them! Helloween on the other hand are sounding great, complete with giant inflatable pumpkins, and their enthusiasm is matched by their audience.
On to tonight’s main act and Def Leppard sneak onstage, kicking off with Good Morning Freedom. The first part of their headlining set is a mixture of classic hits, including Let’s Get Rocked, before a video interval which sadly got lost in translation with the French crowd. Celebrating their iconic album Hysteria, the video features clips of the making of the album but confused the audiences and appeared disjointed. Onto the album itself and it’s a wonderful hour or so of brilliant tracks. No doubt the band are showing their age and the wear and tear on Joe Elliott's voice is evident, but their passion and love for their music still remains which is what makes them so enjoyable to watch.
Another moment of confusion hits their set as ACDC's You Shook Me All Night Long blares out of the speakers as the band leave the stage, usually a sign that the show is over, however, midway through the second verse, Elliott reappears onstage questioning whether the crowd seriously thought they’d leave with no encore on their first visit to France in 17 years. Everyone hurries back down for a sing along to Rock Of Ages and Photograph top off a fantastic first day; a day that blends the old with the new and shows that some of the old bands have still got it, and the newer guys are giving rock a bright future.