An Interview with UK Rockers,
that took place at Corporation, Sheffield, Sunday 14th December, 2008 by Glenn Milligan & Tony Watson
Glenn: What would you say the main influences of the band are musically?
Chris Rivers: There’s kind of a massive group of influences between everyone. Everyone’s got their own thing so we kinda bring it all into the pot and put it all together but there’s no influence like we’ve tried to copy anybody.
Tony: So what sort of stuff do you listen to?
Rob Randell: A bit of reggae (joking)
Johnny Rocker: Well to be fair it’s like pretty across the board. Everyone’s... between the 5 of us, everyones got like a core of 10 bands that we are all into. All the ones that you probably might think are obvious like Aerosmith, Guns ‘N’ Roses, AC/DC – these kinds of bands. But aside from that everyones got different influences that they can bring when we write and we’re quite varied. Rob’s into Genesis & Rush and all that b*ll*cks (we all laugh).
Richie Hevanz: And also the showtunes of the Chicago area (we laugh).
Tony: Well you can’t knock Rush though really can you?
All: No – it’s a fair go.
Glenn: (To Rob) I gotta ask, which Genesis do you prefer, the Gabriel or the Collins era?
Rob: Definately the Peter Gabriel.
Glenn: (To Rob) Good answer. (To Richie) What about vocal influences?
Rob: Chris Rivers. (joking)
Richie: Chris Rivers yeah. Dunno, I mean, the same. All the main singers you can think of. Sten Tyler is definately one of them, Robert Plant.. stuff like that but then I like everything from Frank Sinatra to Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 – I love his lyrics so whatever really. Anything that I think.. it sounds stupid but anything that I think is good, is good. Do you know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah. So basically you are an all rounder taking a bit of this and a bit of that and developing your own thing.
Richie: Yeah, I think you’re silly to limit yourself to pure just rock. You know anyone that does that is limiting themselves full-stop. You’re better off opening your mind and to research other music and you know you can happen creatively.
Glenn: Yeah if you keep following it down and down and down you are gonna get worse and worse and worse.
Richie: Just worse versions.
Glenn: Yeah exactly. That’s why there’s so Oasis rip-off type bands.
Richie: Well exactly, yeah, yeah. I mean you see these days that there are a lot of bands in our genre that seem they are jusr Guns ‘N’ Roses or Motley Crue – the same hair and act but what they seem to be forgetting that Motley Crue Guns ‘N’ Roses also had brilliant songs. You have to make sure you have good songs and worry about the rest after that.
Glenn: Because those guys (as in Motley Crue & Guns ‘N’ Roses) have got their own influences anyway. So these new bands are not gonna be the same.
Richie: No exactly.
Tony: Would you say you’ve learnt something from Danny out of Thunder as you toured with them recently?
Richie: Yeah, Danny Yeah. Danny’s actually one of the guys I used to sing a long with when I was kid – you know, ‘Back Street Symphony’ and all that. I used to be in my bedroom trying to hit the notes that he could hit.
Richie: So definately, now we get a chance to tor with him twice. It was actually more than that but it’s actually quite an honour. But definately you can learn a lot from every walk of life from every point of music. You can learn something if you just open to it.
Glenn: I suppose you get on really well with the guys (in Thunder).
Richie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. They are good guys. They are easy to get on with and I think you’d be hard pushed not to get on with ‘em.
Tony: Have they given you any good advice or anything like that?
Richie: Yeah, I mean Danny was one of the.. you know when the old band finished and we started this one he was one of the first on the phone and saying, ‘You know if you need anything then gimme a shout’, and we met with him and he talked us through how he thinks we should go about things and just gave us some good advice. You know, someone who’s been in the business. I mean he works for ‘The Agency’ now as well so he’s just a good guy to have in your camp I think in every aspect. So yeah, he’s always there if we need anything, just give him a shout and he can help us. So it’s really good.
Chris: A few of us were in our old band together which Danny knew about as we had done some gigs together in the past with Thunder as that band so as soon as that kinda went pair shaped he was in touch to offer his help and support and as ‘Heaven’s Basement’ got together we spoke to him a few times.
Johnny: He offered us a tour last year but it was before we had even played a gig. They knew that we were writing and jamming and playing ‘n’ that so they said, ‘Do you wanna come and do this tour?, it’ll be a good opportunity for you to go, ‘we’ve got a new band, here it is’’, but we weren’t ready. I mean we said to him, ‘Look, thanks but if the opportunity comes up again, we’ll jump when we’re ready, we’ll jump at it but for the time being we’re not right’.
Glenn: Makes sense yeah. What about his dancing, have you learnt much from his dancing?
Richie: Yeah man. All that.
Glenn: It’s ace innit.
Richie: Yeah, he learnt that from me.
Tony: We say its like ‘Gay Dad’ dancing.
Richie: Yeah well, I don’t know about... well yeah, yeah.
Glenn: You are going on tour again with them in January and February aren’t you?
Richie: Yeah, yeah, they were kind enough to ask us to come with them on the European leg of their tours so we are really looking forward to that. We’re quite excited about it actually.
Glenn: What about Road Stories, have you got any good road stories you have had over the past few weeks? Has any cool stuff been going down?
Johnny: We’ve had a pretty good time actually on the road recently because we’ve been on tour with ‘Wired Desire’ – the lads from Glasgow so.... They know how to party so it’s been pretty fun... you know what I mean? Most evening there’s been something going on..
Chris: There’s been a foam party..
Johnny: Yeah, we went to a foam party the other day.. we played a club in Leeds
Sid: And you layed everyone in the foam party...
Johnny: Yeah, just chose not to stick around in the rock club because there was a foam party going on next door so we chose the rave.
Glenn: Was it Rios?
Sid: It was like a student place.
Chris: It was the University.
Glenn: Oh, I’ve been there yeah.
Chris: There’s a lot of large rooms in there – there’s like 3 different clubs goin’ on.
Sid: I’ve never seen a guy manage to disgust so many girls lying about in a tet room.
Richie: Who you?
Sid: No. (Everyone laughs) But I contributed to it.
Glenn: What’s your views of the current state of the music business?
Johnny: Well it’s a state.
Chris: I didn’t realise there was one.
Glenn: Yeah, exactly yeah. I suppose you’d sooner look after yourselves than sign to a big label.
Johnny: Well we’re not scared of signing to a big label if the right opportunity comes about. At the moment things are going really well for us so we’re not in any rush to make any big decisions. Obviously it’s getting near the point where we need to start thinking of recording an album. We’ve talking to various different producers about the album we wanna make and where we wanna make it.
Tony: So what have you got out at the moment, is that like a mini EP or something?
Johnny: Yeah, there was no intention to actually release an EP before we did the album. We talked about it but I think for the most part that was down to the fact that we knew we were going to go on the Thunder tour and there was gonna be a lot of demand for people to buy something. They were demos that we recorded, a couple of them ourselves that we’d been recording since we’d been together and a couple that we did in a studio in Liverpool – just various demos – so we put together 6 tracks of what we thought were the best. Just them out so people could actually come to a gig and go, “Right I wanna buy something!”. But the album I think we’re gonna start thinking about recording early next year some time and probably get it out by the Summer.
Glenn: So you’ve got plenty of song ideas already?
Johnny: Yeah we are close to like 40 or 50 songs at the moment. The plan is to add another sort of months writing session before we do an album so...
Chris: We’re gonna release an album with 115 tracks on it.
Tony: A bit like Napalm Death then.
Chris: Yeah, but slightly heavier. (We laugh) And Quicker.
Glenn: We won’t have to wait 14 years for the one after that will we?
Chris: No No. (We laugh) No it’ll be the following week.
Glenn: Excellent. What would you say your favourite songs on the EP are so far?
Richie: It’s our band and I can’t exactly remember what songs are on it (laughs).
Chris: Live I take it’d be ‘Executioners Day’ and ‘Rain On Your Parade’.
Johnny: I’d say ‘Rain’. It’s hard when you are so close to the songs.
Chris: We’ve just actually put a new one up on our website. A new track (Mirrors) so I’m thinking that at the moment.
Glenn: Yeah, cause I was listening to it today.
Johnny: Yeah, there’s loads of songs we’ve got recorded. We don’t actually play music that we don’t all of us think, ‘This is brilliant’. Until a song is at that stage, that’s when other people hear it. A lot of the songs go through quite a lot of changes before they get to the point where we think, well all five agree ‘this is ready’.
Chris: Yeah, yeah.
Glenn: It’s always good to see how people are liking the songs and interpreting the songs through myspace.
Johnny: Yeah it’s interesting sometimes as well. Something you think might work doesn’t seem to work. As soon as you get it on stage, you know, we quickly sort of rectify it if we feel it’s not quite right.
Sid: And Vice-versa. And it’s, ‘I really like that song’.
Glenn: I noticed on your myspace that one girl was apologising because she couldn’t get to the Newcastle gig, which I thought was nice.
Sid: We’ve got some good supporters. Quality.
Richie: I was gonna say we got a quality bunch of lads (laughs).
Glenn: Especially the ones at the foam party no doubt. (we all laugh)
Sid: Well I think they’re a proper nice bunch of people.
Richie: Yeah, the fans themselves. I don’t even like really...
Sid: That’s why I struggle to say lads.
Richie: They are people who really like our music and I think they.. well after every gig you kind of get to know a ot of them, especially in club environments. It’s kinda cool because you can see them after and see how much they enjoy it and I think that lends you a lot of energy. It’s kind of ‘we do it because we love music’ but you know when somebody comes up and says this that and the other, then it’s nice to be part of something.
Glenn: And I suppose bit by bit you get more and more fans from it?
Richie: Yeah, yeah, hopefully. They tell somebody and bring somebody a long next time.
Sid: It’s pretty much what we’ve been doing in this last year.
Chris: There’s a chap outside I’ve been speaking to who’s brought his lad down tonight for his 1st ever gig.
Rob: Really? Well that’s wicked.
Chris: That’s always a nice feeling as well. We had it a few times on the Thunder Tour when a couple came up to us with a kid and said, “It’s his 1st concert tonight and he really enjoyed it”, so for someones 1st band they’ve ever seen, it’s quite a nice feeling.
Rob: Yeah, it should always stay with you.
Sid: It sounded good.
Glenn: I remember where I work and a guy said he was taking his lad to see his 1st band ‘Motorhead’ (laughing)
Chris: Wow really.
Glenn: Imagine that.
Johnny: Hawkwind was the 1st band I saw live.
Tony: Yeah, mine were Saxon.
Glenn: Mine were Shawaddywaddy.
Richie: Can’t remember. I think mine was Michael Jackson.
Sid: What was yours Rob?
Rob: Gary Glitter. (We all laugh) It was.
Sid: He got him at an young age.
Glenn: Well where do you go from that, it’s killed that. Where did you get the name ‘Heaven’s Basement’ from?
Johnny: Richie’s basement. Sid kinda shouted it out one night.
Sid: And I’m normally a quiet person so like.. no it was actually when we first went down and found ourselves sort of jamming for the 1st time and we were in this room that was under the ground that I really liked the vibe of and I was trying to think of... I wanted to name the room. I was saying something for the name and I came up with ‘Heaven’s Basement’. It just kind of... you know, you can go through so many different band names but it was first thing and everyone was like, well that’s sweet, let’s not worry about it..
Chris: And we just kinda stuck with it.
Johnny: At that point we weren’t exactly worried about it. We weren’t exactly setting out to do anything, it was just... we just wanted to see how it went. We got together jamming that 1st evening and it was just literally, we’d a few beers and thought, ‘let’s have a jam – 3 or 4 hours later we had probably 4 or 5 half-finished songs there and a name. That was like, ‘well if it’s that easy we might as well carry on.
Glenn: Did you find it’s a bit of a pain because you’ve come.. well it’s like yor 3rd name in your band life as such as you started as Hurricane Party, then Roadstar and then Heaven’s Basement. Do think it’s a bit of a nightmare for people to keep up ? Like we are now called so and so.
Johnny: Yeah, we it’s because we are on the run from the taxman – we had to change it at least once every couple of years so they don’t catch up with us.
Sid: I mean, to be fair, I wasn’t in Hurricane Party or anything. Well I knew ‘em and I’d seen ‘em and Hurricane Party and Roadstar is the same band. You know what I mean, their label changed so that’s not really an issue. As far as I was conscerned, that split up and.. This is the new band. Everyones been in bands before.
Glenn: I remember when ‘Hurricane Party’ played in here with Hanoi Rocks.
Rob: Oh yeah.
Ritchie: You remember that one well do ya?
Rob: No. (We laugh)
Glenn: Well when I was depping on the vlub scene it seemed like the same gig every week – it all becomes a blur.
Sid: Yeah – we were in Scotland yesterday I think and I was trying to think, ‘I know that place’ because it’s so weird because having been there 3 or 4 times in the last week, months and 6 months and normally been pretty drunk being in Scotland, it’s very hard to.. everything sorta blends into a weird thing. It’s proper twilight zone – it’s like I’ve been here but I’ve never been here and I know this person.
Johnny: On Wednesday it’ll be our 96th gig since April. So when you do it pretty much every night and you’ve had a few beers and you’re just going from town to town, you’re not really seeing much of the town, you are seeing venues, dressing rooms, stage..
Glenn: It becomes a blur.
Johnny: Especially because a lot of people that come to see us, come to see us on multiple nights so it does all blend into one so it’s very hard to keep track, even what day of the week it is.
Sid: It’s like Groundhog Day. You just keep doing the same thing.
Glenn: A bit like work.
Chris: Today is definately Monday for us, today is Sunday, but what the f*ck is it, it’s the start of the day, so today’s Monday innit.
Johnny: It’s because we had a day off and had a roast dinner yesterday – that’s what it is.
Sid: Did we?
Johnny and others: Yeah.
Glenn: You missed it. Well I was gonna ask what your favourite venue was but?
Richie: I think Manchester City Stadium was pretty good. I’d play there again if they asked nice.
Chris: Well apart from all the seats being a f*ck*n’ sh*tty blue colour.
Richie: And a couple of Rabbits.
Sid: Manchester Academy’s pretty good.
Chris: Yeah, Manchester Academy’s f*ck*ng brilliant.
Sid: Cause they’ve redone that – that’s excellent.
Richie: Do you mean on this tour or in general?
Glenn: This tour and in general as well.
Chis: Forecourt 10.
Johnny: Well you see the thing is, as many great venues that we’ve played, we’ve played some sh*tholes, like some hideous places.
Richie: It’s like you’re only gonna remember the sh*tholes as well.
Sid: This place (Corporation) is like the f*ck*ng Plaza. It’s not that they’re sh*tholes but if you’ve had a really, if there’s been something like a really bad day going on. I remember a day in Camden where everyone came pretty close to that.
Glenn: Have you been asked to turn any local town lights on where you are from or anything like that?
Sid: No, we’d like to have.
Johnny: We’ve sent a few e-mails off trying to get involved but no interest at the moment.
Glenn: What would you say your average day for the band is?
Chris: Get up early, crack of dawn.
Johnny: Well we get out, normally all go for a run, we have a light breakfast – maybe grapefruit, some muesli and then a like 400-500 sqats for us.
Ritchie: A few aerobics.
Johnny: Yoga for half an hour at 11.
Sid: Your body clock kinda relaxes.
Chris: It depends where the gig is as well. We’ll finish a gig at like 12 O clock and then get out of here at like 2 O’clock, 3 O’clock so everything’s completely backwards.
Sid: And if you go and do an all-nighter then that kind of messes with it because you end up getting it at like say 7...
Glenn: Like jetlag?
Sid: Yeah, it’s like jetlag, and then you sleep until like...
Johnny: We do a 9-5 job but it just starts at 9pm.
Glenn: That makes sense.
Johnny: We’re on nightshift.
Chris: We’re on nights.
Johnny: We’re on nights.
Glenn: What would you say you are most looking forward to on the European Tour with Thunder?
All band: German Beers.
Sid: We was meant to have 2 days off in Amsterday but that got quickly sorted out by them – the managment I think. We was like “Oh Yes! Excellent, Excellent!’ but that went as soon as we began to show signs of interest. So they’ve added Berlin and now we’ve got a day off in Berlin which will be pretty good. There’s the drives I think I’m looking forward to.
Johnny: I think it’s gonna be good just actually getting to Europe for the 1st time. Apart from the 1 gig in Spain we did a couple of months ago it’ll be our first stint out there. We are gonna do some shows in Italy, like in January but it’ll be good to get out to Germany..
Johnny: Switzerland it is, we’ve got a lot of fans out that write to us and say, “You’ve gotta come over here, you’ve gotta come over here, you’ll do really well so. We’re looking forward to seeing how we go down and making some eyes.
Glenn: I suppose it’s a case of connecting and e-mailing promotors and these guys at the places and seeing what comes off.
Sid: It’s actually been pretty easy for us to get on this tour. We’ve had to do very little work which is very nice because we’ve been out with Thunder.
Chris: Yeah because Thunder were behind us so it’s their call innit.
Sid: Which is good.
Glenn: I suppose after playing that you’ll probably get small club tours.
Chris: Yeah Yeah
Johnny: Yeah Yeah
Chris: It gives us a start over there, you know what I mean?
Chris: Play some festivals in the Summer and stuff as well and in this process.
Johnny: That’s the plan – we wanna get on some festivals next year.
Glenn: Like the 'Sweden Rock Festival'.
Chris: Yeah, Yeah
Johnny: Yeah, yeah. All them kinda things, those places.
Sid: Now Europe seems to be the kinda place to proper-up and knows how to throw a good festival. There is a couple in England and in Europe it seems to be a much more interesting event.
Johnny: Yeah, cause the gig we did over in Spain was a one-off. It was a bit of a mission but it was well worth it. I mean, we set off on the day of the gig, went and played the gig and had to kind of fly back and play Chester the next day but it was really good out there. There was like a couple of hundred people turned up to see us like in a small club in Bilbou which was you know, sometimes we are playing to 200 people over here in certain places so it’s a good..
Johnny: Yeah – there’s a good crowd out there.
Glenn: Yeah – you never know what to expect do you.
Johnny: Well this is it and the more we do, the more we make of it.
Chris: The more packing on clubs.
Sid: Yeah things like that. Air Travel doesn’t help as well, especially if you stay up ‘til 20 minutes before the flight and you’ve gotta play in Chester – that’s the most disentorientating thing I’ve ever had in my life – standing in Chester.
Chris: We’re hoping to get back to Spain in May playing in Barcelona and Madrid but that’s all through Thunder.
Glenn: I hope you have no problems with the weather and the bus doesn’t break down and all that kind of sh*t.
Sid: I know when we’ve done Scotland a few times.
Johnny: We’ve done some wonky places in our time.
Richie: Scotland’s a wonky place?
Sid: No I’m saying some wonky places – like in Scotland (laughs). They are probably the funniest gigs I have done in my life.
Chris: Next time we go to Scotland, we go to some f*ck*d up places there.
Richie: So Chris, the best thing that you consider to be f*ck*d up is where the peple from that place are considered to be pulled.
Chris: Like you can’t get there by the star-wall treck.
Sid: Like you don’t know where we’re goin otherwise you wouldn’t be laughing? (He says jokingly)
Chris: There’s places that are closer to f*ck*n’ Norway than they are to Scotland – you know what I mean? As in places where bands don’t go to tour usually which is what we... well we’re cool with that.
Sid: Yeah, yeah because at those places, places where most bands don’t go to they are proper up for it. Like some of the best gigs we’ve done are places that were like, “we never get f*ck*n’ gigs”, so it’s like everyone’s up for it.
Johnny: We done a gig in Fort William recently which was really good. This was a prime example of a town that doesn’t have many gigs and stuff. When a band actually does go there everyone gets excited about it and there was the support band that... the guy who was the bass player in the band and he had a van.
Johnny: Minge his name was yeah. And er, lovely bloke and er, he just took his van around the town and pulled up at all bus stops and just said to kids, “There’s a gig on, jump in”. They was cool about that one. He came back three times with a full up van and then they stayed all night.
Sid: All them people he got I was chatting to ‘em and they was, ‘I thought you was brilliant’, ‘So obviously you heard of us’ (Sid said to them) and they said, ‘No we don’t even know why we’re here’.
Chris: And they came down to see us in Glasgow.
Sid: Yeah, they came down to see us in Glasgow. So it works – kidnapping does work.
Richie: You owe Minge.
Sid: Yeah, we owe Minge a lot. And the other guy in the band was called ‘Gash’ so..
Richie: Minge & Gash.
Sid: Like a really Scottish ‘Chuckle Brothers’.
Glenn: What influenced the songs on the EP like ‘Executioners Day’ and some of the other songs?
Sid: Well they are pretty much different. We’ve not got like a scripted thing to how we write songs because we all write – like all five of us write. There’s never any rules. We’re pretty open-minded when it comes to it. Some of it’s instant.. it inspired one of us to do it, everyone will run with it. There’s no worry and it’s not hard to.. and if you can go in with an open mind - so everything’s different especially with all five of us writing.
Johnny: A lot of the songs about pretty different subjects as well. Not to deviate too far from having a good time or not having a good time.
Sid: Havin’ a good time that churns out into a round of dickheads...
Johnny: That’s pretty much it.
Glenn: So there’s gonna be a song called ‘Foam Party’?
Sid: Foam Party.
Richie: Probably, yeah, yeah.
Sid: “Johnny Mother, you think there’ll be more foam?” - that’s the lyric. And the support band we were on about – they are Scottish – that’s what they just came in with and cracked us up in the f*ck*ng like foam party and just said that on the floor.
Glenn: Excellent. What influenced ‘Executioners Day’?
Sid: Well that was just a perfect example of how we write because that was the first tune we wrote together pretty much. Like Rob came up with the main riff and Johnny stuck in the chorus and I had this f*ck*ng brutal section of just ridiculous guitar w*nk*ng and it all came together quite nicely and everyone sort of helped with the lyrics. It’s pretty much about realising (that) you’re wating around for what? Go out and see the day. Yeah, that’s a perfect example of how we write songs. One song can sound and can come from others.
Glenn: What are you most proud of so far?
Chris: The Year we’ve had. I can’t really fault it in any way. The amount of gigs we’ve done, kinda how we are finishing the year off with this tour, the supports we’ve had, the fanbase we’ve got, gettin’ the EP out, the plans we got for next year, everything.
Richie: Hey its like the amount that we’ve done with the little we’ve had.
Richie: I think is what everybody’s a little bit proud of. You think, you know we’ve been doing so much for so long with so little – you know – that’s kind of what we’ve done this year.
Johnny: I think it’s quite nice to sometimes being the underdog because it felt like the odds were maybe stacked against us but look where it got us. You know some of us came to a point with a band before that, you know, to start from scratch sometimes seems a little bit daunting. But we thought to ourselves, ‘F*ck It!, if we actually work really, really hard that we can do anything we wanna do – we’ll spend a few months writing and living together pretty much every single day – jamming, writing, drinking, jamming, writing and then book some gigs’. We done a couple of little secret gigs first – just went out and played some of the tunes and since then just thought, ‘Right – let’s just go out and play everywhere’ and that’s what’s brought us up to where we are now.
Johnny: And now we are packing out clubs aren’t we Rob?
Sid: To be honest I’m quite proud of walking into a toilet I’ve never been in before and there was some Heaven’s Basement graffiti in there. So it was like ‘Ahh, here we go, we’ve arrived’. I’ve never had graffiti like that .
Glenn: I was looking and you are doing that many gigs that I wondered have these guys actually got jobs to support themselves.
Glenn: Yeah because you seem to be doing really well.
Sid: We aint got time to indulge ourselves in th real world.
Chris: No no, we don’t need to – we keep busy, we’re alright. It’s time off thats err...
Sid: Yeah that’s why we gig so much is becauise we can’t afford not to gig. If we get riders then that’s fair enough.
Johnny: They give us a case of beer when we do a gig. So when we’ve got a day off it’s like, ‘Alright, where do we get the beers from?’.
Sid: We’re not complicated people.
Chris: Very simple beings.
Glenn: Great. It’s a wrap.
Sid: We really appreciate it.
Johnny: Thanks very much.
Richie: Cheers Man.
Thanks again to all the guys in Heaven's Basement, Wired Desire and Mutley et al @ Corporation, Sheffield