Track Of The Day: Heaven’s Basement
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Words: Scott Rowley
5 years ago there was this EP by a band called Hurricane party and when you heard it you couldn’t help but think: why does no-one make music like this anymore? After years of grim-and-getting-grimmer metalcore (or whatever they call it), as Coldplay’s mope-rock went mainstream, as The X Factor ruled the charts, it was refreshing to hear a band so obviously in love with big choruses and dirty riffs. They’d been signed by A&R legend John Kalodner (Aerosmith, Whitesnake etc). They had a song called Roadstar. At Classic Rock we put them on our first DVD (April 2005, issue 78).
I saw them live in Oct 2004 on a package tour of new British rock bands that included a punk band called Johnny Panic and much-hyped headliners The Ga-Gas. The Ga-Gas had one good song (Replica) and, live, the frontman thought it was good enough to wear shades and look sulky. He had good reason to sulk: Hurricane Party had already stolen the show. They didn’t demand that the audience just admire their cheekbones, oh-no. Instead, they put their feet on the monitors, posed back-to-back, banged their heads, and wore shit-eating grins that just dared you to try and stand there with your arms folded. The singer looked like the son of Ian Astbury – and then you realised that he really COULD be the son of Ian Astbury. These weren’t old guys nostalgically looking back to the hey-day of 70s and 80s rock: these were kids genuinely in love with it.
2005: Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans. The band decide that the phrase Hurricane Party (a shindig thrown in defiance of an oncoming twister) is no longer as feelgood as it used to be. They change their name to Roadstar. At a festival in Norfolk, a Land Rover drives over guitarist Jonny Rocker as he lies on the ground reading a book. Only his wrist is broken.
2006: Roadstar are the opening act for the revived (and currently last) Monsters of Rock festival and are one of the biggest hits of the Classic Rock signing tent. (A female acquaintance of CR says she’d like to sleep with them. “Oh yeah, which one?” we ask. “All of them,” she says.) Their debut album, Grand Hotel, is released and gets 9/10 in Classic Rock. Dave Ling’s closing paragraph points out that their manager/mentor Laurie Mansworth (ex More and Airrace) co-wrote all of the album’s 12 songs: “Only time will confirm Roadstar’s dependence on their mentor,” says Dave. (The same issue features reviews of debut albums by The Answer 9/10, Wolfmother 9/10 and, er, Towers Of London 8/10. You could be forgiven for thinking that there is a rock revival.)
Later that year: Roadstar are voted Best New Band at the second Classic Rock Roll of Honour. They are buzzing, having suspected that Wolfmother would take it – but support slots with Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Thunder, Status Quo, Meat Loaf, Nickelback and The Darkness have won over the CR readers. There is much drinking. The night ends with Classic Rock, The Answer, Roadstar and Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman wandering the streets of Mayfair howling at the moon and looking for more booze. (Jaz drunkenly offers to write a monthly column for Classic Rock. “What would you write about?” we ask. “I dunno,” ponders Jaz. “How about how [names an incredibly famous rock star] always [describes something incredibly illegal]?” Er, maybe not.)
2007: Their second album Glass Mountain is released in April. A week later, the band announce that they are splitting up. It turns out there is some sort of falling out with manager Mansworth. Neither side really dishes the dirt. Later it turns out that the band intend to carry on alone. A respected ‘industry insider’ later tells CR how he’s offered them advice/help but he doesn’t know if they’ll take it. “It could go either way with those boys,” he says.
2008: Chris Rivers, the band’s drummer, gets in touch by email and says they’d like to drop in to our office and say hello next time they’re in town. A few days later I get a call from reception at CR Towers. “There’s some people here to see you,” says Tanya in reception. “They look like a band”. Indeed they do. The five members troop up the office, all eyeliner and black suits and leather trousers, and – standing in the middle of the office between CR and Metal Hammer – play us a couple of things they’ve been working on. They sound fucking great. “I think that the best stuff they’ve ever done,” says Geoff Barton when they’ve gone. Despite our initial reservations about their new name, Heaven’s Basement (derived from initial rehearsals in singer Richie Heavanz’s basement), it’s game on.
2009: So here we are. They’re still unsigned. (Maybe one day we’ll persuade them to sign with our own Powerage records). They’re still the hardest working new band in the UK. They’ve just announced a whole load of dates. They still need haircuts. And they’d like you to hear one of their new tracks. We think you’ll like it. Because five years on, it’s still refreshing to hear a band so obviously in love with big choruses and dirty riffs…