Man, aren't those silly, ironic, retro bands that play up the glam-metal '80s just the worst? It's like, when is a band going to come along and drop another debut that just kicks the rock world's ass? The jury's still figuring out if Filthy Empire, the debut from British rockers HEAVEN'S BASEMENT, will make much of a dent in today's musical climate or have any long-lasting effect, but, man, right here right now it sounds great.
"We couldn’t be happier with the way it came out," says drummer Chris Rivers. "Our aim was to create a debut album as good as Appetite For Destruction and Rage Against The Machine's first album. We like to set the bar pretty high for ourselves, and you never get a second chance at doing your debut album, so we put our blood, sweat, and tears in doing the best job we could."
When I tell Rivers that listening to Filthy Empire (which follows up two EPs) reminds me of the albums I used to obsess over in my walkman while my parents were driving in the car, he says that the '80s, surprisingly, weren't that influential of a decade for the band. Instead, they reach back further, which perhaps adds another layer of cool to these guys.
"There are some bands like G n' R and Aerosmith that we take influence from in that decade, but we mainly grew up learning songs by all the great British bands of the '60s and '70s"
To me, the album captures that classic high-energy rock vibe but not in a hokey way, like most bands today when they try to do it. It seems more real, raw, no irony, no gimmick, just guys who actually love hard rock. Turns out, the biggest cliche of all applies here: it just came down to getting the band's live vibe preserved on tape.
"I think the most important thing was capturing our live show in the studio," says Rivers. "When we’re on stage there’s always that element of danger where anything can happen and that’s what makes us an exciting live band; if you see us two nights in a row you’d see two different performances."
And then I have to go and mention WARRANT. But, look, as I say to Rivers, songs like 'Can't Let Go' just remind me of the pop innocence that certain hard rock bands had back in the '80s. Or, as I put it to the drummer, "like Warrant pumped up with some balls and some modern sounds." Anyway, the good man throws us a curveball and says that he's not really familiar with Jani Lane and crew.
"I’ve never really listened to Warrant so that’s a tricky one (laughs), but what we do is a fresh take on old school rock 'n' roll, so I guess that’s kind of an accurate description. We take elements from loads of classic bands but we don’t want to sound retro or throwback; we’ve put our own twist on that sound."