interview with Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics

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Have any of you played in other bands? Each of us have all played in various bands over the years, Kev [Hickman] used to play for a rockband called RavenEye, Tom [McCarthy] used to play for Never Means Maybe/Villains and I used to play for an outfit called Heaven's Basement.

How is it that you started playing music? As a kid I was obsessed with musical theatre, not in a way that would make people uncomfortable to witness, but to me, the melodies and classical movements of the orchestra's really stood out. It's definitely something that still inspires some of the movements I put into music today. Freddie Mercury (on the front of rock music) was my first real obsession as a growing rock vocalist, his relationship with his audience, his modest wit was something I appreciated and was definitely inspired by.  Moving into the metal world, I think it's quite hard not to appreciate the grit of early Slipknot, in a way, it's basically musical theatre on the polar opposite end of the scale to what I enjoyed as a child. Corey (Taylor) is one of the few people out there that can hold 70,000 people in the palm of his hand; if you can't commend or admire that, we're on two very different pages. 

What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you?

Kev Hickman, Drums. 

Chris Guyatt, Bass

Tom McCarthy, Guitar stage right

Laurie Buchanan, Guitar stage left

Aaron Buchanan, Vocals

Ages? You guess...

Have you had other previous members? The band is fresh out of the packet, Laurie and I bought together this group only last year and it's going really well so no signs of a change up yet!

Did you make music even when you were young? Laurie started playing guitar around 5 I think, I probably picked up vocals around the same age. We argued like cat and mouse when we were kids, but we have a totally level playing field with music. We're very open minded with it, and we know what sound we enjoy producing even in various genres; I know that sentence is a little hard to understand, but it makes sense to us!

Where are you from? We're a London based collective.

What year did the band form? The Cult Classics formed in 2016 off the back of The Man With Stars On His Knees album that Laurie, James Curtis Thomas, Ryan Woods and myself put together in late 2015, early 2016.

What's your style of genre? Let's just keep it simple. The Cult Classics are a rock band.

What inspires you? As a writer I live a pretty adventurous life. I spend a lot of time travelling, a lot of time meeting people, a lot of time drinking and doing things I shouldn't do, but all in all, just making sure that my life is never at a stand still. The past few years have been tough, I wasn't happy for quite a few years and the good thing about stress is that over time it just builds a great canvas of ideas. In the moment, life is horrible, but looking back at it, you find new ways of expressing things.

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? In my experience, labels no matter how big or small come and go. They're the most inconsistent and often least driven or helpful liability most bands can get involved with. There are labels out there that do great things, but they're few and far between. To put this into perspective, Sony BMG don't even sign bands unless they're already earning six figure sums of money. Most labels have no interest in investment unless there's immediate return, bands always need to remember that before they sign away their music. 

What made you decide to make this music? I was furiously pissed off and needed to vent. This album is ten songs of nuclear fire-rain. 

Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? I took ideas from music I had written over a few years, I wrote the lyrics and co-produced the record alongside my longest friend and producer James Curtis-Thomas, my sibling Laurie Buchanan and guitar wizard Ryan Woods. 

Do you start with the music or the lyrics? I mess around with various instruments, for my demo's I programme drums (I played drums to a reasonable calibre as a kid) and I play a little guitar  - enough at east to convey the way I envision the songs to shape up for a full production. Recently however, I find my self starting songs with bass-lines or drum grooves. Sometimes guitar is an over-rated instrument - but don't tell that to the tens of millions of people who play the same pentatonic scale for fourty years that...

Do you compose in a certain environment? I'm quite a bedroom dweller, I like producing in comfort.

Have you done any covers live? The band have covered both Love Of My Life by Queen and Creep by Stone Temple Pilots.

What language do you sing in? I'm an English singer - don't worry Sweden, you language is safe from me, I wouldn't know where to start.

What ages are most of your concert attendants? The good thing about this album and my work prior to this is that I've acquired a lot of followers, friends and fans of all ages, races and creeds. I think that's why rock music is one of the most enjoyable genres of music out there for people, it brings people together. 

Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? I wanted to do a band that shook sets up every night. We like to surprise our audience, no show is ever the same.

Do you have a regular place you play live often? I think my most regular residency is at Download Festival. This year will be the fourth time that I have played at it and the sixth time I have been in total. It's a great place full of great music.

What was your first gig like? The first gig as a band was as to be expected, a little rocky and underwhelming however over the course of the tour everything gelled exceptionally well. We're sticklers for great tone, great performance and generally great execution of our art, if there wasn't fire in me to create something worth people being a part of, I would have laid my hat down after Heaven's Basement. I'm fighting for bands that play without backing tracks, bands that play with disregard to what the latest scene is, bands that play from the heart. If you have nothing to write about, put your pen down and go and do something that will give you something to write about - don't just write another cheap song with lines like "Wave your hands in the air" just to fill out an already limited-by-lack-of-inspiration EP - I'm sick of that shit. Live your life, and live for your songs.

What was your latest gig? The most recent song show was at Hard Rock Hell in Wales - it was an astounding evening. The band played like I had never seen them play like before, they were on fire and I fed off that. The audience built and built, we were playing to a packed room that didn't quite realise what was going on, neither did we. It was the first show where we came off and had solidified our bond as a group of musicians. 

Have you had to cancel a gig? In my history, only once. I had to cancel the biggest headline tour I had ever been a part of three weeks into a six week stint. Thing is, linking back to labels and stuff, I had been forced to tour for two and a half years solid without a break - I could barely speak, I had blown every capillary in my throat to shreds, my larynx looked like a blood bath behind the skin when I went to Harley Street to get a diagnosis. Rock music is music of extreme conviction; I don't hit those high notes without bending the rules of technique to breaking point. Rock music breaks every fucking rule there is when it comes to technique, you sing from the soul or you walk off the stage forgotten by the end of the evening. 

Where do you plan to gig the coming year? The band will be seen across the UK and Europe with highlights at Download Festival, Ramblin Man Fair, Camden Rocks Festival and Wildfire Festival

When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale?

Please follow this link, support the campaign for the release of The Man With Stars On His Knees:

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? I think downloads and stream websites are killing every rock musicians career but it doesn't stop anybody from producing music. Music will live far longer than the ideology of the career it's supposed to give us.

How do you think the music industry have changed because of this? Not long from now I expect people will "rent" music or subscribe to musicians and bands channels to get the content. When the subscription is up, the music wont be available to them. Of course, the web is bigger than our universe, there will always be places people will be able to download it, but I can see it becoming far more limited as time goes by.

How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business? I'm not a human that expects help from anyone, I just appreciate whatever comes. I believe that those who expect the most often deserve the least, so I live with hope, but not expectation. The Cult Classics appreciate your interest in the band, thankyou.

Do you have any role models or idols? They're few and far between and I could go on for a long time about them because the ones I choose mean a lot to me, but i'll keep it simple: I worked alongside a very good tour manager, he instilled a lot of inspiration in me both as a musician and as a human. He is the best of the best.

Why do you think that they exist? I read a great piece of philosophy recently that in simple terms basically said: "To understand what life is, you must live through every set of eyes". I believe anybody that can help me the way that guy did has considerably wider eyes than myself. Certainly something to aspire to.

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today? The question is totally subjective. It depends on how you feel at the time and what inspires you. I take a little piece of everything, I have no favourite kind of music - I just appreciate that people make it for us to enjoy.

What have been your biggest obstacles? I think having come off the road for an extended period of time after being there for years on end was a huge obstacle. You go from a very busy schedule to not knowing what to do with your self; that feeling definitely played a part in the way I felt during the production of The Man With Stars On His Knees. I'm not a human that likes to stand still.

What advice would you give other bands or artists? Play what you believe in and fuck everything else. Don't allow your music to be watered down by opinions. Play what is true to you because the day you don't is the day you stop enjoying it and you'll hit a brick wall.

How do you get psyched for a gig? These days have the occasional beer and sit with the band warming up and generally psyching each other up. I'm over the days when I used to live the perfect tour life, my life will be too short to continue trying to be "perfect". 

Do you have any new material? Go buy the album! The Man With Stars On His Knees!

What are your web sites?

How can people reach you? Please feel free to post on any of our socials, we enjoy reading and interacting.

What are your plans for the future? The band will tour internationally and hopefully over the next decade we build something that's valued by our home country and many others alike.

Do you have something to add? Thankyou for taking the time to read and remember, a beer is never finished until you've ordered the next one.

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