It’s often said that a change does you the world of good and Aaron Buchanan is testament to that old adage. The singer is taking it to the next level having formed Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics last year and launched a superb debut album last month.
The London five-piece, completed by Laurie Buchanan and Tom McCarthy (guitars), Chris Guyatt (bass) and Kev Hickman (drums), was formed after Aaron left previous band Heaven’s Basement and went in search of something that would reinvigorate his passion for music.
As Aaron very candidly tell us: “It involved me leaving a dead horse of a band that had been trying to flog itself for years under various names and members. There’s only so many times you can bleed yourself dry of passion for something before you have to call it quits and move on; that’s exactly what happened.
“I was dry, I needed to remember what enthusiasm was, I needed to feel positive energy and the path to self healing is the most important. If you can’t take control of your own life, nobody can help you. I picked up a flag and started flying it because it was that or finish myself off. I don’t give up without a good fight, if anything it’s the fight that I live for; nobody said this whole thing would be easy but that’s why I chose it – the challenge reinvented my purpose.”
The change certainly seems to have done wonders for Aaron, The Cult Classics released debut album The Man With Stars On His Knees at the end of May and he seems pretty happy with how it’s gone. He told us: “It blows anything I have done previously totally out of the water. It was designed, created and musically painted by a group of perfectionists that understand that sometimes, a stroke with the wrong brush is the thing that gives a piece of art the quality of beauty.
“The album is not what a label or what many producers would tell you is perfection, but that is why we love it – it bows to no authority. As for differences from anything I did with Heaven’s Basement, this album has been described by many as a step forward, a reinvention and a much needed step forward. Listen to it, make your own decision.”
We did listen to it, and it’s a superb album that sets the bar for others following in The Cult Classics’ wake. The album draws on classic rock influences like Stone Temple Pilots, Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam and Aaron’s love of Queen and Freddie Mercury among others – so as you can imagine it’s big on energy, hooky guitar riffs and huge vocals.
Lead single from the album, All The Things You’ve Said and Done, comes in after a short intro track and introduces us to the band in impressive style. A repeated riff and driving drums lead us into a chorus of catchy vocals that ends in a cry of “I’m sick of it, sick of it yeah” and jumps straight into a big chorus. The pace is unrelenting as it flies straight into a second chorus and builds into an intense ending. Check it out in the video below:
Next up Dancin’ Down Below is equally big and rocky, opening up with lone vocals then a big smash of guitars with a big cry of “Dig your grave as you dance with the devil” followed by a screechy mini-guitar solo. A really catch verse follows with mini call and answer sections between vocals and guitar screeches, leading into a singalong chorus with big guitar chords in support and ending again on “Dig your grave as you dance with the devil.” Check it out in the video below:
The devil theme continues in The Devil That Needs You, which opens up with a cool guitar riff and infectious vocals through the verse. The hard-hitting rockiness continues in masses, with a really fun bridge with big low guitar riff and screechy guitar noises.
Journey Out Of Here changes up the style a little, sounding a bit more anthemic with much more laid back vocals, while A God Is No Friend opens up with a delicious guitar lick that drifts into a laid back opening verse dominated by Aaron’s impressive – almost Cornell-like – vocal delivery.
Next up, Left Me For Dead opens up with a great blast of guitars then a return to the fast-paced, intense opening vocals of the breathless start to the album, with rolling guitar riffs in support. The vocal blitz is broken up with a funky guitar solo then a big rendition of the chorus brings it to an end with a big cry of “Yeah!” to close out.
Morals? brings the album to an excellent ending, opening with a building guitar riff that drops out suddenly to be replaced by palm-muted guitars and Aaron’s flowing vocals that lead into a big singalong chorus. Big guitars kick in as the vocals become more intense, which is taken a level further in the big rock-out after the second chorus followed by a big guitar solo to take the album out in style.
Aaron tells us the reception in the last month has been fantastic: “The response has been off the chart. None of The Cult Classics realised quite how in demand an album like this was and it has instilled total faith in each of us that doing things our own way was the right way. No label, no go-to producer, nothing; just four musicians who happened to be friends for many years prior, in a room producing music with passion, intent and meaning to prove that there’s still life in the rock music industry, it’s just not being invested in, advertised or promoted by anyone who has the power to do so.
Not only is their music really fun to listen to, but Aaron’s approach is really engaging. He told us: “I don’t write music and I won’t write music unless I feel I have something to write about. I’m very particular about how, when and why I write. Unless there is good reason to entertain somebody’s ears there is no reason to churn out less than desirable music. Music is an art, there’s no reason to keep shoving it in people’s faces just for your own ego on the front of fame.
“I live by the less is more approach; to put this into perspective I wrote over 50 songs for this album – ten made it because ten songs summed up everything I wanted to say in a neat but heavily explosive lyrical and musical package. Some people could call my choices musical suicide, I call them art and I care not what the ‘big bad wolf’ says when he knocks at my door now and then. I’ve got that bitch by the balls and he knows it, try as he might, I’m in control now.”
Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics have a few upcoming gigs including the Ramblin Man Fair in Maidstone on July 29 and will be on the road in September, so there’s plenty more coming from them shortly. You can find all their upcoming gigs here. As Aaron says: “This whole thing gets bigger, better and more exciting every day.”