Dan Swanö interview (NIGHTINGALE, WHITERSCAPE, EDGE OF SANITY, BLOODBATH)

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Dan Swanö (WHITERSCAPE, NIGHTINGALE,EDGE OF SANITY, BLOODBATH, PAN-THY-MONIUM, etc…) talks about guitars and his gear and about NIGHTINGALE as well.

dan_swanoHi Dan, how are you and what about your projects (NIGHTINGALE, WITHERSCAPE) ?

NIGHTINGALE is doing just fine. New album out and we just played a really good gig in Oberhausen as headliner with GLORYFUL and MOTORJESUS as support. WITHERSCAPE album number 2 is in the works, and so far 6 tracks out of 10 have been completed guitar and bass-wise. Turning out fantastic!

How can you describe your music to someone who doesn’t know it ?

It’s pretty tough since NIGHTINGALE have changed a lot over the years. Perhaps Pomp/A.O.R. flavoured Classic Rock with a scent of dark heavy metal in parts…

How do you write a song ? In NIGHTINGALE or other projects

I usually collect my various riffs and vocal ideas on my mobile phone and every now and then I empty it onto my harddrive and then after I have a decent amount of ideas, I try to sort them into NIGHTINGALE, WITHERSCAPE or SECOND SKY or maybe even some more death metal styled thing. Once there’s enough in the NIGHTINGALE folder, I try to sort out what the stuff is. A verse, a chorus, solo backing!?? Once all pieces are found, in a similar tempo and key, I begin to turn it into a song. A really annoying process sometimes. But usually rewarding in the end 😉

Now let’s speak about the guitar. Tell us more about the discovering of that instrument and you beginner’s times ?

I am a drummer at heart and these days I am playing the drums more often. I had a break between 2000 and around 2008, but now I even have a kit set up at all times around the studio so I can “feel” the ideas on real drums, rather than problem.
My guitarplaying started when the keyboarder in my old band GHOST decided to switch to guitar. Then I felt a need to still be able to write songs, so my guitarplaying got a bit more serious. I held the guitar upsidedown from an early age and, I saw no need to learn right handed or even with the strings in the “proper order” so I just played how it felt natural.
I also wrote all of the EDGE OF SANITY stuff on an old Sigma nylon acoustic,and around 1991  of a guitar player 🙂 And once NIGHTINGALE became a real band I was definitely a guitarist 🙂

What were your influences or musical heroes at that time ? And now, are they still the same ?

My real musical awakening was around the time I was 10. My first heroes were KISS and later JUDAS PRIEST. I also listened a lot to my brothers mix tapes of the more mainstream material from bands like Asia, Kansas, Gentle Giant, Santana, Mike Oldfield, Genesis and more.
Later on I got into thrash, and then death metal, but also, at the same time, the more advanced stuff from gentle giant, genesis and and also really commercial stuff like FM, Richard Marx and stuff like that.I just took it all in from all corners. Harder, softer, more evil, more sappy 🙂
Then around the summer of 1990 I discovered MARILLION with Steve Hogarth and I just love those first albums with Steve.Not many new influences have found its way into my writing. SPOCKS BEARD, GIANT are 2 that comes to mind, that I found a bit later on.

dan swano
Talking about gear, can you talk about the evolution of it ? From the beginning until now . Maybe do you have an endorsement ?

The first guitar I owned was an Ibanez Blazer. It was totally messed up by a bunch of previous owners.
At one point an assistant engineer at Unisound installed a Tokai PAF clone humbucker in it and that was pretty much the setup until I gave it to my son some years ago. We used that for a lot of albums, not for the 1st NIGHTINGALE, because I had just bought Mike Åkerfeldts old Yamaha RGX something and used it for that one. But for the second and third my partswere recorded with that old baby blue (!!) Blazer.

A lot of bands I recorded in the studio also borrowed the Blazer when their own, expensive and “cool” guitars just didn’t work with thicker strings, or there was a “jumbo fret” problem.

I have had so many “rigs” since the start of NIGHTINGALE that it is spooky.

The first album, “The Breathing Shadow” was recorded with a Boss MT-2 and a Boss Half Rack PingPong delay into a Samson Power amp into a Vintage Marshall 4×12 (Straight)
The second, “The Closing Chronicles“, was recorded with a Korg A1 rack into the same power and cab as the 1st one. My brothers parts and rhythms for some tracks, was a Marshall JCM800 50W Lead and the Marshall Cab
For the “I” album I believe it was all JCM800 and Marshall Cab for the rhythm distorted and a TC Electronic G Major for the cleans.I believe I did some stuff with the Blazer and some with my BC Rich ST-3 with EMG’s
Alive Again” was recorded at SoundLab and I used their in-house Marshall JCM900 head and probably a normal angled Marshall JCM 4×12″. I used an EBS multi comp between git and amp to even out my very dynamic guitar playing. It is split band, so the 3 bass and treble string of the guitar each have their own compression. Worked really good!

My guitar was a Maverick this time. I got a good deal on it and the volume/tone knobs were at the height of the guitar body, so I didn’t have to remove them.I had the pick ups changed, the neck re-fretted twice…maybe it would have been better to buy a new guitar 😉

My brother used the same amp setup and I guess he used his Ibanez Blazer and for one track we used the Fender 12 string Strat.It tuned like an ass, so we could only use it for open chords. All acoustics were done on a 12 string Simon & Patrick guitar. It was the only guitar I could find in an entire music shop that didn’t have an annoying buzz on the low E, third fret.
Best 12 strings I ever played and I was so buying it, until I came back from my holiday and it was gone !

For “Invisible” I still had the Maverick and we used the in-house Engl Savage 120 with a vintage Marshall cab (not the one used on the other albums) and for the clean guitars we used a Koch combo. Dag played his brown wonder, the Blazer of doom!
For the “Nightfall Overture” album, all guitars are VSTi’s (GuitarRig 2) and I still had the Maverick as main guitar here. Probably the Blazer for my brother’s stuff as usual 😉
White darkness” : The amp was a Mesa Triple Rectifier with the big Mesa 4×12″ cab. Some parts had a Ibanez Tube Screamer also. I know we used my Squier barytone for low tuned some stuff, but my guitars!?? No idea. I know I had bought a Gibson SG around this time and I may have used that one or my BC or the Maverick.No idea.
For “Retribution” I used my custom Warmoth/True Temperament guitar and Dag used a Gibson Les Paul. Fender Strat and Tele…and I believe the Blazer was taken out of retirement and used for “Chasing the storm….” 🙂

The guitar sound is WAVES CLA Guitars and TSE stuff with Kalthallen IR cabs. I have used anything from really light picks to really heavy and everything in between.
Currently I use around 1 mm Dunlops. But I love the sound of a stone pick I got from my step son, but it is killing the strings like nothing else!

Wow ! Is it the same gear in studio than in a live situation?

For me..never 🙂 Some of the things I have played through live, from the beginning of the rehearsal times, until now are :
Peavey 5150 mk1, Mesa Caliber 50+ combo, Hughes and Kettner Tube 100, Yamaha DG Stomp, Zoom 505 MkII (x3 switched between them with a Whirwind 4 way switch) Boss GT5, Digitech GNX2, Boss GX700, Roland VG99, Roland VG8, Mesa Rectifier Mini with a Radial analog chorus sx2, Tech21 BoostDLA and now the Digitech RP360XP + stuff (see picture)

dan_swano_gears1. Headphone amp for click track for me and the drummer. Tom!
2. Korg DT tuner
3. A/B box. We use a Lehle clone splitter to put Dag guitars /straight out of the guitar) into my rig as well
for all the passages I cannot sing and play simultaneously. A great way to always have a good balance between the gits.
4. Digitech thing. Sound 1 is Rhythm, Sound 2 is Lead Sound 3 is clean. One bank per song. I base my sound on the
Digitech Grunge pedal. Sounds pretty awesome when inserted into the power amp of a good tube amp.
The sound always sucks ass on stage any way, so this time around I gave more thought for portability than shipping
sensitive tube amps around..
5. Pedal to start our backing track in the laptop I have right to the pedals. We use ShowPlay6.
6. ülgnor audio Custom box to turn the right channel of the backing tracks (click) to both ears.
7. Whirlwind DI box for the backing tracks.
8. bank switch for the digitech
9. fuel tank chameleon. excellent thing!

I use a way to expensive straight to angled TRS guitar cable from Klotz along with a headphone cable with a Sennheiser volume control-adapter for the click.
And my in ears are homemade. I use silicon earplugs and stripped an ear bud from a sony in-ear and for the first time, I hear the sound “of the world” the same when I sing and when I don’t.

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Dan, you are the owner of the Unisound Studio. How is it to be behind the desk ? Do you see some details the band cannot see ?

I am no longer recording bands. Stopped doing that for a living in 1997 and I don’t miss it one bit.
I am only mixing and mastering and I love doing it…all alone and let the details being sorted out through the internet 🙂
When it comes to what I “saw” in the past…well, it was mostly about trying to convince bands that their choice of pedals, amps etc., we’re not really suitable for recording. It may sound awesome at 120 dB in the reh. room..for for recording…not so much 😉

What kind of advices can you give to a young/beginner metal guitarist ?

Make sure you get a good grip on your timing and your tuning. Make sure to get a hold of a good guitar as early as possible but it doesn’t mean it has to cost 10000€ but something that doesn’t force you to develop a strange technique just because the guitar is a bitch to play.

Any tips for the warm up before recording/live/rehearsal ?

Not really. Never really do that 😉

What is the future with NIGHTINGALE / your differents bands ?

For NIGHTINGALE, well no idea. Hopefully play some more shows then slowly start thinking about another album perhaps. WITHERCAPE is top priority for me at the moment I have to deliver a top notch product in August and time flies….

Now it’s time to end this interview, if I forgot something, it’s time for you to tell what you want.

Thanks for your interest in NIGHTINGALE and beyond 🙂

NIGHTINGALE

Website : http://www.nightingale.at/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/nightingalesweden?fref=ts

WHITERSCAPE

Website : http://www.witherscape.com/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/witherscape?fref=ts

EDGE OF SANITY (no longer active)

Thanks to Geoffroy Lagrange and Desolate !

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