Jens Basten, fondator of Night In Gales as guitarist, speak about the creation of the band and about the latest news with the next album called “Ashes and Ends”. He speak as well about his other band, Gloryful.
I am doing fine, although I have to hang out the whole week at a hotelroom 300km from home for work. But tonight I found some time to answer your awesome questions for guitariste-metal.fr !, I got a cold beer, so I´m just fine. Night In Gales is doing not that much at the moment.
Let’s speak a little bit about your introduction to music, how did you fall into it ?
My elder brother Frank (also guitarist in Night In Gales) showed me all the good stuff very early in my life. I was in the 3rd level in grounding school, so I was around 9 years when wearing my first GN´R and Iron Maiden patches on my denim jacket.
What was your musician / band inspiration at this time ? What are your musician / band inspiration now ?
My first steps as a composer in my early projects was influenced by early 90ies Death Metal acts like Morbid Angel, Paradise Lost, Grave and Pestilence. The whole Melodic Death scene was coming up so I picked everything I could find what was described as melodic and heavy. But in fact it was all the „first-contact“-stuff like Helloween, Manowar, Anthrax, Maiden, W.A.S.P., GN´R, Warlock, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Cinderella and Metallica a.s.o.what really makes an influential impression for sure on me, as well as al ot of 80´s Pop like M. Jackson and some (laught). You´ll never gever rid of that.
Do you remember the first concerts you saw? And on the other side, do you have some souvenirs about your first gig? Does everything was allright as excepted ?
Yes, remember that one for sure. It was the first gig with my fist „real“ band called „Intestinal Ulcer“, the date was 02.07.1991. It took place at the big auditorium of our school. We had to do the opening slot. There was 3 more acts: Crack Up (later as well signed to Nuke), Crestfallen (the played Metallica/Anacruisis stuff, and headliners „Alice D.“ It was great and there was a big fucking curtain (which of course, as this thing was meant to be, remained closed until we started). There were around 500 people in there. Everyone we probably knew was in the crowd. It wasn´t that kind of normal HM-gig than rather kind of schools-out-event. As the curtain falled and we started the first riffs of our Doom-Death Metal. My pancreas suddenly started to tremble so heavily that I could see it! It was never the same again… The gig went out very well for our first time, I think.
How did you learn music/guitar– self-taught or lessons?
I learned to play acoustic guitar first at school. A physics-teacher was giving group-lessons. I have learned besides the basic accords as well some basic techniques in classical guitar and some standards like “The Beatles” and some others stuff. That was lasting one year I guess, it was in the 2nd level after grounding school. After that I got my first electric one and bought a used book called „Heavy Metal Guitar“by Peter Bursch, a German guy who is famous for his large amount of teaching-books. With this book I´ve tried out the very basics in hard rock and metal like power chords, palm muting, double stops, tapping, hammer-on/pull-offs, and the a-pentatonic. I bought an easy-guitar version of he „Appetite for Destruction“ songbook, but that one was real crap. The most important part of my education was the next step, when my parents paid me one year of weekly private lessons by one of the best rock-guitar players (Hansi Tietgen) in our area who was recommended by a guitar shop in our city. At this time I was 16 years old. He showed me how to play scales, solo guitar through tabs and jamming with him. We did mostly licks from Van Halen, Gilbert (Racer X), Gambale, V. Moore, and some tracks by G. Moore, Extreme, Stones and so one, he was awesome. He played a custom dark see-though blue Valley Arts Strat. He said that Steve Lukather was the best player in the world, especially regarding songwriting and harmonies. One day I asked him how long it would take, until I was ready and a real good and skilled player. He answered: “„mmmhh, another 2 years maybe..“ The problem was, that stopped taking lessons after only 1 year, because I found it way too expensive for my parents back then (but it wasn´t as I know now, haha). Whatever, I was ready to build and run a band, which was the most important thing for me.
It was a cheap and totally fucked up sunburst Paula copy. My father bought me for 20 DM on a 2nd hand market. We had to replace the whole hardware and painted it black and even then it was impossible to play something nice on that piece of jungle. My first real guitar was a black Shadow Strat with Floyd Rose. I got it by Christmas and I was so fuckin happy about that present. The Floyd Rose is a Schaller hardware, made of pure chrome Steel, it still looks like new ! Frank recorded his parts many years later on our first release Sylphlike on that guitar in 1995.
Could you please share information about how did you start to create NIGHT IN GALES ?
Me and Tobias played 3 years in another melodic death-doom before. We sounded a bit like old Paradise Lost and Amorphis and something else. The band was called Intestinal Ulcer and existed during 1991 – fall 1994. We wanted to play faster and more technical, so we did some line up-changes and started as a new band with Night In Gales between Dec 1994 and May 1995.
Why did you choose the name “NIGHT IN GALES” for the band name?
We already had some material composed but a good name was still lacking. I asked a gothic-guy (who btw is now the lead singer of the well-known dark rock band „Bloody Dead and Sexy“!) in school for a name and he immediately came up with the Eerman version of it, „Nachtigallen“. As this was a bit too cheesy and gothic-like, I tried it in English and found out that it would be way more evil to keep it with the words separated. A gale is another word for storm, Night In Gales is something like a stormy night.
I really appreciate your guitar composition, the melodies are always warm and colorful, do you have some licks in your “book” for that? What is your way to get it?
Thanks a lot. I meanwhile was told a lot of times that I got that own style of playing leads so that I believe that now as well(laughs). The secret behind it is maybe quite simple. In my opinion the main reason for your own unique style is always your limitation. I, for example, was always a bit lazy, had only 1 year of lessons, never really understood the whole music theory-thing and somehow was and still am even a bit limited in knowledge about different scales.
How do you compose songs? Do you create the “tabs” for each instrument by your own or do you do it with others NIGHT IN GALES members?
I wrote somewhat like 95% of the Night In Gales catalogue. For „Sylphlike“, „Razor“ and the first two albums, I recorded the riffs on a cassette recorder/player. I recorded some riffs or simple melodies first and then played a second guitar tot he recorded first. I always got the drumming directly in my head, when I play guitar. I cannot hear only the guitar, do you know that ? It´s always alltogether with drums in my head when I play guitar, haha. The cassette-player was replaced by Cubase SX in the late 90ies. Since „Nailwork“, I wrote every single song with that software. I always program some basic drumbeats first and then record spontaneously guitars on the drumtracks. I still try out a different second guitar (which turns out as a lead guitar-line very often) directly after that to find out if the idea is working. So I can never say if a riff was cool until I´ve tried out additional / second guitars on it. I mostly complete a song on the day it comes to hand. I don´t like to redo an already fixed arrangement or song again. I´d rather skip a song and start with a new idea.
What is your live rig / studio gears?
For the Night In Gales sound, I use a ESP LTD MH 400 FR, C-Tuning, 12-54er D-Addrio strings, with an standard EMG81 and my ENGL Powerball 2 through a original Peavey EVH 5150 4 x 12 cab. Thats it. We used Ibanez and Jackson guitars combined with original 5150 heads before that, which was cool as well. I got an Rocktron Intellifex in 1998 and used a crybaby for several years.
For Gloryful, I use my white Schecter Black Jack V-FR with active Seymour Duncan, standard E-tuning, 9-42er dean markley strings my ENGL Powerball 2 and Samson wireless systems.
Could you please share some information about your gear for each album ?
Towards The Twilight: Ibanez RG 520 lim. Edition, Jackson, Soldano Tube Head, Sans Amp
Thunderbeast: Ibanez RG 520 lim. Edition, orig. Peavey EVH 5150, Dunlop Crybaby, SPL-19“
Nailwork: Ibanez RG 520 lim. Edition, orig. Peavey EVH 5150
Necrodynamic: Ibanez RG 520 lim. Edition, orig. Peavey EVH 5150
Five Scars: ESP LTD MH 400 FR, ENGL Powerball 2, Koch Studio Edition Combo.
If you will have to give one or two words about each NIGHT IN GALES album, which words will choose to describe them one by one ?:
Towards The Twilight: still like
Thunderbeast: more hooklines
Nailwork: technical, different
Necrodynamic: wrong turn
Five Scars: our masterpiece
What is a standard guitar warm up / training for your ?
I warm up mostly with alternative picking stupid 1234, 2345, 3456 and so on, while I higher the tempo I start skipping strings and changing strings with every note (E1A2D3G4, H2G3D4A5, A2D3G4H6, E3H4G5D6, a.s.o) while keeping the fingerset the same. I usually do some sweepings and I play some riffs and solos of course. It all depends on the time that left to do the warm up, sometimes there is just enough time to have a beer…
Which advice could you provide to a new and advanced player ?
Never try to sound exactly like someone else, don´t waste time on becoming a pefectly skilled guitar hero! Build up a band as early as possible. Start a second band if the first sucks. Try to write songs on your own, learn how to program drums with Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools or a similar software. If you got a band day, don’t play guitar. Record your stuff, when you are in love with a new girl. Listen to everything Thin Lizzy recorded, listen to all Rainbow albums with Dio, listen to Dio and Iron Maiden. Avoid electronic music. Don´t put so many different styles and influences on one album. All the great successful albums sound as they was made of one piece. Don´t use drugs when you are responsible for songwriting.
On a weekly basis, how much time do you spend practicing ?
At the moment it´s due to how many days I am not at home for work, so only 0 up to 10 minutes, haha. When we are rehearsing with Gloryful, it´s 2 of playing hours per week plus the shows at the weekends. But I never did regular exercising since 15 years.
How was welcome “Five Scars” by the public ?
There was great response from fans and press, those reviews were the best we received since „Sylphlike“. In France„Metal OBS mag select our album as album of the month !. We played some big open air shows in Germany and reached many new fans. The most important point to me was nevertheless to show our old fans and friends that we are still know where we came from and we can do best.
You are active as well in “GLORYFUL” on their latest album called “Ocean Blade”, could you please share some details how did you form this band ?
Some years after Deadsoil split up, I met a guy called Johnny La Bomba. His wife knew my gilrfriend and he was living in a flat the other street. Johnny told me he loved „Towards The Twilight“ album in 1997. Some weeks later after several beers he started to tell me to do not give up and to start a new band besides Night In Gales. I´ve heard his voice when we did a Wii Rockband session, and I knew then that this guy had the balls you need. After he told me to go alone to a Manowar gig, we tried out some true metal stuff and it was a lot of fun and worked very well. My brother Frank always told me that one day we will met the right singer, we should go for real heavy metal, cause that´s the root for our melodic style and that´s what counts most in our lives. Johnny sounds very unique; he´s got that special 80ies-stadion Rock vibe in his throat. Listen to „Cradle Of Heroes“ and you will know what I mean…
Besides that, what is your “primary band”, is it NIGHT IN GALES or GLORYFUL ?
Even if Night In Gales will maybe always be the most important band in my career, I am way more active nowadays with my new band Gloryful. We just released our second album and there´s a lot more to expect from this act in the future.
The latest NIGHT IN GALES album has been released at the end of 2011. Do you plan to record a new album soon ? WHEN ?
The next release will be a rare & demo compilation called „Ashes And Ends“, released by U.S.-based Divebomb Records. It will contain 23 tracks including all our early recordings as well as cover versions, promo-tape recordings and Japan bonus tracks. There will be liner notes and a lot of rare footage in the booklet as well. Besides that we will write new stuff. If the material will turn out worth a release, the record will be recorded with our former singer Christian Müller.
What was the biggest success / sales for NIGHT IN GALES ?
In relation to our position, our Demo CD Sylphlike“ (1995) was the biggest success, as we sold around 7000 copies (incl. wholesales and trades), which is sensational for a unsigned death metal band. Later, as we got signed by Nuclear Blast Records, „Towards The Twilight“ and „Thunderbeast“ sold the most copies. I think „Thunderbeast“ was sold a bit better than „Towards…“. But even if we were on good chart-positions with its selling nowadays, these albums didn´t sold enough to fulfill the expectations Nuclear Blast had back then.
On the other side, what do you regrets? The first album “Towards the Twilight” was released in 97, from Nuclear Blast and was well welcomed. Why do you think you were not able to go on the first rank like some the Swedish band? Does the “pressure” from the Swedish Melo Death was too strong ? It’s really sad to see a so good band as NIGHT IN GALES not so know all over the globe.
I fully regret those heavy style changes that was made with „Nailwork“ and „Necrodynamic“. Back then, we was pissed of being compared all the time only with In Flames, Dark Tranquility and At The Gate. It was handled by the German press like something that isn´t as good as the Swedish acts, and we for sure went a little bit too much „out of this world“. It was like a big long lasting party and there was one point when we lost our focus. We thought that all our fans would follow us and that the people wants us to be more original…
Speaking about “Towards the Twilight” album, have you been inspired by the Swedish scene like AT THE GATE / IN FLAMES / DARK TRANQUILITY or even ABLAZE MY SORROW ?
Of course we studied those bands. I remember me saying back then many times, that the old school death metal becomes more and more boring and that there has to be a way out by integrating more Iron Maiden / Lizzy Twin leads into it. Besides those bigger bands that survived it was mainly Eucharist, Xysma,Dissection, early Therion album, My Dying Bride and Anathema. We were heavily involved in the worldwide underground trading scene, and yes, I was trading shit with Ablaze My Sorrow as well as with Abyssos, A Carnerous Quintet a.m.o.
But I am sure we sounded always a bit different from the Swedish acts, which is because we are luckily not from Sweden, haha.
Does NIGHT IN GALES will be on tour this year ?
No, as we will concentrate on writing a new record first of all. It could easily take another two years until we will return to the stage with that new album.
With which band would you like to be on a tour ?
Iron Maiden, they are simply the biggest influence and the most important band in life.
What do you think about the German melo death metal scene and the status of this music style all over the world ? Do you see some general improvement since the 90’ ?
I don´t really see any good improvement in that style. The best years for melodic death metal releases were 1991 – 1997. After that there wasn´t any important album bringing something new or cool to the table. I didn´t like so much what happened with it in Finland (Children of Bodom -Cloning with Keyboards) or inside the Metalcore-scene, those guys play jsut simplified At The Gates riffs without soul. You know, in the beginning of it, melodic death metal was not meant to be some sort of softer death metal for girls…
The best band from Germany doing the real melodic death nowadays is HARASAI from Essen, they got two fantastic albums out, be sure to check them out soon.
Do you have a last word for the Grench reader or guitarist-metal.fr ?
I want to send greetings to every Night In Gales-Fan out there, especially in France. We played Paris with Dismember in 1998, Lyon and Toulouse with Gorgototh and Old Mans Child in 1999. Maybe someone of you was at one of these shows. It would be a pleasure to return one day!
Thanks Jens to have answers to this bunch of question. I leave the last word to you if you want to add anything.
Get in touch on Facebook and check out our merchandise store at bandcamp. There´s some rare old stuff left in stock. If you like some good old heavy- and power metal, visit www.gloryful.net. Cheers, keep metal alive by visiting the smaller shows, by buying records and band shirts.
NIGHT IN GALES
Site Web : http://www.night-in-gales.com/
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