NIGHT IN GALES is an old and beloved band of the Melodic Death Metal scene. Although they originate from Germany, they have pioneered in the rise of the extreme-melodic sound. On the following days, they are about to release their new album entitled “Dawnlight Garden”. With this opportunity, we had the pleasure to talk with one of their founding members, the guitarist Jens Basten, who talked to us about everything …
– Hello Jens! Happy to have you in our web magazine! First of all, congratulations for your new album! Please give us some information about the “Dawnlight Garden”. It is expected to be released on July 2020! Where was it recorded and what are the differences comparing to your previous release?
Jens: Thanks Alex. “Dawnlight Garden” will be dropped July 24th by Apostasy Records. It contains 11 songs and the playing time is 41 minutes. Besides the regular digipak CD and digital format, it will be available in 4 different limited edition gatefold vinyls and a wooden box set including a colored vinyl, a patch and a poster with autographs and stuff, so we are very happy with our label and how strongly they support and promote our album.
We recorded all vocals, guitars and bass for “Dawnlight Garden” on our own in my little “metal4metal” home recording studio. The drums were recorded at Studio141 by Roger Grüniger, the drum edit was done by Robin Mussmann at Boombox studio. Dan Swanö mixed and mastered the album. Costin Chioreanu was onboard for the artwork and layout. So, except for the vocal recordings, it was the same team we had for “The Last Sunsets”. Compared to that one, it turned out a bit heavier and brutal. All in all it is the most slap-in-the-face album we ever did!
– What are your influences regarding the lyrics? Is it every-day life and its problems or religious and spiritual matters? Is there a lyrical concept at “Dawnlight Garden” and does the cover have to do with it or is it just a nice picture?
Jens: I took over the lyrics part after Björn left. I prefer dark and chaotic Death Metal lyrics for Death Metal music, maybe I put some personal stuff here and there, but that’s probably hard to filter for someone else. The topic is similar to the previous album, “The Last Sunsets”, but the overall concept for “Dawnlight Garden” is even more simple: It is all about the end of things, about death this time. So, it works as the next logical step after the previous album, “The Last Sunsets”. Costin had only the album’s pre-production and the lyrics of the title track as a direction to create the “Dawnlight Garden” illustration. Besides this, he had no guidelines or ideas from us. It turned out just perfect. Costin transferred nearly all of the lyrics and the general mood the song delivers into elements/forms. So, it is a nice picture, but its 100% fed by the music and song text itself. So be sure that there is full dedication here.
– In the past you had big intermissions between your releases. However, your last two albums had just two years of difference between them. Are you planning to keep this short breaks and release albums more frequently?
Jens: Yes, it is way easier now than what it was in the past 20 years, as we now have a clear and most importantly a common vision of what the band should sound like and how we can archive this. As I have taken over the songwriting alone, we don’t have to rehearse and discuss each tiny detail, I can compose and record the stuff in my own home recording studio, and so on, all this makes it easier than in the past. If no unforeseen shit happens in the next few years, I think more albums will follow, yeah why not…
– How did the fans react to “The Last Sunsets”? Did it have the acceptance you were expecting? Almost two years have passed since then. Would you change anything in it, alter it in any way?
Jens: Fans’ reactions were overall great. We didn’t expect them that good, nope. As for our new album “Dawnlight Garden”, I can say that we didn’t change anything since the previous one, except from having many guest vocalists. We have pure melodeath sound here again! I have a feeling that this one is a bit heavier and darker than the last one. Some songs are more elaborately structured and Adriano has put a lot more blast beats and hyper speed double bass this time!
– Tell me about your experience recording and mainly mixing/mastering an album with Dan Swano. When you decided to record your new album, was he the first name that came up to your mind? Was it easy to communicate with him?
Jens: “Dawnlight Garden” is actually the 3rd album we did with Dan, and I have done 2 albums with my Heavy Metal band Gloryful as well with him, so there are obviously good reasons why we do so, haha! Dan is completely down to earth and so easy to communicate and agree on things with, which is so important to get things done in a satisfying time frame. I am a big fan since he released all those jewels with EDGE OF SANITY and PAN-THY-MONIUM, so it is really an honor to have him on board. We often reach the basic sound set up for an album within 2 days, no stress, no big discussion.
– Back in 2011 you had released the “5 Scars” album, after having a 10-year intermission (concerning full length albums). And then, you had another seven years of absence before releasing “The Last Sunsets” in 2018. Do you feel that you have evolved since your previous albums? Do you believe there are significant differences between those two albums?
Jens: Well, yes somehow. But the step forward is more like two steps back to our roots, which is melodic Death Metal, the old school way, like back in the days ’91 – ’95 when the whole thing started and reached its peak very fast. I personally don’t dig many albums after ’95, so why do different stuff than those you like & do best? The most important reason for the change that took place is that Björn left the band after touring for “5 Scars”, it was part of his plan to do this as his farewell album and start some new projects. When it was certain that Chris would return, we all knew what the direction for the future should be: straight & old school melodeath, no compromise, no modern elements, no crossover testing, and so on.
So, the main difference between those 2 albums is the different singers. We skipped the whole clean singing parts and 2000-style stuff on “The Last Sunsets”. The production is heavier and the whole thing comes way harsher & more brutal.
– NIGHT IN GALES were many years out of the metal “business”. Why did these lengthy breaks occur? Where there problems with managers and record labels or was it just your own decision to stay out of it?
Jens: Yes, there were problems with managers and record labels, haha! I will try to sum it up a bit: since 1998 we made some, from today’s perspective, fatal decisions by changing style and the image of the band. The result was decreasing sales so we got dropped from Nuclear. We went even stranger with the next album on Massacre Records, so things went even worse. As Chris (former drummer) left, we needed a break to set a new focus, find new drummer, do promo recordings and find a new record deal. Some of us started concentrating on new bands and projects (BLOODRED BACTERIA, DEADSOIL, IN BLACKEST VELVET, GRIND INC.) meanwhile, and as the companies’ offerings were not good enough, it took some more time than we expected.
– Talking about Nuclear Blast, you had a contract with them and great potential to reach the highest levels as a band. Have you reached the point you were dreaming? Are you satisfied from your career as a band till now?
Jens: We had some chances but some shit went out of hand because we changed our direction way too early after “Thunderbeast” was released. I am not so satisfied with the developments between 1999 – 2010, but, since then, we found our path again I would say that now we are in a good condition to release some more nice melodic Death Metal albums.
– Which one do you consider to be your favorite album in the history of NIGHT IN GALES and why?
Jens: I think I would go with both “Towards The Twilight” and “Dawnlight Garden”, as those two albums show the exact character and style the way it was meant to be…
– The last album before your ten-year break, was “Necrodynamic”, in 2001. In that album, many musical variations were found, compared to your previous works. How do you feel about that album nowadays? If it was in your hand, would you change anything in it? What were the reactions of your fans worldwide concerning “Necrodynamic”?
Jens: At that time, most of the Melodeath bands went on a more thrashier direction or added those COB-thing keyboard stuff to break out of this thing the press was calling “overloaded” or “dying” subgenre. As I was responsible for all those “Haunted-style” thrash riffing, it was Björns idea to do all those Speed Metal vocals, and our former drummer Chris came up with the idea of having an “as natural as possible” sounding drum production. So, it’s obvious that these ideas would not lead to a good result. At this point, I think we were completely lost and maybe kind of disorganized, there were too many different ideas of how the band should sound like and we had much more focus on partying and starting side-projects. I do not like that album as a NIGHT IN GALES album, because there are just too many things far away from the band’s history and from what it meant to be initially. The whole setup at that time was sort of unreal from today’s perspective. I sometimes scratch my head and ask myself if this was really us, haha..!!
– Even though I like a lot your latest releases, in my opinion “Towards The Twilight” and “Thunderbeast” were the peak of your career! What can you remember from those times? Which bands were your main influences at that time?
Jens: From a sales perspective, those albums sold a bit more copies of course, and we did many big shows and lengthy tours with all the big names like DEATH, IN FLAMES, DISMEMBER, HYPOCRISY, DIMMU BORGIR or CRADLE OF FILTH but these were just different times back then. I remember a lot of those times, best period for us was 1995 – 1999. If you want to read the whole story from different perspectives, go get a copy of the “Ashes and Ends” CD compilation, released by the US-based Divebomb Records. There are liner notes in the booklet and tons of rare footage of those alcohol-soaked times, haha! A big influence was all the first wave of Melodeath & Black Death like AT THE GATES, DISSECTION, EUCHARIST, UNANIMATED, DESULTORY, DARK TRANQUILLITY and the earlier Death Doom stuff like (early) PARADISE LOST, ANATHEMA and AMORPHIS of course.
– The four of you are living in Nordrhein-Westfahlen and your drummer somewhere in South Germany. How difficult is to practice together?
Jens: Its rather impossible, so we do it only a few weeks before the live season starts. We rehearse without Adriano at first for some weeks, we use the studio drum tracks from the actual albums and the programmed midi drums for the older tracks, played from a notebook or smartphone. A few days before the shows, Adriano comes over and we do a final common session on a weekend. For album recordings, we do not rehearse upfront. We record the album directly.
– Your region is well known for Sodom, Kreator and some other Teutonic metal bands. What influenced you to play melodic Death Metal? Where there any other bands that played the same way at your region?
Jens: Right, the 80s Thrash thing was huge over here, but there were also some early Death Metal acts like ETERNAL DIRGE from this region and we have BLIND GUARDIAN around the corner as well, they hail from the city of Krefeld. The Sauerland-Region with MORGOTH and DARK MILLENNIUM isn’t far as well. But after all, we were the first one playing this more melodic Death Style, right!
– How did you meet each other and how did you manage to stay with the same line up all those years? What happened and your original vocalist returned?
Jens: I knew Christian Müller from school, we were the only boys with AUTOPSY & ENTOMBED shirts back then so we started talking and shortly after that we founded a two-piece Death Metal band called “TOMBSTONE”. Sounded like early PUNGENT STENCH mixed up with early GRAVE.
Tobias was a friend of my older brother Frank, he brought us together as my first real band “INTESTINAL ULCER” was forming and needed a bassist, that was around 1991. As we needed a more skilled drummer, we found Christian Bass, Tobias knew that he was the best young metal/hardcore drummer around. We saw him walking on the sideway when we drove by in Tobias’ car. We stopped and asked him and he joined the band a little later. He now plays in Heaven Shall Burn, haha! When INTESTINAL ULCER split up in the winter of 1994, my brother Frank joined on the guitar and Christian joined on vocals. NIGHT IN GALES was born in the spring of 1995! We have had no changes since on guitar and bass positions, only a few on drums & vocals.
– Considering that all of you have your every day jobs, how difficult is it to play live and even more to participate in a tour?
Jens: With NIG we don’t play so many live shows anymore for different reasons, but that’s rather a decision than an issue. I did 2 European tours with my other active band GLORYFUL in the last 3 years and we all have full-time regular jobs and/or families as well, so it’s still possible if you really want it. It’s all about organizing things.
– When you are at home, what do you listen to, especially now with the situation with Covid 19 virus. What are your influences as a musician?
Jens: I recently bought a lot of new vinyls, mostly re-released and new stuff. Actually on the table is VENOM – “At War With Satan”, SEANCE – “Fornever Laid To Rest”, SUFFOCATION – “Effigy Of The Forgotten”, BOLT THROWER – “In Battle There Is No Law!”, CARNAGE – “Dark Recollections”, XYSMA – “Yeah”, HAUNT – everything, BLIND GUARDIAN – “Somewhere Far Beyond”, the latest of SACRED REICH, CANNIBAL CORPSE, DEATH ANGEL & SLAYER albums. I am a big THIN LIZZY fan, no month goes without playing some. And of course I need some Punk Rock like NOFX, BAD RELIGION, RAMONES or ASH RETURN as well on a regular basis to feel well. My main influences? Hard to say what is happening consciously and what subconsciously. I, for example, should be influenced heavily by early MAIDEN, GN’R, MANOWAR and 90s PRIEST, METALLICA and KREATOR, though my music sounds different from these bands, haha!
– Nordrhein- Westfallen is also known for some great and historical football teams. Do you watch football and what team do you support?
Jens: That’s true for sure, people go crazy for that. I went to the University of Duisburg, which is known for the MSV Duisburg club, and later lived some years in Wanne-Eickel, which is closest to Gelsenkirchen, this is the Schalke 04 area, so if you are wearing BVB merchandise you have a big problem, haha! But I am not into football, except the World Championship.
– Do you have any feedback from Greece during your career in NIGHT IN GALES from 1995?
Jens: Puhh, that’s not easy to recall in detail as the real paper-underground correspondence thing ended around 20 years ago and after that, in the digital world, it wasn’t the same. You’re not checking every contact. Back then, you saw the address the CD orders came from directly. But for sure there were some good reviews, trades and orders from Greece and even some little wholesalers who distributed our demo MCD “Sylphlike”. To tell names of penpals, distros, Sand zines I have to dig deep in my big boxes under the roof where I store all the paper correspondence from those days. My five favorite Greek metal albums still include the first two SEPTIC FLESH’s albums!
– Thank you for your time Jens! The last words to your Greek fans and THE GALLERY’s readers are yours….
Jens: Thank you Alex for this opportunity to reach our Greek fans. It was a pleasure and fun to answer! If you are looking for some cool NIG rare or new merchandise visit www.night-in-gales.com or band camp directly.
Interview: Alexandros Soultatos / Dimos Karadimos
Translation/Rendering in English: Tasos Varelas
Cover Artwork: Giorgos Tsiliggaridis
Design & Editing: Alexandros Soultatos
Date: May 15th, 2020
External Link: NIGHT IN GALES – Official Page
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