Interview with Jens Becker of Grave Digger
Conducted by: Carlos M. Llanas
Not very many bands can say that they’ve reached their 30th year of heart pounding metal. It takes dedication, time, and hard work to stay in the game for that long. There will always be many bumps and obstacles through out a career, but the desire for metal cannot be extinguished so easily. Grave Digger is one of those bands. Thirty years and fourteen full length albums later, Grave Digger is still one of the best power metal bands that has ever existed. With crushing drums, pounding bass, wild guitars, and powerful vocals, you can’t help but love these German Metallers. With their latest album "The Clans Will Rise Again" receiving outstanding reviews, Grave Digger has been working hard and staying on their toes. Bassist Jens Becker was kind enough to share some words with Metal-Rules.com about their recent trip to South America, the release of their live DVD "The Clans Are Still Marching", and what is in-store for Grave Digger in the near future. Enjoy!
First of all, Grave Digger recently celebrated thirty years of outstanding metal. Congratulations on behalf of Metal-Rules.com and the rest of your fans! After thirty years, What has been them most accomplished moment for you as a band?
For me personally, it is the fact that we are still alive and able to travel around the world to bring our music to our fans. How many musicians can say this after thirty years? I am very thankful for that!
Of course, you celebrated your thirty years of metal at "Wacken Open Air Festival" Not only did you perform, but you filmed the show and released "The Clans Are Still Marching" as a DVD, which entered at No. 56 at the German Media Control. It seems to me like Grave Digger is stopping at nothing! What are your thoughts on this?
Yeah, that is really cool, and this was only the DVD. The last studio album "The Clans Will Rise Again" was entering much higher last year. It gives us a good feeling that people still want to hear us. We will use this as our motivation for the next album.
The DVD includes tons of extras like behind the scenes footage, interviews, a video for the track "Highland Farewell", and the making of the video. It is an awesome treat for diehard Grave Digger fans. Was this release tough to put together?
No actually, the backstage filming is always done by our guitar player Axel. He loves doing that.
During the show you brought out an arsenal of talent to share the stage with you. Talent the likes of Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Doro Pesch, and Van Canto. Was this planned? Or just a really cool spontaneous happening?
No, this was all planned. We wanted to have some interesting specials for this event and the DVD. Doro and Van Canto were even coming to our rehearsing room to play with us before the Wacken show. Only Hansi did his part without any rehearsal, but he is such a professional that we trusted him 100%, and it worked out great.
Some members also wore some really interesting Scottish attire. How did you come up with the idea of "Hey! lets wear some Scottish garbs!" Even Hansi joined in!
Actually, it was only Chris from our side who was wearing these special clothes. Axel and I were dressed in our normal stage clothes. We had discussions about that before, but then we decided that only Chris should do it. Of course, the guests were all dressed in a special way. Especially Doro, she was wearing a very nice dress.
In the past, Grave Digger has bounced around some well known record lables like Nuclear Blast and Locomotive. Now, you have made Napalm Records your home. How do you like working with them? Will you be looking for other record deals or have you made Napalm Records your permenant stay?
You have to ask Chris about that, but as far as I know we just got a very good new offer from Napalm for the next few years; We will see. We are actually very satisfied with their work.
You performed in Israel for the first time in early July. How did it feel play in-front of a completely new audience and in a country untouched by Grave Digger?
It was a wonderful experience. The people in Tel Aviv were extremely friendly, and the fans were so enthusiastic; it was unbelievable. I hope we can play there again for the next album.
Was there any noticeable differences in the crowds? How familiar were the fans with the tunes?
No, the crowds were as crazy as always. For us, it is always a surprise to see how many people are singing along with the lyrics; It is amazing.
Your latest album release "The Clans Will Rise Again" was released in October 2011. It was also recorded at Meadow Studios, which is also owned by Grave Digger’s very own Axel Ritt, and also at Principal Studios. What are some of the benefits of recording in a studio owned by your own guitarist?
Actually, Axel was only recording his guitars in his own studio. The good thing of working like this is that he has all the time in the world for his recordings. It is not like in the past when we had to pay for every fucking minute you are staying in an expensive studio. Those times are over.
You’ve recorded every track at Principal Studios since 1995’s "Heart Of Darkness". What makes Principal Studios so appealing to you? Any particular reason you like recording there?
They just have the best equipment you can imagine, and they became real friends of ours. It is very helpful when your engineer knows exactly what you want and how to make you feel comfortable. It is just some kind of family thing, but it is this mixture of family and being total professional in the same way. We are old enough, we don`t need any expensive clown to tell us how Grave Digger should sound.
You recently did a string of shows in South America. I saw some really cool pictures of you guys hanging out at a beach in Brazil! How were the shows down there? What were the main highlights of your journey?
Yeah, it is always nice in Brazil. This time we were also playing in Rio de Janeiro and we had two off days there before; we had a wonderful hotel at the Copacabana. These are the nice parts of the job. This time we were also in Chile and Colombia for the first time in Grave Digger history. There is always something new, even after all these years. It keeps it interesting.
Jens you have done some excellent work for bands such as Running Wild, X-Wild, Zillion and of course Grave Digger. From a bass player’s perspectice, what advise can you give to aspiring bassist who want to become greater musicians?
Thank you for the compliments! When I was first starting off, I was always trying to find my own style. You can hear this on all these little bass instrumentals I’ve recorded for several albums in my career. You should always try to create something special and never try to copy someone. Who needs the copy when there is already the original? But this is not only meant for bass players, it is especially for all these bands who sound exactly like all the others. Be original or you will be gone very soon!
Any chance of Grave Digger ever coming to the U.S.? You have many fans here that are dying to see the Digger live!
Well, we did some single shows here and there in the U.S. in our career, but I think there are not enough Grave Digger fans for a real tour. It is a pity, but we have to accept this. Next January we will be playing on the "70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise", which starts in Miami. Forty bands on a ship for four days will be fun!
When can we expect a new Grave Digger album? Do you have one in the works? If so, how far along are you with it?
Right now we are in the songwriting process. The album will be recorded next April and then released in fall 2012.
What’s next on the Grave Digger agenda? Anything that your fans can look forward to?
The next big thing will be the "Power of Metal Tour" here in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Holland together with Sabaton. It will start on the 7th of September and there will be ten shows all together.
Thank you Jens for taking the time to talk metal with Metal-Rules.com! Any words for your fans reading at home?
I want to say cheers to all Grave Digger fans around the world! You are the fuel in our tank!!