Interview by Tarja Virmakari
For more than 20 years, HENNING BASSE has been one of the most successful singers in the Rock/Metal scene. He has sung for the most influential bands in the business and toured around the globe several times. He sang amongst others for bands like BRAINSTORM, FIREWIND, HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY, ULI JON ROTH and is known to most as the frontman of the highly acclaimed Power Metal band METALIUM and the Progressive Power Metal Band SONS OF SEASONS. Henning is currently a member of Mark Jansen‘s band MAYAN who released their second album “Antagonise” in early 2014.
Just recently Tarja Virmakari had a chance to interview Henning, in between his busy schedule, talking about his most memorable co-operations, about MaYan, his impressive voice, work as a vocal coach. Henning also confirmed the rumours of touring this February/March with Gus G. …to know more about this and much more, please sit down and go on reading.
Hi Henning, welcome to Metal Shock Finland. Before we go to the questions, please introduce yourself, using only 3 words…
Self-employed surviving powerhouse ;)
For more than 20 years, you have worked with so many bands and artists, mentioning them all, would be nearly impossible and the list extremely long… but please tell me, What are your greatest memories and greatest band-collaborations, so far?
I got great memories with Metalium during the “ successful years, when youre regonizing the first fans in several countries like Spain screaming those lyrics out and you’re only standing there with goosebumbs all over and realising “wow they got that record”…
Meanwhile happened alot in my life.. but lets say with Lingua Mortis Orchestra feat. Rage. Our first rehersal and first show in front of thousands of people was something unique too.. cause since then it was one my childhood dreams to work and sing with an orchestra. Working with Uli Jon roth during our USA tour was something too I might never forget.
Currently you are the member of Epica – Mark Jansen’s symphonic death metal act MaYan, formed 2012 (full member since 2013), which released the second album “Antagonise” in early 2014, via Nuclear Blast. Please tell me how you got together with the band?
We`d been touring with my Ex band Sons of Seasons back in 2009 with Epica all over Europe. And it seemed very familiar hanging out, and our keyboard player Oliver Palotai is married to Simone Simmons and we were all hanging out.. Mark Jansen came up to me after asking if I would be interested in joining a new idea of writing songs. And it came up fast cause they wrote a pre production I gt to know.. it was really refreshing and even inspiring cause I never sang in something like Mayan is about.
After the album release MAYAN has played in some festivals, but not touring, is it due to other engagements? And will we see you touring with Mayan in the near future?
Never say never.. sure it is complicated to raise up touring and stuff when you got other engagements.
How Antagonise has been welcomed by fans and critics?
Since the release very positive. Antagonise sets the trademarks of this band. I guess we found our kinda style.
And what will happen next in the Mayan camp?
I guess writing for the next record and we need to talk about options regarding the touring..
You work also as a vocal coach and Producer over 10 years and you’re running your own vocal studio in Lüneburg… so, if I one day would come over to your studio wanting to learn to sing death metal, how would you start to train my voice?
I am definitly not the person for teaching how to do Death Metal grunts.. ;)
Are you still training your own voice, or has it reached its perfection?
You never never stop learning …and I am far away from perfection, I even don’t want to have perfection, there has to be an instinctively point, mixed with control regarding singing technic and emotions… you need to be the person who’s selling the song right away to the crowd, within seconds you need to be able to come up with your inner feelings, emotions in a authenticly way. BUT WITH CONTROL.
What are your personal influences and favorite bands?
Beethoven, Queen, David Bowie, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, several songs from different artists (Not only metal) to me it’s about melodys and the song has to be “strong”
Nature, Silence ,the special moment when you feel the magic..
Talking about songwriting, what is your method? I mean how a new song sees a daylight? What are your favorite topics and themes?
You could have a few chords on the piano, or on several guitar parts, put on the drum computer and try to built a reasonable song: first it’s the music.. even my people in the band do send me sometimes the finished music and I put some nice singing melodys on it with “pseudo” english.. to form phrases first.. sometimes it happens by accident, some words are cool or fitting the music then we just stick to it. Last thing is to built the real lyrics on it. It’s such a priviledge to do a pre production cause you can see your music growing better.
Talking about your instrument, your impressional voice, I read that you started at a very young age at the children’s choir of Lüneburg, later on you had professional training for classical singing. what other “ingredients” your voice has?
Patience and training I would say … ;) it is what it is: if you tread your “instrument” and muscles well with all positive and healthy stuff it will lasts forever to stay in shape. Regarding the sound of it .. I think all life experiences good and bad: the voice sucks it, in somehow you can hear the soul of a singer if he’s able to release his rich colours and his versatilitys..
What would you like to tell me about the Metalium and Sons Of Season years?
It was a good learning process the years in Metalium I would say. Even I am also grateful for people around the globe which are Metalium fans. Still I recieve so many positive vibes and mails. But in the end it was good we ended up. There were line up changes and even the writing wasn’t really good anymore for a long time. No inspiration.
Meanwhile I started together with Oliver Palotai Sons of Seasons. I cannot thank Oliver enough for giving me the chance to write interesting and very inspiring songs back then. We had a blast creating those 2 albums. And it was good that my friend Pepe Pierez joined that band. Sons of Seasons gaved me the chance to sing differently than I did and to find my inner freedom when it comes to singing limits.
Rumours have come to my ears, saying that you’ll be touring with Gus G. in February/March… so please, tell me more about this.
True! We will tour all over Europe, looking forward to this. Gus asked me if I would join. We are friends since 2007, after our first worldtour we stayed in contact. We`re promoting his Solorecord, it’s a pure masterpiece.
In these 20 years you’ve done more than many of us put together, but I’m sure you’ve still so many plans and dreams to make come true, would you like to reveal me some of them?
To be honest:
1. to be happy (and that is meant to be staying healthy and to earn money with making music on a monthly base)
2. to have just 1 band and maybe a side thing.. since 2013 I am working on so many things to stay alive. ;) sometimes it is not easy to manage things.. but I need to do this.
Now a hypothetical question:
If you should form a new band, from the past and present musicians… so, you in voice, who would play with you and what genre you would be playing?
I would love to have nice and down to earth people in the band, I am sick of ego shit… it’s not easy to combine my wish with musicly abilitys sometimes.. but I also know alot of very good and very known people in the business who managed to be down to earth and cool, even not so known people.. there are alot maybe too much to mention.. but I would say I would put both hands into the fire for my friend Pepe Pierez. Known people like Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne) or Chris Caffery (Savatage, TSO) Michael Ehre from Gamma Ray. Victor Smolski, Uli Kusch, just to mention a few.
Henning, I thank-you for this intervew and all what you wanted to share with me. Now the word is yours, what are your greetings to your fans and to our readers?
Keep visiting my Facebook page for upcoming news and leave some nice comments there.. looking forward to see you of course in my future shows, stay healthy and keep the faith!
MAYAN – Faceless Spies (Lyric Video)
Sons Of Seasons – Bubonic Waltz
Metalium – Show Must Go On