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With a career stretching back to 1994, but just a couple of full-length albums released during the last four years, Comrade Aleks set out to discover what B.S.T. have been up to all this time.

Interview with B.S.T..
"It's hard to believe, but Hamburg-based Doom metal band B.S.T. was formed in 1994. Have you heard of them before? No? I can understand that, as up until 2013 the band had recorded just two EPs. However, this four-piece outfit plays Traditional Doom metal and they use German lyrics, which still is uncommon, even in the German doom community. They have had a stable line-up since 2009, with Heiko Wenck doing vocals and guitar, Jan 'Zwo' Rudßuck on lead guitar, Lutz 'Lulle" Reimer on bass and Jan Galinski on drums. These four have been in the band since its original founding. Since then, two different bassists and three guitarists have assisted B.S.T. during different periods of the band's life, but none of them lingered there for long. On April 1st Voodoo Chamber Records released the second full-length, 'Unter Deck', and that's why we got in contact with Jan Galinski and did this interview."

B.S.T.: Jan G. (drums), Jan 'Zwo' R. (guitar), Heiko W. (guitar/vocals) and Lutz R. (bass).

Hi Jan! B.S.T. is a new name for many of us, what are the main facts doomheads should know about the band?

We are a four-piece (2x Guitar, Bass, Drums), located in Hamburg, Germany. We play traditional Doom Metal and we use German lyrics, which still is uncommon, even in the german doom community. We have a stable line-up since 2009 with Heiko doing Vocals and guitar, Jan „Zwo" (the 2nd „Jan") on lead guitar, Lutz on Bass and me (Jan) on drums.

B.S.T. means "Blut, Schweiß, Tränen" ("blood, sweat, tears"): what did you put into the name?

We were just looking for a name for our band when I was watching TV with my mother. Some episode showed a young mother, perfectly styled after just delivering a new born … and my mother complained it's unrealistic, because a birth is always „Blut, Schweiß und Tränen". I liked the sound and the message. We did not know about the progressive rock band with the same name back then … today we only use the abbreviation.

It's said that the band was formed in 1994, but your first official release, 'Vier + 2' only saw the light of day in 2000; what did you do during all that time? 'Hamburg City Doom' was your next EP, and it took nearly 9 years to release it - thatt's just impossible! Was B.S.T. a full-time band in that period or just a project for weekends?

For us, the history of B.S.T. is divided into two decades … the first one lasted til around 2005, when our 2nd guitar left the band and we continued as a classic doom trio and somewhat reinvented our sound. Before that, we were a regular band, we rehearsed, we did some local gigs, mostly in youth clubs and bars and had a lot of line-up changes.

I do not want to miss that time, it is our foundation, and we had really nice guys playing with us that are still among our best friends. But we were not very ambitious, we still tried to include lots of different influences from Thrash and Hardcore into our sound and did a lot of side projects, cover stuff and so on.

So maybe to avoid the confusion that we regularly produce when people check the „back catalogue", it would have been a clear signal to change the name of the band before the „Hamburg City Doom" release and close the first chapter for good. But then again … that's not us, we tend to keep stuff and change moderately, some would even say, slowly.

B.S.T. - Live in Hamburg, 2014:

After all these trials you released full-length 'Die Illusion' in 2013, and this material is in the straight Traditional Doom vein. What inspired you to choose that musical direction?

All of us have been doom-heads since the early nineties. We grew up with Vitus, Pentagram, Cathedral, Candlemass. We already had slow songs in the past (Wolf and Faust on the vier+2), but after we became a trio, we focused on getting that old feeling of 90s Doom back that we all loved so much.

We reduced tempo and worked on more focused song writing and stronger choruses. We still embedded some „modern" elements, that some would call sludgy or stoner, but only when it seems fitting … Jan „Zwo" on lead guitar joined the band shortly before going to the studio and we finally had someone who can transport the great melodies we like so much but couldn't play with one guitar.

The album is well produced and recorded, it has some remarkable moments and a dark solemn mood. How did the work in the studio go when you recorded these tunes?

We've been together with Andreas and Michael from the Rosenquarz Studio in Lübeck since the „Hamburg City Doom" EP, so they knew already how we want to sound. They are Doom-Heads themselves (check out the fantastic „Cold Embrace") and did a lot of work with doom bands, Warnings „Watching from a distance" being their most famous.

They helped us a lot getting the arrangements and melodies together and both even feature cameo guitars in „Die Moral" and „Die Hoffnung". Overall we had a great time, though of course due to budget reasons we spent only a few weekends recording.

The band chose to use only German lyrics for the songs: what's the reason? It sounds great indeed, and I appreciate it when bands have some national/local identity, but sometimes it makes for problems with promotion…

Well, when we decided to use German vocals, we did not think of how that would influence our international career.

We like the sound and we think that is important that when you express deep emotions, you use words that are in your head and heart and do not have to use a dictionary to translate them into some other language.

We didn't like most of metal/goth cliche lyrics other (German) bands produced, with all there exchangable metaphors, we wanted to create something unique.

I would even say, it's harder to play German vocals (at least here in Germany) because people really understand what you are saying.

Discography: 'Vier+2' (EP, 2000), 'Hamburg City Doom' (EP, 2009), 'Die Illusion' (2013), 'Unter Deck' (2017).

What's B.S.T.'s lyrical concept? How is it important for you to deliver the band's message to listeners?

Heiko is our main song writer and responsible for most lyrics. He works in health care and sees a lot of suffering and pain. Many of the lyrics deal with emotions like fear, loss, despair and decay. We do not have a „message" per se, but I guess we all (at least in the doom scene) have these dark feelings from time to time. You can't get rid of those demons, but listening to dark lyrics definitely helps to deal with them. And I tend to believe that, however dark his lyrics get, he still leaves a small beam of light in the dark.

What goals did you set when you entered the studio to record the 'Unter Deck' album?

We got quite good reviews and feedback on „Die Illusion" so we wanted to make the „next step". Jan „Zwo" now was part of the songwriting and we used that to get a more „smooth" melodic verve on the album. We experienced with more complex arrangements (Aufgabe) and have more clean parts in our songs. Some of which had been around for years, others where finished shortly before recording and we were exited how they would sound.

When we prepared for the recordings, we took more time to work on the guitar sounds and effects and worked on a more compact groove for drum/bass, which hopefully is noticeable when you listen to the album. Overall, we were not aiming for something completely new, we wanted to improve our strengths and reduce the flaws.

How would you describe 'Unter Deck''s features? What differentiates the new material from 'Die Illusion'?

Overall, I guess "Unter Deck" is a calmer, more focused album. The songs feature a nautical theme and a "wave-like" flow and the arrangements are more complex and have more dynamic towards both extremes, extremely slow and melodic and "outbreaks of evil". In my opinion it displays our evolvement as musicians and as a band without losing touch to our early phases and features some of the best we ever did.

What about B.S.T.'s live activity? Do you have the opportunity to play live regularly, in Germany or abroad? How often do you play gigs?

We do not really have label support or booking, so we play whenever we are allowed to :). We are just now finishing a small tour with befriended Death and Thrash Metal bands throughout Northern Germany and did support gigs for Pentagram and Apostle of Solitude in Hamburg during the last years. I guess it comes down to around half-a-dozen gigs per year. We enjoy playing live and would do more, so just ask us!

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Visit the B.S.T. bandpage.

Interviewed on 2017-05-28 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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