Metal Thrashing Mad
CoC chats with Leif Jensen of Dew-Scented
by: Jackie Smit
"We just got back from Japan two days ago, so I have spent the last twenty four hours sleeping", crackles the voice on the other end of the line.

It takes about two minutes of conversation with Dew-Scented's Leif Jensen to realise that he takes his band's music very seriously. Having poured the best part of a decade's worth of effort into their music, it looks as though these second generation thrash stalwarts are finally about to reap some very well deserved rewards. _Issue VI_ is the title of the band's latest effort -- their strongest and most diverse offering to date, and one which almost more importantly captures the intensity of the Dew-Scented live experience.

CoC: So, how do the Japanese audiences differ from the US or from Europe?

Leif Jensen: They don't differ all that much; our music definitely gives the audience a certain tool to react on and to use. The Japanese fans are pretty intense, and they're very cool and very respectful of us. I don't think there are many thrash bands playing in Japan, so they always made us feel very welcome. Usually the shows would have a few hundred people -- aside from Tokyo, which is a little bit bigger, so you usually draw a bigger crowd there.

CoC: In my opinion, Dew-Scented has always been more effective on stage, and on this album you guys have -- on paper at least -- gone through pretty much the same process in terms of producers and recording studios and so forth that you usually do. Yet this record has managed to capture the Dew-Scented live feel, for probably the first time in the band's existence. What did you do differently this time around?

LJ: We just felt like the material had to be different this time around. For the limits that we impose on ourselves in our music -- the things that we're not willing to change -- the material was comparatively a bit different. We were embracing that fact and embracing the fact that music was more diverse. _Impact_ was meant to be a very extreme album and we really pushed ourselves on that one to take things to the highest peaks that we possibly could, and we pretty much held back on anything melodic or on any mid-paced, groovy stuff when we were writing that album. That was completely different on this record, and when we started talking to Andy [Claasen, producer] about our ideas and how the songs were shaping up, he shared our thoughts and said that perhaps the production should be a bit different as well and allow for the live feel to come through more. So we set out to make a record that's more organic and that allows the listener to hear all the things that are going on. That maybe explains why the album sounds so direct and represents the band's live sound more than our other records. That's definitely something that we set out to do with this album.

CoC: So, you were conscious of the difference when you were writing this record.

LJ: Yes. Even though our opinion doesn't count, because a band will always say that a new album is their best yet and that it's so diverse and there's so much happening. That's sort of what you have to feel when you're working on a record, but we really did notice it this time around. We wrote a couple of songs last summer, and we had them laying around for a while and then picked them up again this year, and it was very clear that the material was headed in a slightly different direction, which we definitely liked. We're only going to finish off something when we can jam on the song and all of us can feel content with it. That said, I don't think that the album is completely different to everything we've done so far. I actually had a guy on the phone to me the other day who said that it sounds the same as _Impact_!

CoC: Personally, I think that the key to this album is that it sounds more aggressive because of how the dynamics within the record play off against each other.

LJ: That's great to hear, because that's what we were trying to work on. We applied a lot of what we learned over the years on this record, and even though some of the guys in the band can play extremely technical if they want to, we were focused more on straightforward, catchy and dynamic songs. Those are always more enjoyable for us to play.

CoC: So when it comes to recording a Dew-Scented album, what is the process that you guys follow? Does anything in particular take priority in terms of getting the guitars sounding right or making sure you have a solid drum sound or something along those lines?

LJ: No; it's a little bit of everything, to be honest with you. We're definitely a rehearsal band, if you know what I mean. We don't share files over the computer, and when it comes to how we're going to do the albums, it's always just a case of jamming on the material that we have until we feel satisfied and then knocking on the studio doors to get in there and record it as soon as we can. We leave all the technical bullshit to the people that are in charge of that sort of thing. What was different this time round in that sense was that we parted with a long-term member...

CoC: I was going to get to that, actually.

LJ: Yeah, as I'm sure a couple of people know, Florian [Mueller, guitarist] left us while we were doing this album and that put a lot of pressure on the rest of the guys and on myself to make sure that this album could stand up as a move in the right direction for us as composers. I mean, the decision to part ways with Flo was a very long and painful process; it's something that just got to the point where it became inevitable. We did it so that Dew-Scented could continue in the right way and that the proper atmosphere would stay within the band. So that sort of pushed us in the direction that we went in for this album -- the guys in the band just knew that they had to step up their efforts to make up for Flo not being there.

CoC: The inevitable question then, I suppose, is what exactly brought the break-up on?

LJ: Time. Being in a band is like being in a relationship: sometimes you feel good and sometimes you don't. When that happens, you try and fix it; and if it's not fixing itself, then sometimes it leads to a break-up. From our point of view, we just figured that if we wanted to continue to be friends with Flo, we need to make a professional decision and say: "Well, let's part ways at this point." It felt like the right thing to do at that point, and we have a new guitarist now [Marvin, guitarist for Severe Torture and Blo-Torch], who has been with us since we entered the studio; and although he didn't write anything for this album, he did record a number of leads. He's an old friend of ours who has stepped in for us at different times as far back as 1996. So it's working out really well and the material just feels right for everybody right now.

CoC: One of the business relationships that has been on-going for some time now in Dew-Scented is your working arrangement with Andy Claasen. I guess he was the natural choice to produce _Issue VI_?

LJ: Yeah, we were happy with what he had done for us the last two times, and he also had a lot of good ideas for the record. He understood that we wanted to do something slightly different and more organic, and he's just a good mutual friend that you can bounce ideas off of and use to shape the material correctly. He's also pretty close to us geographically, and it's also a safety element in going to him. We're used to working with him and we get on well on a personal level, and in my mind that would help the songs come out right more than anything, rather than run risk of taking on somebody that we haven't worked with before. So it just felt like it wouldn't be worth our while to change a working team.

CoC: With thrash becoming more popular and bands like The Haunted gaining a higher profile, do you ever feel like Dew-Scented has been short-changed in the genre's surge of popularity, particularly considering how long you guys have been doing this for?

LJ: Well, I guess one could see it that way, but I think from a business point of view, it's probably just down to timing more than anything else. Back when we started out, this kind of music was not very popular and it was hard for a record label to market it, because most people were either into black metal or death metal or whatever. Then we went through a couple of years where we were on a label whose distribution network wasn't up to scratch, and our international exposure was pretty limited. Nuclear Blast is a completely different matter though, but even back when we released the first album -- that was on SPV and it still didn't get anywhere. So, I personally think that the ingredients to make a successful album only really fell into place for us around 2001 when we made _Inwards_. The last couple of years have been very busy for us and Nuclear Blast has got a great bunch of people working on Dew-Scented and they've been gradually stepping up their efforts with every record. Guys like The Haunted I'm really happy for, and I think that they have opened up a lot of doors for a band like ourselves. Besides, those guys have a big history as well, what with being in At the Gates and all. So I'm never going to complain, because there are so many great musicians and underground bands that don't get the chance for their music to be heard at all. At least we're in a situation now where we're able to play shows pretty much everywhere on the globe, and for me that's fair enough. We knew from the start that it would be a ride against the wind with this sort of music, and if we wanted a quick and easy success then we would have made something else. We just put in our best efforts into a record and see what happens from there.

CoC: Just on the topic of Nuclear Blast: they're a label who have come under a lot of fire for signing a lot of bands and for signing bands that are quite removed from the underground metal stuff that they were founded on. What's been the difference for you working with a big label like that, as opposed to being on a smaller label where you have arguably more focused attention?

LJ: Well, obviously we know that we're not their biggest band. <laughs> We're not their biggest band by far. But like I said, we feel like we have a great team helping us. We have awesome people in A&R, awesome people in sales and publicity. These are guys that we've known for a long time, and they know us and they like our music and they also know that we have a very do-it-yourself kind of attitude and that we'd very easily be able to do this without a label as well. So they concentrate on their part of the game and they don't interfere in the musical side of things, which is great. They've never turned us down for the support that we were asking or the things that we were proposing, and we've never had any problems with them. They're doing a lot for this record -- we have a bonus DVD coming out with this album, we've got a lot of tours coming up. So I think they're doing as much as makes sense at this point. Obviously when it comes to our personal taste and choice, not all of their latest signings have been to our liking; but that's coming from an extreme metal point of view, and I hope that they make sense for the label and that the label keeps on growing, because that means good things for is. It's not something worth getting all underground about.

CoC: As is the usual case for this time of year, Dew-Scented are hitting most of the summer festivals, but after that are you planning on touring anywhere else? Maybe hitting a couple of obscure places that you haven't been to before?

LJ: We're hoping for that. Later this year we'll be going to the US for a whole month -- which we're really looking forward to, because outside of a couple of weekend shows and festivals, we've never actually done a full tour there. We just got back from Japan, like I said earlier, which was amazing. We are hoping to hit South America this time around as well, which for scheduling reasons we couldn't do for the last album. We will definitely play as much as possible. We're very excited at the moment -- just the fact that we have tools like the video clip and the special edition of our new CD.

CoC: That extra DVD has seventeen songs, which amounts to quite a package...

LJ: Yeah, and that's not an archive show either -- it's something we actually recorded back in April and it's something we're just packaging nicely and offering to fans who pick up the album early. Hopefully all these things put together will make the process of getting on more tours and maybe getting out to other places a bit easier as well.

CoC: Dew-Scented is a pretty hard touring band already; does life on the road ever wear your down a little?

LJ: No, I think it's the other way around: the more we play, the more we want to play and go on tour. We see our music as live music, and we don't really like being the studio. I never understood those guys who have their own home studios and who record for like a year and then re-record everything for another half year. I think that's boring, if you record like that. We try to capture the moment as quickly as we can and then go back out on the road.

CoC: Anything else you want to add, Leif?

LJ: Not much, man -- thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

(article submitted 20/6/2005)


CHATS
3/25/2007 J Smit Dew-Scented: Impact Is Imminent
4/12/2002 P Schwarz /
A Bromley
Dew-Scented: Inside Out
ALBUMS
9/2/2012 A El Naby 7 Dew-Scented - Icarus
7/28/2010 A El Naby 8 Dew-Scented - Invocation
3/16/2007 J Smit 8.5 Dew-Scented - Incinerate
6/20/2005 J Smit 8 Dew-Scented - Issue VI
8/31/2003 J Smit 7.5 Dew-Scented - Impact
4/12/2002 D Rocher 9.5 Dew-Scented - Inwards
GIGS
12/26/2003 J Smit Deicide / Destruction / Nile / Akercocke / Dew-Scented / Graveworm / Misery Index Redemption at the Palace
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