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DEW-SCENTED: Incinerate better shows the real face of the band

DEW-SCENTED: Incinerate better shows the real face of the band
BANDS : Dew Scented

Monday, April 23rd,  Leif Jensen agreed to do an interview with us about his band, Dew-Scented. And not only that, but he was even available to do it in a couple of hours! That was unfortunately too short a time for us to get some questions ready, so what you're gonna read below was actually discussed on Friday, 27th April, around 4 p.m. All of my colleagues had left the office, leaving me alone since 2 p.m., so I spent the remaining two hours arranging the questions, studying the band's biography one more time, reading details about their latest album... I mean anything that could have kept me busy, trying to avoid my usual nervousness when I have to do an interview. The phone rang at 3:05 p.m. What in the world? He called earlier. But that early?!? I'm answering quite puzzled. It was someone from a holiday village where three of my colleagues were about to spend their time for a couple of days. I hang up and continued to do what I was previously doing, when, after 10 minutes, the phone rang once again, almost making me jump off the chair. Ups, a guy speaking English. Maybe it's Leif this time. Nope, wasn't him. Something about some contracts that one of my other colleague is taking care of. I ended the conversation as fast as I could. The phone rang after 15 more minutes. Getting more annoyed this time, I picked up the phone and... there's a fax tone. Guys, wrong number! Our fax number is the one ending in 2. It rang once again.... same thing. Then 10 minutes before the interview my dear sister called on my mobile phone to ask if I wanted to go with her at a press conference for a book release. Murphy's laws... these things can only happen when you're alone in the office, trying to concentrate! I was starting to lose my temper when Leif finally called at the agreed time. Lucky me, his answers were so detailed and the only difficult thing was to pay attention to what questions he had already answered even before I had the chance to ask them. But I can't complain about that! No sir! 

 

 

Hello, this is Leif.
Hello, I'm Oana.
Oh, hey! How are you?
I'm fine, thanks. Look, I'm sorry I couldn't do the interview on Monday, but it was in such a short notice that I couldn't have the questions in time.
That's ok. It's absolutely no problem, really. The other things that I'm likely to do is leave into the weekend for a couple of shows, so yeah… And the weather is beautiful here and I'm sitting indoors, but that's ok.

Oook ... :) So since this our first discussion, can you please make a brief history of Dew-Scented, naming only the most important things that happened to the band?
There've been plenty, I mean we've been around for a long while, like 15 years - early '90s - I guess you know... It was a different line-up, but we did like, you know, one demo tape, got signed to a label, released… I don't know… 7 albums by now? You know, plenty... you know, the band has always been in the same type of style, same type of approach. We've toured a lot in Europe, America, went to Japan two times. And, uhmm, currently the band, you know, have a new album out called Incinerate and we have a new sort of line-up with a new drummer called Andy. We have Flo and Hendrik on guitars, Alex on bass and me, Leif, on vocals. So, I guess that's, you know, the rough summary of the last 15 years.

And referring to your first demo, after that, with only one demo, you've got a record deal with Steamhammer/SPV. Was it hard to get this deal only with a demo tape?
No, actually I think they were correct. I mean even though things were not looking very nice for thrash metal in general because it was a time when it was a huge death metal wave and black metal was getting very commercial and popular... Things were not that easy with our style of music, but then again there were not many bands doing it. So we sort of had a special following and a really nice good reaction on the first demo tape, it got really good reviews, we played a lot live for an unsigned band and yeah, that led to the fact that we had some labels' interest and we actually originally recorded the album for a label called Major Records, which was a German indie metal company, but they went out of business. So we had a finished album that was already paid for and everything and then we started passing the album around to the labels and SPV came with a good offer and we got signed. It was actually pretty easy.

And that's the album you released in 1996, right?
Yes, that is the album Immortelle, the debut, that would lead to the silly end... right after we did the album release, we actually separated ways with the label again because I don't think they were the right partner. I mean we didn't know before but we noticed very, very soon that... I don't think they were used to extreme metal bands and that they were used to underground oriented bands, you know? There is a certain way you have to work with a young band in an extreme metal style and they were more used to like big... whoever they worked with - Judas Priest, Dio, stuff like that. So I don't think they really understood what we were all about and then we parted ways after only three months or something.

And what did you do afterwards? I mean you signed to Nuclear Blast in 2000...
Yeah, we released two albums with a small German label called Grind Syndicate Media which was a company that had three or four bands on the roster but we knew the guy and we trusted him. He worked as much as he could for us so we did the second album, Innoscent, and the third album, Ill-Natured, with him. He had this distribution through Nuclear Blast so Nuclear Blast was actually not a label but they were... whatever, selling the records with their distribution, with their mail order. And things were a little bit strange with those albums because I don't think many people outside of Central Europe know them, like they were never distributed or released or promoted in North America, whatever. But at least we got out, we did a lot of touring for those records and those are the same two albums that Nuclear Blast re-released in the year 2004. We put them both on one CD and released them again because they were not available anymore.

And this is how Nuclear Blast got interested in you and then offered to sign directly to them?
Yes, that's how it started. They knew the band from distributing and promoting those two albums and then later on when we had the next one, Inwards, coming up, I think that Nuclear Blast just heard our last record and liked it a lot and offered us a nice little deal through our original label. So that's exactly how we actually started to work together. The two albums before they probably did not like or maybe it was the wrong timing, maybe the albums were not so good, in which respect I actually would understand [laughs], because Inwards was the first album that had a really killer sound and a more catchy, direct approach in music. So they really got into this album and then took us over, yeah.

 


Leif Jensen

 

What does a record deal with Nuclear Blast mean to a metal band?
I think it's cool, I mean it's one of the main metal labels and we have a good team of people saying that they understand and like the band and they have pushed us a lot, opened a lot of doors for us since Inwards, because that's the album that first put us on the map internationally. The album came out in North America, came out in Japan, it was really well promoted all over Europe and we had like, I don't know, some couple of "album of the month" type of thing and I guess it also has to do with the fact that each of us was very motivated and eager to push for the quality of the record and that's something that is very important. I mean you, as a band, you can do your very best but maybe people never hear about it because you don't have the key to open the door to the market. But I think that at the end of the day...  I mean I personally don't think the quality of an album has a lot to do with what name of label is on the back of the CD. I think that...

It has to do with the band, the quality I mean.
Yeah. I mean if we were signed to Metal Blade the albums would probably still be the same. But Nuclear Blast has been a good partner for us for many, many years so we're definitely happy with that.

On Innoscent, your second studio album, you had the chance to work with Dan Swanö. How does it feel to work with a legend of that kind?
It actually felt nice, because Dan first and foremost was a friend of ours, because we did a tour with Edge of Sanity in 1996 for the first album, for Immortelle. So we were supporting Edge of Sanity and he just happened to say... one night he said "Oh, if you guys ever need help for the mix of the next album, let me know", and then I called him and said "Ok, can you do us a favor and mix it?" [laughs]. So it was pretty easy and un-bureaucratic, it was more like a personal favor. We had a self recorded album that we did with a friend of ours in a local studio and it didn't really sound good enough, so he took it over and tried to polish it a little bit and I think he did an ok job. I mean of course it's a different standard from what we have right now. But it also was budget-wise and playing-wise... it was a different world back then. But no, Dan is definitely one of the guys that I respect the most in the music business, he's a very talented guy, multi-instrumentalist, he has a great ear, he's very ambitious... like he always wants 110% and I think that's a great attitude to have. I'm actually still friends with him, I spoke to him last time a couple of days ago, sent him a copy of our new album which he really liked, so...

It's good to be friends with such a producer :)
Of course!

Looking over your discography, I could notice that all the names of your albums begin with the letter "I". Did you notice this pattern?
Uuuhm....  no...
[Laughs] Well.... all of them begin with the letter "I"...
No, I'm just kidding [laughs]. It's a pattern. We have this theme where we wanted to put the albums all in a row with each other, like they all sort of have this pattern going through them that it's a one word title starting with the letter "I", maybe just to make up for the fact that the name [of the band] is not very catchy but the names of the albums are [laughs]. I guess it's a trade fact, people can expect a new album from Dew-Scented to be titled in that direction, to contain a certain style of music, because that's not gonna change for us either. So it was just a thing for the catchiness, like a serious running joke.

And about your release Issue VI, both media and the fans received it very, very well and many people say that it is your strongest release up to date. What's your opinion on that?
What was that? Issue VI or ...?
Issue VI, yes.
The last album. I don't think it was our strongest release [laughs].
That's the new one, right?
Yeah, I think that the new one is bigger than any other album we did before. You know, in the sound, in the set-up, in the catchiness, but I don't know, I always... I think that we're still a band on the way to grow somewhere, we haven't done our best album, we haven't done the perfect album either and we will not stop playing music until we do write this album that we are sure it's like... perfect. And that's the goal that you must have as an artist. I think that Inwards had a couple of really good songs and the Impact I liked a lot, I think it's a better album than Issue VI because I think it is more relentless, it's more aggressive and the songs are better for a live situation. And I think Incinerate is more, again, in the style and in the vein of the feeling that we had for Impact, the more direct album, more to the point and a little bit more savage in that way, so that's what I personally prefer. Issue VI had some really good songs, some really good ideas but also some songs that were more... I would say more experimental for us, which is cool and you have to do that, but I think that the face of the band is better represented with an album like Incinerate.

 


Incinerate, 30th March 2007, Nuclear Blast

 

And what were the reactions you've got so far to Incinerate?
They are positive. It seems that something is right about the album. We have like very good reviews, we started to play the songs live from the last tour that we've just finished.

And how were the new songs received?
The material seems to work. Like I said, the catchiness actually pays off because the songs were written with the approach that they have to be good for live shows. And that's something that we noticed was a little bit wrong with Issue VI, not that the songs were wrong, but we were not playing so many songs live, we were playing more songs from Impact than from Issue VI and that shows you that something was weird, you know?

How do you decide which songs go into a setlist for live appearances?
We have a big discussion [laughs]. Like everybody has a personal, of course, opinion and taste but I guess that the songs that feel the best when you jam them in the rehearsal room, that have the best atmosphere for everybody to play, those are the songs that qualify directly themselves for the live set. So there has always been the songs that, I don't know... Cities Of The Dead from Impact or Acts Of Rage, the opening track, where we knew right away that they were gonna stay in the live set. And from the new album I think there are a lot of choices. I think that on the release show that we played in our home town we actually performed six or seven songs from the new album and they all worked really good so I think that there's gonna be a lot of possibilities to choose from Incinerate.

And for a regular show will you still be playing that many new songs or decide just on a few of them?
No, we're gonna probably play like two, three or four new songs, depends on the playing time. But I guess that if it were a regular 45-50 minutes set, I think it will probably be three songs. So we have a little bit of everything, like maybe three songs from every album or something like that, of course not going back to the very first album. I think that keeps it more interesting. I always tend to disagree with the bands that make a tour and they play a lot of new songs, some Maiden-new songs, because they think they must promote the new album. I think that you've got to play whatever feels best in the flow, you know.

Yes, I mean the audience wants to hear old songs. Of course you also have to play new songs too because you're promoting the album, but also the crowd has to be there with you and if it doesn't know the songs it's quite difficult.
Yeah, we would not want to be Iron Maiden, playing the entire new album in the tour [laughs].

And this is also the first album on which you have some guests, am I right?
Yes, that's correct. I mean actually we had a guest on Ill-Natured as well, but that was more spontaneous and it didn't happen like it happened now. I mean this time around we felt we had the time, in the window between the recording and the mixing we actually played around a bit with ideas and we invited... we found out we have the possibility to invite a lead guitar player for a solo on Perdition For All so we actually contacted Gus from Firewind to do a piece, which he was nice enough to do and it sounds really good. And then we noted that the same song has actually two solo parts so we also reached out to our friend Jeff Waters from Annihilator, whom we know for many years because we toured one time with Annihilator so we've always been in touch. And both of these guys have original, different styles from ours, of course, in the playing, but also I think that they are superb musicians, some of the best guitarists you can find in our scene. So it was great that they actually agreed to be part of the record and we're very proud of the results.

 

 

And what about Mille Petrozza?
Yeah, he was actually one of the... it's almost like a friendly favor, I'm gonna say, because we of course know each other from playing together live, he also lives in this area, I mean I've just seen him last night at a show and we were having a couple of drinks and talked about, you know, whatever it's going on with Kreator, what's going on with Dew-Scented and we wanted to invite him on Issue VI too to do some vocals but it didn't work because he was busy with his band at the same time we were in the studio. But this time around we met in our local studio here in Essen and tracked the vocals, like a nice complementation of each other, because there are two very different range of vocals, even though they're both extreme or thrash metal vocals, but it's very, very different voices. And that's what we wanted. We wanted to have a contrast on that song to make it like a nice duel for it and of course, you know, with Kreator being an early influence for us and Mille being a guy that I respect a lot, it's really, really cool to have him as part of the album. And I think the song came out really nice, you know, like the icing on a cake for the record, the very end of the tracklist.

There is also a limited edition for this album, featuring a 7 tracks bonus CD, not only with old songs, but also new ones. Why did you decide to put new songs on a limited edition?
Because the album was complete as it was. I mean we felt that the record had a... I mean with our music being very extreme, there is no point in putting 70 minutes on a record. That would just worsen it out, it makes people hate the album because it's too much, you know what I mean? So we had... the album was sequenced and we had the feeling that the flow was good and that it was very compact, which was what we wanted to have with this record. And then we had some two or three left-over songs because we always record more than we need just to see what works the best and maybe one song doesn't turn out so good so we just throw it away. But in this case we had some pretty good left-over song called Let It Die which we were gonna give to Japan or whatever, but then we played a bit around with the idea of doing a bonus disc, so when we had Nuclear Blast to agree to release the limited edition with a bonus disc, we decided to also put that song on there because I think it's really a good song that needs to be heard. It just didn't feel right to add it to the album anymore so that's one of the new songs. The other new song is a cover version from Bad Religion, so that's on the bonus disc as well like other cover versions that we recorded in the past.

If I am right, your only DVD up to date is that bonus from Issue VI...
Yeah, that is correct. The limited edition for Europe for Issue VI had a bonus DVD with like 18 live songs or something like that. That was a nice way of getting some live footage release because we didn't feel that it was the right time yet to do like a stand-alone live DVD release or something like that. I still don't think we're at the right moment in time to do that, so maybe in the future, but I would not wanna put time and especially money right now into it because I don't feel that it's right. First we have to write a couple of more, you know, memorable albums and keep evolving in the right direction with our music and then maybe at some point we can do a DVD. But at the moment it seems that everybody wants and needs to do a DVD and the quality is not really what it could be, because the DVD is such a great format, you can do so much with it. So I think it would be nice to do like a historical band career type of DVD but for that we definitely need to have more time and be older than we are at the moment.

Don't let the fans wait too long, though :)
Do you really think that it would make sense to do it already now? I mean I'm flattered to hear that it could be interesting but for example we have never even played live in your country. And I wish that, you know... for me it's more important to pass the message of the band like face to face and play everywhere we can, make the band more well known and then give someone a photography of the... reflection of the band, which for me is a live DVD. A live DVD is a replacement for the fact that you can't see the band everyday live.

That's an interesting point of view and I was asking because you  have almost 15 years of activity and other bands that have like only five or maybe even two or three years of activity, they already put out a DVD.
Yeah, but I mean this is also a matter of taste, they can do whatever they want, but I think that a DVD is like a closing-off chapter, I don't know.. it's like an anniversary type of thing. But if you feel you've reached a certain stage and you want to close a chapter and moving into the next, so for example if we would decide to change the singer because the singer is an idiot in our band, they would take out the singer and in this case... of course it's only an example because I'm the singer [laughs], but if we decide to kick out the singer and move on with somebody else maybe it's the right point in time to do the DVD then, you know? To close this chapter with the singer, to review all the stuff that has been released until then. But at the moment I just feel that we are always, you know, active into the future, doing tours, writing new songs, so I don't feel the urge to do a DVD.

What do you think is the position that your band has in the actual metal scene? Where do you think you rank?
I think we're on the side where the sun shines the brightest. I think we have a nice position of ourselves because we have been around for a long while,we have people who understand and who support our music. But in the same time we're not really competitive. I don't view the scene... I mean we're fans of music and we have a certain passion for thrash metal, but this is why we're doing it so I don't view myself in the band being in a situation when you look to your right and you look to your left and say "oh, these guys are faster and these guys are bigger and they pull more people and they sell more records". It doesn't really matter to me, honestly, I'm just comparing Dew-Scented to Dew-Scented all of the time and if we manage to write better songs than the last time, then I'm happy. If we manage to play a nicer tour than the last time, I'm also happy. But more than that... I think that we have got a lot of opportunities and respect from other artists and from people who listen to our music so I think that's a very good prize that we have earned in the turn of the years.

Speaking of the actual metal scene, are you satisfied with how the things are, can you recommend some recent albums that are worth listening to?
Yeah, I think that actually the scene is very diverse at the moment, I think that there's a lot of quality and different styles. I listen to anything from Tori Amos to Terrorizer. For me it's a big spectrum, I enjoy a lot of things besides thrash and death metal. I think there is a new movement, a new generation, a lot of young people come to the shows, lot of very new promising bands. I think the level of quality of new bands is amazing these days. You see some 20 years old kids playing like amazing, tight, really technical and you're like... ok... [laughs] But I think there are just different times and that's cool. I think that's very refreshing. And like I said, I listen to everything, it's difficult for me to recommend something to somebody, I mean I just heard the new Tori Amos album which is actually I think released today or something and it's great. I'm personally very happy that the album came like this. I love the new Machine Head, I think it's a really strong, riff guitar work, probably one of the best metal albums of the year already now. What else do I like? Good question.... The new Chimaira is a very strong album. I went to see The Haunted and Municipal Waste yesterday... no, two days ago and I think that both bands are really good, very good show and their current album is also very good, so... That was a nice one and yeah, like I said I'm looking forward to see what's gonna happen now. There are a couple of cool things coming around, we've got Trouble doing a new album, they're coming on tour, one of my all time favorite bands.

 

 

Can you describe your colleagues in a few words? Each one of the band's members...
Flo
, the guitarist, 100% metal, totally over the top, very creative, very sweet guy, very funny, out of control sometimes but I think that's great, you know?
Hendrik is like his brother in mind, they are an extremely good team, also a crazy guy but at the same time he's a heavy worker, like really strong approach for the band. I appreciate that party guy as well.
Alex, the bass player, is a pretty quiet guy, he's northern German so he's like from an area where people don't speak a lot [laughs] but sometimes he only needs to work to put us in the right place so that's pretty cool. He's very balanced, very thoughtful guy which is good for the band as well. I mean he has been with us since 2002 and I think it has helped the atmosphere a lot to have him. He knows what he's doing which is very important.
And we have a new drummer called Andy, he's from Berlin. We didn't know him until he started auditioning for us so we're still getting to know each other, but he seems to be very motivated, very eager, which is great and that's what we hoped for with a new drummer.

For a new member of course he has to be motivated...
Exactly, and he was in a band before where he did a lot of the work so he does not only think about his drums, but he thinks about the band which is good.

And what about you? Can you describe yourself?
Uuuf, that's difficult. It would actually be fun to hear the other guys describe me. It could be really interesting but since I'm doing a lot of the press I don't think that they'll probably ever have a chance to voice their opinion. But yeah... I'm doing pretty much everything, sometimes I'm like the daddy and the mommy of the band. I say I'm the singer and I take care of all of the business, I take care of the press, of the majority of things. I don't play any instrument apart for a little bit of flute back in the school but I forgot about it, thank God! I'm a pretty nice guy for the fact that I can get rid of a lot of negative emotions with the band, so I'm pretty relaxed, a good person, I guess. And what else? I would have rather have you describe me than the other way round.

[Laughs] I can't do it right now, I don't know you, so...
But this is why we're doing the interview, you try to find out about me at the moment.

Well, you're very kind because your answers are, I don't know, very detailed and you've even answered a couple of questions before I could even ask them...
Yeah, I was reading on your paper.

[Laughs] Ok..... How would you describe the band in a few words?
We're very determined, we're very relentless when it comes to how we approach the music, I'm gonna say trendless because I don't think we care too much, I know we've never done so. We're a chaotic bunch, we've always been like a really good outlet for the good times for our personal lives, I think there's a lot of chaos in the band which also keeps it interesting and creative. Yeah, that's about it. I think we are underrated  though :) [laughs]

Well this might change. There's always a time to change that.
Yeah, well, people are saying this for 15 years [laughs] and you know what? I don't believe it anymore... [laughs] I'm sorry, but we're playing music because we love it and I'm sure that some people out there that love this style appreciate us a lot so that's fine with me, the rest can actually... I couldn't care less, I mean I'm having fun with our music so it's not like I need other people to tell me that I'm good in what I'm doing. Of course it feels good to hear it every now and then but honestly, as long as I'm happy, you know, that's three quarters of it.

So what is next for the band? Do you go on tour or what?
We've just came back from a tour with Behemoth, Napalm Death and Moonspell which was very good, it was the first tour all over Europe that we did for this new album Incinerate. Next thing is that we're gonna do a festival on Monday, we play a festival in Portugal, which it's gonna be nice, you know, and we've already been to Portugal one time in our career so it's gonna be exciting to be in the sun on Monday and Tuesday. I'm happy about that. Next step is a tour in June with Misery Index, who are friends of ours, so we're gonna do like two and a half weeks with them and a lot of festivals in the summer and then hopefully we're looking at North America in the fall, like autumn time, late autumn, end of the year. So let's see what else comes up, I mean we're gonna of course try to play as much as we can, wherever we can. I'm actually looking at offers right now to play in Romania at last...
Would be great.
I would be very happy. I spent holidays there.
Yes? When?
In '97 or something like that and I really enjoyed being in Romania.
That is so great to hear. Well... that was all for the interview. Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you very much for spending your afternoon time talking to me. I hope sooner or later we'll have a chance to see each other after the show, when we finally play in Romania. That would be nice.
Yeah, that would really be nice. Thanks! So... enjoy the rest of the day.
You too, bye!

Autor: Sake, Nebelhexa
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Dew Scented

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