Interview: Dew-Scented’s Leif Jensen
They smell good, but hit very hard! This is the Toilet ov Hell exclusive interview with the extreme Thrash Metal combo, Dew-Scented.
Dew-Scented come from Germany and they have been thrashing and killing out their heads since 1992. With 10 records in their discography they truly have a veteran point of view of the warzone of playing metal and induce multiple bruises on concerts attendants with their energetic blend of musical melody and brutality. This year I read the W’s mini-review of their last album, Intermination, and I got hooked with their aggressive style, so I had to know a little bit more of them.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the band’s mastermind, Mr. Leif Jensen, to chat a little on the recording process of Intermination, working with Dan Swanö, the upcoming tour in Europe, living in South America, how is Germany and why his extreme metal band has such an interesting name.
Hi, I am Link. Nice to meet you. How do you feel sitting on the Toilet ov Hell? Is it good? Do you feel comfortable?
LJ: Hey man, nice to meet you. My name is Leif and I’m the vocalist in Dew-Scented. Thanks for the invite…sort of funny to sit of a Toilet ov Hell, but (being a touring band) not a first, haha.
You have been around for years. Did you think you could make it this far when you started?
Absolutely not. We never looked far into the future and took things one after another. At first we hoped for some cool shows, then maybe for an album and so on. Now it’s been 23 years and 10 studio releases, which sort of blows my mind. I think we were always hoping for a long-term run and plenty of interesting opportunities, but what we have achieved so far definitely exceeded my wildest expectations.
The style of Dew-Scented is specific, but I think your vibes in your compositions are very original. If someone approached you and said, “Hey, what do you play? Can you share with me some of your music?” how would you answer?
Thanks, I appreciate the compliment. I think I would say we play some pretty extreme Thrash Metal. At least that’s the roots and the source of our inspiration, but we obviously also mix in some more modern brutality and elements from the Death Metal style as well. By now, I suppose we have developed a sort of own trademark vibe, so that people basically know what they are getting with a Dew-Scented release or show. But we are still always interested in pushing the limits and expanding the boundaries to continue to please ourselves as well.
Your new record Intermination marks the magic number of 10 in your arsenal. Is this the definitive Dew-Scented record?
Not sure if I would call anything ever “definitive”, but it’s a very fair reflection of the current shape of the band, after what we have been through and learned from on the way here. I think it’s a good next step forwards for us, coming from Icarus and it shows an ever-motivated and still hungry band, which is important with this style of music. I hate it when bands pace down and play it safe, so that’s not gonna happen over here.
Can you give us a brief comment on the recording process for Intermination?
Wow, it was actually a long process, as we started the writing already early in 2014 and then demoed a longer while before nailing the first tracks. We self-recorded via our drummer’s Koen newly built studio set-up, so it wasn’t a very short or condensed process. We allowed to take the time it needed to do things in a relaxed and yet focused way for everyone with his parts.
I did the vocals around February/march this year and then we had the material mixed by our old companion Dan Swanö at Unisound. I think he helped us taking the music to a next level, as we wanted to have a slight different approach for the production, but also for the final mix. So yeah, all in all a very intense and partly exhausting project, but definitely worth it as we ended up pleased with the result. And that’s the main first step for a good release…
We gave Gustavo some leads and input (titles, etc.) and by him knowing our general approach and taste of visuals, he went ahead and suggested this piece. We then only tweaked it a bit more with symbolism and additional elements, plus discussed coloring and then the general vibe of the booklet/layout. Gustavo did an awesome job and we are very happy with how this album looks. He also just did a new 7” EP artwork for us and also delivered the goods on that one!
What are you trying to communicate to us with Intermination?
Hmmm… Not sure what to say. It’s a brutally honest Thrash Metal effort, full of wicked riffing and some heavy in-your-face chops.
Lyrically, it’s inspired by everything that’s fucked up around us and that sort of fit to the vibe of the songs. That’s how I generally go about it, so basically the songs all stand on their own. Icarus had a main overall guideline theme, but also allowed the songs to have an own content. The rest is definitely up to the listener…no preaching around here.
Which is the difference between this record and the older ones?
I think it’s an expansion and a further development for us as a band. I think the style more or less stayed the same and we respect the band’s historical stylistic trademarks. After all, this is what we enjoy listening to and also playing ourselves. But there are also some new elements and probably also more diversity than before, because next to our main songwriter and guitarist Marvin, this time around also Rory (Guitar) and Joost (Bass) contributed each 3 songs into the mix. We have grown together smoothly in the last 3 years of this line-up and I think it shows on the album.
I listened to it and I think you displayed a good melodic, yet aggressive tone in the guitar riffs. Is there a Dew-Scented formula? Or was your songwriting something like, “Fuck everything, this will thrash everyone’s head”?
Yeah, maybe there is, but I think Marvin would probably best to explain how he goes about it. To me there is always some good and some bad when jamming around. We try to take the good/best ideas and make them the coolest songs we can. There is some thinking about the material and the arrangements of course, but we still rely on gut-feel. If something blows us away when writing and rehearing it, then we know it’s about right. And yeah, fuck it…hahaha!
All the pieces of the songs are connected together with good hooks. The solos are great and the rhythmic section goes full pedal. I think you made a great piece of music. So, I feel that you have a style, which is one of the goals that all bands and artists should have in their career. How could you mix the groovy with the speed sections in the middle of the record? I loved that (To me, Demon Seed is a perfect example of that amalgam of melodic groove+thrash punch).
Thanks for the kind remark. Yeah, we tried to give the album a good flow and also insert a few rather melodic or mid-paced bits as well. That helps the dynamics and makes the fast stuff stand out even more. I mean, we obviously like it “as heavy as ever possible”, but it gets dull and too much over-the-top, when there is little diversity. I think we found a good measurement on how to combine the trademark elements of this band into a listenable album, despite it being pretty extreme.
Dan Swanö did the mix. It sounds pretty good. It’s raw, but you can feel every sound. Were you satisfied with the final sound once it was done?
Yeah, that was the intention. To go for a more organic mix, where you have the power but also enough room to hear details and everyone’s performance. A lot of records these days are re-worked to death and coming out like a single layer of sound, which is a bit stiff and tame at the end of the day. I like it when it’s still a bit raw after all and you can actually hear that its humans involved in creating the music and the actual sound. And yes, we were very satisfied with the final mix. Dan knows the band well and understood what we were after. I think he made Intermination sound awesome.
Swanö is a freaking legend in the Swedish Metal scene, so I am going full fanboy here. How was it to work with him?
Haha, good stuff. I am a fan of his work as well! It was great to re-connect with Dan! We have known each other since the earlier 90’s and even toured together in 1996, when he was still in Edge Of Sanity. Dan even mixed our second album Innoscent back in 1998, so it was about time that we reconnected to do it again. He appeared with some guest vocals on our previous Icarus album, so I guess that was really the starting point for our co-operation. I think Dan is a greatly talented and diverse musician, but also a total sound geek that will let each band sound in the way it best suits them. We are very happy to have him on board for this album!
You will headline the ‘Thrash Mercenaries’ tour across Europe in October, with the company of Angelus Apatrida, No Return and Heboïdophrenie. I think it is a very cool lineup. How are you preparing for that?
In the rehearsal room, haha! Well, yeah, I agree, it’s a cool line-up and all the bands are good live performance, which should make it a fun time for everyone involved. We are trying to come up with an interestingly intense set-list, mixing old and new material. Let’s see how we do…
Any hints on the set-list for the tour?
Not really, but you can expect some surprises, as we aren’t only doing some new stuff for the first time, but also started to work on material from our previous albums that we haven’t touched up for live-shows before. We will play rather long sets, which is sort of tough with such extreme music, but we intend to make it interesting and varied enough for everyone, including ourselves, haha.
You did a few shows in June supporting Cavalera Conspiracy. Did you play some of the new songs? If so, how was the response to your new material?
Yes, we did. I think we had 3 songs off the new album for those support shows, as you can only have so much playing time in such situation, so we went with the obvious first promo songs, which had already been launched online too. “A Collision Course” and “Affect Gravity” being the first ones. I think we have a total of 6-7 new songs ready for use by now, whenever it best applies. And yeah, the material has been doing well live, but we were actually already hoping for it to be so, as we wrote, rehearsed and fine-tuned the songs, knowing we want to be able perform them flawlessly live as well.
These two events are thrash related. Given you are in the road, in small and bigger festivals, do you think the “thrash spirit” is still alive?
Totally! There is a good vibe for the style all around, with both a lot of new bands emerging but also the classic acts still delivering quality records and shows. I also see a lot of young new fans supporting the scene, but also discovering its roots, so that is always very motivating. I think it’s a very interesting time for the Metal scene overall…
Is it true that you lived in Colombia and learnt about metal music there? If that is so, what do you think of South American metal styles? We have some followers of bestial and raw music from that side of the world. Bands like Sarcófago, Vulcano, Masacre, Archgoat (My miss! Wanted to point Goat Penis and Leif corrected me. Thanks, Leif!), and many more are regarded for their true commitment to metal (and most of them borrowed elements of Thrash).
Yes, that is true….I grew up in Colombia and lived there until the end of 1989, before going back again to Germany (Where I was born!). It was a great place to live and also to start discovering my passion for extreme music, as the Colombian / South American scene was very dedicated and in its formative years, so it was a special time to be part of. Obviously Masacre was the biggest, most internationally known band from Colombia, but there was a lot of other talent emerging in every city of the country in the late 80’s and early 90’s. My favorite South American bands somehow always seemed to come from Chile around then….you know, Pentagram / Criminal, Torturer, Atomic Aggressor, Sadism, Death Yell, etc. The Brazilian scene, including the bands you mentioned (Arch Goat are from Finland though, aren’t they?!), was somehow always a step ahead, because they had better infrastructure over there with labels and easier distribution channels. But yeah, it was definitely different than over here in Europe, as I witnessed when I moved back…
Germany is a vast country that produced a lot of music legends, including metal. How is the thrash movement around there now? Is it still a good place for the metal genre?
It’s good. Germany has a spot for everything, really. It seems all of the different styles have a solid following and appreciation over here. And because a large batch of the 80’s European Thrash Metal scene had its heart in Germany when it comes to bands like Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Holy Moses, Living Death, Darkness, Protector and many more, the style is still well respected here and some cities/areas are extremely good for Thrash Metal in general, like also where I live here around the Ruhrgebiet. Germany is very central, so all touring bands will always pass it and we have tons of labels and specialized magazines for Metal, so that it has almost become a “normal music style”, even in the eye of the mainstream media. The festival culture is extremely big and popular around here, so it’s definitely very helpful and convenient to be in such a central spot.
We like to chat about culture here in the community. Can you name us 3 aspects of Germany that foreigners should know? (Like don’t blow up your nose in public or something like that?).
Haha, interesting question, but hard to answer. I would think people should know that there are also regional differences between the areas within Germany, which will show in people’s attitudes or local traditions and even rules. You know, the South is definitely not like the very North, etc. There are different drinking habits and different landscapes, so it’s really about getting a good overview and finding what you prefer best. One think to definitely not forget is that there are also speed limit signs on the highways at times, because everyone always seems to think Germany is all about fast driving, haha. And now there are even locally different rules e.g. for smoking in bars / restaurants, even though it seems it’s getting banned everywhere at last.
I think we have been lucky to tour with mostly great and relaxed bands, so that we always tried to have the best time possible. No names mentioned, but there were definitely also bands around with weird attitudes and disrespectful behavior on some tours, but I guess you always find such people in life. One of my favorite bands to hang around with must be Misery Index… Just great guys and a killer live band. We also had an extremely fun time when playing out with the guys in Grave… Never made for dull moments. I personally always enjoy being on tour with bands I can personally dig, since that keeps me focused on watching their shows as a fan too. Like for example on the tour we did with Death Angel in 2013… Those guys killed it every night! And they were great to share the bus with as well. Generally it’s been great to make a lot of longtime friends on the road. That’s been a nice little extra from all the years on the road…
Of course, we aren’t going to leave you in peace without asking this. My colleague 365 Days of Horror was wondering about it and we need to ask about the band name. Is your name related to Edgar Allan Poe? If that is correct: do you have songs with lyrical content related to other Edgar Allan Poe work?
Hmmm, not sure if that’s really the story but it was actually my own fault for getting that ball running. It might have been a piece by Poe or something related where I first picked up the term. I found it intriguing and also original enough, so that when we were initially looking for name options, I simply ran with that one. I wanted it to stand out and be associated only with this band’s music at some point. It’s not been easy for Metalheads to get past it though. I mean, 10 albums in I still see reviews starting out with something saying “I was expecting something else from this name…” you know?! That said, it’s our name and we have been working at best capabilities with it.
Also, is there a reason why all your albums names start with the letter I?
Yeah, but I can’t tell you… 😉
Well, I hope you enjoyed the weird questions and the opportunity to sit in the Toilet ov Hell. Thank you very much for the music and the neck breaking. This is your space to say hello to your fans, recommend a tour food diet or make a rude-yet-awesome-statement like: “Metal or die!” Say whatever you want to!
Thanks for the opportunity and the support. We appreciate your time as well as the attention your readers would give us. Check out www.dew-scented.net or our Faceebok Fan Page for more about the band and our activities. And hopefully see you one day on the road. Until then…keep it heavy!!!
Leif Jensen and Dew-Scented will be hitting the road this month. They are also releasing a split 7” EP with Spanish thrashers of Angelus Apátrida titled Immersed with two songs per each band, including a re-recording of their 2003 punch-to-the-pancreas-song New Found Pain.
Thanks to Leif and Prosthetic Records for the good time of this chat. Remember to stab the band in their Facebook and tell them that the Toilet ov Hell sent you.