After a couple of short ones, it’s time for a longer interview. Long serving German thrashers DEW-SCENTED is back with a brand new album called “Icarus”. As usual you get lots of killer riffs and the devastating vocals of mr. Leif Jensen. Of course, Leif is also the one answering our questions. Last time we spoke together, you told me that you did record 18 songs during the sessions for “Invocation”. Have all of these been released? Did you record any additional material apart from the songs that ended on “Icarus”?
– Yeah, we always record some extra songs to use them as bonus, etc. I think for the “Invocation” album we had a total of 4-5 extra songs (as well as further demo versions) that were used as either limited edition version bonus tracks or in Japan or via Itunes only. We covered DRI, Powermad and Genocide Superstars on that session. For “Icarus” we actually have an additional own song called “In Dying Mode” that will be on the first-pressing Digipak in Europe as well as some cover versions again. We did songs by Prong and Inside Out that will also be on that Digipak edition of “Icarus” and then we also recorded covers of Wasted Youth and Judge which will be used on the Japanese version. We always enjoy doing cover songs of bands and songs we like. I am hoping we can do some EP one day sooner or later where we compile all those ‘rare’ songs and maybe present some live-tracks too, etc. Let’s see…
You also spoke about the big line up change you had back in 2008, and how that affected the end product, making it a fresh and vital product. Will you say that the same thing is the case with “Icarus”?
D-S: Yes, I would like to think so! Change isn’t always a bad thing. The year 2011 was pretty dramatic and stressful for the band, behind closed doors. But in the end I think once again things happened for the better. I mean, if someone isn’t into being in the band anymore, it will always shine through negatively at some point sooner or later, either playing-wise or as far as the attitude. Dew-Scented is better off being involved with people who are motivated, creative and focused. I wanted to take the band further and do a great new record. Hooking up with Marvin and then with the others guys alter on was an amazing thing for Dew-Scented and without doing much more talking about it right here, I only want to say that I think you can easily hear it on the album. “Icarus” is a much ‘traditional’ Dew-Scented, as it also is the next right step forwards into the future for us…
What happened with the guys that performed on “Invocation”? Why didn’t it work out?
– They simply left the band, one after another! That’s as straight forward and nice as I can put it! Martin had left the band late 2010 already and then Alex officially followed in the summer of 2011 after we played some farewell festival shows with him at Party.San and Brutal Assault. WE decided to take time off from live-shows and started working on the new album, only to notice that also Marc-Andre and Michael weren’t gonna stick around, again based on personal decisions. Marvin suggested to het Koen involved as drummer and he brought in Joost on bass. It was as easy as that. Rory joined us as second guitarist after the recordings for “Icarus” were done. As far as what the ex- members are doing now: Alex and Marc just hooked up with Weak Aside, so they are playing Death Metal again and Michael plays in a band called Regicide now. I wish them the best of luck with their new challenges and hope it’s a better fit than Dew-Scented was for them in the end!
Seen from the outside, there has been a lot of ins and outs in the band during only a handful of years. Is Leif Jensen a difficult or demanding person to work with?
– Yeah, maybe, hahaha?! It’s been so much shake-up’s in these past 5 years that I have even considered that to be one of the reasons?! But seriously, It’s simply a fact that it is also difficult and demanding to be in a band in general. Not everyone is made for it, as not everybody is willing or able to really work or fight for it. Also not everybody enjoys touring. When there is tension and then also the atmosphere between the members and the chemistry starts to suffer. I wish I had a better explanation for how the “Invocation” line-up fell apart so suddenly and quickly, but I really only can mention that the others not being into it anymore would have been a bad way for me to stop activities too. I put a lot of time and energy into the band and maybe it’s wrong to expect others to do it on a same level as well. I thought I was getting used to people not having the same dedication for the band as me, but there are still limits as to how much or how little can be tolerated in order for the band to still function….so yeah, the bottom line is that I wanted to move forwards! And I think this change was the best thing that could have happened for Dew-Scented and you will hopefully be able to agree based on hearing “Icarus”?!
Even though you change members, each album ends up sounding very much like Dew-Scented. Your voice is always there of course, but what other factors contribute to this continuity?
– Well yeah, we are quite critical with ourselves and have a good sense of quality self-control. I think we understand what Dew-Scented stands for and I try to make sure that we make the right moves forwards when writing material. But when it comes to the new set-up and line-up of “Icarus” it was actually quite an easy task: Marvin has followed the band since the early days, so even before we released our first album in 1996. He toured with us many times throughout the years and was involved with different incarnations of the band at several very different points of time. I think he knows best what this band is all about and not only is he a fan of the style of the band, but this what he grew up on as well. We seem to agree a lot in musical matters and when we started to bounce riffs and song-ideas back and forth for this new record, it was quite effortless and productive, as we didn’t disagree much. I think we have found the right way to carry forwards with the trademark Dew-Scented formula but will hopefully be able to add a new feel to things as well…
Tell us a little about your new line up. I know you have used Marvin before, but what about the other guys? Are all of them Dutch? Do you live in Holland yourself, or maybe close to the border?
– Well, “used” sounds quite weird, hahaha. But yeah, Marvin first appeared in the Dew-Scented reals in 1996 and also toured with us in 2002 and 2005. He also contributed leads to the “Issue VI” album and performed on the Turn To Ash” video clip. The other guys joined Dew-Scented one after another when working on “Icarus”. Koen was recommended by Marvin and he’s the most kick-ass drummer I have seen in a while. He then suggested Joost as bassist and what a great idea this was! Rory got involved last as second guitarist after the album was already recorded. All the guys live in the Den Haag area of The Netherlands and are good local friends of each other. 3 of them play in the technical Death Metal band I Chaos and Marvin obviously plays with Severe Torture as well. I live in Germany but my way to rehearsals in Den Haag is about 2,5 hours of drive, which is actually not less than what I) used to drive before to meet the other guys in our previous rehearsal location for “Invocation”, so no big difference for me. The only thing that really mattered this time around was the attitude provided by everyone involved. What I can say so far as that everyone seems challenged and the preparations for the upcoming live-shows have been very cool. I see “Icarus” as a really strong beginning for the co-operation between all the involved people and look forward to seeing what comes next…
The promo letter coming with the new album says that Marvin is “assuming full songwriting duties…” on “Icarus”. What does this mean? Did he write all the songs alone, or contribute to all songs?
– Yeah, he wrote the entire album’s music on his own! We revised some arrangements and structures together but all riffs and ideas are his and I think this is a great part of why it sounds so compact and efficient! Originally we had started the writing session with some previous members still involved, but the chemistry and the work-flow weren’t as positive and productive as we had all hoped for, so we quickly abandoned all the other song-ideas and decided to finish off the album with material purely by Marvin. I am extremely impressed by how we managed to create such a powerful, technically impressing and also pretty varied album, despite the difficulties in the set-up and the pretty annoying human drama involved at first. Who knows, maybe this pressure and disappointment have in the end also contributed to make the impact of the music and the lyrics a lot rawer and stronger?! At least I think they did for my involvement, as I was pushed to work harder and with more bite! I was pretty pissed off and that’s a good thing for the vocals, always….hahaha.
Strong riffs are very important in your musical expression, and Dew-Scented have always plenty of them on each record. What are your favorite riffs on the new album?
– Indeed, our music is crafted on the strength of riffs! I have always pointed that out and the approach will probably never change…it’s all about the riffs in Thrash Metal for me!!! Thanks for bthe nice compliment…I think Marvin indeed deserves praise for his guitar-work on “Icarus”! And I agree, there is a ton of great riffs in these new songs. I have a hard time siding for certain riffs here, but I really like the structuring of “Thrown To The Lions” and especially that bridge-over riff around 1.55 before the first “TTTL” hook. Also the song ”Gleaming Like Silver” has some pretty wicked riffing, not always very easy-listening in its rhythm, but extremely heavy! “The Fall Of Man” (the album’s first written song!) and “Sworn To Obey” (the session’s last one!) are fully made of killer riffs, so yeah, there you go with a rather long answer to your question, hahaha.
I know from our earlier conversations, that you are a huge fan of Sacrifice, so it’s not the biggest surprise to hear Rob Urbinati’s voice on “Icarus”. I was a bit more surprised though to hear Dan Swanö who contributes on one of the songs that really stick out on the record, “Reawakening”. Why did you want Dan on this song, and what are your relationship to the many bands and projects of his?
– Right on…we were interested in adding guests onto “Icarus” that have traditionally meant something for Dew-Scented and therefor it was a bit like ‘trying to keep it in the family’. Rob is a huge influence on my vocals and D-S has covered Sacrifice before (“Apocalypse Inside” on 1999’s “Ill-Natured” album), so that was an obvious choice! Dan Swanö is someone we have known and respected for a long time. We toured back in 1996 with edge Of sanity and funnily enough Marvin was the lead guitarist for Dew-Scented even back then on that tour. Dan did mix our second album “Innoscent” in 1998 and ever since then I have been hoping for the right moment of time to arise for us to co-operate on some level again. I was initially interested in having him coach my vocals for the recordings, but we ended up trading off lines for the song “Reawakening”. That track has some very “open” riffing and sort of called for a cool add like that, with a more deep grunt as contrast to my vocals. I have actually loved most of Dan’s musical output throughout the year. Obviously started with Edge Of Sanity…where I still think “Unorthodox”, “The Spectral Sorrows” and “Purgatory Afterglow” are some of the most intriguing and underrated Death Metal albums EVER. But I also enjoyed the “Moontower” record as well as Dan’s softer side of things with bands like Nightingale and Unicorn. Not sure if you remember, but Dan is even shown wearing a Dew-Scented shirt on the album-sleeve picture of the Nightingale’s “The Closing Chronicles”, so yeah, there’s been plenty of history between D-S and Dan! By the way, Dennis Schneider (Retaliation / Final Breath”) also appears with 2 guest leads on the album and he’s a great shredder that has jammed and rehearsed with us before! So yeah, all in all, we are very proud to have these great musicians and inspiring appearances on our new album!
I guess you have been doing all the lyrics as usual? How will say that your writing has evolved since you first started writing lyrics for Dew-Scented? Where do you mainly draw inspiration from? Are we talking about the usual sources like reading books and watching the news, or do you look elsewhere?
– Hmmm, this is a tough one for me to neutrally comment on! I believe I have learned to articulate myself better in these last years and to write more straight-forward. When I look back to some of the lyrics on the first 3 albums, I am not quite sure I really like all of it. It was way too wanna-be snobbish and also not very mature in how I managed to disguise the actual pun and catchiness. I definitely can still relate to some of the situations that inspired certain tracks, but I probably would do things differently these days. But like with everything in life, writing lyrics is also a learning process. Sometimes the best ideas come up with the most pressure and desperation. I remember how I wrote large parts of “Inwards” in very last minute and I really enjoyed the final results. This is the first album where I think there was a good interplay between the music and the words. I have always tried to use the music and the heaviness of the riffs to inspire the vocals and finally also the lyrics in a certain way. I don’t really “look’” for much inspiration…I actually experience and ‘see enough’ that I can relate to and use as needed. I mean, it’s the striking elements within real life that really channel my lyrics. Not a lot of fiction or fantasy stuff, which I always felt were not personal enough. On “Icarus” obviously one part of the theme goes back to the ancient Greek myth. Without being anywhere close to a concept album, we used elements and some of the symbolism of the saga to kick-start some of the lyrical ideas on our album, so there is some inspiration there, but all finally presented in typical D-S vibe and style…very negative and apocalyptic. I really liked the writing process for this album’s lyrics. I was pretty pushed and motivated by the difficulties of the band’s set-up and used this vent some pretty angry emotions. That always works nicely…
“Icarus” is your ninth album. If someone who reads interview decides to buy your new album, and likes it, where do you feel he or she should go next in your back catalogue?
– I guess I could say probably “Impact” and “Inwards” would be good places to go. Obviously “Invocation” is a bit newer and fresher to my ears as well, but the essence of the band is pretty well captured on those two first mentioned albums. That was a very musical period for the band and you can virtually hear how eager and relentless the band was around then. We were only shaping our trademark sound back then, so I guess that’s why some of those songs have an outstanding punch and surprising element too. We still carry a large amount of the “Impact” album as core section in our current live-shows so I guess that speaks for itself as well. Also production-wise I think those two albums are really strong and capture the band’s approach nicely without much fucking around.
Thanks for your time!
– Actually thanks for yours and for everyone who read this feature! We do appreciated the continuous support and following we are given and certainly don’t take any of it for granted with such a congested and overkilled scene right now! We also hope to be able to return to Norway and Scandinavia in general for shows sooner or later, as it’s been too long! Take care and check out news and upcoming tourdates about the band here: www.dew-scented.net or here: www.facebook.com/dewscented Thrash till death!