Dew-Scented – When Death Metal Still Comes Out Smelling Of Roses
When Nile came over to the UK with their ‘Those whom the Gods Detest’ tour earlier this year, there was no better support act column than what was bought over; Dew-Scented being one of them. Unfortunately for us Londoners, the band were unable to make the show and unleash their speed splendour but were more than happy to talk to Soundshock about the tour and their almost two-decade reign.
The Germans have taken influence from their homeland’s Teutonic thrash and fused it with the fury of deathly violence of the Scandinavian cold, to create something that has kept them going strong for over 20 years. With eight albums under their bullet belts vocalist Lief Jensen seems happy with their continuation of collecting followers one by one, in a Pied Piper manner. Despite such a long term relationship with the metal scene, and a large amount of former members, Dew-Scented are still modest and friendly enough to talk about the past, the present and the future with us.
How was the tour with Nile?
D-S: Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the London show where we were supposed to meet for this interview because of a problem with our bus at the ferry in Scotland. It was a bummer to miss that show because we haven’t played in London for about 4 years now and we were truly looking forward to seeing some friends there. Anyhow, all in all the tour was really good! We had a lot of super cool shows and always pretty solid attendance. Most of all, it was good to travel to a lot of cities and even some countries where we had never ever played before. The feedback was especially rewarding in those places…
What’s it like being on tour with bands like Nile & Melechesh?
D-S: It’s actually just a good time, ha-ha! No really, we did like the idea of having a 5 band package where all bands are stylistically a bit different so that there is a pretty individual sound to each of the bands. We were playing middle slot (third position) so we had to make sure to always give 110% because all the other bands are really good live-acts, so there was no chance of taking it “easier” at any of the gigs. Not that we would have wanted to anyhow, ha-ha. We had toured successfully all over Europe (incl. UK and Ireland) with Nile already in 2003 and it was good to finally be able to team up with those guys again, as they treated us in a really good way. Also, it was good to see that both Dew-Scented and Nile are still doing well like 8 years after we first toured together, even despite the fact that both bands have switched line-up’s quite severely and also the scene surrounding us has indeed changed quite a bit as well! Melechesh were really cool too. They definitely have something pretty interesting going on and the positive audience reactions speak for themselves. I thought their latest album is pretty cool!
Dew -Scented are quite a bit more thrash influenced, how were you received on this bill?
D-S: It was fine actually, even though it was clearly a rather Death Metal oriented audience and also not many pure Thrash maniacs around at the shows. Having said that, I think we are almost used to play on “heavier” bills with Death Metal acts, as we haven’t really done “pure Thrash” tours very often for this reason or another. So, no problem with that all…it really only makes you push harder and get the most aggressive performance lined up that you can. I consider Dew-Scented an intense live band most of all, so we really don’t mind playing with Death Metal, Hardcore/Metalcore or even regular heavy Metal bands as long as people give s a fair chance. The reactions on this Nile tour were extremely positive at most of the shows and we had some fun pits and crazy headbanging going on!
Since you started what has been your favourite country or favourite festival to play?
D-S: Oh boy, that’s really not easy to define! I actually think each place has its very own and unique upsides (and downsides) too. Obviously we always had a quite good following in Germany, so we are not going to complain about our own scene. I also really liked the feedback in Eastern Europe on this latest tour. Unfortunately there were no gigs in France or Spain / Portugal on the run with Nile, as those countries have always been fun to play with Dew-Scented too. All in all, I think we have managed to make a good impact and some fair following all over the place, which is better than only having a strong focus on certain places. In the end of the day were dealing with Thrash Metal here and that’s a movement that happens globally and where the people who dig the style will come out to support you everywhere with equal passion, no matter if you play in North America, Japan or…yeah, Malta. We like new challenges and being able to see new places, so let’s see what comes up next…
Your latest instalment ‘Invocation’ came out last year? How do you feel the band has evolved in the almost 20 years of Dew-Scented?
D-S: Well, I definitely think we have found a somewhat trademark sound around the time of the release of the album “Inwards” in 2002. In this last decade, we have been trying to come up with intense quality albums year in and year out, regardless of the heavy touring schedules and the fact that we had a lot of setbacks with changes of members. It has been quite hard at times but our interest has been to keep things entertaining for ourselves as fans of the style as well, so every new recording possibility and most of all, every new tour possibility kept us moving forwards. I think we have become a lot better songwriters than in the early days, knowing what our strong points are, but also what our weaknesses might be. I would like to think that we are also more “aware” musicians, knowing to value the chances we are given as well as the fact that the band continues to break new ground every new year and every new album that we release!
Is there a reason why all your album titles begin with the letter ‘I’, or is that just a coincidence?
D-S: Purely a coincidence! Nah, seriously it’s a thread that we have going on since our second album, really. Originally we only meant to have the second record “connected” via the title to our debut, but then all of a sudden the band continued to move forwards and we had a theme going. I guess people have discovered the “concept” by now and we even managed to get some submissions by fans lined-up as suggestions for future releases some while ago, which shows you that people do care about it. Anyhow, the idea is to continue with this “one word starting with the letter I” thing as long as the titles keep making sense for each release and also its artwork’s concept. We have never made it a mandatory thing and would not really mind to break that up if a new album really demanded it.
In interviews you’ve stated that you were influenced by the Swedish death sound, which definitely comes through in your music. When it comes to thrash would you say your traditional routes come through?
D-S: Well yeah, I guess we are influenced by everything that we enjoy to listen to in a way. After so many years of being around and also after releasing already 8 albums I don’t think you really look left and right anymore to check into what other bands are doing, as far as getting influences. I mean, I think that we have been influenced by our own history and a will to make things better “by our own rules”, so to say. I definitely think that whatever we listened to in the early 90’s (which happens to often be the same stuff we still listen to these days….) did have an impact on our learning process as fans, but also as starting musicians. The first wave of Swedish Death Metal with bands like Entombed or Dismember, but also the West Coast sound of bands like At The Gates, Eucharist, etc. did leave a lasting impression on us for sure. Having said that, I think Bay Area Thrash Metal by bands like Testament, Exodus, Slayer, early Metallica, Violence and many more is what probably shaped our taste the most when we started to get involved with the scene for real. So yeah, I would like to think of Dew-Scented as a band that learnt the “how to’s” with the first wave of Thrash and Death Metal, but we have tried to always perform our own music at the heaviest and in the most modern possible shape, plus with an own attitude. I guess that explains the mix of styles we seem to have come up with…
After almost 20 years in the business what do you think of the state of the metal scene?
D-S: Well, I guess the scene keeps changing all the time so it’s hard to make an educated statement with a rather superficial and short-cut answer. I think our early inspirations and also our first supporters are starting to get older with us now too, while there are completely new generations of listeners and musicians emerging all the time. Those can add some new impulse as well as ideas to the traditional set-up’s, but at the same time it seems that each scene and type of sub-genre has its own life and place to subsist. Sometimes it feels like a time warp where nothing changes, but other times I go to certain other shows and I see mainly teens listening to really extreme sounds, which really blows me away. I mean, we play with bands like Heathen in front of a more traditional audience with denim jackets and patches and then in the same year we stand in front of a Suicide Silence audience with really young kids full of tattoos and colourful t-shirts. It’s all good really, because it’s all extreme music really. Even though I mainly listen to bands that I have been into since I originally got into this style of music, I still happen to discover a cool new bands every once in a while that totally blows me away…so yeah, I am not one of those who claim that everything used to be better, hahaha. That said…wow; 20 years…time really flies when you are having fun!
Do you ever check out newer bands? If so who has caught your attention?
D-S: Yeah, I do…I was just speaking about it, hahaha! I get into younger Thrash bands like Warbringer or also recently I was quite impressed by the debut album of Vektor. I also liked Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy, Gojira are obviously a killer band too, even if not really “new” at all either. I also liked Protest The Hero a lot, or for example The Faceless or Obscura. In terms of more melodic Metal I really got into Enforcer and In Solitude from Sweden – both very promising bands. But yeah, there is a lot of talent coming up in different styles these days, as most young bands have really good instrumental skills and know how to deliver the goods live…
Dew-Scented is an Edgar Allan Poe term if I am correct? Are you quite into literature or do you like to get trashed like every other thrasher?
D-S: I don’t even know if that’s really true, but yeah, that’s what the story says, hahaha. I think the Poe reference might have been caused by us at first, when asked about the weirdness of the band name. I might have replied “It was from a poem, maybe by E.A. Poe, or so?!” It was a miscellaneous piece, so I wouldn’t really know myself anymore…I just happened to like the enigmatic and pretty “original” approach of the term and decided to suggest it to the other guys in the band at practise while we didn’t have a name for the band chosen yet. They surprisingly all liked it and we moved forwards without questioning if it really fits to the style of music that we are about to present to the public, but oh well. I was reading a fair bit when I was a teenager and in school, even though I enjoyed partying and getting trashed as well. That was a good time really, as there weren’t many responsibilities and a loooot of time for music, really. I don’t read much these days anymore…no idea why. I guess I am a mix of too lazy and also too impatient. I don’t seem to find much time to slow down much these last years!
With all the line up changes, which are understandable for such a long career, what would you say has been the biggest hurdle for Dew Scented to getting to where you are today?
D-S: Well yeah, definitely as you say the line-up changes were always a huge obstacle, as not only was the mission to have an enjoyable and smooth atmosphere between the band members, but also we wanted to raise the bar musically all the time. Our aim was to remain having a somewhat trademark sound for Dew-Scented, but also keep progressing as songwriters and performers as well, which isn’t easy if the team around you changes drastically every once in a while. I guess the fact that we can’t financially survive through the music hasn’t made things easier for us throughout the years, because while you are expected to give your all for the music, it simply wouldn’t pay your bills at home. That said, I guess that’s the same problem for all bands out there, so we really haven’t been in a really especially dramatic situation. In fact, I actually think we have been quite fortunate to have received some attention and chances from the very beginning, which allowed the band to keep growing and developing an own identity in the turn of the years. I won’t really complain about anything at this stage really…
You’ve said that you’ve wanted to be original with everything you write? How do you feel about your lyrics in comparison with others of your time?
D-S: Well, the lyrics are a quite interesting thing about Dew-Scented indeed. I have written them since the very beginning and keep on trying to find cool topics and strong language to support the new songs that the band comes up with. It’s not an easy task when you have written about +100 songs and if you know me, you will understand that I am not quite a very aggressive of “heavy” person, so that it’s not always easy to get myself in the right mood to write the stuff that the style demands. That said, I used to write very hidden and hard to decipher stuff in the early days of the band, which didn’t make it easy to “perform” and also get a certain vibe across. Part of the learning process was to drop the “veil” and make sure the message is understood better by simply writing in a more straight forward way. I think starting with the “Impact” album in 2003 I was reaching the point where the lyrics really did their own part well. I have mainly related to personal stuff and points of view in the lyrics, so it’s hard to judge and compare them really, but to me, they are a great opportunity to vent and get rid of a lot of the negativity and frustration from my everyday life, so that’s a great comfort. I like to think that the band helps me staying a pretty normal and relaxed guy…
Despite signing to a label like Nuclear Blast are you still working day jobs to keep you up right?
D-S: Oh yeah, we all have jobs that need to pay for things. We have never managed to live from the music and in all honesty, our style of Metal is pretty extreme and underground, so that it would be foolish to think that it can cover your bills. Having said that, I only want to quickly point out that we are no longer with Nuclear Blast Records these days…Our latest release “Invocation” from 2010 came out via Metal Blade Records in Europe.
If you weren’t in the music industry what would be your ideal job?
D-S: I don’t know. Haven’t really thought about that, to be honest, hahaha! Maybe something that involves journalism? That’s what I originally wanted to study for, but I wasn’t patient enough, hahaha. Or maybe it would be something with flowers or on a farm? I don’t know really…
What are the plans for the rest of the year?
D-S: Not much at all, really! We will be taking a bit of a break from touring now after the 4 weeks with Nile in order to focus on working on new songs for a next album recording. We will play some very few selected festival dates in the Summer after all, but I guess we will really try to make a killer new album next, so that will require attention and time off the road, because we are not the type of band that can easily write when touring!
With the festival season round the corner, what would be your ideal festival line-up?
D-S: Hmm, to be honest, I think Party.San festival (where we are also playing this year…) is looking pretty sweet with Morbid Angel, At The Gates, Morgoth, Triptykon and many more. Also, Hellfest in France has about the best line up’s, year by year. The guy booking the festival really has a solid taste that I could easily approve that one, hahaha! And he even has Coroner doing a reunion there, so that’s extra sweet! If it was fully up to me only, I would book the following bands for my very personal (reunion styled) festival: Acid Bath, Trouble (with Eric Wagner), The Obsessed, Amebix, Nasty Savage, Thought Industry, Confessor, Discharge and well yeah, Thin Lizzy (original line-up, of course!) would be headlining and then Tori Amos would play the after-show party on a piano in the corner of a really small bar. Wow, what a trip that would be! Anyhow, thanks a lot for this interview and for the support you are giving us.
Check out Dew-Scented at Party-San, Germany, 11-13 August.
Interview conducted and written for Soundshock by Lily Randall
Published on Soundshock.com