Lady Luck has not always been on the side of the German Thrash/Death Metal powerhouse Dew-Scented but that never stopped them from pursuing their goal of performing honest and good quality music to their loyal fans. An hour or so prior to providing a warm and energetic opening performance for the mighty Death Angel, singer and founding member Leif Jensen took the time for an honest and warm discussion with yours truly. Topics discussed? How constant changes in the band’s line-up have affected the band’s momentum, his take on the German scene and the reasons why Dew-Scented have struggled to make a name for themselves in Britain and North America but also his hopes towards the creation of a good quality album sometime next spring.
Leif: It is a great thing to hear. “Impact” is one of our best efforts, an album that we still like to listen to ourselves. We will be playing a bunch of songs from that record tonight for you so that is extra cool.
Leif: No, we have mainly been here as a support act and, honestly, this is very difficult territory for us. I mean, we have always enjoyed playing in the UK and Ireland but this is not a territory that we can easily visit for shows. I don’t know why that is: maybe because this is such a competitive market and there are always too many bands playing shows over here at any given time. I remember the last time we came to England, it was back in 2011 when we did about eight shows but we missed the London show as we had an accident with our tour bus. We were stuck somewhere in Scotland spending an off day while the tour was taking place in London which was a big bummer to say the least. It seems that we have been out of focus for four or five years as a result, at least as far as London is concerned, and that’s a long time to be away from things, you know? We would like to use tonight’s gig as a showcase to present the new line up and our new songs but, at the same time, to reintroduce ourselves to a London Metal audience. Maybe we will have a chance to come back to London sometime next year: maybe somebody can bring us over for a festival or a nice billing that will enable us to play in front of a bigger number of people. We are a live band and that’s why we always return. We like it here.
Leif: We have played here a couple of times before and, personally, I don’t think that the Underworld is a bad venue at all. I actually think that it’s a cool venue and that it has quite some charm. I have personally seen quite a few great gigs taking place here, not only from my own band but from others too as a London tourist, and I got to say that I really understand the mechanics of the London Metal scene. If you sell out the Barfly, you move up to the next level. If you sell out the Underworld, you move up to the next level. There’s a lot of activity here, there are a lot of events and a lot of venues. We have certainly played bigger than this as a support band but we have also played in smaller venues so I personally think that it is a good place to perform in. It should make for an intense and energetic show, hopefully, and I am sure that people will like it as Death Angel are a killer band live. I think that between them and us we are going to make it a good night for people who like Metal.
Leif: I think that both things have happened – as a result of losing members; this is always a backward step as far as I am concerned. You always have to search hard for a new band member and it takes time to get the band sound tight again, to make it become an item by re-rehearsing the songs and create a new live set for the fans. That takes quite some effort and if you have a steady line up you only walk forwards, you know? We don’t have that. We’ve had plenty of throwbacks and we’ve been through plenty of situations where the band was basically dead, broken up but not in the eyes of the public, you know? This all took place behind closed doors and I sort of said “Ok, you know what: I don’t need somebody else’s opinion of my band. I am going to present them a new band when it’s ready enough” and I tried to do that as quickly as possible so that we didn’t lose heat and good opportunities. I have seen the positive side of these line-up changes, as there is always a fresh amount of talent and energy involved, and I believe that all of the line-ups that I’ve had demonstrated what the band was all about at that moment in time when each album was recorded. I don’t think that we have created perfect albums: I think that we have recorded fairly good albums for the band as it was at any given moment in time. Each album is a snap-shot of the band’s history. Yeah, we’re simply trying to progress as a band. We’re trying to keep faithful to our style of music and, at the same time, become better musicians, better song writers and create the best kind of albums that we possibly can. I think that this line-up that we’ve got now, the one which recorded “Icarus” and our anniversary collection called “Insurgent”, has plenty of potential and, on a pure musical level, it is the most relaxed but also the most ambitious pairing that we’ve ever had. I mean, these guys are kick-ass musicians, something that you will hopefully see and hear tonight for yourself. We are having a really good time together and I believe that this also translates into the songs. I think that you can really hear that when the band is having a good time on stage, when they really enjoy what it is that they do, and that only good things will come out of this. So, the struggle is definitely worth it knowing where it is that we are right now. But, like you said, opinions do vary. There are people saying things like: “The band used to be better and I prefer the old stuff” or even “Why are you pushing things forward?” and you know what? That’s fine with me. You cannot please everybody and, at the same time, I am not even trying to do that. We are only trying to please ourselves and if somebody agrees with us and wants to see our show or buy our record and support us in that way then that’s really cool – if not…hey, not a problem either, you know?
Leif: Thank you very much. That’s very good to hear and this is why we wanted them to be included there. We wanted to show our fans how well the new line-up performs both our old and current songs. This is a lifestyle kind of music. I believe that our music is made to be performed in a live environment. We create our albums because it is a challenge to make them, all the hard work it takes to record in a studio and achieve a good production and, at the same time, we are able to play them live too. I think that you are right when you say that we are the definition of a live band, for better or worse.
Leif: That was back in 2005.
Leif: …and this is why I said “for better or worse”. Some people appreciate that thing about us but others may say “That is not very interesting as there is nothing like a story or theme behind them”, you know? I personally think that this is the way to do things. I believe that it should all be about a band presenting itself in an honest way and, since this is our way of doing things, then this is what you will get out of us. We’ve never has things like ‘tactical meetings’ with the other band members in twenty years of existence. We have never explored ways of artificially improving the band and make things more interesting on a visual level. I think that this is what you will see again tonight: a hopefully good representation of our songs but it is plainly all about the music and a few sweaty musicians performing it.
Leif: Yes, I think you’re right. We’ve had, throughout the years, a good understanding of where it is that we’ve come from. I was raised with…my friends have been listening a lot to Punk and Hardcore music and I myself listen to a lot of that stuff as well. I just like its straight forward nature and not any unnecessary bullsh*t. I can live without the Heavy Metal ‘cheese’, all this fake, inflated ego Rock star bullsh*t and hopefully we are picking the right type of bands to tour with in order to avoid any such associations. We try to go on tour with bands that are honest: good live bands because that is the only way to guarantee us having a good time and as much as we keep having a good time doing this we will continue with this band. I think that if we end up having a couple of miserable years we will probably split up. We are trying to avoid that. We are trying to go out with the right bands and Death Angel are a good example of what we’re looking for. They are a killer band and super nice people, always giving 100% when on stage night after night after night. I like that: that is what one’s got to do. Eventually people will catch on to that, you know? Eventually, as you’re saying, you’ll have this picture in your head from what you saw of us eight or nine years ago which ended up being a positive memory and that’s great. That’s the biggest compliment that you could hope to get: more than selling a certain amount of albums or getting a certain award or having so many friends on the Internet and likes on your Facebook page. It’s all cool stuff, all part of the game, but…
Leif: Right (laughs).
Leif: It has and it hasn’t. Germany is quite a crowded place when it comes to Metal bands and all the different scenes are equally big there. Germany is in the centre of Europe so all the important tours go through there and it is the country of big festivals. We’ve got more festivals than we do fans over there, which is incredible. At first, being from Germany was an advantage because we could very easily travel in order to do shows for a case of beer in the Netherlands or to Italy to play a weekend of shows without having many expenses to worry about and we would get plenty of respect from the German audience. I think that we had a very good underground level support from the very beginning in our home scene which is very good – not all the bands have that. Some bands have to get out of their country in order to get respect. So, I think that it was an advantage but, at the same time, people, I think, took us for granted for a while as a result of constantly being there, always playing, always releasing new records and always sounding the same. So many people probably thought: “Maybe I don’t need to support them all the time” and that is, of course, a disadvantage. Sometimes the situation is, especially in Germany, that bands, especially those from America, are always seen as more interesting. I don’t know why that is but I’ve heard this from many different people – not only in Germany but in the rest of the Europe as well. Even a smaller band than your own coming from America will always play after you because they are cooler, more exotic, more professional in the eyes of the promoters and the fans…whatever. I think that this is not always the case, to be honest, but at a certain moment in time I think that it wasn’t too helpful for us being Germans as the German scene is pretty full with bands. As a German band we haven’t had an easy time in other places; you don’t have an easy time in North America to start with, you don’t have an easy time in the UK or in Scandinavia. So, you’ve got to work harder and eventually the name Dew-Scented also didn’t help that much as it confused a lot of people. I still remember the first time we went to North America back in 2005 for a proper tour. We were in the middle of nowhere playing small venues in small cities and people were “We saw your name and we thought cool: there will be a great Gothic show tonight” to which I would say: “This is not a Gothic band” (laughs). But, you know, the name is confusing, right, so…yes, there have definitely been both positives and negatives with regards our activities over the years.
Leif: I agree but, there you go.
Leif: I cannot say too much because we’re not there just yet. We’ve got a handful of songs in writing; we’ve got another two songs that we’ve only got started writing but we are hoping to be recording a new album this coming spring. The thing that makes it very interesting for me is that, right now, everybody in this band is writing. The last studio album “Icarus” and also the two new tracks included in “Insurgent” were ideas by Marvin (note: Vriesde) our new guitar player. Now our drummer is involved in the creative process, the bass player has brought in a song and obviously writes his own parts, and the other guitar player Rory (note: Hansen) is working on two songs and might be involved in ever more as his ideas are really cool. So we’re just going to take our time in order to make the best possible album as a group of musicians and allow everybody to chip in new ideas which means that maybe the new album will not come out as quickly as we initially thought but we’re excited about all these new possibilities. Now we have a feeling of unity within the group as we have been together for one and a half years and have had a really good run of quality shows, good releases and an overall good atmosphere in the band which I am sure will positively influence the quality of our next record.
Leif: Thank you very much – I really appreciate it.
Leif: Yes, excellent.