German thrashers Dew-Scented have celebrated their 20th anniversary in truly sensational style, with their massive new album, ‘Icarus’ – which we at Planet Mosh described as a defining moment for both the band and thrash metal as a whole, awarding it 10/10 in the process. It’s against this backdrop that we sit down for a timely chat with the band’s sole remaining founder member, vocalist Leif Jensen.
First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to Planet Mosh: we’d like to start by asking for your thoughts on the how the new album, ‘Icarus’ has turned out – has it come out the way you first envisaged when you first sat down to write it?
Actually yes, we are more than happy! The band went through a tough period (with the line-up change drama and an uncertain future…) right before we started the song-writing for ‘Icarus’, so I personally wasn’t sure where the ride would take us. However, it seems that in the end that only made us work harder and it probably also added a nicely aggressive tone to things. We didn’t approach things too tactically with this record, so I think what you hear is an authentic and very straight forward representation of what Dew-Scented is all about in 2012. I also think it shows progress in the right direction for us as musicians, without changing the style all too much…
Can you take us through a few of the key moments? Are there any tracks which you yourself would select as ‘stand outs’?
Well, I think this album has wider variety and some surprising fresh details to it, so it wouldn’t be fair to point out certain parts as highlights. But I guess ‘Sworn To Obey’, ‘Thrown To The Lions’ and ‘Storm Within’ are songs that show you well what Dew-Scented is all about in 2012, which is why we used them as promotional tracks to tease the release a while back online. I actually think ‘The Fall Of Man’ is another one of my personal faves, and those songs all seem to match well as part of our new setlist, so that’s a great thing as well! All in all, I feel ‘Icarus’ is an album that works smoothly from front to back, so I hope people give it time and patience to grown on them…
Have you been pleased with the reception it has received?
Absolutely! It seems there is a solid interest for Dew-Scented right now and also a pretty positive feedback towards the album! I mean, I guess whoever never really liked D-S or the extreme style of metal we play will not really dig the new effort either. But, those “who know” will hopefully appreciate the album for what it is…
This album was recorded with a whole new band. What challenges did this bring?
Oh several, as we needed to make sure it doesn’t change the overall route for the band and at the same time we needed to find each other, as players and performers. It helped that the actual song material was all written by Marvin (guitars), who knows the band extremely well. His ideas were spot on with what I was hoping would be the way to go, so that was pretty relaxed and creative as a far as the pre-production session. The click with the other guys was pretty instant and effortless actually. Great musicians and very relaxed personalities! It’s been a great to jam together so far…
Did the fact that three of the guys – Koen, Joost and Rory – had worked together before (in I Chaos) make it easier for them to slot into the Dew-Scented set-up as a complete unit?
Yeah, I would think so. But then again they all joined the D-S ranks one after another, so it wasn’t really a set plan from the very beginning. We first brought Koen as drummer on board and when we realized that it would make more sense for Marvin to concentrate on the guitar stuff for ‘Icarus’ (as there was ton of it…otherwise Marvin could have handled bass recordings too!), Joost was suggested as bassist. This was a killer move, as he added a great amount of spice and awesome lines to the album. Rory only joined us after the recordings for ‘Icarus’ were already finished. The guys are good friends with each other and a super-tight unit, so of course that’s an advantage.
You’d worked with Marvin (Vriesde) before, but only really in a session role: he was very much more involved in the writing of ‘Icarus’: what new dynamic did he bring that wasn’t there before?
Well, Marvin has always been the # 1 sidekick for D-S, so it was about time to work together ‘properly’ at last. It hadn’t worked out before for various reasons, so I was extremely excited to be able to have him on board this time around, finally. We have been friends for long time and Marvin knows this band better than anyone else really does. So it was a natural and very obvious choice to put the band’s musical future in his hands, I like his style of writing and his trademark melody shown in the riffing! I think that added a nice fresh element to the typical Dew-Scented approach without going too far away from the band’s traditional ways…
You had two very special guest performers on the album: Dan Swanö and Rob Urbinati. You’ve cited them as major influences on your own vocal style, so what was it like to share a studio with them?
Well, we didn’t physically share a studio, as they both did their parts at home in different studios and then submitted the recordings for us to incorporate them in the mix…it’s the beauty of modern times, really, haha?! But yeah, I am super honoured and thrilled to have two such outstanding musicians appear on ‘Icarus’. It feels like a nice icing on the cake and a sweet bonus treat for people who enjoy the new album. It sort of rounds off the whole ”collective” type of approach we sensed while making this album come to life…
Why does every Dew-Scented album begin with the letter ‘I’: does it have some special meaning to you personally?
I guess we simply needed something to still talk about 20 years later?!
The band has been around for 20 years now: when you were starting out, did you ever think you would be marking this sort of anniversary?
No obviously not! Otherwise we might not have had that idea with the one word titles starting with the letter “I”, haha! It was initially meant to give a feel of unity to our first two albums. I don’t think anybody of us was really looking further than that into the future… It blows me away every time I think about the fact that it’s been two decades already. Crazzzzyyyy…..
Looking back over those two decades, what have been the highs?
A ton of cool music, seeing distant places and making a lot of friends in the turn of the years! Those should be the clear highlights so far…and that we fact that we continue to have fun and solid challenges with our music after such a long time is another great fact! I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be so satisfying in the long run…
And the lows?
A lot of drama and wasted time between line-up changes and starting from scratch is surely something I could have lived without. We probably did a ton of “mistakes” on different levels throughout the turn of the years, but I guess that’s normal and you hopefully will manage to learn from those and shape your career better afterwards?! All in all, it has luckily been more good than bad things on our way…
Is there anything you would change?
Nah, not really…
You’re known for your intense touring schedules – schedules which have often proven too much for you band mates in the past: can we expect another equally intense bout of live gigs in support of ‘Icarus’?
Well, I would like to think that we have learned to pick our battles. We will certainly play live and do a fair share of touring too, but it must make sense and mean a good step forwards for us as individuals and the band as group. Touring is demanding and not always as fun or easy as one might think. But that said, I personally still really enjoy the challenges and hope to be able to showcase this great new shape the band has also in the UK, where we last played early 2011. Check back on our websites and online outlets for news and updates about the touring side of things!
Any plans to play the UK and/or Ireland?
Nothing solid yet, but we would certainly like to return in 2013. We always had a great time there and can’t wait to present some of the ‘Icarus’ material on stages over there too!
That’s it. Thanks very much for your time.
Oh you are welcome. Thanks for your time with this interview and also thanks for the support you are giving Dew-Scented. We definitely appreciate it!
Check out www.Dew-Scented.net and/or for news and update of the band. Take care and keep it heavy!
Band photos by Ester Segarra.
‘Icarus’ is out now on Metal Blade.