Dew-Scented – Intensive Intermination Part I

Sunday, 7th June 2015

Quick – name how often one musician starts a band in his teenage years and two decades plus later, that remains the only band he’s ever performed in for a musical career? How about any professional athlete staying on the same team for 23 years? Well, in the case of vocalist Leif Jensen of German thrash act Dew Scented, his first foray as a teenager into a metal band would remain his sole endeavor, satisfying his desire to push his throat to the limit while unleashing a cache of albums that speak volumes about the enduring appeal of the genre.

Intermination is the band’s tenth studio record, and the quintet shows no signs of relenting to commercial pressure. They prefer to keep their songwriting focused, the riffing intense, and prove that you can have a little death touch in there like a lot of the early 90’s bands such as Dark Angel or Demolition Hammer. Comfortable now with their latest lineup since 2012, Leif has a renewed sense of determination if you will to keep Dew Scented on the right path.

An early Sunday morning chat was in order, and it was a real pleasure to talk to a fellow veteran of the metal scene about his language proficiencies, love for Rob Urbinati and Dan Swanö, as well as all aspects of Dew Scented these days. Here’s what transpired…

Dead Rhetoric: What was your personal music journey like as a child – as in some of your first albums and bands you heard, and how you made the move up the ladder into heavy metal? At what point did you know you wanted to perform in bands?

Leif Jensen: Wow that is like an endless question to start with! I don’t know, I am not sure if you are aware of the fact that I actually grew up in South America. I lived in Columbia as a child and as a teenager so my finding of music went very differently than what you would expect in Germany or over there in the states. Columbia is a bit disconnected when it comes to style, or was around that time before the internet. There were culturally local and national musical styles there- the first things I noticed when I was a kid was the emergence of the boy group bands, Menudo especially. That was the first boy group band ever, 15 years before the Backstreet Boys. I remember those guys, Ricky Martin was in there in case you were wondering (laughs). They were huge, they were all over the place, so I took notice of them and remember having a photo of them somewhere up on my first room. From there, eventually I was taping radio shows on cassettes and the tapes were getting heavier- I had some Kiss on there, Queen which I hate with a passion.

Friends would listen to rock, their brothers would be listening to something heavier- I remember one of my school companions was listening to heavy metal, so he gave me a couple of tapes around 1987-88. I had my grandmother bring me some metal records from Germany when she came over, and I bought everything that I could afford to as a kid and locally in Columbia. You could find Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and a lot of Columbian bands- but apart from that in the 1980’s, you couldn’t find records domestically so it was a bit weird. I got aware of the music from the underground, and older tape trading friends eventually. So I skipped a whole generation of metal, I never heard any Judas Priest, old Maiden- I got started with Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. I actually still have the Columbian version of that record. Around the time I was turning 12,13, and 14, this is what got me started. From there it went to Possessed, Slayer- and I never looked back until 15-20 years later when you start to discover the roots of those heavier bands. The heavier the better for me around that time.

You’ll notice that from us being fanzine people that at some point I was writing for those as a result of the tape trading. I would write to bands, get their demos, and share with them my friends. People asked if I could contribute interviews to Columbian or South American fanzines. I moved to Germany in 1989, so that’s what I did. I would send LP’s and tapes to my Columbian tape trading friends and I ended up writing for a German fanzine called Voices from the Darkside. We did 10 issues along the way, and I got to know all the local bands and people who were into hardcore and metal in the area that we lived. All of a sudden, two local bands Slow Decay and Freedom Begins formed a new group and didn’t have a singer- I met the members at some of those last shows. They wanted me to try out, and up until then I never had a microphone in my hand. I just went along, listened to 2-3 rehearsals without really being involved and liked what I heard. I gave it a shot, it was a painless, organic procedure. I ended up being in that band, which is Dew-Scented. This is my first and my last band as well.

Dead Rhetoric: Intermination is the latest album – this deep into Dew-Scented’s career, what matters most when it comes to the recording and songwriting process for the band?

Jensen: The fun. We challenge ourselves from basically playing together. The one guy with an idea will motivate the others to outdo him along the way, to compose a proper song from it. The challenge of making steps forward, (it) keeps this band going. We have a new scenario since the past couple of years, we have a brand new lineup even though this is our third recording together – it feels sort of new in comparison to the history of the band. We’ve been growing together pretty quickly with this lineup and we have the chance to improve together, to make a next step forward is what keeps things interesting for everybody. I have never had a dull moment in this band – I’ve had a lot of drama along the way but it’s never boring. I guess that’s what keeps you moving.

Dead Rhetoric: Amidst your crushing heaviness, I like a lot of the subtle dynamics put into songs such as “Ode to Extinction” with the slower lead break and bass parts as well as “Living Lies”. It’s as if you understand that albums need an up and down movement, rather than staying in one motion or mood…

Jensen: I appreciate that, that’s cool feedback to know. We understand that even though sometimes it’s easier said than done. We go with the flow with what ideas and riffs you collect for an album, so sometimes if you force yourself to write a slower song, something more mid-paced, it just sounds pretentious and maybe lacks those dynamics at the same time. I think we got lucky that this album offered a lot of possibilities- for the first time we have three songwriters involved because our last record Icarus was just written by Marvin (Vriesde) our guitarist, since the group was only coming together with the new lineup at that time. With this record, Joost (Van Der Graaf) our bass player came up with three songs, Rory (Hansen) the other guitar player came up with three songs and the rest was Marvin so I think this added to the diversity and we had more to choose from. We like the mid-paced stuff when it is powerful, that is the only thing it needs to be strong and heavy. If it isn’t we aren’t going to use it, we won’t even finish writing it. Those two songs you mentioned, they do the record well because things pick up again after them (and) it’s good for keeping the listener entertained.

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