Dew-Scented – Intensive Intermination Part ISunday, 7th June 2015
Dead Rhetoric: Dew-Scented has always straddled the lines of underground thrash with nuances of death – do you know as you are developing material what criteria are necessary to ensure harmony between band happiness and desire to fulfill your fans’ expectations?
Jensen: No, we try not to think too much about it. Obviously we hope that if we like it and we feel that it’s good for the band that the people who understand and have been supportive of the band will agree with us. We are sort of our own quality filter in an unspoken way. We don’t sit down and review the material and go ‘what are people going to think of this?’ If there is stuff that is daring or maybe a riff that we are unsure about, we obviously give it some second thoughts but we are not going to make a call depending on whether it could generate weird public feedback or not. We sort of know what this band is all about by now and try to write along those lines. If we write a new gothic metal song- which I doubt we ever will- I’m pretty sure we would notice that it wouldn’t fit our concept or flow. Everybody is involved with other bands apart from me, so that could be used in another outlet. Once we get into a writing mode, we understand what this band needs and that’s what keeps us focused.
Dead Rhetoric: Since 2010’s Invocation, the band has distinct deals with Metal Blade across Europe and Prosthetic for North America. How do you believe this is working out this many years in?
Jensen: I think very well. The labels took (us) on around the time that we were an established band, we toured internationally and our fair share for at least 10 years. Both labels knew what they were getting into, they are living up to their promises and doing a good job. We are actually happy with the deals because we prepare the package and deliver it to two partners that are good at what they do. That’s the right way of having a relationship these days for a band like us. This is our tenth record, it blows my mind to even say that.
Dead Rhetoric: That’s very true, because not a lot of bands get to say they’ve done ten studio records and been together for as long as you’ve been able to stay a group.
Jensen: I feel very privileged because of that, because this is not paying our rent. We are not professionals, we call this like a full time hobby. For this to be able to do so much touring, to be able to have some spotlight and people listening to our music, I think it’s a very rare situation. A lot of my favorite bands personally, haven’t made it this far. I’ve seen a lot of better musicians and better, more ambitious bands fail throughout the years so I’m very happy to have reached this point and still not even feel too old or empty.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering the lineup changes that have happened over the course of Dew-Scented’s 23 year plus career, what do the latest members bring to the table in comparison to long-timers like guitarist Florian Müller and drummer Uwe Werning for example?
Jensen: To compare it on a personal level is going to make it very hard because everybody brought something to the table for his time. It was the engine that kept the band going around a certain period or a certain chapter of our activity. When Florian… we were growing up together and lives evolve differently. I was just texting him this morning so we haven’t completely lost contact but money, jobs, moving to different cities- all that stuff can get in the way. You just discover that you don’t have that vibe or atmosphere of togetherness anymore, and that’s when you have to change things around. Uwe got into the family thing, and he’s happy right now. The new lineup brings more… how can I say this without sounding lame. We have a better vibe and atmosphere, it’s very smooth. Everybody deals with each other on a very equal level, on a personal and musical basis. Everybody has a similar type of skill set on their instruments, we have a good understanding of where we are at and where we want to reach with the band. Sometimes the sky was the limit and you realize it’s tougher to make it than you were hoping it to be.
We have learned what the band is and what the possibilities are. It is so different when you are 15 than when you are 38 as I am now. You are definitely more realistic about things and that helps you enjoy what you have. This has been the savior for the band- I was going to call it quits around 2011 and only when Martin suggested taking over the songwriting and taking care of assembling a lineup that would get along because we weren’t getting along with the previous lineup anymore. That is when this came up, I’ve been as happy as it gets with this situation we have now. I think you can hear that in the albums as well- if something was wrong or foul, you could hear it through the music anyway.
Dead Rhetoric: Your vocal influences include Dan Swanö and Rob Urbinati (Sacrifice). What captivates you about both their approaches? Have you ever had any vocal issues through the years?
Jensen: It’s just funny…they both actually appeared as guest vocals on our Icarus album. I’m sort of like crossing off a couple of my favorite vocalists names on an internal check list basically. We have Kyle Thomas on the new record from Exhorder/Trouble, he’s on the song “Reborn” with (me) so that’s another childhood dream of mine. He’s one of my favorite vocalists for extreme metal. Rob actually comes through – a lot of those vocalists like Chuck Schuldiner, Rob of Sacrifice, Tomas in At the Gates- you can hear that, I like this intense, shrieking, aggressive scream a lot more than the flat growl or things that are too guttural expressions. I thought that it has a bit more balls to do the vocals this way. It sounds like the throat is about to rupture and explode, that’s what I like about thrash and death metal vocals. You listen to an old Demolition Hammer record and you can feel the intensity and flat out aggression. That’s what motivated me in the first place- I never had any education or (was) taught how to do vocals.
I know my vocals are a love or hate situation – a lot of people think it’s not cool or unlistenable and I am fine with that because they are just rough basically. I have had issues during tours when you get sick, a cold, or you don’t have good technique for breathing we try our best. I don’t know what a doctor would say about my throat if he were to look at the cords, he would say I would be doing damage but this is what it takes to be a vocalist in thrash/death. And Dan Swanö, he is just an amazing vocalist. All of his styles, he can do almost everything- I would love to hear him do some thrash. Apart from that, the pop stuff, prog stuff, death metal, grindcore – you name it he has done all the different sounds with his voice and I love the quality of what he does.
Part II of Matt Coe’s interview with Leif Jensen will run tomorrow, June 8th.
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