Interview with Germany Thrash outfits Dew-Scented
Germany’s Dew-Scented have been part of the leading forces of a new breed of Thrash Metal ever since their foundations in 1992. After having released their first an only demo tape “Symbolization” the band signed to Steamhammer/SPV for their 1996 debut release “Immortelle”. Now on Metal Blade they have recently released “Insurgent” part compilation part live album. We got the chance to speak to Leif Jensen on art direction, vision and flight of the Icarus.
HMA: Greetings Leif and welcome to Heavy Music Artwork.
Dew-Scented: Our pleasure. Thanks a lot for having us…
HMA: Your latest release “Insurgent” is part compilation part live album. Can you tell us more about this release and what should one expect from it?
Dew-Scented: Well, yeah it started off as a simple idea of presenting a couple of new songs to show the quick progress D-S was going through with our new line-up after the “Icarus” album. It was at first maybe only gonna be an EP but then we had a really good full live show recorded as well and realized we might as well do a cool, limited and special prized release for our 20th band-anniversary. We ended up adding several bonus tracks as well for the last 2 album sessions, so it came out to be quite a complete overview with a playing time of over 72 minutes. I really like how “Insurgent” turned out and hope people will appreciate it for what it is too…
HMA: Was the recording and mixing process any different for this album?
Dew-Scented: Yes, it was, because one of the initial reasons for this project was that we wanted to test the new studio our drummer Koen had just finished building. So we decided to track the 3 brand-new songs (2 own and one cover) there for the first time. We ended up mixing the record with Jörg Uken at Soundlodge Studios, where we also did “Icarus” and the previous records. But this was a great way of seeing how things would go if we are a bit more hands-on in the recording process. We are actually pretty happy with how the sound turned out, so it really was a good experience.
HMA: I believe the album marks 20 years anniversary. How has it been so far… what is that one experience that made it all worth it?
Dew-Scented: Oh yeah, experience, places we have seen, friends we mad and the huge amount of fun as well as satisfaction involved with playing music were more than worth it. Obviously, it’s not a financial decision to play in such an extreme and rather underground-based band, but we love what we do and enjoy the time we spend together for this. I think if there weren’t so much good times involved, it would have been pretty easy top quit in the rougher times we also went through. In the end of the day, the good always outweighed the band, so it wasn’t really a plan to stick around this long. Time simply flew by and we happened to still be there. Looking back I’m obviously were proud of all we have managed to achieve during this time, but I’m mostly happy that we have some good stuff ahead of us and enjoying what we do right now…therefor we have never really looked back, but always tried to keep the focus on moving forwards!
HMA: Cover art is really interesting, would you say that the stiches joints all the years of hard dedication to the music?
Dew-Scented: That’s definitely one-way of putting it! We wanted some good symbolism involved with the title as well as the details in the artwork and I think Björn of Killustrations.com once again managed to come up with an extremely interesting and visually striking result for D-S. I remember when I first saw a rough version of this idea for the front-cover artwork, it made me feel really bad in the stomach and it was a rather unpleasant sensation… so I immediately thought: cool, that’s it. We got it… hahaha!
HMA: Your latest full-length “Icarus” released last years. How the reception been so far?
Dew-Scented: It was great! I think we were given a fair chance and a good ear by the people who supported the band so far and who know the odds of this style of music. ”Icarus” marks a new beginning for us with the massive changes of line-up and I was hoping people wouldn’t automatically turn their backs on us. We worked hard on making “Icarus” a smooth step forwards for D-S and were hoping it would be understood as a new chapter for the band. Not that it would have changed our own opinion about things drastically, but I think it was actually understood…and the shows have been great ever since we got together in this new formation, so I don’t think I Can complain at all, especially seeing how we ourselves are very motivated and on a great creative run right now…
HMA: Would you say “Icarus” is your strongest record?
Dew-Scented: Hmmm, tough question! Each record is a mirror of a certain phase a band and its members is going through, so it’s easier said than done when it comes to comparing the final album results with each other when you actually are a part of the group. For outside people it’s all recorded facts, but for myself, there is a ton more involved with it, so it’s not that easy to give a straight answer. I personally love “Icarus” and I think it’s definitely one of the strongest albums we have ever made. Let’s see how the songs stand the test of time, especially in the live-circuit and then we can review it fairly in a couple of years down the road. Right now it’s awesome to play these new songs live and the feedback we are getting for them is very positive. However, I think it will come down to where we take things with the next album, that we are currently already writing for, since this would be the second time we all together work on a follow-up album with the same line-up as “Icarus”. You always find things that could be better…or at least different, after finishing off an album. I am curious and challenged to take things further, so it should be fun to see where the new material takes us.
HMA: What kinds of lyrics or subjects are in the album… I hope nothing to do with Iron Maiden “Flight of the Icarus”?
Dew-Scented: No, not at all. I think we used the “Icarus” theme to build a certain togetherness for details within the lyrical side of things of the individual songs on the album and took elements of the classical Greek story to bind things with each other. It’s definitely not a concept album, but a frame and outline we decided to add for a more interesting all-around package, also as far as visuals. But yeah, I think it was a cool concept and it worked out well in the end…
HMA: Tell us about your long time collaboration with artist Bjoern Goosses?
Dew-Scented: Well yeah, Björn is most of all a friend and companion since the early days of the band. We used to play a lot in the 90’s with his former band Night in Gales and always got along well. When he was more and more getting into designing artworks, we decided to give him a shot with the “Impact” album in 20013 for the first time and discovered that he has a good personal approach to his works. We have managed to keep things interesting and on a high level of quality as far as the results ever since, so we never really questioned the choice. I think Björn understands what we like and how we prefer to see the band presented and therefor it makes a good teamwork.- I think he’s highly talented as an artist and has come up with a pretty original style for his works in the meantime. However, we always take our co-operation one step after another, so we really haven’t decided on any next moved and would probably wait and see how the new album’s nature and vibe turns out, before we approach the artwork side of things.
HMA: Bjoern as been working with Dew-Scented for quiet a while now depicting some of the most distinctive sleeves out there. Do you normally give creating license?
Dew-Scented: Well, seeing how we have worked together for more than 10 years and already 6 releases I think Björn doesn’t need a lot of direction anymore. He can easily figure out what it is that we like or don’t and also has an own agenda as far as developing his works for us and not making any steps backwards for himself, which is a great thing., we discuss details and options whenever we have the lyrical scheme of a record or maybe even its final title done and then try and find a good common ground for him to work on. Usually, it’s pretty easily set, so that after 2-3 sketches or rough ideas, we happen to be looking in the same direction. I see Björn almost as an own member of the band when it comes to his input for artwork and haven’t really narrowed him down too much with how we commission the artwork. I basically love to tell him to simply impress us…I mean, if he blows us away with whatever he comes up with, then that’s it, right?! We have a good flow in our interaction, so we didn’t really encounter problems on agreeing how to work things out so far. I guess that’s one of the main reasons why we have always decided on working together again effortlessly.
HMA: Any anecdotes or ideas used for DS?
Dew-Scented: Not sure if I understand this question correctly. Do you mean for artwork?! Well, maybe there is this one funny story that I can share about the guys who is depicted on our “Impact” cover. Björn did the main elements of the artwork based on own photos with a friend of his as model and we weren’t very involved with that process. If I remember it correctly, one day or former guitarist Hendrik was travelling in the tram in the city he lives in (and you need to know we all li9ved in different cities back then…) and saw a guy that looked familiar. And it happened to be that same guy who made it on the cover…Small world, indeed!!! We should have followed up and tried to bring him on stage with those hors he wears on the cover…like make him a real life “Eddie” type of figure…hahaha. No, just kidding…
HMA: How does art in general fit and inspire music?
Dew-Scented: Interesting question…and I am not sure I can answer that well. I think it would probably be more up to Björn to answer this one`?!° To me, it’s more the other way around, I guess. The music gets translated into art, as it’s mainly the music that comes first, before we start giving it the rights looks and packaging. I suppose (but this is only speculation now without having asked Björn…) that he listens to be the music and checks out the lyrics to get a basic idea of what it’s all about. I guess you can get a general vibe and atmosphere figured out to then try and picture it. Artwork to me is an extension of the musical or lyrical content of an album. It should be the key for the viewer and listener to open the front door of the record. Whenever I discover a great album that comes with amazing artwork as well, it rounds off the case perfectly. A bad artwork doesn’t necessarily make a good album worse but in fact it helps it reach a next level when done really well. Back in the pre-internet days, artworks also happened to be an important part of why one bought or checked out a certain album. I don’t remember many total fail-purchases only because of the cover. The type of style and taste very often pointed me towards the right direction of music…
HMA: Do you share the idea that the visual arts are an essential part of the experience?
Dew-Scented: Oh yeah, absolutely and I think I was already commenting about this on the last couple of questions. To me, it’s a really important part of the “full on” experience that an album could or should be. I find it weak when certain bands don’t put enough effort, taste of attention to what the artwork is for their releases. I mean, I know some bands are basically “only about the music”, but then they fail to understand that there are elements that enhance the music and I feel artwork can sometimes be as important as the sound itself or the lyrics. Like I mentioned before, there are albums I love but they have ridiculously bad cover artworks. At the same time, I love albums a lot more when I see that this side of things was take care of tastefully and smoothly as well. I mean, old Celtic Frost records for example were already sublime before one even started playing them. The artwork was so massive, that its content couldn’t be bad at all…
HMA: In your opinion and experience, why in Metal the important to maintain strong visuals?
Dew-Scented: Well, the visuals have always been an important part of the Metal movement. Not only the artwork for albums, but also the looks and presentation of bands on photos or the stage shows was a relevant element. Those parts set things apart from standard society and norm in general. I believe the visuals should be an extension of the music and the atmosphere it creates. I personally feel music should always come first, so that a band with inflated visuals and no quality of music in the background would never have a chance with me. That said, a band with poor visuals will also automatically decrease the possible impact their music or releases could have. AS mentioned before: It’s all about a good package….
HMA: Thanks for your time and your interest in Heavy Music Artwork.
Dew-Scented: Well, thank you for the time and support. I hope we will make it back to the UK for shows again sometime soon. Until then…keep it heavy and check out our latest release “Insurgent”.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2013 © Heavy Music Artwork.