Jay Alexander took to the Underworld on the 11th December to meet up with Marvin Vriesde of Dew Scented, read on to find out what's in store for the band and check out the live review of the Underworld show!
You played in Paris on Sunday and after tonight’s gig at The Underworld you’ve got 5 dates left on the European tour - how’s it been going?
It’s been going really well. It’s been especially good to see that there is still an old school thrash crowd, which we don’t seem to play a lot for nowadays. When we played in Paris there was this really old school crowd, like from the late 80s or something and it was a really cool vibe, more of an old school head-banging crowd than the new breed of mosh-pit karate kickers.
The new line-up has been together for just under 2 years, how’s it working out?
For us now, there’s a really good vibe in the band and we know musically where we want the band to go. For myself – personally - I’ve been involved in the band since around 1996; I helped them out in 2002, 2005 and have been a permanent member since 2011. So with the steady line-up, there’s a great vibe and we have a really clear vision of where we want to be and how the band should progress and what we need to do to take it to another level.
I felt that the releases before ‘Icarus’ (which was the first album with the new line-up) that the band were trying to copy themselves and sticking to ‘this is how we want the band to be, don’t drift too far off’. Or there was the new line up that wants to copy the old and not evolving. So with Icarus I did all of the song-writing, not because I really wanted to but that’s just the way it went with the line-up change. I always had in mind that we wanted to take it to the next level and what the record should sound like. For me as a fan, I knew what kind of record I would want to hear and that was the record we made. Now, as a band, we’re all on the same page and the next record will have those kinds of songs because we have such a cool chemistry.
Like you say, you’ve been involved with the band a long time, but it sounds like it’s also helped having that detachment so that you can look at it from a fan’s perspective?
I always liked the band as a band. Besides that, being involved and helping them out live and doing studio work for them on the ‘Issue VI’ album, I’ve always approached it from two different points of view. So, from a fans point of view I can say “it’s too bad they did this”, or “it’s really cool that they did stuff like that”. But from the other side I could see from within the band, how they wrote songs, what the chemistry and internal struggles were, knew the joys they had. I think that was one of the reason Leif called me, also with us being really good friends, he said he really wanted to make a record with guys he trusts and has chemistry with. And it was a definite yes, for me.
The latest album ‘Insurgent’ has a number of live songs, some covers and a couple of new songs, it seems to me as if the record is drawing a line under the previous incarnations of the band and presenting the way forward, was that the intention?
Yes, for me personally the album captures the spirit you just mentioned. It’s to celebrate the fact that the band is 20 years old, it also makes a statement that this is the new line-up and it’s giving a little bit of a teaser of the direction we are going with the band. It’s also to celebrate the back catalogue of the band - which we love playing live and also the live recordings show that we play with the right energy and intention and we’ve enjoyed capturing that to share this with the fans.
So, if you had to introduce a new listener to the band, which two albums would you pick?
I would go for ‘Impact’ and ‘Icarus’. I think those two are really strong Dew Scented albums. Even though ‘Icarus’ was the one I played on and wrote the songs for, the situation in the band was really calm and really focussed and I get the same vibe from ‘Impact’ - you can hear it in the song-writing, it’s really solid and the songs work really well live.
The band’s web-site says that you’re working on a new album and will possibly be going into the studio next spring - is that still going to happen?
That’s the plan, yep. Up to now we have 4 songs for the new record, and I have 6 song ideas and Rory has a couple of songs, so we have enough material to go around.
When you write, how do you go about putting it together?
Most of the time, I, or now Rory the guitar player or Joost the bass player, will come up with riffs or song structures and we will either track an entire idea for a song or for a riff and then exchange them to get different takes on the stuff we create. When we have a rough song structure we drop it to Leif and he will immediately go “ok, that’s gonna be a verse riff”, or “that’s gonna be a chorus riff...”
Depending on that we rearrange the song, sometimes drastically, sometimes we don’t even have to touch it, and then we start rehearsing and that’s how the songs come together. The last couple (of songs) we demoed at home. Koen the drummer has his own studio so we can either record everything in the studio live in one take and demo the songs like that or when I have ideas I will send him the guitar tracks and he plays in the drum tracks over it and then we have a rough demo that Leif can work with.
You’re not all based in Germany, so how does the distance affect you as a band?
The four of us are from the Hague area in Holland and Leif is the only one in Germany so we have to do it in a long distance way and so we have to use email and send files. We come together as a five piece to jam the new tracks, when we’re not on tour. Today’s technology really enables us to overcome these distances, 15 years ago we couldn’t have done this, we would have had to have driven miles to rehearse or even to share ideas.
What else have you got planned as a band for 2014?
The main focus for next year is finishing the album and then we’ve got some festival dates coming up and a tour in Japan with Black Dahlia Murder and Fleshgod Apocalypse. We have ‘With Full Force’ festival booked and the rest of the festivals are dropping in. The first half of the year is taking it easy to finish the new stuff and then focus on the touring. It’s what we love doing, and the creative juices are flowing so we are looking forward to what’s coming up.
And, finally, what can we expect from tonight’s gig?
We love what we do, so there’s going to be enthusiasm, energy and we always try to play on top of the game. We go by the reaction of the crowd - so far everyone’s been really cool and enjoying the shows. It’s really cool playing with Death Angel, I’ve seen them every night and they always give it 110%. They bring it every night - they’re really fit, they play really well, they nail the riffs and they have this great interaction with the crowd. The core of the band have been doing it for so long and loving what they do, it comes across on the stage and that’s what we are all about as well. We’re there because we love it, because the people have bought the tickets, to see our show, to see Death Angels’ show and to have a good time and we’re here to show them we’re Dew Scented, we’re a kick-ass thrash metal band and we’re all here to have a good time - so let’s go!