Singer Kenneth Klitte Jensen and drummer Bastian Thusgaard – Blood Label
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Jacob Hansen at Target Promotion for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Target Promotion for the promo pictures of the band.
Additional promo pictures taken by: Band photo by Toke Hage,
Bastian photo by Joakim M. Johansen, Kenneth photo by Jan Vestergren Laursen
SKELETONS is the name of the smoking hot debut album from Blood Label. Blood Label is a Danish death/thrash metal act that includes members from Hatesphere, Dawn Of Demise and The Burning. I had a sit down with singer Kenneth Klitte Jensen and drummer Bastian Thusgaard and together we handled subjects like the work with SKELETONS, the bands past present and future and how it was to work with legendary producer Tue Madsen. If you’re curious how the metal scene in Denmark is doing, check out the interview below.
Hello guys, thanks for taking the time making the interview. Are you ready to begin? I thought we could begin to talk about the band its history. When and where was the band born and who is the founder?
Kenneth: Hello! We started up back in 2008, but some of us had been playing together since high school, and after we pulled the plug on that band, we started Blood Label.
The band contains ex-members from Hatesphere, The Burning and Dawn Of Demise, which members comes from which bands?
Kenneth: Our bassist Nikolaj has filled in on tour for Hatesphere the last year or so, drummer Bastian recently joined Dawn of Demise and our guitarist Alex is former also of Dawn of Demise and The Burning.
Has the line-up been kept intact from the start or has the band gone through changes in the formation?
Kenneth: Myself, Nikolaj and Alex has been a constant since the start in 2008. Drummer Bastian joined in 2010 and finally the latest addition to our band Jesper joined in 2012.
Did all of the members know each other from the start?
Kenneth: The three of us, who started the band, where friends beforehand, but Bastian and Jesper we found through networking.
The above mention bands are all very well known, did Blood Label felt any pressure on deliver something extra ordinary with thought of the members had been parts of those band before they joined forces with Blood Label?
Kenneth: Well, actually they all played in Blood Label before joining these bands. Of course expectations tend to rise, when you associate yourself with prominent bands, but for our part, that’s the whole point of it. We want people to expect a lot from us!
From where does the band name Blood Label come from? Does the name have any special meaning to the members?
Kenneth: The name is a concoction of different ideas for band names, but as none of them seemed fitting, we decided on this mix of different ideas. Later on we found out by googling it, that this means ”tag for labeling bags of transfused blood”.
The band released a two track EP back in 2010 called BLOOD LABEL, what did the media and critics think of the EP?
Kenneth: We did actually only demo the two tracks back in 2010, and only posted them on our MySpace page. It was never an official release, which I think Metal Archives seems to think, it was.
Why did you only feature two tracks on the EP?
Kenneth: As I said, we only demoed the tracks, and it was actually just to show the public, how we sounded like back in 2010 after we joined forces with our new drummer back then, Bastian.
Is it correct that the EP was recorded in Jacob Bredahl’s studio? How was it to record the EP there? And how was it to work with Bredahl?
Kenneth: It was, and it was a very awe-inspiring experience for us. Jacob has been an idol for us since we were kids, back when he was still with Hatesphere, so it was in fact a big deal for us. When you get to know him, he is an actually a down-to-earth guy and a real pro to work with.
How come you chose him to produce the EP?
Kenneth: His sound, we felt, fitted our style at the time, and we knew him as great producer and easy to work with.
When did the band play live for the first time and where was it?
Kenneth: Well, the first Blood Label show ever, I think was in early 2009 in our old hometown Viborg in Denmark.
Blood Label have performed together with Entombed, Arch Enemy and Vader in Denmark. How was that and was that single shows or did you joined them on festivals?
Kenneth: We had the pleasure of sharing stage with these acts at a festival here in Denmark. It was truly inspiring for us to see, how these top acts carried themselves behind- and on stage.
Have you done a lot of touring outside Denmark?
Kenneth: We have played a couple of times in Germany, but plan to expand our live activities to other countries as well during the course of our new album ”Skeletons”.
In the bio it says “The band quickly gained the reputation of being a highly explosive live act”. How would you like to describe a live show with Blood Label as?
Kenneth: Well, I don’t wanna toot my own horn too much, but I would say that we tend to execute our set with both precision and an intense stage presence. We really love playing our music live, and that really comes to show at our gigs, I think.
During 2011 Blood Label recorded the 9 track EP EXISTENCE EXPIRES what did fans and media think of the EP?
Kenneth: Both fans and media mostly spoke well of the EP, and this along with tons of live shows built a solid foundation for our band.
You once again joined forces with Bredahl and his Dead Rat Studio. How come you wanted to work with Bredahl again and what is his strongest feature as producer?
Kenneth: He did a good job on our demo recordings one year earlier, so naturally we wanted to continue with him to see, what we could accomplish together on a full EP. His strongest feature as a producer, I would say, is his ability to identify with the music, and to really care about it being recorded as great sounding as possible.
If you compare the two EP’s with each other can you see any musical differences between them?
Kenneth: The demo and the EP was comprised from the same set of songs, so stylistically, it’s not that far apart. A modern sounding mix of death and thrash.
The bio says that you with that EP manifested your position as one of the most aspiring talents on the Danish underground metal scene. Do you agree with that? How does it feel to be mentioned in those words?
Kenneth: In my opinion, talent comes from hard work, so even though this is very flattering (despite this bio being written by our label Mighty Music), we actually find this kinda to be true as well. We worked our asses off to get to where we are now, and will always continue to do so.
Debut album SKELETONS
How long did it take to write and record the debut album SKELETONS?
Bastian: The writing process and pre-production of “Skeletons” took almost a year. The whole recording phase was done within a month.
Who in the band writes the material and what are the lyrics about on SKELETONS?
Bastian: It all starts with Alex or Jesper bringing in a couple of riffs that we all arrange together at our rehearsal space. We’re not a band that only writes material at home. Our creative process happens mostly at rehearsals.
Kenneth: The lyrical content revolves around personal struggles, and the album is all in all about making up with the past.
Are any of the songs from the 2011 EP featured on SKELETONS?
Bastian: No, we choose not to feature any songs from our EP. The reason why, is that we’d like to think of the EP as the “early years” of Blood Label. With “Skeletons” we developed a more mature song writing and sound, and that’s what, we wanted to present to the metal world.
What did the fans think of the song-teaser you featured on Youtube?
Kenneth: People who knew of us, we’re surprised by our new sound. We added a couple of new things to the mix on this album!
How come you named the album SKELETONS?
Kenneth: The title is a continuation of the lyrical content, and also the title for a song on the album. It is derived from the pronoun “skeletons in the closet”, and seemed fitting for the album as a whole.
The cover art work was made by Mircea Gabriel Eftemie and what do you think of the over? Does it reflect your music well?
Kenneth: Mircea did a good job reflecting the musical style of the album in the cover artwork. The concept for the artwork, we came up with ourselves, but Mircea turned it into painting nicely.
Has the band gone through any musical developments if you compare SKELETONS to your previous EP?
Bastian: Yes of course. Both Jesper and me have influenced the writing process from the very beginning of “Skeletons”. The EP was almost written, when I joined, so I was basically just recording it. At that time we had another guitarist so the style was a bit different back then. With this album we have had a strong musical foundation to build on. The song writing, musicality, lyrical themes and artwork have been much more reflected upon on this album. We have also become better musicians with time.
The famous Tue Madsen makes a guest appearance on the album but on which songs?
Bastian: Tue recorded the western guitar intro on the track “Disease Pit”. He also recorded organ/keys on some of the songs.
The band shot a video to the song “Shotgun – Blows In The Face” which was released before the album came out. Tell us a little about the video. When was it shot and was it hard?
Kenneth: The video is only a lyric video based upon stock photo and visual effects, so there wasn’t really any shoot.
Have you read any review of the album? Does the band care about what critics have to say about your work?
Kenneth: We care a great deal, what people think, but when it comes down to songwriting, we trust our gut feeling and not the critics.
I’ve read descriptions of Blood Label’s music as being both death/thrash metal as metal core. How would you like to describe your music?
Bastian: Well, all of us likes both the death and thrash genre a lot. Many of our biggest influences are playing those genres. You can say we play a cross-over of death and thrash, but we also add some elements from metalcore and nu-metal. We don’t care too much about being a “true” death/thrash band. For us it’s more about creating good music.
BLOOD LABEL – Album Teaser 2014
Do you think that fans of Hatesphere, Dawn Of Demise and The Burning are going to like SKELETONS?
Bastian: Yes, I think so. In Blood Label we like those kinds of elements that are often used in our other bands. But I think we tend to give it our own twist and way of playing those elements in Blood Label.
When the album was released did you have a releaseparty? If so when and where was it and did you perform live?
Bastian: When we started our DK-tour in March in support of our new release, we played mostly songs from “Skeletons”, but also some old hits. Our final show was in our hometown Aarhus, so we sat up a release concert, where we played the most of “Skeletons”. We also premiered our music video for the song “Snake in the Grass” and we held an official after party.
You also shot a video to the song “Snake In The Grass”, are there any plans on shooting any more videos?
Kenneth: There might be, we haven’t decided on that yet.
Blood Label – “Snake in the Grass” Video
The album is released as a CD but also on vinyl. Are there any bonus features on the vinyl edition of the disc?
Bastian: Our album is only released on CD-format and digital. Maybe one day we will release a vinyl version.
Production, mix, studio
How come you chose to work with Tue Madsen and his Antfarm Studio?
Bastian: Tue is a great guy and he really knows what he is doing. Actually I recorded the drum parts for our EP at Tues studio. It was a very good experience back then and this time we thought his massive sound would suit our album well, and we think it turned out great.
How was it to work with Madsen and what’s the difference between working with Madsen and Bredahl?
Bastian: Bredahl might be a bit more idealistic than Tue, but both are outstanding to work with.
Was it hard to engage Madsen into working with you?
Bastian: No, not really. We sent him a couple of songs that we had pre-produced and he liked it. Then it was obvious to let him produce our record.
Madsen has also mixed and mastered the album, was any of the band members parts of that process?
Bastian: Alex has a natural flair for the recording process as a whole, so he spared with Tue the whole way through.
Do you think that you’re going to work with Madsen in the future?
Bastian: Yes, I think that’s possible. We are all very happy with the result and we believe that next time it will be even better.
Label and management
You inked a deal with the Danish label Mighty Music, how come you chose to work with them and are you happy with the work the label have put into the band and the album so far?
Kenneth: The truth is, that there aren’t a lot of labels looking to work with you, unless you’re an established act on the metal scene, but Mighty Music came up with a solid offer for us, and we happily accepted. They have put in a good effort for us so far, yes.
Were there many labels that showed interest in signing Blood Label?
Kenneth: No. Not a lot, but some, and Mighty Music provided the best opportunity for us.
Is it correct that Mighty Music distributes the album world wide?
Kenneth: Yes, digitally, and physically in key European territories, and the American market.
For how many albums are you signed for at Mighty Music?
Kenneth: Mighty Music usually doesn’t sign bands on for more than one album at a time, and it was the same with us.
MM is co-operating with the promotion label Target, are you happy with the co-operation?
Kenneth: Target is actually the parent company of Mighty Music, who handles the distribution of the music, but we regard the companies as one whole, and are very satisfied with them.
The EP EXISTENCE EXPIRES was released by Gateway Music, who own the legal rights to the EP today?
Kenneth: We do, and the same goes for “Skeletons”.
Is it possible to download SKELETONS legally anywhere?
Kenneth: Yes. All the key digital retailers such as iTunes and Amazon sell our album. Also, fans can support us directly by downloading the album from our Bandcamp-page.
Do you co-work with any booking agency at the moment?
Kenneth: We have previously benefited from the work of a booking agency, but we are currently not under contract with any.
Now and then
The band got a really nice looking and informative website, who runs it?
Bastian: Alex is also a web-designer so he built the whole page and we run it ourselves.
Is the band active on any of the social forums like facebook or twitter on the internet?
Kenneth: Of course. On all of them. Hit us up!
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Kenneth: Some dude always asks me “how to sing like that”.
I see that you have done a few shows in March/April back in Denmark. Where did you play and how was it to meet the fans live?
Bastian: We basically covered most of Denmark playing the bigger cities like Copenhagen, Odense and Aarhus, but also smaller towns like Struer and Ringkøbing. It was really fun to play those shows and in general I think our fans and people attending liked our music very much. The whole experience has been very positive.
Are there plans on heading out on tour now that SKELETONS is out?
Bastian: Yes, definitely.
If so are you heading out in Europe on tour?
Bastian: Yes, we are working towards setting up some shows abroad right now, but the ambition is to play a full EU-tour in promotion of “Skeletons” at some point.
Do you have any festival shows booked for the summer?
Bastian: No, “Skeletons” came out a bit late to make that happen. Hopefully next year. But we will be playing a few Danish shows this fall and also Aalborg Metal Festival alongside Cannibal Corpse and Aeon. It will be our second time playing and we look forward to it, that’s for sure.
How is the interest for Blood Labels music in Denmark? Are you big in Denmark?
Bastian: I won’t say that we are a big band in DK yet. There are still some bands here that have achieved a lot more with one or two albums. We are an upcoming band with the ambition to grow bigger, release more albums and play more concerts.
Any plans on try to conquer the American and Asian market soon?
Kenneth: Well, no. Our album is out digitally worldwide, and we have done some press in the US, but making a real effort these places takes time, money and energy that we unfortunately don’t have at the time. We are ambitious, but also realistic.
Is it correct that the band members all lives in Aarhus?
Bastian: No. Me, Alex, Jesper and Kenneth are all living in Aarhus. Our bassist Nikolaj recently moved to Copenhagen.
Are there many places and clubs from metal bands to play at in Denmark?
Bastian: Most venues in DK house all kinds of music, but there are a few smaller clubs that are most into the rock/punk/metal scene.
How’s the metal scene doing in Denmark at the moment? Do you think that Denmark is a strong metal nation?
Bastian: I think there are both a lot of quality and potential in Denmark right now. There are MANY bands though but great ones in between. I think the main challenge for Danish bands is to come out and play a lot. Especially in Europe and the rest of the world. The profits are often very low and the costs are high. That’s hard to balance and to find the right way to do it.
Denmark is a pretty small country, does most of the bands know each other?
Bastian: Yes, as mentioned before there are MANY bands in DK. A lot of guys are playing in more than one band. Blood Label is a good example of that. Many of the bands are centered in the same bigger cities so naturally you get to know people.
Is it possible to buy the EP EXISTENCE EXPIRES only from your website or can it be bought in stores?
Kenneth: EE can still be bought from our Big Cartel store, but is also in distribution at other vendors.
Are there any interest for the band out in Europe?
Kenneth: Well, it’s tough to get attention out there, but the main thing is to let your presence be known. Our album has created some attention in Europe, but we must still struggle to catch any breaks.
The bio states that “Blood Label are now ready to take on the rest of the world” is that true?
Kenneth: It might a bit of a an overstatement to emphasize a point, but we have aimed higher with our new release, and hope to get our name out there, more than just in Denmark.
What are the plans for Blood Label in 2014?
Kenneth: Gigging. Some foreign shows hopefully, and a handful of Danish shows as well. As mentioned we have already been confirmed at this year’s Aalborg Metal Festival, which is a big thing for us.
Could you give the ones who haven’t discovered the excellent music of Blood Label three reasons why they should buy SKELETONS?
Kenneth: If you’re into hard hitting, groove laden, rock coated metal than give our new album a spin!
Well, that was all for now. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Kenneth: Live long and prosper!
Thanks again for making the interview possible. I wish you and the band all the best in the future. I really hope to see you perform live on a stage near me soon!
Kenneth: Thanks for your time Anders