An Interview With Pestilence Vocalist Patrick Mameli
Band Photo: Pestilence (?)
Dutch death metal band Pestilence got their start back in 1986 and released four full-length albums before deciding to disband and focus on other projects. Front man Patrick Mameli has now brought Pestilence back to life and has released the aptly titled "Resurrection Macabre," which is the band's first studio album in 16 years. Patrick spoke with me about the band's new line-up and the plans for recording a new album again soon.
xFiruath: Hey Patrick so where are you at right now? Are you at home or on the road?
Patrick: We’ll I’ve got four more festivals to do but at this point in time I’m at home. Just enjoying normal life before I get on the road again with the European tour. We got fucking slaughtered going to the Maryland Death Fest and then came back to Europe to do some festivals. Hellfest, Graspop, and we did the With Full Force Festival in front of 30,000 people in Germany. We’ve done our share already so I’m enjoying just being here and hanging out and waiting for the next couple of festivals. Then it’s off to record the new album.
xFiruath: I’m glad you mentioned the Maryland Death Fest. What happened there with you guys not being able to get into the country?
Patrick: Well the thing is that obviously there’s not just me in the band. There’s many, many people in the band. I’m not talking about the musicians. The machine that is Pestilence it contains a number of people you know. You’ve got the record company, you’ve got the promotion guys, you’ve got all these people that have to do their business and they have to do their business right. We thought that we had our business done in a good manner. I trusted that everything was OK but I should have check everything myself. Everybody said that it was a go. We went over there but then we were held by the nice people from customs, the border police. We were detained for a bunch of hours. They treated us like fucking criminals, taking mug shots. They got our fingerprints and all that crap. We didn’t do our homework. We thought that our working permits were in order. Some bands just work on a tourist visa. They don’t bring any shit with them. Of course we tried to do it the good way. A visa is valid for a year so we figured we were going to have to come over and tour anyway so we figured we’d do it the good way. Some of the documents got lost or whatever somewhere. We didn’t bring them so we got sent back on the next plane. We’d been on the plane for nine hours, detained for four hours, getting sent back for another six hours. Travel home for another two hours. The worst thing is that everybody fucking knows me and shit. Everybody asked “How was it?” and I just had to be like “Yeah whatever.” It’s a good thing that now we get a chance to redo it. We’ll be over next year to do a proper tour. If the Maryland Death Fest guys want us back we will definitely headline next year.
xFiruath: So that was probably one of the worst tour moments for you guys. On the other end of that what’s been your best tour or show?
Patrick: In particular I’m a big fan of festivals because you get treated really well. You get very good food and you get to play for 45 minutes so you can give your all. We’ve always got good sound because I’ve got my sound man with me. I just love doing festivals. You get to meet other bands. Doing With Full Force we were backstage and everybody’s got their own room. We were next to Asphyx with Martin Van Drunen. I got to say hi to guys in Carcass. You know meeting some of the other guys that’s always fun. If you’re doing just club shows and stuff, that’s good too, but I like the big things. I like big tits, I like big festivals, that’s just the way is.
xFiruath: Pestilence had been broken up for quite a long time and then you brought it back to life last year. What made you want to go back to Pestilence instead of working with any other projects?
Patrick: Well there’s a demand for it. I don’t like the word “old school.” It means that you’re stuck in your old time and you can’t play any better than you can, that’s just the style that you do. In 10 or 20 years you come back and you’re still playing the same shit. That’s not what Pestilence is about. When I was doing the C-187 project, still then everybody was talking about Pestilence. You know “are you ever going to reform,” “are you ever going to do another album?” The C-187 project wasn’t received too well and I still had another album to do. My record company, my wife, everybody I did an interview with they wanted me to give Pestilence another shot. It was kind of strange the way we left the scene after “Spheres.” That was a weird album, not too many people got it. All those little things just made me think maybe it was a good time after 13, 14 years to come back. When we were thinking of reforming a lot of bands were thinking about the same thing. If there’s a demand there’s got to be a solution to that problem. I mean most of those bands that are out there now, they’re doing the grind thing or whatever, they kind of lack a structure of good songs. I’m not shy about bringing a riff in and playing it 12 times if it’s a good riff. A good song doesn’t mean you have a riff one time and you have 30 riffs in the song with 15 tempo changes and shit. I think that’s what’s happening right now. Growing up with bands like Possessed and Slayer, they were icons. Now you’ve got every fucking Joe that can pick up a guitar and tune it down very low and then call yourself a guitar player. It takes a lot of practice and work to get your shit done. I’m not saying that everybody sucks, but come on, there’s a bunch of bands out there that they should try to do some tempo work, you know what I’m saying?
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about your latest album “Resurrection Macabre.” How is it different from your earlier stuff?
Patrick: Have you heard the album yet?
xFiruath: I haven’t actually. I will be doing a review of it soon though.
Patrick: Oh that is terrible. It’s terrible for me to try to talk to you or convince you of something if you haven’t heard of it. I can give you a quick preview of what has happened in the 15 years that I quit the music scene you know. I was just kind of fed up with everything. Especially with the music business. I’ve always liked heavy music in general. If you’re an artist, like you are a painter, you always want to paint. That’s what happened to me. I got fed up so I quit. I always liked to listen to stuff that kind of inspires me, but not always metal. If you listen to a lot of metal your sound and your riffing will all sound like that. You’ll be a copy cat. That’s what I didn’t want to do. Having a healthy appetite after 15 years I started listening to bands like Meshuggah and I was like “Wow, these guys are doing something else.” Pestilence has always been a band that, since we started back in the demos in ’86, you know that’s about the time that Chuck started in Death. You have to develop yourself. I always feel like if I want to do something I do it good. I’m not one of those guys that do the half job. I just want to do the whole nine yards. The thing is that listening to bands like Meshuggah I was thinking that maybe the time was right to re-invent my music style. Maybe people are ready for that shit. I started to get back into the heavy music. I realized that I didn’t want to sound like Meshuggah at all, I wanted to sound like Pestilence. It’s a brand name. Pestilence has always had those typical riffings. I wanted to maintain those things and the fans keep asking for that stuff. So finally I got some songs done, written over the span of a year, and I thought they were good enough. That’s when “Resurrection Macabre” was born.
Patrick: The other thing is that I didn’t want to have a reunion thing. I was never going to work with Martin Van Drunen again, never again. Despite what everybody said, you know everybody is talking about Martin, this and that and all that shit. Fuck that guy. People don’t even know what’s up with this fucking guy and what went on between Pestilence and Martin. We’re always trying to do the best stuff that we can in this point in time. “Resurrection Macabre” is the best thing that we can do in this point in time. We’re so happy with this line-up. It’s like three-quarters of the “Testimony of the Ancients” line-up. You’ve got Tony Choy, you’ve got me, and the other Patrick, the guitar player. I feel very comfortable working with these people. The new guy, Peter Wildoer from Darkane, he’s the perfect guy for the job. He’s way better than Marco (Foddis, previous Pestilence drummer). It’s helped put the icing on the cake. I think if you have a winning team you don’t want to change that. I finally have the feeling that I have this winning team and I don’t want to change that.
xFiruath: Where did you guys record “Resurrection Macabre” at?
Patrick: We recorded it in Denmark, in a small town called Ribe. It was recorded Jacob Hansen. He did Volbeat and Invocator and a bunch of other things, Destruction. I think that he really succeeded in putting my point across. I wanted to have a wall of sound with intelligent and intricate, fast riffing. Notes and blast beats and everything should be crystal clear. That’s what Jacob Hansen did for me. I co-produced the album so I always try to have a finger in it, kind of spin it my way. That’s why the album turned out the way it is. It’s gotten some fucking great reviews. There’s always going to be those people who like talking shit, I call them vinegar pissers. Those people who are always going to talk shit. It’s just vinegar that comes out. They like to say “well it’s not ‘Consuming Impulse’” or “well it’s not with Martin Van Drunen.” It’s not, well suck my fucking dick. This album is great. I don’t want to make an album that is in its time. I want to make an album that will stand the test of time and is timeless. You know like the old albums, I mean “Resurrection Macabre” is so fresh but it looks back at the old days and is looking to the future as well. It’s like a big stepping stone with what’s about to come with the new Pestilence album. We have a great endorsement deal with Ibanez guitars. We just got our eight string. Let me tell you brother this new album is going to be the sickest shit you have ever heard. I mean it’s something else. It’s going to be like something you have never heard before. “Resurrection Macabre” is the stepping stone to something new. There’s a revival of death metal going on in Europe right now, but I think that it’s going to slowly fade away. This new album is just going to bring everything back into perspective. People are going to be like “Wow, what’s going to be after this?”
xFiruath: How much of the new album do you have written so far?
Patrick: I’ve got like three or four songs written. They are mind blowing. You can’t even compare them to “Resurrection Macabre” anymore. Now we’re just exclusively playing eight string guitars, which gives me the low F and I can go up high with my chords as well. It’s giving me a new spectrum to work with. You know bands like Meshuggah, they like the F string and they do a rhythmic thing with it. I’m doing it the Pestilence way so it’s totally original. People are going to wonder what is going on. With Peter on drums it’s just going to be blazing. I’ve got my own studio so I’m programming the drums and Peter’s going to be playing them. He’s going to be like “It can’t be done Patrick, it can’t be done.” I’m like dude it can be done. We’re going to test ourselves and take this shit to a higher plane. “Resurrection Macabre” is a new standard already. It’s taking grindcore, death metal, old school, it’s taking Pestilence to the next level.
xFiruath: We’ve been having a discussion on our forum about the importance of lyrics in music. In regards to both “Resurrection Macabre” and the new upcoming album what do your lyrics generally deal with and how much importance do you place on lyrics in the overall scheme of the music?
Patrick: I wrote the lyrics for “Resurrection Macabre” and for “Testimony of the Ancients.” Lyrics have always been, in death metal especially, secondary. Most of the time lyrics are not as important as the music and they just need to serve the groove or whatever. I feel that unless the lyrics are ridiculous they should serve the rhythm. If the lyrics have something to say then they should have a special place in the music. If we talk about different music styles, even in pop music, if you listen to a Brittney Spears lyrics I mean they’re bogus. They’re more like symbols like “I love you” or “I miss you” or all that crap. Everybody knows what love is. They should fit with the music. If you have something to say, say it. What I really hate is that most bands when they talk about whatever they talk about, they aren’t actually doing that. I like to talk about realistic stuff. If you are in a death metal band and you talk about dismembering somebody, well hell you should be fucking dismembering somebody. If you haven’t done it then just shut the fuck up about it already. That’s bullshit. It shouldn’t be all about the scene and the gimmick and the image. If you don’t want to say anything, then just shut up. If you try to say something and it fits the music then its fine. What I did with “Resurrection Macabre” is I tried to come up with some lyrics that not only fit the music but also say something about the world we live in. A lot of people talk about death and destruction but they don’t really talk about the human feelings behind it or the way people feel in a country where they are suppressed. The lyrics that we talk about are definitely more realistic. It’s not like I went through it myself, but just looking at it. Look at the news and stuff that’s happening. Wars and drug addiction and physical abuse. Violence and all that stuff. That is something that you can talk about in an intelligent way so that people get the idea without saying like “we’re slaughtering this and dismembering this and take off your head” and whatever. For me that’s dumb. Those people that don’t like death metal, most of the time they think the image is stupid. It’s not something that they can identify themselves with.
xFiruath: Just for fun I’ve got to ask about your take on Michael Jackson. Since he just died everybody either loves him or hates him, what’s your thought on that?
Patrick: Wow, you know, he was kind of looking pale lately. I don’t know about that one. You’ve got to say it’s always been like that. People love somebody or they hate somebody. If somebody dies and they’re an unknown person no one gives a fuck. If he’s a singer or a dancer then everybody’s like “Oh no Michael’s dead.” What about all those other people you don’t even know about or care about who are dying? It’s a whole big media thing. What about the time when he’s hanging out over the balcony and kids almost falling? People forget about that. It’s like a whole big festival, everybody loves Michael right now. I care about the people that I love and the people that are in my family. Just because he made music doesn’t mean that he’s really special. From what I’ve heard he’s been doing a lot of drugs. He could’ve ODed himself, I mean that just makes him a junkie.
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