Bring the Noise
CoC chats with Patrick Mameli of C-187
by: Jackie Smit
Patrick Mameli is no stranger to controversy. Once revered amongst the death metal elite for his stellar and pioneering work in Pestilence, he committed the musician's equivalent of "Seppuku" in releasing 1993's experimental and jazz-befuddled _Spheres_. Thirteen years and a very lengthy hiatus later, he's bracing himself for a fresh barrage of discontent with his new band, C-187 -– whose Mascot Records debut, _Collision_, is neither a throwback to his death metal days, nor a traditional dose of heaviness by any stretch of the imagination. With many so-called purists already branding the record unlistenable, I caught up with the outspoken six-stringer to get his take on the inspiration behind his latest project, and to find out once and for all whether indeed we've seen the last of Pestilence.

CoC: The first and most obvious question, Patrick: you've been keeping a very low profile since Pestilence came to an end, so what have you been keeping yourself busy with during that time?

Patrick Mameli: Well, after the disappointment of fans not picking up the _Spheres_ album, that was really the nail in the coffin for me as far as music was concerned. I mean, Pestilence had a couple of disappointments over the years; we had the record label not really supporting us as much as they were doing other bands. I also got fed up with touring and with tour managers making a lot of promises that never amounted to anything. So those things really made me wanted to quit anyway, and then the _Spheres_ adventure, that was the final straw for me. I decided to go back to my regular job -– I work for one of the biggest medical insurance companies in Holland, so I have a steady job. That allowed me to be invisible basically, and it took me thirteen years until I finally felt the urge to express myself musically once again.

CoC: How did C-187 come to exist then?

PM: Actually right after we did _Spheres_, I bought myself this really great Steinberg guitar and I never touched it. Then my wife asked me one day why I wasn't doing anything with it, and she encouraged me to start playing again. So eventually I got in touch with one of the guys from Mascot Records, who I knew from back in the Roadrunner days. I started sending him some MP3s of things that I had done, and he was very keen to put it out. But at that stage, I wasn't sure who I could do it with, because I had programmed and performed everything myself, and it's really hard to get anyone to play with these days who can perform at a certain level and actually do what you need them to do. Also, I wasn't interested in being someone like Obituary, who've done the same thing forever. I mean, no disrespect to them, but that's never been me. Even with Pestilence, I think that you can hear major progression from _Testimony of the Ancients_ through to _Spheres_. I mean, _Spheres_ looking back was just a stupid mistake. I put the name Pestilence to something that I really shouldn't have. I could have made a _Testimony of the Ancients_ part two -- more brutal and technical -– and people would have loved it. But then I wouldn't have been true to myself, because at that point I had gotten into a lot of jazz and a lot of different stuff, and it became a really difficult act to balance keeping myself and also the fans happy. I can't play "Out of the Body" for the ten thousandth fucking time, you know? <laughs> So what I'm trying to say is that the time away did me a lot of good, but now I'm back, man.

CoC: I want to backtrack for a moment and talk about the _Spheres_ album, which actually when you look at bands that are popular today like Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah, was a very innovative album for its time. How disappointed were you on a personal level when that album was essentially rejected by the fans and the critics?

PM: I think if you take a band like Cynic, who are way more out there than we ever were, the big difference is that we changed styles so many times over the years, while they were always consistent in what they were doing. That was our mistake right there, I think. Even bands like Meshuggah, which people have compared C-187 to; in the thirteen years that I wasn't active in the music industry, I didn't even listen to any metal. I didn't have a clue about what was happening in the scene until I put on MTV one day and saw Korn. When I heard that different style, but still being heavy, I decided that it was time to do something again, and that's where the whole thing about struggling to get band members on board came in. Thank God for the Internet though, because I was able to contact Sean Reinert over e-mail and ask him whether he was interested in doing something, and I could send him some of the music. Same for Tony Choy. So it was easier to get hold of the best musicians possible to play for me.

CoC: You've certainly assembled quite the crack squad of players in C-187.

PM: Oh, absolutely. I respect these guys so much as players. To tell you the truth, the way that we recorded this album is very unique in the metal scene. We never rehearsed together once. I sent them the sequences of what I wanted them to do, but when they eventually came into the studio, I didn't know what to expect. But they were really good, and the songs turned out the way they did because of their input. That spontaneity is really what made the album what it is.

CoC: There are a lot of influences that hit one straight away as soon as you turn on _Collision_: there's a definite reference to Faith No More, there's a touch of Meshuggah. I even hear some of the jazzier elements of _Spheres_ in some of the riffs. One of the things you don't hear a lot of is death metal, which I'm sure is going to surprise and probably even upset a lot of people.

PM: <laughs> Maybe. It's difficult for me to define what we sound like, because Sean Reinert put his own stamp on the album through his drumming. The same goes for Tony Choy. So it's hard to describe the style, because everyone has injected their own personality into it, and that comes from a variety of influences. I don't listen to a lot of modern stuff personally, so I don't know. I hope that someone else labels it and comes up with their own term for what it sounds like. I put the term "gangsta metal" on the web a couple of months ago when I was talking about the band, but that was just to piss people off. There's no rapping on the album. <laughs> Same for the lyrics. It's not the blood and guts stuff. It has nothing to do with Satan. We're talking about everyday things and real-life topics that affect everyone. Getting back to the music, I was just in awe of what everyone else in the band was doing when we were in the studio. I gave everyone the instruction that I wanted a clear bridge, chorus and so on in each song, and they had a basic idea of what I wanted, but essentially they got do their own thing, and it was just amazing to me how well they did it. That jazz feeling you mentioned -– I think a lot of it comes from the way that we recorded this album.

CoC: With C-187, why did you feel the need to move away from the genre that you essentially made your name in?

PM: I was really fed up with the death metal scene. I was tired of having to play a certain type of music all the time to be liked by people. I couldn't go to the right or to the left; I just had to go straight and stay within this tiny box, and whenever I wanted to try something else it wasn't going to be called death metal anymore. But the time away got me motivated again on a number of levels, and I decided it was time for something different.

CoC: With the negativity toward _Spheres_, and some of the comments that were directed at C-187 on websites like Blabbermouth, you've been on the receiving end of some of the close-mindedness that's unfortunately sometimes prevalent in the metal genre. What's your take on where this comes from? How have you learned to deal with it as an artist and a musician?

PM: The thing about that is that you can let it get you down, or you can ignore it. Back in the old days, people would buy a magazine and read a review, and if someone said the album was good, they'd check it out. But now, people can just post all sorts of bullshit on websites everywhere, and it can really affect how your band is perceived. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but honestly -– if I don't like somebody, why would I bother spending so much time insulting it on some website somewhere? Even back in the Pestilence days though, that sort of shit was around, and I don't know who the people are that feel the need to bitch about something so badly that they do it on every website they can; but most of the time at least, I just ignore it. People have told me I'm not metal anymore, because I don't have long hair, so there you go.

CoC: What are the imminent plans for this band after the album comes out?

PM: We're definitely looking to go on tour early next year. I see us being on the road for at least three or four weeks in Europe and the UK, and then after that we'll just see how things go. But the trouble is that most of the guys who play with me in this band live over in the States, so it's hard for them to come over all the time. So we might select a few festivals and try and play those, but we'll see how things go. Everyone in the band has their own concerns and their own responsibilities outside of C-187, so it's really about making the best use of our time. Besides, I want this band to be a special experience and something that's not all over the place all the time. I have an option for a second album after this one too, so hopefully _Collision_ does well and we'll be able to do another one soon. I'd definitely want to make another album with these guys. I've got a lot of ideas in my head already.

CoC: Patrick, thanks very much for your time. I'm going ask you one more question, purely for the record: will we see Pestilence get back together again?

PM: <laughs> No, no, no. We would never be able to find that magic again, because we've all changed significantly as people since those days; and to be honest, I could never work with Martin van Drunen again in my whole fucking life. That just wouldn't work.

(article submitted 9/9/2007)


ALBUMS
9/9/2007 J Smit 8.5 C-187 - Collision
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