Never Say Die
CoC chats with Patrick Mameli of Pestilence
by: Jackie Smit
Patrick Mameli is a man with a storied reputation for being stubborn, and for those that weren't around during the heyday of Pestilence, his recent output should be proof enough that age hasn't simmered him in the slightest. Case in point: his return to extreme music by way of the criminally underrated C-187 fell on unwilling ears, due in large part to some fairly dubious Internet rumours suggesting that an icon of Dutch death metal had gone gangsta rap on us. Mameli's response? A Pestilence album that's neither the sequel to the seminal _Testimony of the Ancients_, nor a repeat of the much maligned _Spheres_. Instead _Resurrection Macabre_ declares its intent by continually ladling spoonfuls of unrelenting blunt force trauma over the band's legacy in a calculated effort to befuddle each and every one its fans. Thing is, it may also be Pestilence's finest hour, and Mameli couldn't agree more. Before we get to that though, there's the small matter of a vow that was taken just a few short years ago on these very pages.

CoC: So, Patrick -- when we drew a line under our last interview, you said that you were never going to do another Pestilence album under any circumstances. What's changed?

Patrick Mameli: <laughs> Well, to be honest with you, nothing really changed. I'm still in shock that I'm doing this. I thought that after fourteen or fifteen years people would have forgotten about Pestilence and that I'd be able to make a fresh start with C-187. I had great musicians like Tony Choy and Sean Reinherdt working with me, and I didn't quite get that even when I was doing C-187 interviews, people kept asking about Pestilence. Also, the C-187 project didn't really take off the way I had hoped it would; it was a disaster actually, which I really find strange because I still think that the album is great. But I guess I'm just stigmatized with the name Pestilence, there's nothing else to say about it, and I just figured that the best thing for me would be to go on with that band. So I spoke to the guys from Mascot Records and they thought that it was a good idea as well. I could have gone the difficult route and do another C-187 album, but there wouldn't have been any point in that. The only thing I insisted on with doing another Pestilence album was that it wouldn't be seen as a reunion. I hate reunions. I don't want to be working with people who could slow me down.

CoC: I remember you making your thoughts on Martin [Van Drunen, ex-Pestilence vocalist] quite clear when we spoke last time.

PM: Yeah man, and the thing about Martin is that I found out that he's been talking so much bullshit about me and about the band and what happened back in the day. I just want to put all of that behind me, and I wish he'd do the same and just be happy that he's doing Hail of Bullets now and that he's been able to be quite successful with that. I don't want to bash anybody. I'm just doing my thing over here. But yeah, there's no fucking way there will ever be a reunion, and I know that a lot of fans wish that he'd rejoin the band; but the fact is that we had to let him go because of his alcohol problems, and I believe that's why the Bolt Thrower guys let him go as well. So all these kids on the forums who keep saying that _Resurrection Macabre_ is okay, but it doesn't feature Martin so it's not Pestilence -- they just don't have a clue.

CoC: You mentioned that you feel that C-187 was a disaster. Why?

PM: Well, that band was my brainchild, and the fact is that it didn't come about in a bandroom or because I was wasted or whatever -- it took a lot of work and effort to put together. It was a long process, trying to come up with some really good stuff. It's the same with the new Pestilence album; it took me a year just to compose it. With C-187 I felt like I had all these amazing musicians working with me, and it took so much work to put it together and make it happen, and then a lot of people reviewing it just called it shit. That kind of depressed me somewhat, but in the end I realised that I had to let it go. It's like how some critics mentioned that there was rap on the album; there was absolutely no rap on the album whatsoever. I just happened to say that I like gangsta rap in an interview, so whatever shit you feed some people they'll just run with it. In some ways C-187 brought up some similar problems to the ones I had when I did _Spheres_. Some people hated the album and they hated me as a person for doing it because they were expecting another _Testimony of the Ancients_. Now people love the album, and I don't understand that either. <laughs>

CoC: Well, what interests me about the new Pestilence record is that whenever I listen to it, it sounds to me like in many ways you're flipping off those same people that bashed you for C-187 and _Spheres_. Is that me reading too much into it?

PM: No, not at all. I really think that if we would have brought out this album after _Testimony of the Ancients_, people would have loved it. When we recorded _Spheres_ we wanted to show people that we were good musicians, and we really wanted to define a sound that sat outside of traditional death metal. With _Resurrection Macabre_ I think we've probably moved back to that old-school sound, but I feel like it's a statement in the sense that it takes elements off all of our albums and combines it into something new. I'm really happy with how it's ended up sounding. One thing that's really ironic to me though is that in almost all of the reviews that I have read for this album, no one mentions C-187; and the thing is that I use the exact same grooves and rhythms on the new Pestilence that I did there.

CoC: Don't you feel that in that instance, it's almost a case of setting expectations more than anything else? With C-187 the rumours of there being gangsta rap influences on the album turned a lot of fans off, while with the new Pestilence a lot of fans were in some ways conditioned by the buzz on the Internet and the media to expect something that was slightly different to what they ended up getting.

PM: Yes, definitely. I think that the problem now is that the Internet gives everybody as much of an opinion as they want and it's completely unchecked. So now someone can on to, say, Blabbermouth and call an album shit without really knowing much about it, and that could potentially turn a lot of people off.

CoC: Keeping that in mind, the really interesting thing to me about the new Pestilence is that you seem to have purposefully made an album that contradicts what the fans were expecting.

PM: Well, as I said before, I really think that if we brought out this album after _Testimony of the Ancients_, we would have been very successful with it. The death metal scene has always been about these slight fluctuations in style; for a while all the bands are just doing groovy stuff, then they start doing technical. Labels like Roadrunner -- they just invest in what's in style at that point, and then when that trend dies, they just drop those bands.

CoC: Sort of like what's going to happen to a lot of deathcore bands in about three years' time.

PM: Yeah, definitely. Labels only really want to make money off of the bands they sign, so in some ways they drive the progression of the genre. So, while I was recording _Spheres_, I was really frustrated because I wanted to show that I was a good musician and not just some mindless, blast-beat obsessed lunatic. We wanted to be different to all the other bands out there, and it took us years to define the sound we had. _Resurrection Macabre_ is a statement in the same way that _Spheres_ was. It's like all of our other albums combined, and you toss it into a blender and come up with something new. I mean, I'll be honest -- I've heard some negative comments about the album. Some people say that they wanted something similar to _Spheres_, and ironically those were the same people who were probably bashing that album when it came out. I just wanted to do a solid death metal record on this one, and maybe add a couple of fresh and new ideas to it. We experimented with the interplay between the bass guitar and the drums and I'm lucky that I have the guys in the band that could pull that off.

CoC: Would you describe those grooves and some of that bass / drum dynamic as similar to the ideas you had with the C-187 album?

PM: Oh, totally. What's funny to me is that when people review the new album, they don't even mention the C-187 record. Nobody's talking about that album, but the fact is that the grooves I'm using on the new Pestilence are the same as the ones I was using for C-187. I feel like I used very similar ingredients for both albums, but they actually got sold in very different ways, and that's why the response to each was so different.

CoC: I guess that brings us back again to the point about setting expectations.

PM: That's just how people are, man. On the forums, and especially on Blabbermouth, people log on and it just seems like they're out to talk as much shit as they can. There's nothing stopping them from saying whatever they want to. I feel like an old fart saying this, but back in the old days you'd have to write to a fanzine or a magazine and they would maybe publish your letter, so it was almost like people's opinions were filtered to an extent. Now anyone can write anything about any band, and some of the stuff people comment on is just ridiculous. I mean, everyone can have an opinion, but some people just bash for the sake of it. It doesn't matter to them that I put over 2000 hours worth of work into this shit. They don't care at all, and it's a problem for a lot of musicians.

CoC: Is it fair to say then that you feel that metal has lost some of its lustre since the tape-trading days?

PM: That's what I'm saying. It's crazy. People should really learn to start looking into themselves and deciding for themselves what they want to like and what they want to dislike, rather than listening to some idiot on a forum.

CoC: Let's talk about the creation of the new album for a minute, because as you've mentioned before, it was never something you planned on doing again. Going back to the death metal style, was it hard to start writing in that vein again?

PM: It's like riding a bike. <laughs> You get on a bike after not riding it for a couple of years and after a half hour you can do wheelies again because you learned how to do it when you were sixteen. It feels very natural and it wasn't difficult at all to get into that mode again. When I was sixteen, I was writing similar stuff. The thing with the Pestilence riffing -- I took drum lessons for about three years, and I can come up with good riffs and good drum beats and show the guys who are playing for me what to do. Not playing this style for fifteen years, gave me a healthy appetite again for doing death metal.

CoC: During your absence from the scene, how much attention did you pay to what the next generation of death metal bands have been bringing out, especially because _Resurrection Macabre_ sounds so different to a lot of modern death metal in many ways?

PM: Pestilence has always been Pestilence and when we started back in '86, we were really into tape trading. You know, we would listen to that shit and go crazy over how a guy's bass-drum sounded or the guitar tone someone had. Eventually of course, you try to copy all of that when really it's all about trying to find your own identity. Back in the day we were really listening to a lot of Mantas, Venom and Possessed, and then gradually we got to a point where we were listening to ourselves, and then we moved on from that to the point where none of us were listening to death metal anymore, because we wanted to come up with new and fresh ideas.

CoC: I'm almost about to let you go, but I have to ask -- after all the touring that you have lined up is done -- what are your plans for Pestilence?

PM: Well, I want to make sure that Pestilence gets the recognition that we never got after _Spheres_. We're still a band to be reckoned with, and with this album I think that we've been able to prove that. We're a little bit older and a little bit wiser, so the whole image thing doesn't bother us. I just want this band to make really exciting, innovative death metal.

(article submitted 7/22/2009)


ALBUMS
1/27/2014 A El Naby 5 Pestilence - Obsideo
4/15/2009 J Smit 9 Pestilence - Resurrection Macabre
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