“PESTILENCE” Interview (Death from Netherlands) by Santtu “Rebel” Kaskela
Pestilence started in 1986. Initially the band was heavily influenced by American (and German) thrash metal, which can be in their 2 demos “Dysentery”, “The Penance” and in their Debut “Malleus Maleficarum”, 1988. By the time of their second album, “Consuming Impulse” from 1989, the band had developed its own style: brutal death metal. Of course this wasn’t enough… “Testimony of the Ancients” (1991) and “Spheres” (1993) introduced a whole new kind of way to make music when the band decided to add some progressive and even jazz fusion to their earlier brutal, angry and heavy music. Split up in 1994 but after 14 years… They came back in 2008 and since then… Stronger than ever. The time has come to find out a bit more… Let´s go !!
So honored to have this chance to have a moment with You. How are You doing ?
Doing really well, thank you. I have been pretty busy lately, so time flies.
You started Your career as, some might say, pretty straight forward thrash band with just a bit of death elements, but pretty soon changed Your style to pure and brutal death metal… What was the death metal scene like back then, late 80s, in Netherlands since everyone seemed to focus on Florida, and even Sweden ?
I was never into the Sweden dm scene. I didn’t like that style one bit. My focus was on the Florida dm scene. We were totally into tape trading, and so we got a hold on the first “death metal” tunes. Bands like Possessed and Mantas (Death) got our attention. But also hardcore, punk and oi music (skinheads) got our attention. Every band wanted to top each other and there was a lot of jealousy in the dutch metal scene, so we stayed far away from that drama.
My guess it was a real struggle right from the start to get the attention, to get noticed by soon-to-be fans, producers, critics etc. etc… Or was it ?
No, not really. It was kind of easy for us to get signed and to bring out the first album. We were totally surprised by it at that time. But later on we found out that Roadrunner really killed our energy and hunger for more and they, after signing so many bands that jumped on the Florida dm bandwagon, for fast success we got kinda pushed into the background by them. That’s when we created Spheres, just to piss them off and it worked. They dropped us like a bomb. But other than that, life was good.
Obviously at some point You decided You’re not going to be known as just one of those bands following the footsteps of Florida death scene… How and when did You decide the world is ready forPestilence and it’s unique way of making music ?
That’s really the key my way of thinking about my music. The Mameli style of riffing and composing. But I don’t think, in one way, it is really fair to the fans, to create and develop music with quantum leaps into the future, and delivering high standard music. Changing style so quickly after each album felt natural to us, but we were a pest in the eyes of labels hahaha. But we really never wanted to limit ourselves by conforming to anything or anyone just for the quick succes.
Changed Your style in every album in Your earlier years, from brutal death/thrash/core to more experimental (jazz) fusion music with synth guitars… What kind of comments and reactions did. You get from Your fans and critics during that time ?
Like i just mentioned earlier, some fans could keep up with us, and style changes, were others just couldn’t handle it, feel it or plain disliked it. We are no Obituary, who can maintain their style, whatever the cost. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But as I progressed as a musician, I really felt the need to imply those new techniques into my music.And that is really an unsafe approach to any status quo.
After Your pretty “complicated”, progressive and technical album “Spheres” You just decided to split up, to take a break… What happened ?
We were totally fed up with the music business, the business side of it. It’s was energy draining, one big lie and you have to deal with fake people, liars and idiots. It was all about making $$$ over the backs of the musicians. Times have changed however. Everybody can record in their home studio’s. No need for expensive studio’s which is a blessing for any musician that wants to earn a living by playing music, and bankruptcy for the labels and recording studio’s.
After 14 years, in 2008 the Pestilence was formed again… Obviously Your fans kept asking this for years… Was it an easy decision, something You had planned over the years ?
No not really at first, but after not having played for years, there was an urge to do a comeback and show those bands at that time who is the king of dm (he said jokingly). So we recorded Resurrection with an all new line up. Except Patrick U. who was always there with me.
”Resurrection macabre” in 2009 gave us all a fucking brutal, angry and aggressive comeback with about nothing too fancy, technical or experimental… How was the reception for that album ?
I beg to differ. Those riffs were way better than the old riffs. I had 20+ years to practise and I feel that it has better guitarwork in general, but indeed no fancy stuff. We felt that we needed a fierce comeback to make a proper statement.
Tell us a little about Your songwriting process ? Where do You get all the ideas, what inspires You ?
That remains a mystery. I have no clue how that works. I don’t know whether one taps into a pool of thoughts or something like that. But it comes at the most strange or weird moments. Because if you want it really to happen, nothing happens. But once I have an idea, I will sit down and use my cubase program to record the riff and build from there. I record guitar, bass and drums to give myself and others a reference for later use.
During these years… What have been the most memorable, positive, rewarding moments and maybe some moments no one wants to remember anymore ?
Really too many good and bad moments. Some stuff I can’t even recall. But Dynamo Open air back in ‘92, in front of 42.000 people, will never be forgotten.
Personally I suck in putting bands and music to different “genres”, especially in this case since Your style has changed so many times during all these years… How would You describe Your band and music Yourself ?
Well, it really is Mameli music. I have always composed and played my own music. I never was a guitarist for another group or band. That just was not my thing. What is really key to my music, is not listening to any other music in the same style. And that really kept my writing pure and not sounding like any other dm band. I only can copy myself without rehashing the old ideas. So I have to keep pushing and find other stuff that can intrigue me and hopefully the fans.
What can we expect in the future, besides “Hadeon”, Your 8th studio album ?
Well, besides HADEON, let’s talk about HADEON!!! HADEON is just a real monster and from what I hear it’s the missing link between Testimony and Spheres. But I will let the fans be the judge of that. What I can tell it definitely feels pretty old school Pestilence, so the fans should be happy with that one!!! We will tour for that new album after we did a full blown world tour with an totally oldschool set, going up from Mallevs to Resurrection. We will play all the classic tunes and hope to make a smile on yálls faces.
Any secrets You want to share only with MHF-Magazine and it’s readers ?
MHF-Magazine really is an awesome magazine. But maybe that’s not a secret, rather a fact.
Any last words (not literally) to people who are reading this, the Family of MHF, Your fans and Your soon to be fans ?
Thanks for years of support and thank you all for the love for technical death metal. We do it all for you, the fans. We love you all. Hail Pestilence.
Patrick Mameli – Lead guitar/Vocals
Santiago Dobles – Lead guitar
Alan Goldstein – Bass
Septimiu Hărşan – Drums
Thank You so much…
Santtu “Rebel” Kaskela / MHF Magazine