DATE OF INTERVIEW:
12th April 2009
In Lonon for their only UK show near the beginning of a lengthy European tour, reactivated technical thrash-death metallers Pestilence have been receiving wide critical acclaim for new album, 'Resurrection Macabre'. I arranged to meet with the band's charismatic frontman, Patrick Mameli, before the gig to quiz him about the new lineup; the commercial failing of C-187; his admiration of jazz fusion virtuoso Allan Holdsworth; and much more. With the day's press schedule running a little late due to the band's delayed arrival at the venue, Patrick appears around twenty minutes late, at which point we climb onto his tour bus to commence discussions. I initially ask him about Pestilence's first show a couple of days ago at the Norwegian Inferno festival...
METAL DISCOVERY: You played the first Pestilence show with the new lineup a few days ago in Norway - how did that go, and when you played the old material did it feel like fifteen years since you last played to a live audience with those songs, or did that long gap suddenly seem really short when you were up on stage?
PATRICK MAMELI: Well, it felt really short because nothing really has changed in the metal scene that much. Honestly, you know, being back in the scene for me is like I open my eyes and I wake up and it’s just like…I’ve been there all the time. It’s just like a fifteen year old gap and stuff but with this lineup it’s been a blessing for me with Peter on drums and Tony Choy back on the bass guitar makes it very simple for me to get back into the groove.
(Patrick Mameli on his satisfaction and confidence with the new Pestilence material)
"I’m not a fucking mule that hits its head on the same stone...I’ve learned from my mistakes. This time I just wanna come back with a vengeance. ‘Resurrection Macabre’ is like the ‘Painkiller’ of Judas Priest!"
Patrick Mameli on his tour bus, outside Camden Underworld, 12th April 2009
Photograph copyright © 2009 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: You’ve been reported as saying that this isn’t a reunion as such, but did you ever consider using a different band name but writing an album in the style of Pestilence?
PM: Well, no, not necessarily because it has been Pestilence all the time, you know, even since I’ve been doing recordings for C-187, it has been Pestilence because it’s been me on the guitar creating those riffs and stuff.
MD: And you were the main songwriter originally…
PM: Oh, definitely, yeah, yeah, but with Patrick back in the group and Tony Choy…actually, we have three quarters of the ‘Testimony of the Ancients’ guys right there so it’s really Pestilence. Definitely.
MD: Definitely. Did you have any reservations or apprehensions initially about resurrecting the Pestilence name in terms of how long time fans would react, or was there a demand for Pestilence to return?
PM: Well, you know, we were never into the scene that much and we still are not. We don’t know what’s going on in the scene; we don’t know what’s going on really, so that’s really easy for us just to make an album and it’s just what we do. It’s like being Pestilence. But I do understand that people have, I guess, big expectations after the ‘Spheres’ album which wasn’t received very well, so people might expect something like a ‘Spheres’ part 2 but, you know, of course, ‘Resurrection Macabre’ is something where we left off the ‘Testimony of the Ancients’ album so it’s like a response to that album. And I guess that everybody’s pretty much surprised that we’re going in that direction but, then again, nothing really has changed about us. I guess only just me having a better understanding about what the fans are all about and what they want. Instead of just like me trying to portray, or being more egotistical and trying to show off what I can do, it’s more about the fans now.
MD: And writing the album you think they’d want to hear from Pestilence?
PM: Oh, definitely. I mean that’s like a rebirth of the ‘Testimony of the Ancients’ times. Definitely.
MD: And do you see ‘Spheres’ as ahead of its time when it was released?
PM: Oh yeah, definitely. And I don’t even want to go there again. That is something that has been done in the past for us because we’re so, you know, kind of hooked up on ourselves trying to make sure that we’re portrayed as the good musicians that we are, and let the fans…you know…
MD: That’s when all the jazz influences were creeping in and that’s all being done a lot more now anyway, so…
PM: Oh yeah. It’s all Cynic’s fault, anyway! [laughs]
MD: Blame Paul Masvidal!
PM: Ohhh, Paul fucking Masvidal and fucking Sean Reinert! They fucked me up already from the fucking beginning!
MD: You played with Sean in C-187 didn’t you?
PM: Oh yeah, I still love that album, but it was bashed fucking by anybody, you know. Everybody told me that it was like a fucking fucked up album…
PM: Yeah, ‘Collision’.
MD: It’s brilliant.
PM: ‘Collision’ is brilliant…
MD: Yeah, I love it, a lot of groove that’s usually lacking in that kind of technical…
PM: Oh yeahhh. But, you know, the record company kind of sold it as ex-Pestilence, and I’m stigmatised with Pestilence anyway so my name is really like attached to that, and if I do anything else to that people are gonna fucking bash me…even if I’m trying to do something else. But I’m a musician, and I’ve learned, you know, that I’m not a fucking mule that hits its head on the same stone as you call it, right; I’ve learned from my mistakes. This time I just wanna come back with a vengeance. ‘Resurrection Macabre’ is like the ‘Painkiller’ of Judas Priest!
MD: What do you think of the new Cynic album out of interest? Is that an album you’ve listened to much?
PM: What, Cynic? Oh yeah, well, you know, it’s not Cynic. For me, it’s not Cynic. If you go way back to the old days with Tony Choy on bass - that was Cynic to me because I love Tony Choy. That’s my brother, so if I listen to that shit I’m like, dude, that was Cynic, you know! Paul was doing some fucking kick ass grunts and shit, and it was all hi-tech, but I think, like Pestilence, they’ve evolved in the right direction. But, you know, the fans, for some reason, they don’t like that stuff. So I don’t think the new Cynic is gonna cover a lot of new ground. Just because of that, you know. But they’re great musicians.
MD: Mascot Records released the album you did as C-187 and, of course, ‘Resurrection Macabre’. Did they have any role to play in persuading you to release a new record under the name of Pestilence?
PM: That was just my idea really because they didn’t want to bring out another C-187 ‘cause they were like - “well, we’re gonna lose a lot of money with that”. But that was a kick ass album, you know.
MD: You had a two album deal with them for C-187?
PM: Yeah, I had a two album deal. Even when I was doing the interviews, everyone was talking about Pestilence and I was like - “again; again about Pestilence, c’mon already, you know, I’m talking about C-187 here”. You know, after a while, I was like, I’ve gotta do something with this. People keep on asking me about that so…It took me kind of a year to cut it cold with the idea I was in a different ball game because C-187 was my main project, so I made Pestilence my main project again. I only wanted to do it with the main…you know, Tony Choy’s there; I got Peter Wildoer on drums which is like, just forget about it, you know, that’s just like history right there.
MD: Are you a fan of Darkane?
PM: Well yeah, but I’m just a fan of his drumming. I think that he’s an awesome drummer, and he can bring Pestilence to a higher plane, or level, or whatever.
MD: You rate him better than any other Pestilence drummer?
PM: Oh yeah, definitely. Definitely.
MD: You took a long break from the metal scene until you obviously returned with C-187 - would you say that album, ‘Collision’ was a necessary stepping stone before attempting to write and record a new Pestilence album?
PM: Well, yeah, definitely, but that was my main thing, you know, C-187. It was gonna hit off really big and that would have been my main thing, but it didn’t, so you have to….you know, for a musician you have to have some success. You can’t play in front of fifty people; you have to pay the crew, you have to pay anybody, you know, so that’s gonna be fucked up if you’re gonna be playing in front of fifty people. And I couldn’t have Sean on the tour, so that would’ve been crap if I’d had somebody else. So Pestilence is my main thing and always has been really. Like you said, C-187 is a stepping stone back to this stuff; this level. Definitely.
MD: I saw C-187 as kind of announcing Patrick’s back on the metal scene, here I am, and then here I really am with Pestilence kind of thing.
PM: Yep, I think so too.
MD: Unfairly slated by the critics.
PM: Yep, that’s true, definitely.
MD: Have you continued to write music over the years during your long break from the scene?
PM: No. No, I just quit music.
MD: And playing guitar as well?
PM: Well yeah, playing guitar; anything. Anything that has to do with music. I was just fed up with that crap. It’s like hanging out in the scene and then you have the record company, and all these people that expect so much of you. Like I felt I was being led by everybody else, you know, I just wanted to be normal. So in this fifteen year span I married, I got two children, and I’m a happy father. So, for me, going back into the music scene was like C-187 but for me that was something valid as I wanted to do that. And then it kinda like fucked me off because…that was a mind trip because I thought I was doing something good and then people didn’t like it, and I was like fuck off again! You know, I’m just gonna fucking leave for another fucking thirty years and not do anything but…well, here I am.
MD: What do your kids think of daddy out touring?
PM: Oh, my kids love that crap, and they love that shit!
MD: How old are your children?
PM: They’re two and a half, and almost five. My oldest, he’s into daddy, and I wanna be the father that whatever, you know, but he finds out that people are interested in me and he wants to play the guitar. I’ve got him a guitar, and little amp, and he’s “grrrrrrrrr”!
MD: He growls?!
PM: Yeah, he growls, and I’m like “take it easy, my son”; “but this is what you do daddy”! [laughs] But he’s into that stuff.
MD: He’s a death metal fan?
PM: He really loves Sadus. He likes to play that shit better than my stuff! So I’m like, no, don’t go there and shit, but I play Sadus and he’s like “yeahhh”! Oh my god, that’s fucked up! [laughs]
MD: The new album’s fantastic, I think…
PM: Thank you. And you really mean that, right?
MD: I gave it eight and a half out of ten in my review, so…
PM: That’s good!
MD: Nine and a half would’ve been better! But eight and a half, and I think I wrote something like you have more to offer extreme music maybe in the future hopefully, you know, you’re kind of getting back there.
PM: Yeah, yeah, we were playing it on the safe side a little bit. Definitely.
MD: Is the title ‘Resurrection Macabre’ supposed to be a statement about the return of Pestilence?
PM: Oh yeah, definitely. I mean that’s the answer right there. It’s like we’re back in the ball game and resurrected, and macabre because our music is way more brutal than ever before, less melodic and something that people would expect after ‘Testimony of the Ancients’. We couldn’t play like a ‘Testimony of the Ancients’ part 2 back then but now we have to top all that crap, so we did it with ‘Resurrection…’.