DATE OF INTERVIEW:
12th April 2009
METAL DISCOVERY: I’ve read that you haven’t really stayed in touch with the death metal scene over the years, and like you mentioned earlier - have you found inspiration from other genres of music in the time since you ended Pestilence?
PATRICK MAMELI: I don’t listen to music at all. None whatsoever. I mean, I don’t know if you have that feeling at one point where…I don’t know, I’ve got a steady job and when I come home I gotta take care of my kids, and when they’re in bed it’s eight o’clock at night. I watch some TV until ten, you know, some telly until ten, and then I’m off to bed. I don’t have any time to listen to any music. And I also feel that….ohhhh, there’s the gorgeous one…
(Patrick Mameli on not wishing to predict the future for Pestilence)
"If there’s anybody wanting to see Pestilence for the next year with a new album, we’re gonna be there. If not, you know, we’re just gonna disappear again for fifteen years!"
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
Official Pestilence Website:
Malleus Maleficarum (1988)
Consuming Impulse (1989)
Official Pestilence MySpace:
Thanks to Patrick Mameli for his time.
Cheers to Karl Demata at Eleven PR for arranging the interview.
Thanks to Hannah Sylvester for recording the interview.
Mascot Records Website:
Testimony of the Ancients (1991)
Mind Reflections (compilation) (1994)
Chronicles of the Scourge (live album) (2006)
Resurrection Macabre (2009)
[at this point, one of the PR girls from Sinister Heart Promotions walks onto the tour bus to enquire if the interview is coming to an end as the schedule is running late and the next interviewers are ready]
MD: Okay, I’ll start asking the questions a bit faster!
PM: No, just fucking go for it! Don’t even fucking go there! That’s what I’m saying, you know!
MD: How would you say your style of guitar playing has developed over the years in terms of playing ability and song writing ability? But if you haven’t really played guitar that much, then…
PM: It’s like riding a bike. You don’t learn how to ride your bike anymore after you’re through with that. I mean, it’s still the same. Being a guitar player, my technique has gotten a little better, but nothing really has changed after all these years.
MD: When you came to write the new Pestilence album, was it difficult to get in the right frame of mind to compose in that style again, and did you find any of your other musical influences creeping into the song writing because I think I’ve read you’re into the whole Allan Holdsworth jazz kind of thing, and did you have to maybe suppress some of those other influences because you thought maybe that’s not what Pestilence should be…?
PM: Yeah, definitely. You have to learn from your mistakes in the past so I didn’t want to make a ‘Spheres’ part 2...although my leads are very Allan Holdsworth-y, but, you know, ’cause he’s god…
MD: John McLaughlin too?
PM: No…well, no, no…Allan! Allan is god! So, for me, that’s like something that I have to…I wanna be the best that I can; he’s my teacher, so I fucking have to do the stuff that he does and try to top that, which I can’t, but I try to be the best that I can. But, on the whole, I just wanna make the best riffs for Pestilence that has nothing to do with Allan Holdsworth. In the past, I haven’t listened to any other death metal or metal music at all ‘cause I know that once you listen to other music you get really influenced by it. I don’t want to do that, you know. I really wanna be like the guy that invented the Pestilence style and I continue to do that. So it’s all about Pestilence really.
MD: Have you received any feedback from long time Pestilence fans regarding the new album and how have they reacted?
PM: Ninety nine per cent is really cool with it; they really love it. But you got that one per cent that kind of like cling on to the old days and, you know, they go back to the ‘Consuming Impulse’ and whatever. So, for me, it’s difficult to please everybody and they just gotta take the album for what it is, and I think that it’s a worthy follow up to ‘Testimony…’ really.
MD: Definitely. Were Tony and Peter your first choices for bass and drums or did you approach anybody else before them?
PM: Yeah. Well, especially Tony was my first choice. I wanted to have Derek Roddy on drums and we had some talks with him, and he just couldn’t make the time. The next best thing is Peter because Peter is like the best metal drummer ever. So I’m blessed to have Peter on this fucking tour with me, and recording the album, and hopefully he will be there for me for the next album.
MD: I love Darkane but I’ve never seen them live so I’m kind of quite excited to see his drumming tonight.
PM: Ohhh, once you’ve seen Peter live you know what a Darkane show is gonna be like. We’re a little bit more extreme than Darkane ‘cause it’s more thrashy, but…Peter’s just awesome. He’s been a blessing.
MD: Did you ever have any concerns when assembling the new lineup that Tony and Peter’s commitments with Atheist and Darkane might conflict with any future touring plans that you might have for Pestilence?
PM: No, because my booking agent knows exactly what’s up with the time and what we have. Tony’s gonna do some stuff with Atheist and Peter’s doing stuff with Darkane, so I don’t wanna be a fucking hassle and tell everybody, oh you’ve gotta be here at this certain point in time, so everybody’s just relaxed and cool.
MD: So if those three bands are booked for the same festivals in the summer, that’d be convenient!
PM: Oh, that’s not gonna happen, you know, everybody’s just gonna do their own thing, which I’m happy with because I don’t want to inflict upon anyone’s personal time or schedule. I love Peter in Darkane and I love Tony Choy in Atheist, or Area 305, or whatever, but when they’re with me, they’re gonna give a full hundred per cent in Pestilence.
MD: Patrick Uterwijk…did I pronounce that right?
MD: Ah, good, my Dutch is not so good! He’s in the current live lineup but didn’t play on any of the recordings, apart from the bonus tracks - was he not interested originally in doing the Pestilence thing, or was he not available for the studio?
PM: No, I mean the songs were already done, you know, and then I contacted him if he wanted to do the shows and stuff. The album was already pre-recorded with me on all the tracks so no need for him to fucking be there and stall the shit. He didn’t know the stuff, so when I contacted him the material was already written. This is like a mutual agreement that he was gonna be there just for the shows. He doesn’t mind, you know, and I feel very comfortable in just writing the material, just like I did back in the old days. Back in the past, I was the composer. I’ve been always the composer, so no need for anybody else for me to tell them what to play if I can play that stuff myself. I mean we have to do the album within two or three weeks - no need for me to, ohhhh, this or that, you know, it’s gonna stall me for three or four days.
MD: So when you say compose, did you tell Tony what parts he should be playing?
PM: Ohhhh [laughs] Well, with Tony Choy it’s a different thing. Tony Choy is god! You don’t tell him anything! You just ask him, “so, what are your suggestions?”, and he just plays that shit in three days, and it’s like awesome! He’s god! He’s a blessing. He will tell you something else, but he’s god! He’s god!
MD: High praise! Do you think…I know it’s a different kind of music, but do you think that the Atheist and Cynic reunions have helped pave the way for the return of Pestilence in terms of showing you that there is a market out there in the scene currently for such bands from that era?
PM: That would mean that I kind of like have a premonition or something…but I didn’t know that it was gonna be big. I didn’t know that there was a reunion of Atheist because we’re not in touch, or Cynic, or any of these other bands that are doing the stuff that they’re doing. It’s just like, for me, it’s the right time at the right moment. Of course, everybody’s gonna jump on the bandwagon, but I didn’t know anything about that.
MD: Why do you think the likes of Atheist, Cynic, and Pestilence are currently experiencing more popularity than during the early nineties because I think those three bands - I know I keep on quoting those three bands, they’re kind of like different music but I think Pestilence, Cynic and Atheist were all ahead of their time in the early nineties, and probably you get more recognition now for your music and those albums than you did then. Why do you think that is?
PM: Well, people are more open-minded now, I guess, to music ‘cause when we did ‘Spheres’ nobody was interested, and now it’s a cult album - people say that. For me, it’s like I’m baffled; I’m like “what’s going on? Where were you guys back then to support us?” But honestly, you know, we’re just trying to be the best that we can and I think just the time is right. Not just for Pestilence, but for Atheist, Cynic, and all these other bands that are reuniting.
MD: When I interviewed Paul Masvidal recently, he put it down to other big bands in the scene now like Meshuggah quote Cynic, or Pestilence, or Atheist as big influences, and he thinks maybe fans of those bands will go and check you out, like retrospectively.
PM: Oh, yeah, yeah, it’s on the same level really; it’s in the same breath. It’s always been Pestilence, Atheist, Cynic - those three bands, you know, we’ve always been on the same level. Yeah, well, we’ve always tried to be the best musicians ever and we know that the answer to the European thing is the American thing which is Atheist and Cynic, so we have to be in the same arena with these guys.
MD: With so many bands reuniting these days, what band or bands would you personally like to see reform, metal or otherwise?
PM: Well, you know, I don’t listen to metal that much but, if I had to, it would’ve been Possessed and they’re back together. I love Jeff Becerra, that’s like my god, you know. Those guys are awesome, and I don’t think that what they do is wrong; what they do is just amazing. They have different people, but it’s just Jeff. I would’ve loved to see Chuck again.
PM: Yeah. Whatever anyone says, you know, because me and Chuck, we kind of fucking…we were like on bad terms at one point, but I understand that. From ‘86...you wasn’t born, right?
MD: I was born in 1973!!
PM: I’ve been there from ‘86. Right from the beginning when Mantas and Death started, we’ve been the answer to Death. Even with the stuff that happened with me and Chuck, I still think he’s the forefather of death metal. He should be recognised in that way.
MD: Of technical, progressive death metal in terms of moving the genre on. ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ I loved. I know it got slated a lot…
PM: Well, you know, it’s all about Chuck and people surrounding him. I mean, I love the ‘Human’ album. That is like the most fucking awesome album. It’s all about the song writing.
MD: Finally, do you see Pestilence as sticking around for a while with plans for further albums, or is this just going to be a one-off album and tour?
PM: Well, you just have to apply that answer to yourself. Can you see yourself within the year that you buy that house, still with the same wife, are you still gonna be this or that, you know? Nobody knows. Nobody knows the future. If there’s anybody wanting to see Pestilence for the next year with a new album, we’re gonna be there. If not, you know, we’re just gonna disappear again for fifteen years!
MD: So one day at a time and see what happens.
PM: Yep. One day at a time. But look at us now, you know. We’re here again.
MD: And would there ever be another C-187 album or in that kind of style do you think?
PM: No, no, definitely not.
MD: That’s a shame. Maybe ahead of its time again. Another fifteen years time you’ll be sitting there doing another interview, and it’ll be like wow, C-187!
PM: I know what you’re saying; I feel exactly the same. C-187 is like the ‘Spheres’ of 2008.
PM: ‘Cause it had some fucking great riffing; great vocals…
MD: Great song writing.
PM: Everything; it’s just awesome.
MD: People didn’t seem to get it though. Maybe the bad marketing because people expected another ‘Spheres’.
PM: Definitely, yeah.
MD: Right, I think I should probably fuck off the tour bus now because it’s a bit over time! Thank you very much for your time.
PM: Thanks. Hope to see you later on.