Procuring and Conserving the Madness
Resurrected death metal unit Pestilence are poised to descend upon the land of the free and home of the brave for a month-long spree of mind-bending tech death mayhem — a tour also featuring Vital Remains, Warbringer, Enfold Darkness and Sacrificial Slaughter ― beginning with a stop at this year’s Maryland Deathfest. This will mark the band’s first appearance Stateside in over 16 years. Pestilence mastermind Patrick Mameli recently chatted with Teeth of the Divine about the new lineup, getting back into the groove of things, and, even though we tried to confuse him and didn’t do our research, he trampled our puny questions like a true champ.
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On May 30th, Pestilence will be playing at the Maryland Deathfest. You guys were set to play last year, but you couldn’t. I don’t remember what the situation was…
It was, I guess, a big misunderstanding. We were under the impression that…since we have new people, since the last time we’ve been to the States, things had changed visa-wise. So, we were under the impression that our paperwork was okay, and then when we came over there, some information was missing. And since 9-11, things have changed so much in that we were just sent back, you know. That’s it. Long flight, and then we were just sent on the next plane. We were interrogated for four hours or something like that, like criminals, and, well, we don’t want to have that happening again. We were just approved; we can just go and get our stamp at the American consulate, and everything will be just fine.
Perfect. That’s got to be a huge relief, to know that you will finally be able to come back.
When was the last time that you actually played in the United States?
I think it was on a tour with Death, I think. That’s already a very, very long time ago. Yeah, I mean, we’ve been there a bunch of times, I think three or four times that we came over. But like I said, it’s been so many years; things probably have changed. Maybe not, I don’t know. But we are very eager and anxious to come over and play.
I’m hoping to catch you on the tour; I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not, because [I'm] not necessarily close to any of the tour stops, but I’m going to try and make it happen.
Well, hopefully, yeah. That would be nice to speak with you in person, and chit chat some more, of course. A lot of people don’t realize that when you do the routing of a tour, you know, when some dates get confirmed, other dates have to follow in that whole scheme. It has to be on the way, or it can’t be out of the way, and blah-blah-blah. Some parts, we really wanted to go to, but because the routing, it was kind of impossible. So, you just have to be happy with what you’ve got. I understand that we can’t be everywhere, and especially now that I have my family, I’ve got my job, so I can’t be going away for months like back in the old days. But hopefully we can still come in and destroy, and make a lot of people happy.
Oh, I’m sure that will be the case. To hear that Pestilence was getting back together, and then to hear that you guys were creating new material, that was really exciting.
Oh, definitely. And also, it might be difficult to live [up] to people’s expectations; it’s very difficult. You know, people know Pestilence from way back, and you’ve got newer fans that haven’t heard about Pestilence at all, that first album that they hear is Resurrection Macabre, so, hopefully we can live up to those expectations that people have of us, especially now that the lineup has changed again. It’s not the Resurrection Macabre lineup anymore. Hopefully, again, we can live up to expectations.
What will the setlist look like for the North American tour?
Well, actually, we’re still working on that, because we want to have a healthy mixture of old and new. It’ll probably be almost 50/50 of old songs and new songs. We will definitely be playing some classic cuts, and but also, a good amount of new material, so I think it’s very important that we can serve, also, the older fans that have expectations. On the other hand, we’re there to promote the Resurrection Macabre album, so we can’t neglect that.
Speaking about Resurrection Macabre, it was released in the U.S. a little over a year ago. You’ve said in interviews that the material was kind of a cross between Testimony of the Ancients and Spheres, and I’m inclined to agree. That’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. To me, it sounds like a modern version of Pestilence.
Yeah, that’s absolutely very correct. That’s what I’m thinking as well. I mean, nothing has changed — maybe the lineup — but nothing really has changed that much in the whole Pestilence thing. It’s just a little bit fresher, a newer, maybe better, sound, better musicianship. Still, the same kind of style is still there, you know? We stay true to style, not listening to too much death metal, and trying to create some good Pestilence songs. We’ve always followed with the same style and tradition, so nothing really has changed that much. It’s been pretty much a constant factor, the Pestilence riffing. Well, you know, with Resurrection now, we kind of incorporate now the blast beat. That is a little bit new to us, but we kind of wanted to do that. When Morbid Angel came out with Altars of Madness, and their demos before that, they were blasting, and we already wanted to do that then. Our drummer back then, he just didn’t feel like doing it. He didn’t want to do it, so we kind of took it for what it was. That’s the only kind of new thing in Pestilence, the blast beat, but we’re not doing it too much, not overdo[ing] it. We like to do it with good taste.
Going back to what you said about the newest album being a cross between Testimony and Spheres, Spheres still followed the Pestilence formula somewhat — and I hesitate to say formula — but obviously it was quite a bit different. Whose decision was that to switch things around and go toward the direction of Spheres?
Well, it was not something that was really thought of. We just didn’t want to come back and sound totally rehashed, or something that we’ve done in the past, but we wanted to stay true to the style. It was not like, ‘Okay, let’s look at Spheres, and then try to come up with a mixture of that.’ I guess it was just like a natural progression. Like I said, we never practice together — well, for the upcoming tour, we will do some practicing — but I like to keep it fresh, so when we come together, everybody brings their knowledge into Pestilence. When we recorded Resurrection Macabre, I did not know what to expect going into the studio. I did not know what Peter Wildoer was going to do. It was very interesting for me to be in the studio, and just to stand in awe of what this guy was doing.
So, how does it feel going back into the studio and recording new Pestilence material?
Well, like I said, it’s going to be one big surprise for everybody. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ve got five songs written already for the new album, so, everybody’s getting my files through the mail, and everybody’s just doing their work on it. I don’t want to hear it. By the time we get into the studio, it’s going to be a blast. I’m going to be there, and be like, ‘Damn, this is great.’ It’s not like, over-practiced and no enthusiasm anymore because you played that song 10,000 times before, you know? It’s going to be a blast recording the new album, definitely. I’m looking forward to do so. There’s nothing as cool as going into a studio and letting those songs come alive.