Good evening Mr. Mameli!
Good evening, how are you?
I am fine, how are you?
I am doing great man, thanks for having me for the interview and I am looking forward to your questions!
Perfect, we are extremely honored to have you here at Metal Invader!
Well, thank you very much, and I hope to give you the nice answers you have been looking for.
I hope the questions are interesting to you as well!
Well, let’s see!
Pestilence, with almost 30 years of existence, has inscribed its name in the extreme metal hall of fame. While other bands rise and fall, Pestilence is still assaulting our aural canals, with never ending experimentation and creativity.
After having read countless of interviews and reviews, I feel that the band has been stigmatized by its history, almost overshadowing its success in some ways.
I wouldn’t like to follow the same old path, so I chose to forgo from over-analyzing past events, as much as possible. Thus, I would like to discuss with you about the greater Pestilence idea and how it fits in the present world, if you are fine with that.
Yes, I am totally fine with that. In addition to what you just said, one of the main problems that Pestilence – or I – have, is that I always take quantum leaps. I never take baby steps, I always take lots of risks, which is not always good for someone’s success. That’s why Pestilence is where it’s at right now. If we had recorded “Testimony [of the Ancients] Pt. II” back in the days, and a “Pt. III”, and a “Pt. IV”, we might have been a little bit more successful, but then it would just not be “me”. I always try to become a better musician and have better lineups so that the people surrounding me that can make me reach the higher goal, as Pestilence.
I always admire these “leaps of faith”.
Definitely, it takes lots of risk, and a lot of perseverance. Hopefully, “Hadeon” will be as monumental as “Testimony [of the Ancients]” was once, when we released it.
This is how the world goes forward. If you are confined into your “safe space”, you don’t really progress in any way.
What does Pestilence represent nowadays, after it’s numerous morphisms throughout these three decades? How would you describe Pestilence to an uninitiated listener?
I think the “Pestilence sphere” is a good representation of what Pestilence actually is. It has a strong core (as seen in the “Hadeon” cover), the organic brain in the center, which is being sheltered by titanium, by this round sphere. Something that is round has no beginning and end, it’s always evolving and ongoing, morphing into something new all the time, and going to places it hasn’t gone before.
It is the same with what’s happening with humanity, since mankind was able to create fire. Now we are going to the stars and we are trying to understand what’s happening. The way how technology has been taking over, you can see it happening with our children, glued to their smartphones. If you take their smartphone away they don’t even know what to do with their lives anymore. Back in the days we would just go outside and ride our bikes, do something that has more to do with being physical.
Reflecting this to Pestilence; Pestilence always tried to go their own course, evolve and become bigger and better than the previous record. Maybe not in the beginning though, during the demos, “Malleus [Maleficarum]”, and “Consuming [Impulse]”, I was still a little bit more influenced by other death metal acts that we really liked , the Florida death metal based groups. But as soon as I started to realize that I was being a sponge and I was getting musical information from everywhere, I felt that the need is not there to do that anymore. So I stopped listening to metal, or death metal, whatsoever, and I started inventing my own style, what I consider as being the “Pestilence style”.
I think that experimentation, and taking risks belong to that factor as well. I know that metal fans are very loyal, but I also understand that some of the metal fans are very conservative. They like to look at pictures from the past, and they like to listen to the old albums and stick with them. When there is so much more to be explored out there, I would love to see the open-mindedness, all the knowledge there is to be gathered, not being stopped by the walls we create ourselves.
You touched upon a lot of themes I would like to ask you about. The following question would be about the symbolism behind the “Pestilence sphere”, which you clearly answered. I really admire the “Pestilence sphere”, and I was wondering what it symbolizes.
Furthermore, regarding the [Pestilence] sphere, there will be a time in the future, where Pestilence does not even need to write the Pestilence logo on an album anymore. If you see the symbol of the sphere, you directly know it is Pestilence. The sphere has become such a big part of the Pestilence ideology that it stands the test of time, it’s like a symbol of its own. It is a very strong symbol.
Touching upon the societal problems you mentioned earlier… Your music has evolved into an intricate fusion of experimental metal and jazz, with deep philosophical meanings transcending trough the lyrics. Even though the creative process cannot be easily rationalized, does your music reflect your experiences and inner thoughts, or does it arise from a detailed observation of the society?
The creative process that is composing music is something that remains a mystery. Not just to me, but I think to anybody who makes music. I would suggest that we tap into this “greater knowledge”, maybe like an electromagnetic force field that you can tap into, and information comes out. If you can translate this information you can make music out of it.
Regarding the way I work… sometimes I would only have a title for a song, and when I say the title, I try to find some sort of rhythm in there, through the way I pronounce it or the way the words are put together. This is my own analysis of how I go about to working on and creating a song, but the rest remains a mystery. I have no clue when or where this comes about, I don’t know when I tap into this [“greater knowledge”]. I might be driving my car down the road and all of a sudden something pops in my head. I have no clue where it comes from, but obviously something happens in my brain. I then try to memorize it, take a snapshot of it really, and later look at the picture and remember what was I thinking. A lot of the times the momentum is gone, the magic is gone. So, if I am creative, or if I want to be creative, a lot of the times nothing happens, and then I might forcefully try to do something and, again, nothing happens. So that remains a mystery, how the creative process comes about.
Certainly, there are bands out there that write riffs by just playing guitar, and all of a sudden they have something, they take a picture of it in their memory banks and build something from there, but I don’t do it this way. The music starts with a thought, and whether it’s lyrics or a musical line, I have no clue how that works. So, it kind of stays a little bit more interesting for me as well, and that’s when I start to think that there must be a “higher being” or “musical intellect” out there that we can get our music from, our information from.
It’s almost like a superficial thing, an instant combination of our senses, maybe?
It’s not superficial, it’s something that is really profound, it’s actually happening. But, the more forcefully you try to create a song, I think the less you will succeed. It just has to come naturally. The gates to some of my lyrics, the gates to the subconscious mind have to be open in order to get the information that you are seeking.
Do you have maybe some references, be it books, movies, artists, people, that inspire you?
I take information from everywhere, for instance from what I see on TV. I would rather watch things about space, or electromagnetic fields, or documentaries about Albert Einstein, or people that actually did have a greater mind and they tapped into this knowledge, like Tesla for example. And this knowledge has been there for the longest time, the Egyptians had electricity, but, people don’t talk about it, that they had electricity. They think that electricity came about so many many years later, and then we had the lightbulb, and all this stuff, and now everybody has a smartphone . But I think this technology has been there all the time. Also, I don’t think there is anything like “time”. We have this interview at 19:30 in the evening, but its just a reference, we all use this system, and then we both know. For example, you are an hour behind, why is that? Its because of the earth, because we think that during nighttime… they make all these mathematical ways of saying “ok, over there it’s now 2 o’ clock, and then in Japan, it’s different”… but, everybody is living at the same moment, at the same time. So I don’t think there is everything like time, it’s just a measurement that we figured out ourselves to bring order into our chaos. It’s exactly the same with music and knowledge. Everything is so filled with information, so you can categorize something out of the chaos, you can only see this information if you tap into it.
For example, did you know that electromagnetic fields can influence the human brain?
I’ve read research papers about it, yes.
If you listen to the frequency of 1GHz all night, you will probably have nightmares. So, I started thinking about the “ultrademons” living on this field, the electromagnetic field that is 1GHz – on the album you hear that tone -. I started thinking about this; what if the nightmares are actually real, and only if you tap into this frequency you will be able to encounter these “ultrademons”. They can manifest themselves within your atoms, your body, and they can cause depression, and all kinds of diseases, like a parasite… What if we, with our modern medicine, have it totally wrong by giving people placebos, or pills, in order to calm them down? Exactly like they invented time to calm people down. They invented religion for people in order to calm down, because otherwise we would have so much chaos in this world. People have to believe in something in order to create order from chaos.
That is really interesting. Nowadays we are surrounded by frequencies. How do you feel about the political climate and the society today? Do you feel that technology and all these frequencies surrounding us affect its path in some way?
Again, I think that people are mainly followers and if they would think for themselves, they would probably come to different realizations of what reality really is. Years back I almost lost myself in conspiracy theories about the Illuminati, and how they actually manipulate the masses, how they control the monetary banking systems, how they control governments, how they rule the world really. In the end I was too busy with this stuff that finally I just let go… but people want to be manipulated, people want to be lied to, they want to go home from their jobs and actually feel good about themselves.
Trust me, people that don’t have a job usually have very low self-esteem. Everybody is working, and because you don’t have a job, you feel less worth than people that do have a job. But if you work, you don’t have time to use your brain, you are just programmed to do a certain task that your boss wants you to do, and you work at this job from 9-5, or even do extra time, and come home late… you don’t get to see your kids grow up but you feel like you are doing something good to society. Half of your money goes to taxes, and you feel happy about the little money that you are left with. Of course everybody wants to make more money, but in the end what have you done with your life really? Nothing. You are just in this rat race and when you come home you are tired, there is no interaction with your wife, or your kids. Your kids probably have to be at school or go to bed early, and when they grow up they leave the house and try to earn a living by themselves, make money. So, I think that reality has shifted so much from what is actually very important in life. And what life turned into? Being a slave to technology. You now have these supercomputers that without power, whole cities, the whole world, the whole banking system would collapse. And I am not saying that we have to go back to the middle ages and be all crazy, and die of diseases, I am not saying that. I am only saying that people do not use their brains anymore, it’s almost like a mass hypnosis going on, where people come home from work and just watch TV all night. And if you look closer, all the information that you get from TV is fabricated, all a big huge lie. And thats when the “Doctrine” symbol comes in. It says “in manipulation we trust”. It has the peace sign turned upside down, a war sign. The Alpha and Omega are also turned upside down, everything is turned upside down. There has been a shift from what reality is, and people are only interested in making money. Now, of great power is when you have money. When you don’t have money, you are a nobody. And I think that is the sign of the times. We are really living in the dark ages and I don’t believe there is a way back. It is pretty sad that we reached to this point, where people don’t have any goals anymore. You just accept your future as it is, nothing more than that. That’s when the album title “Hadeon” comes in. It’s a mix of two words, “Eons”, which means ages, and “Hades”, which means hell… “Eons of Hell”. We reached this point where we don’t know anymore what happiness is, we don’t have time to think what happiness is. We are in this rat race just to make money and survive, and you have the governments taking people’s money. More tax and less freedom. They want to introduce the microchip implant, so they can see everything. Where you are at, whats your medical history, and all these things… I think technology has taken over.
The realization that almost everything is an artificial social construct is quite hard, no? You are not optimistic at all for the future of mankind?
No, I am not optimistic at all. I have no idea what is going to happen, but I hope I am not there anymore when a bunch of idiots blow the earth up and nuke the whole place down. To be honest, I used to have a financial job. I always had a regular job next to Pestilence, and to be able now – since I have my new record label , Hammerheart Records – to make money by just playing music, gives me a little bit of freedom. It’s almost like a little bit of anarchy I’ve never felt before. Before, I was in this rat race myself as well, and not everybody has the possibility that I am having now, to use my creativity, my talent, to just play music. I should have done this years and years ago, but the burden of having kids and having to provide financially for them, give them shelter, give them food, and provide for them to go to school… that costs a lot of money, you know.
Now that you have the freedom to create music, and live off of it, do you feel the need to educate people through your music? Is this the idea behind “Hadeon”?
Well, part of it yes, because I think that even though that society is going in a really wrong direction. There is also a lot of people that feel exactly the same way I do, they want a change in their lives. I remember, back in the old days, you didn’t have a mobile phone. You left the house and you didn’t have a phone with you, they could not call you. There was no way you could know if somebody had been calling you unless you went home and saw one missed message, one missed phone call. We have to go back to these times, when we were not constantly looking at our phones to see if somebody had gotten in touch with us, or looking on Facebook and Instagram and all these Twitter things all the time.
If you are walking around the city and observe people going out to eat, they are siting at the table not talking to each other. They are only looking at their smartphone. That’s all they do! Everybody is creating their own little bubble, their own little world… They have to get out of this bubble and start looking at what’s happening around themselves. I think that more people are being fed up with technology and want to go back to how it was before.
My lyrics are a reflection of what society is today, and Pestilence has always had different lyrics than the usual Cannibal Corpse or Deicide, or all these bands that kind of depend on religion and say that christianity sucks. I think that’s just being ignorant. There are lots of people that need this hope in order to be calm and relax. They want to feel that when they die, somebody is waiting them on the “other side”. Even if this is not happening, you are not hurting anyone with this. If you keep it to yourself, and you are not a Jehova’s Witness or something, that knocks on doors and wants to talk to you about God for an hour ,uninvited… But if you believe in a God, thats up to you. It doesn’t bother me, and I don’t like bands that use their music and lyrics to just talk shit. With all due respect, if a band wants to do that, sing about gore and decapitation, or horror topics, it’s fine with me. But I don’t think this is a good use of your own brain. You want to expand, you want people to use their brains for themselves! Maybe through my lyrics people will start reading a little bit more about multi-dimensions, they will open up their mind a bit more and get more involved in these types of things, instead of just being a follower to what you think a scene should be.
I remember back in the days when , if you were a death metal guy, you drank a lot of beer, and you had long hair. These days are over, so why can’t we use our brain more now and start thinking for ourselves a little bit more? It would be really good for people to realize that there is more out there. Imagine secluding yourself, in a forest for example, where nobody surrounds you and you are all by yourself. The things you listen, the things you hear… it’s so peaceful… in contrast to all this pressure, all this information out there that is been given to you through the radio frequencies, and the TV, which half of it doesn’t even make any sense and is not of real value anyways. Why do we listen and get hypnotized all the time?
A few years ago I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type I, and I started thinking about how can I fix this problem. Type I Diabetes is in your genes, uncurable. So I started researching for information and I decided not to shoot insulin. I am very healthy, I go to the gym 7 days a week, I am stronger than I ever was at 18! I am 50 years old now, looking better and way more healthy. So, I think that you can create your own reality by taking the problems and the obstacles, rather obstacles than problems, and bend them in order to make these obstacles a success. I think that people should do that.
That’s why I appreciate your lyrics, your music. I feel it is more grounded to the real world, in some sense. You don’t inflate anyone’s egos or talk about fictional stuff. It’s real world stuff that challenge your perception of things.
I do think that the lyrics, the phrasing, the sentences fit the music. It doesn’t have to be just gore, morbidity, negativity and talking about death all the time. I’ve done a song on Bulimia. “Devouring Frenzy” is a song about the illness Bulimia. I don’t think there has ever been a death metal singing about bulimia, but because I call it “Devouring Frenzy” people tend to think “these are brutal death metal lyrics”. When you listen to the words, and start reading what I say, then all of a sudden it has a different meaning and a different feeling to it. I suggest to people to start reading the lyrics. Just close your eyes when you memorize the words, and in combination with the music, just go off on a journey, find your own truth.
That’s great advice!
So, should we talk a bit about the tour? You’ve got “Hadeon” coming out this year, but I also feel that the past records are more relevant than ever. What drove you to the decision to play and “old school” set? Is it nostalgia?
If you know me a little bit, you know that I don’t like being a robot, being a jukebox. I come up with a new album, for example touring for “Obsideo”, and people only scream for “Out Of The Body”, or “The Process Of Suffocation”, or “Dehydrated”, or something like this. I feel you are missing the point of me releasing a new album, maybe I should not release a new album at all and just play the “old school” set… but for me that would get really boring, because for me to play a song that I recorded 25 plus years ago is not very challenging. The enthusiasm is not going to be as profound as when I actually came up with that song. So, I left that for what it was, and when I started talking to Hammerheart Records, they wanted to re-release the albums because they were not really in the record stores anymore. It’s what you said in the beginning, Pestilence has been there since ‘86 We’ve been there since the first dawn of death metal, when Possessed started, and Death started as Mantas, and you had Morbid Angel, Obituary, Deicide, all these bands, and we were there around that time as well, and in some record stores you couldn’t even find our albums! Thats when I started thinking “boy, Roadrunner [Records] did a really bad job with us…”. Not only didn’t I get royalties for 25 or 30 years, I felt really bad that they sold my catalog to Warner, who didn’t want it anymore. This is when we started thinking “well, lets get these rights back, lets bring these albums out, get a better sound and honor those albums as they were”. So, in order to do this, we came up with “Fight The Plague” tour, where we are playing only those 4 albums, due to their re-release. We play the albums live, in chronological order. When the album “Hadeon” comes out , on March 5th, we will be more focused on doing this. When we go on tour in South America we will represent “Hadeon” on its fullest, because I believe that this album is really good and should get a bit more airplay than we are actually doing right now.
But for now we chose to focus on these 4 albums first, because on the re-releases. And “oh boy!” the fans really love it! I must say I kind of re-found the pleasure of playing these songs as well, because I know that “Hadeon” is going to be as monumental, and I am going to play 5 songs from that album as well. So I am working towards that goal.
This kind of brings continuity to the band as well, since there is going to be another tour for “Hadeon”. Revisiting old material is not bad in that way, I suppose.
No, it’s not bad. Obviously it’s impossible to recreate the same sound, the same mood with when we first recorded the album. We are not using the same equipment, I have different musicians surrounding me, so there will be, of course, a different interpretation, but I will stay as close as possible to the originals. “Land Of Tears” will have the melodic solo, things like that. We are not going to juggle things around anymore, we are going to leave them as original as possible.
After “Hadeon” are there any plans for another record? Have you prepared any new material?
I have to say that “Hadeon” took some time to make. A funny thing is that I was not going to record “Hadeon” as being a Pestilence album. I was working on one of my projects called “Mordsucht” and when I started talking to Guido from Hammerheart [Records] to re-release the old material, I let him listen to “Mordsucht” because I wanted to bring out an album. He told me: “Dude, those songs sound so much like Pestilence, this could be a worthy Pestilence album!”. I was still that mood: “I don’t want to be a jukebox anymore, I just want to bring out new music but people just wanna hear “Out Of The Body””, and he says: “These songs are so strong, they might want to scream for these songs”. I am like: “OK, let me think about it”… and “Hadeon” was born. I have 22 riffs already for the next Pestilence album, and I am very excited because it is a follow-up of “Hadeon”, and it’s just amazing. It’s really amazing music, but thats gonna have to wait until we finish touring for “Hadeon” and let this album sink in first.
I am really glad that Pestilence is still going strong. I am looking forward to the next albums, which I suppose won’t be only one, but many more to follow, hopefully.
Yes, definitely, but that also has to do with the fact that now I have matured a little bit more. I am more focused than before because of what I said about my Diabetes. I go to the gym everyday, I do bodybuilding and I try to become a better person as well. Be more focused , have more peace in my mind. In the past I cared more about what other people, critics, said about my music, and with the way I care about my music I would get really pissed off when somebody on “Blabbermouth” made a stupid comment that it would affect me, personally. Now I am like, when people say “this sounds like “Consuming [Impulse]”, or “Testimony [of the Ancients]””, I think “wow, what a big compliment, I sound like myself!”. Now I think its OK, because I don’t think there is a lot of people that say “you sound like Death, or you sound like this…”. Maybe in the old days, but not anymore.
You don’t have anything to prove. The history of Pestilence is so monumental on its whole. Even from the beginning, you didn’t have anything to prove back then either.
When you are really young you seek the gratification by compliments from other people saying that your music is really good. But along the way you start to realize that all that doesn’t really matter, because all of these critics rating your music don’t even play an instrument, so it’s just their feeling: “I feel this or I feel that…”. There’s not too many people that play an instrument themselves and say “well, I think that about this chord change right here and about the way he plays this lead sequence over there, in this mode…”. It gives me a little bit more respect if you are talking about modes and you actually know what you are talking about. But if you only saying “I don’t like any Morbid Angel, or I like Morbid Angel because of this and that…” but it doesn’t mean anything other than the feeling that you get from it, then why are you in a position to rate such a big band? Just in order to put a band down, when you don’t even play an instrument yourself…
In the beginning, when we received a 7, or an 8, or 80/100… what are the other 20 points that we didn’t get? They can’t explain it because it is just a feeling. If you have a musical background and you know what you are talking about then I can accept it. But now that I am a little bit older I don’t care anymore, because I understand it is just a feeling anyways. Maybe you had a bad day… Your wife has been bitching at you all day long, you are in a bad mood and you have to rate the new Pestilence album. So you give it 60/100. This is just too funny, man…
All these ratings are artificial anyways. They don’t really mean anything at all, too subjective and void of meaning.
Yes, but for some reason some people see a great importance in how other people rate the music. Going back to what I said earlier, if you really want to know what feeling it has, don’t listen to the rating of some other person, listen to it yourself and see for yourself whether you like it or not. And if you like it and somebody around you doesn’t like it, keep on liking it because you liked it in the first place. Don’t be a follower, be an “alpha-male”, or “alpha-female”. Do things of your own, have your own mind.
A good example I suppose is “Spheres”, which didn’t get good reviews when it came out, but later proved to be a huge, influential album.
Yes, but the time we actually needed the support of the fans, we didn’t get it. So there was no success after that, we couldn’t tour anymore… so I just left it for what it was. The support of the fans has a really really great impact on an album, and on bands as well. Of course there are bands that keep continuing anyways, with very little success, but after many many years I don’t think there are too many groups out there -maybe Anvil- that keep on going until the day they die without being able to even make a living out of their music, which is really really sad.
I think that concerts and playing live actually makes people really really happy, and it doesn’t matter what type of music it is. Live music, it makes people happy. People come together, everybody shares the same sound and it is an amazing feeling. But times have changed there as well, in concerts everybody has a smartphone and tries to record their favorite song, not even paying attention to the concert. Only trough their smartphone, to see if it is recording.
I get what you mean, and I can see how fans can drive a band forwards, specifically at hard times .
Definitely, and I am an emotional person and I like it when people support my band, because it is my baby. I want the baby to be strong and well. If you are working 24/7 for almost over a year to complete an album and somebody says it is “shit” after maybe listening to it one time,
that kind of hurts a little. You work so hard to do something nice and these “internet trolls” don’t give a fuck about you, they don’t care. There’s rotten apples everywhere, and they shouldn’t affect a person. This I have totally let go, I don’t have a problem anymo
re. People are entitled to their own opinion, but if I don’t like something I won’t go out and say it on the internet in order to bash somebody, to make someone feel bad about themselves. Why would someone do that? There is already so much negativity around so…
This goes with how the society is going to hell.
Actually, thats my point. There is no interaction anymore, everybody is in their own bubble and they don’t care how anyone else feels about whatever they say. You can hurt somebody’s feelings, but you don’t care because you are in your own little bubble, and you are only “Me, Me, Me” . Its only your own ego that is important. If people took a little more care of the neighbor and their surroundings, maybe things could change.
Hopefully, but I don’t see that happening.
No, me neither.
Well, to wrap things up now…
Thank you very much for your time and the extremely interesting answers you provided us with!
When you have great questions you get great answers, and that’s when interviews go really well.
Hopefully we can have a better insight on how I create music, on my views on society. Maybe people will get a little bit more interested in the lyrics, in “Hadeon”, and maybe the album can become somewhat a little bit monumental.
I am looking forward to attending one of your live appearances in the UK. Have a good evening!
See you soon, take care!