Pestilence (Netherlands)

Metal-Roos: Pestilence has voyaged through several genres since your forming in 1986. What was the motivation and desire to move away from your Thrash roots and into Death and Extreme Metal sounds, and why?

Well, we really didn’t leave that much of what is the essence of Pestilence. The only change is that I stopped listening to other bands in the same genre. It prevented me from sounding like them. So, by the time we recorded Testimony of the Ancients, I was already developing my own style. And am still continuing to do so.

M-R: The fusion Jazz sounds that can be heard within Pestilence’s music is obscure, albeit a great touch and added layers of depth to an already intense sound. How did your fans respond to your progression from Death to Jazz infused Extreme Metal?

I now realize that it’s not such a good thing to incorporate to much Jazz into Metal. Metal needs to be raw and pure. Jazz certainly opened my eyes as a musician but Spheres wasn’t our best album. But it makes us better musicians, that’s for sure.

M-R: Your most recent album Hadeon, released in 2018 has song titles such as Unholy Transcript, Multi-Dimensional and Astral Project to name a few. The lyrics to this album, are a far cry from the usual horror, violence and gore themes of a lot of Death and Extreme Metal. What are the themes around Hadeon? And what was the inspiration for such themes and lyrics?

I have never liked the gore and horror lyrics. If you want to be taken serious as a musician, then one should also use the brain when it comes to writing lyrics. It’s that simple. Although the Hadeon lyrics are still quite obscure and out there. It reflects the overall atmosphere better than any gore lyrics. We speak about, entities, frequencies and mental illness. 

M-R: Can you explain Pestilence’s mantra?

It is a constant evolving process of creating music in its purest form, thus the mechanical sphere. Our symbol of eternity.

M-R: Pestilence has been dubbed one of the bands who paved the way for European Extreme Metal, particularly after the release of the brutal and intense defining album Malleus Maleficarum released in 1988. What was it about this album that set the Metal standard and raised the bar amongst the genre? And why?

Released September 26th, it was our first attempt to conquer the Metal world with a fresh look on Thrash Metal. I think we succeeded partly.

M-R: Jazz is often a foundation for Rock and Metal. The Jazz sounds are clearly pronounced in Spheres album, adding a quirky and interesting feel to Pestilence’s Metal canvas. Who are your biggest Jazz influences, those who inspired you to experiment with your music in such a way?

That’s an easy one, Coltrane and Holdsworth. 2 of the biggest names for me.

M-R: It is no secret that Pestilence has gone through several line-up changes as well as the band disbanding and reforming over the years. What is the driver behind reforming Pestilence in 2014? And what was the formula to the bands success to date? What has changed?

I always strive for the best for Pestilence’s musical career. So, I need the best player that are available at that time. It’s really a Jazz approach to what a band is. Most people like to see a steady formation, but I like constant expansion of talent that I surround myself with. It’s a must to have this talent to execute my music in the best possible way.

M-R: The extreme scale of the Metal genre has been renowned for the freedom to artistically express the band’s views, beliefs, fantasies and deep thoughts without judgement from the Metal community. Controversial lyrics and themes are often welcome by fans. What are your thoughts on today’s push for political correctness, which is now being forced into the music scene, and in particular on the artists creating Death Metal, Black Metal and other Extreme genres?

I think it does not belong in Metal or music whatsoever. Nothing good comes out of this. Metal has to be a little bit of anarchy. And this political correctness is really getting out of hand.

M-R: Does Pestilence ever feel like they now have to conform to political correctness? Is there any fear of offending those who might not have a thorough understanding of artistic freedom? If so, how do you manage this as an artist?

I just don’t go there. I’m here to entertain and not to give my political views on matters. It’s just not done!!!

M-R: When writing lyrics and music for new material, what process do you go through to draw your inspiration?

I really do not know the mechanism to how that works. Do I tap of some sort of knowledge bank……or where does an idea come from… Whether it’s music, painting, creating… Most of the time, an idea pops up and I build from there. A title, a bit of melody….

M-R: Your live performances are full of forceful, solid and exhausting energy. How do you prepare for such shows to ensure your physical and mental power sustains the entire set?

Going to the gym is a daily routine of mine. Even on tour I try to uphold this routine. Especially now that I’m getting older. Eating clean and healthy food. I also do not drink alcohol or do any drugs to maintain my energy.

M-R: Is there any specific music you listen to pre-show to calm any nervous you may have and/or hype you before taking to the stage to perform?

We all just say: may god help us. Hahaha. It’s not like we believe in such belief systems, but it just sounds funny to us. I drink my milk and start growling.

M-R: Pestilence have recently completed your Consuming Impulse Tour. What were some of the biggest highlights from this tour?

The crowds, pretty much every night, were amazing. The response was really good. This means that Consuming Impulse did make a huge impact on the fans back in the days and it still does. Another big highlight is, that it’s our second headlining tour. Thanks to the people that I surround myself with. Eternal Rock and Ludy Wetzl are just amazing.

Pestilence is now signed under your own label Hadeon. What motivated you to start your own label? And what is the vision for the label moving forward?

I really hate 2 faced people. This is what money can do to a person. When someone makes money off me and I do not get my share, I’m done with that person. I have been screwed over a bunch of times by so called honest labels and so I only trust myself from now on. I want all the best for Pestilence and will use new ways to make my dream come true. 

What’s next for Pestilence? What can fans expect post Hadeon album?

Explore deeper into my style and create even more sick and twisted music for myself and the fans in the future.

Interview Date: 2019-04-29

Interviewer: Kelly Tee