What have bands like PESTILENCE, ASPHYX and BOLT THROWER in common besides the fact that all of them released splendid Death Metal albums throughout their career? The fact that in all those bands, Martin Van Drunen was the vocalist for a certain period and influenced their sound through his original and charismatic vocals. I haven’t read any interview with Martin Van Drunen since he left BOLT THROWER a few years ago and I was often wondering how he would be doing in the meantime. After some ‘investigation’, I finally got ahold of his contact-address and I was able to talk to Martin after all those years. He was more than willing to talk about his whole career and go into detail about things, which is very cool of course…
According to the biography, PESTILENCE got formed during the summer of 1986. The line-up consisted of Patrick Mameli (voc. / guitar), Randy Meinhard (guitar) and Marco Foddis (drums). How didyou get into the band?
"I knew Patrick already from a band in the neighbourhood who played covers of METALLICA and SLAYER. We were both from Enschede and one day Patrick told me he was looking for a vocalist for another band of his, PESTILENCE. I wanted to try it out, I did a rehearsal with them and I was accepted. But they didn’t have a bass-player so they also gave me a bass and said ‘Here you are, now learn.’ (laughs). That’s how it went. PESTILENCE was the first band that I joined. I just loved their first demo "Dysentery", it was totally the music that I loved so I was really happy that I could join PESTILENCE. I had to sing the songs of that demo live and if you’re then not totally into it, you can better forget it."
In many biographies, there’s also talk of a demo called "Infected". This tape was a demo of an American band with the same name as yourselves. They changed their name later on into THE HORDE OF TORMENT. Have you ever personally met this band or spoke to any of them?
"No, I never met them or spoke to to them. From what I heard, it seems like they were absolutely not that happy that they had to change their bandname but it was the best thing they could do because things were starting to get serious for us in a really short time."
What do you still remember of the recordings of "The Penance"?
"Yeah .. "The Penance" … (laughs). Patrick and the rest of the guys had to get me out of bed on the day we were recording that demo because I was still drunk from the day before. Everything was already booked and planned and I had had a pretty rough night on the day before. They had called me but I was still sleeping, I didn’t hear the phone, so they kept knocking on the door. I had a serious hangover when I came into the studio but things worked out anyway. "The Penance" was my first recording in a real studio but it was not that I was pretty nervous or something. I’m not satisfied with my vocals on that demo anymore but it’s already such a long time ago."
In contradiction to many demo’s which were out there at that time, your second demo "The Penance" had a very heavy guitarsound. You could also hear all the different instruments very clear. How did you manage to get that sound? Why are you actually not playing bass on the demo?
"I had been playing bass for a very short time, maybe a month or two, and so they thought it was better if Patrick would play the bass on the demo. The recordings had to be done very fast and we really had to hurry up, we couldn’t afford to lose time as we booked the studio only for a weekend. The reason why we have such a good sound on that demo is probably because we used speakers from a sort of ‘build-it-yourself’ kit. We bought that set in Germany and we were very happy with the sound when we tested them for the first time. I think that’s why the sound on "The Penance" turned out so heavy."
What can you still remember of your first gig with PESTILENCE?
"That was in Genk, Belgium, but that was actually more something like a joke. We were in contact with a band called TYPHONE, we were friends with them, and their vocalist Lou had a sort of birthday-party where lots of people came to. There was also a small stage with instruments and everybody who felt like it could play a couple of songs on that stage. When we were there, many people went like ‘C’mon, you guys have to play too.’ and so we did but it as nothing serious, it was just for fun. Our first ‘real’ gig was a couple of weeks in our hometown Enschede, in the Atak club. We also rehearsed there."
What can you stil remember of your gig in De Soos Plock which you played in Volkel, Holland?
"Not much because we played so many gigs. I think I got to know Micha there who later ended up in the band DEAD END. But I really can’t remember any details about that gig…"
Do you know that both the PESTILENCE demo’s were included in the re-release of "Maleus Maleficarum" by Displeased Records of 1998 and that many mistakes were made regarding the titles of the demos and the songs? Did Displeased never contact any of you?
"I don’t know anything about that, this is the first time that I get to hear that. That’s very sad and obviously this re-release is done by a company who don’t know anything about it and are totally uninterested. The only thing they’re probably interested in through this re-release is getting some extra money. I spoke to Patrick Mameli recently, nobody knows anything about that. The fact that the record-company doesn’t contact the bandmembers concerning royalties and all that is typical. They put this release out, they get their money and that’s it. They never contacted us. I can tell you stories from our time with Roadrunner which are even more extreme…"
I have both the PESTILENCE demos also as a bootleg LP. It has a kind of mask on the cover and it’s released through Quaak Records. Do you know this bootleg?
"I remember that I’ve seen that LP once in Germany, in Dortmund, now that you mention it. That must have been done by someone who had those two tapes and decided to release them on his own on a bootleg LP. I don’t have that much problems with something like that because there are bootlegs made of almost every band, it all goes hand in hand with each other."
Besides ‘Affectation’ which later on got renamed into ‘Cycle Of Existence’, you never re-recorded any songs of the two demos for an album. Why not actually, I mean, songs like ‘Fight The Pague’ or ‘Before The Penance’ are mervellous to my opinion…
"We were very fast songwriters and it always happened very fast that we didn’t like our older material anymore. As a band you start to dislike your older material very fast. It’s even this extreme that most of the time by the time that an album gets released you’re already not satisfied with the songs anymore. But that’s actually a healthy attitude to my opinion, because that way, you stay critical all the time and you want to progress all the time. Just the same happened to the songs of the demos. Sometimes we still played an older demo song live, but after the release of "The Penance" we had new and better material so fast that we had the feeling that it wasn’t necessary to re-record those older songs."
In 1988, you played with PESTILENCE on the Metal Attack Festival in Eibergen, Holland. As the last song of your set, you played INFERNAL MAJESTY’s ‘Night Of The Living Dead’. In contradiction to the rest of the set, Patrick did the vocals on that song and not you. Why, was the combination vocals / bass too difficult for you in that song?
"Yeah, INFERNAL MAJESTY had a seperate vocalist. At that time, I was playing bass for like maybe one year or so. The bassplayer of INFERNAL MAJESTY, Psychopath, was very good and that song was indeed too difficult for me to concentrate on vocals and bass at the same time. Patrick was such a good guitarplayer that he could do the vocals and play the guitarparts at the same time. He was also used to it because he already sang and played guitar during the period of the "Dysentery" demo. INFERNAL MAJESTY were supposed to play that evening as well but unfortunately they couldn’t. All in the band simply loved the "None Shall Defy" album and we thought it really was a pity that they couldn’t make it because we loved that band ourselves. So, we thought it was a cool idea to cover one of their songs and it was a right choice because when we played that song the audience really went nuts!"
The image that PESTILENCE had on the "Teutonic Invasion Sampler Part II" was pretty extreme: lots of leather, spikes and smoke to create a mystical atmosphere. This disapperaed later on completely and you ‘switched’ to the typical "white gymshoes, blue jeans and a metal shirt" look. Since you’re also a fan of bands like VENOM, POSSESSED and CELTIC FROST, who all had a kind of extreme look, did you never feel the urge to keep this more extreme look that you had in the beginning?
"As a band, we were just looking, you know… How will we present ourselves? In the beginning we also wanted to make our show as spectacular as possible with fire-bombs and all that. But it’s also a disadvantage because people expect you to stick to that image all the time, you have to wear that sort of clothes all the time, and that’s pretty difficult. Leather trousers got stolen at gigs, it got difficult to keep all our stuff and we also felt more comfortable in more ‘normal’ clothes, so to say. During my career , I never walked around in studs and all that that much…"
"Maleus Maleficarum" got released in September 1988. What do you still remember of the recordings of the album? Did you have big expectations?
"The thing with Kalle Trapp is that he had this DESTRUCTION sound in his head all the time and that’s also how the sound on "Maleus Maleficarum" turned out. And that’s a pity because that’s absolutely not our sound, our sound was much more raw. But you’re under pressure because you have to record the album in a very short time, the record-company books a studio and a producer for you, we didn’t have much to say in that, all that comes together… The cooperation with Kalle was OK but it was a producer who had certain ideas and it had to be done that way, you know … We were still very young, what did we know? Later on, we got more experienced and things like that didn’t happen anymore…"
To support "Malleus Maleficarium", you once played a gig in Veghel, Holland. After this gig, there had been an incident where apparently a PESTILENCE member had done a ‘Hail Hitler’ salute which caused a lot of discussion later on in the Dutch Metal press. Who was that and what did happen there?
"I don’t even know it myself to be honest, serious. There have been more incidents in the past through which we got the label ‘Nazi-band’. I guess it must have been a attempt to provoke somebody. I know for sure that it was Patrick who did that Hitler-greeting, but it must have just been a provoke-attempt and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Nazi-ideology. Something must have happened that evening, I don’t know exactly what, everyhting is so long ago already. The fact is that I remember that because of that incident our show in Amsterdam in the club ‘De Melkweg’ got cancelled. They told us something like ‘We don’t want any Nazi bands here.’, that happened. I remember this story because I had to defend myself a lot at that time because of that."
When "Maleus Maleficarum" got released, many magazines compared you with all kinds of bands. Although you started to get a sort of own sound, I think the influences and the atmosphere of an album like INFERNAL MAJESTY’s "None Shall Defy" is very easy to hear. What do you think of this comparison?
"I think it’s a real honour to be compared to an album like "None Shall Defy" but I don’t see it that way. I think "None Shall Defy" is a much better album. "Maleus Maleficarum", I think is much more in the direction of an album like "Pleasure To Kill" to my opinion, I think you can compare it much better to that one, especially concerning the speed of the music. We would have loved to play the songs a little more slow, the power got a bit lost because of Marco’s speed. All the guitar-parts had to be changed afterwards because he played way too fast."
During a gig which you played in Bochum, Germany (Nov.18, 1988), you also played a cover of SLAYER’s ‘South Of Heaven’ (I experienced this in Bremen as well – Frank). I was pretty surprised that you had chosen this song, because Patrick told several times in interviews that he was sort of looking down on the guitarplaying of King and Hanneman. So why did you still play that cover?
"When we rehearsed we always fooled around with stuff and SLAYER was always on the set, songs like ‘The Antichrist’. When "South Of Heaven" was released , we learned how to play that song rather fast and when the people in Bochum asked for more, we just played it. I remember that as guitarists, Patrick indeed didn’t like them, but as a band SLAYER was just pure power."
To support "Maleus Maleficarum", you did a couple of gigs with DRI in Holland. Besides those gigs, you didn’t play that much, why?
"Well, we played many single gigs in Austria and Germany. And we also did that tour together with DRI and GANG GREEN, it was not a real tour, actually it was more like a couple of gigs. We also didn’t like the choice of the bands that much, GANG GREEN was more like a ‘fun & beer’ band and DRI was a Crossover / Hardcore / Punk band and you had us, a bunch of Thrashers. But the audience was into it, they liked us, so it was still successful… But we played so many single gigs because we found out that our contracts with Roadrunner were just shit. When we would tour and they would deliver our merchandise, we wouldn’t have kept much money. So, we printed our shirts ourselves which had two advantages: we could sell the shirts much cheaper and we could keep much more money in our own pockets."
Randy Meinhard (guitar) left the band after the recordings of "Maleus Maleficarum" to form SACROSANCT. He recorded three albums with that band: "Truth Is, What Is" (1990, classic old school Thrash), "Recessed For The Depraved" (1991, focused and mature Thrash) and "Tragic Intense" (1993, haunting and depressing Thrash). Marco Foddis had left PESTILENCE together with Randy but he returned to the band very short after. Can you go a little bit more into detail about this period?
"Things happened just as you said. While Marco was away, we tried out several drummers but things didn’t work out, we even had a heroin junk to try out once (laughs). I wasn’t that much in SACROSANCT, I think that band was just average."
Between the recordings of "Maleus Maleficarum" and "Consuming Impulse", PESTILENCE was a five-piece for a very short time. You just concentrated on the vocals and you had Sebastiaan of THERIAC to play the bass. This line-up didn’t last very long, why?
"Patrick Uterwijk also came from the band THERIAC. Patrick did an audition and he also brought a bandmember of his who also played bass. It was a great chance for me because I wasn’t such a good bassplayer anyway and I could concentrate for 100% on the vocals. But things didn’t work out with Sebastiaan, his attitude was not that proferssional, he wouldn’t show up at rehearsals and things like that. This situation lasted like a couple of months, maybe half a year. Another thing was that he was an epileptic, he collapsed once during a rehearsal and he didn’t know what had happened. So we told them that he had to see a doctor and take medicine or otherwise he couldn’t join the band because it was far too dangerous. Who knows what could happen if he would collapse during a gig or while driving or while he would be in a totally unknown city or whatever? We were scared to death when that happened, he didn’t tell us anything about that beforehand."
Why did you never use the original cover of "Consuming Impulse" for the album? Was the design really too brutal for the record-company?
"Yeah, definitely, it was far too extreme. I still have a T-shirt with the original design on it. You could see a mass of people who were eating each other. When you would look at it closely you could see women who were eating arms of other persons, others who were cutting with knives in other’s brain, one mass of heads, legs and arms. We sent that design to Roadrunner and they didn’t accept it. When the album came out, it had this ‘ants-design’ on the cover and we were just shocked. The Roadrunner staff said something like ‘ We didn’t approve the original design and you didn’t come up with anything else so we chose a cover ourselves’. And there we stood with the stupid design. I think it was really something… that your own record-company censored your cover and your ideas and even didn’t sit together and negotioated with you. They just did what they thought was right."
Didn’t you use the design later on for the US tour t-shirts with DEATH and CARCASS?
"No, we used the original design for our tour with BOLT THROWER and AUTOPSY. Those shirts were sold out in no time, we never re-reprinted them. Afterwards we went on with the ‘Blood Brother’ T-shirts, you could see a sort of skull on that one."
Is it actually correct that you had to buy your own copies of "Consuming Impulse" from Roadrunner?
"That’s right. Normally as a band of a label it shouldn’t be a problem to get something like 5 copies to give to friends or family, but not with Roadrunner. You just got 1 copy for yourself and that was it, I had to buy the one that I gave to my parents. It was totally ridiculous. The guy who colored the torture-device that you can see on "Maleus Maleficarum", I had to buy a copy of that album for his as well. I think that’s really sad."
I always had the feeling that on both the PESTILENCE albums where you sing on, you didn’t play bass. I think you can hear it because of the playing-technique of the bass. You can hear a plectrum and as far as I know you switched from plectrum to fingers when you were very early in the band. Is this correct or am I totally wrong here?
"You’re right, I never played bass on any PESTILENCE albums, Patrick did. Patrick wasn’t 100% convinced that I could play the bassparts good and fast enough and he was right in that. Patrick played bass on both "Maleus Maleficarum" and "Consuming Impulse". We never really told it at that time, but nowadays I really couldn’t care less. You can hear it indeed very easy because he just follows the guitar-parts. When I played bass, I built a foundation together with drums, Patrick just played bass as a sort of second guitar. Things had to be done very fast in the studio, we couldn’t afford to make many mistakes so…"
Concerning "Consuming Impulse": Can you tell a bit more about the artwork? For example do you happen to know who this artist Squeal is who apparently made the ‘ants’-design?
"I have no idea. I really didn’t like that design, I guess it must have been a kind of design-company or whatever. We didn’t have anything to do with that design."
The production of "Consuming Impulse" was done by Harris Johns, why, because of his work with VOIVOD and KREATOR?
"Yeah, especially VOIVOD, we all just loved the "Killing Technology" album, we were very impressed by that album, actually still because I listened to it again a couple of days ago. The cooperation with Harris was nice but again he was someone like Kalle who had his own ideas and also wanted things done that way. This time we had the guts to sometimes go against his advice and did things our way. But he also had good ideas which we really approved, so in that point, the cooperation was much more democratic this time."
Your way of singing changed a lot between the 2 PESTILENCE LP’s. While on "Maleus …" your vocals were more in the vein of Cronos and Lemmy, your vocals sound much more extreme on the "Consuming…"album, it’s much more in the Death Metal vein.
"Yeah, absolutely, it was a logical development. We made progression, we went more in to the Death Metal direction because that’s the way we developed ourselves. As I said before, "Maleus …" was too fast originally, we had other ideas this time. To sing like I did on "Maleus …" asked too much of my strength, also in a live situation. The way I sang on "Consuming Impulse" was much more easy for me, I could also keep my voice this way on tour."
"Consuming Impulse" became a real classic in the meantime if you look at some of the songs which are on there like ‘Chronic Infection’, ‘Out Of The Body’ or ‘The Process Of Suffocation’. I really think it’s a sort of milestone. Are you aware of that?
"Well, yeah… If my vocals would have been better, "Consuming Impulse" would also have been the ultimate for me. I think that’s a pity but I also really the music on that album, still… Also live, you could really see it when you watched us live. We really had such a great time each time we were on stage playing the songs of that album. We really played what we liked to play, it was real. We were totally 100% into what we were doing. I remember the first riff of ‘Dehydrated’, we once played that riff like maybe for a full hour because we just loved it that much. Each time we played that opening riff of ‘Out Of The Body’, the audience just went berzerk."
Almost all of the music was written by Patrick Mameli. I still think that he has a very talented person, he really had a gift to write great songs.
"Yeah, the biggest part was indeed written by Patrick Mameli but Patrick Uterwijk also wrote some stuff. I think that was really something because it was really difficult to find your way in the many ideas that Mameli had. Mameli had the gift to come with riffs which were just amazing, Marco was also an excellent musician. To my opinion, Mameli belongs to one of the best guitarists in the whole world."
PESTILENCE went on tour in February / March 1990 together with AUTOPSY to promote "Consuming Impulse". Patrick didn’t join at that time. At first, you could read in magazines that he got involved in an incident with skinheads and that he broke his wrist in a fight. Later on, people told that he got hurt in a moshpit. Do you know what really happened?
"He got into a fight in Zaandam with skins. We were with many people in a small van when several skins hit Patrick behind his ear. When we were travelling to another part of Holland the next day, there was blood running out of his ear, things didn’t go well with him. It was a very strange situation, people were throwing bricks at our van. We all looked at each other and we all got out of the bus. Those skins, they really didn’t know what to expect because we were with three bands in a little van. It was a fight of 20 people against 20 people, we hit some of the others, some of them hit somebody of ours… We just got Patrick and got away as fast as possible before the police would show up."
The European tour you did for "Consuming Impulse" was together with AUTOPSY and BOLT THROWER (in Germany MORGOTH took the place of BOLT THROWER), the "Brothers Of Blood" tour. During a gig of yours in the Willem II in Den Bosch, Holland, Barry of BOLT THROWER joined on ‘Out Of The Body’. Did he do that during the whole tour?
"We did more strange things during that tour. We had a lot of fun with each other and we did all kinds of crazy things. For example, during the soundcheck we used to play all kinds of strange shit and sometimes we did it on stage as well. I can remember that we once played TERRORIZER’s ‘Incorporation Pull-In’ with Mameli on drums with Reifert of AUTOPSY on guitar. It was not something we did every night, it just happened when we felt like it. It was just a part of the good atmosphere that there was on that tour, we were just like one big family."
By the way, the Death Metal band ILLDISPOSED has covered ‘Out Of The Body’ on their latest album "Retro". Have you already heard their version?
"I didn’t know that (laughs), I haven’t heard it yet. I’ll definitely check that out when I’m in the CD-store."
To my knowledge you also made a videoclip to the song ‘Out Of The Body’, is that correct?
"No, that’s not correct. For "Maleus Maleficarum" we once made some recordings somewhere in Germany for a Metal magazine I think, that was just a disaster." (hmm… kinda strange, cause I have clips for ‘Out Of The Body’ and another song in my video collection – Frank)
I know you’re a huge fan of CELTIC FROST. You played with them once during the "Cold Freeze" tour in 1990 in Waalwijk, Holland. Afterwards, you had no good comments on their gig
"Yeah, I remember that one. It was that period when they wore all those fancy clothes and shiny shoes. They didn’t want to say ‘Hi’ to us, they behaved like rockstars. I always want to get to know people and have a chat, create a nice and cosy atmosphere. I just don’t like to be treated like that. It was that time when they had that redicilous video of ‘Cherry Orchards’, how they sang in there, those were no Death grunts anymore, that was just garbage. We have laughed that night, you can’t imagine (laughs). When they got on stage, they already slipped because of the shoes they were wearing. A few moments later, their guitarist his hair got stuck in the bass of their bassplayer and they couldn’t untie it. Really hilarious. Many years later, I had a very nice conversation with Martin Ain when he organised a gig with BOLT THROWER in Switzerland. He didn’t have any hair anymore, he was totally bold. I talked with him for a rather long time and he was a really nice fellow. Tom Warrior totally ruined that band, CELTIC FROST. He told me that he had to adapt to Tom Warrior’s ideas all the time and that the others didn’t have anything to say in the way they presented themselves. He was absolutely not happy with the way CELTIC FROST developed. He also quit the band in the end so …"
To promote "Consuming Impulse", you also toured through America together with DEATH and CARCASS, an extremely strong and interesting bill to my opinion. What are your memories on this tour?
"It made a big impression, definitely. We didn’t make a penny, we hardly had anything to eat, but we just kept going anyway. It may sound bigheaded but I already made this statement in other interviews as well: DEATH as well as CARCASS didn’t have any chance when we played, we just blew them away, every night! In the end, CARCASS and us switched places and CARCASS opened from that point on. Then Chuck started to boycott us, in the end it got even to a point that the roadies of DEATH slept in our bus because they couln’t stand his company. I had a terific time despite the hard times we had to go through as a band on that tour."
Did the death of Chuck Schuldiner make a big impression on you?
"I never got along with Chuck. His death also didn’t impress me a bit. It may sound very hard but that is how I am. If people respect me and they die, they also get my respect which isn’t the case here. That’s how I am. It sounds hard but that’s how I see it. I never liked him while he was alive and I also won’t start to like him just because he passed away."
When exactly did you leave PESTILENCE and could you join ASPHYX rather fast?
"Right after that tour. The others told me that they thought that my behaviour on stage was unprofessional, I was an alcoholic and arrogant… I really didn’t take that because I had been very professional on that tour and had given 100% every night. There had already been discussions before, and when we got back to Holland, it somehow exploded. I didn’t want to record in the studio of Scott Burns where they recorded "Testimony Of The Ancients" later on. I thought the production and the sound you got there didn’t suit us so I went back to Holland on my own while the others stayed there to have a look at that studio. I could join ASPHYX immediately, I knew Bob already through tape-trading and all that. He had heard that I left PESTILENCE, he asked if I wasn’t interested to join ASPHYX and that’s what I did. I really liked the ASPHYX sound, especially the guitar-sound of Eric."
The first gig you did with ASPHYX was in Germany, you joined on stage during the last songs and you did the vocals. Theo Loomans was still in the band at that time, until then he had always been responsible for the vocals. The line-up consisted of 4 persons but in the end Theo had to go. How did that happen?
"You actually have to ask Bob about that. Theo was still in the band as a basspalyer / vocalist and I think Bob didn’t want a line-up change immediately in order not to confuse Theo. In the end Theo got fired… Theo was actually a pretty strange fellow."
The first recording you did with ASPHYX was the ‘Promo ’91’. I remember that several people were very surprised by your vocals on that 3-track tape. The last time they heard your voice on a studio-recording was "Consuming Impulse"
"Yeah, it was a natural develoment of the way I sang on "Consuming Impulse". My voice actually developed in that way during the American tour. During that tour, it was actually the first time I sang that way, with real grunts. On "Consuming Impulse", I think it’s more in the vein of POSSESSED, it’a a totally different way of singing. Since that promo, my voice always kind of stayed in the same vein."
Most of the songs which ended up on "The Rack" were originally already recorded ("Embrace The Death") and had different lyrics. To rewrite Theo’s lyrics, was that your idea?
"Yeah, absolutely! The lyrics which Theo had written were full of mistakes, also many grammatical mistakes. I really didn’t want to use those lyrics because you look like a dick when you would play in foreign countries and had to sing that stuff. So, I re-arranged and re-wrote those lyrics in cooporation with Eric and Bob."
"The Rack" was released in March 1991, you guys went immediately on tour through Europe together with ENTOMBED. What are your memories on that tour?
"We had lots of fun. ENTOMBED was also a very tight band and very cool dudes as well. Almost all of the gigs were sold out. We got a splendid response. The popuraity of Death Metal was also taking off at that time, ENTOMBED and ASPHYX together on one bill, that was really something. I have splendid memories on that tour. Playing with ASPHYX was totally different than in PESTILENCE. With ASPHYX, we were a three-piece and with the bass I had to ‘fill’ the space of the second guitar. The material of ASPHYX was also much easier to play than the stuff in PESTILENCE, that way I could also enjoy the shows themselves more as in PESTILENCE I had to concentrate more on the playing and the singing itself."
To promote "Crush The Cenotaph", you did a tour together with BENEDICTION and BOLT THROWER in January 1992. What are your memories on that tour?
"That tour was also a really nice experience. The only thing that was terrible was the death of Spike, the roadie of BOLT THROWER. He died when their van crashed. It was really remarkable how we all sticked together, all the people from all the different bands and from different origins. I remember that we had to play in Amsterdam the day after and almost everything was broken because of the crash. We also didn’t feel like it anymore but we played anyway because we all felt that’s what Spike would have wanted. That gig, I won’t forget that one for the rest of my life."
A pretty negative and confusing period started during the recordings of "Last One On Earth". You still did the vocals on that album eventhough you already left the band. Ron Van Pol had played the bass-parts and was originally also supposed to do the vocals as his lyrics were already ready. Nevertheless, Century Media asked you to do the vocals on that record
"Well, I had already written many lyrics for that album and I thought it would be very strange if somebody else would do the vocals on that album. There was also pretty personal stuff in there, in my lyrics, and also Century Media really wanted me to do the vocals. So I had two reasons although the split was already a fact and that’s why I did it in the end. It sounds maybe a bit bizarre but it was very logical for me."
I know through several interviews that I did with Bob afterwards that he wasn’t happy at all with your lyrics on "Last One On Earth" which according to him didn’t have to do anything with Death Metal and were far too political. To a certain degree, he’s right, nevertheless I still think your lyrics were really great and interesting when you look at a song like ‘The Incarnation Of Lust’ for example…
"I was experimenting with my lyrics at that time. I think it’s cool that you say that you think they’re special. At that time, I somehow started to feel ‘mature’ enough to come up with something different. As a vocalist, you have to stand behind the stuff that you sing. When you’re in a Death Metal band and you sing about death, murder and blood al the time, well… I started to get the feeling that I didn’t sing about things which I was totally into. We all get older, I had a sort of responsibility and I had the feeling that I could do much more with it."
Both you and Bob had severe words about each other in interviews at that time. Do you still stand behind what you said at that time or was it more like that you have said those things in the heat of the moment?
"Probably yes, but it’s also that if I say something, it is the truth. It’s not that I say that somebody did certain things which he had not done, I never did that."
When and how did COMECON get into the picture? What did you think of that band?
"That was more a favour for Robert of Century Media. LG of ENTOMBED was already a member of COMECON and right before the recordings of that album, he left that band. The studio was already booked, LG was too busy with ENTOMBED and they didn’t have a vocalist. So, they called me, I didn’t do any session-work before and so I decided to give it a go. It was more to help the band and Robert than anything else. I did that album in two days, everything went really well. It was also really cool to work together with Tomas Skogsberg, a very nice bloke."
What do you actually think of the albums that ASPHYX released later on, "Asphyx", "God Cries" and "On The Wings Of Inferno" as well as the SOULBURN album?
"I think it was a natural development. When I left the band, I got very good friends again with Eric. I think it’s a very logic how they continued. I think the "Asphyx" album and "On The Wings …" are the best albums. Especially on "On The Wings …" there are songs which I really like, especially the last one ‘Marching Towards The Styx’."
When did SUBMISSION get into the picture? The line-up of SUBMISSION existed of Randy Meinhard, Christian Colli, a guy called Klaus and yourself. SUBMISSION recorded 2 demos, you only sang on the first demo though. Did that band already exist when you were still a member of ASPHYX?
"No. Randy approached me and I had a look. And it turned out that he had gathered some excellent musicians, especially their drummer was really amazing. I had a good time with that band, it’s just that during the first gig, things already went wrong. We had to play on a rather big festival together with H-BLOCKX which was a kind of teenie-band. The gig itself went OK, but some of the members already behaved like rockstars. I didn’t feel like working together again with people whom I have to tell how to behave. And I already got a proposal to join BOLT THROWER so…"
To my knowledge, you did 2 European tours with BOLT THROWER and several gigs throughout Holland. How did those gigs go, what are you memories?
"That was awesome. It’s really unique to play with that band, it was such an honour for me , you just can’t imagine… I also developed myself as a vocalist at that time, also because I didn’t have to play bass anymore."
Are there actually any studio-recordings existing of BOLT THROWER with you on vocals?
"No, we already had ideas concerning the recordings of "Mercenary" but that never became reality. Originally, it was the intention that I would do the vocals on "Mercenary" but I was already out of the band at that time."
Right before the recordings of "Mercenary" you left BOLT THROWER. The story that has always been told in the press from the side of BOLT THROWER is that you suffered from a disease called Alopecia through which you lost your hair. Apparently you didn’t want to perform on stage with a bold head. Is that story actually correct or was there more behind it?
"That’s correct but that was not the only reason. We were supposed to play a gig at the WIth Full Force festival in Germany. I didn’t want to go on stage with a head like I had at that time, it may sound weird, but I was really worried about that at that time. I had big spots on my head with no hair at all, like a chemotherapy-patient. So, I already had a problem with that and I wanted them to cancel that show which they didn’t want to do. Another thing was that for Baz, BOLT THROWER was more like a vacation. He worked, went on tour and returned to his job. They also didn’t want to tour in America, nor South-America or Australia. With BOLT THROWER, I wanted to put 100% of my energy in there. I wanted to tour worldwide and make a living of it. In case I couldn’t make a living with just BOLT THROWER, I wanted to do some side-projects. I couldn’t do that from the other bandmembers. I wanted to be on the road all the time and earn money that way but they didn’t want that. I couldn’t deal with such an attitude and so I left the band and went for an education instead."
After you left BOLT THROWER, what did you actually do? Have you ever made music again?
"No, I totally quit the scene and I don’t think that I will be doing something again very soon. I’m perfectly happy the way my life is right now. If I look at it now and if you see what a stressed existence you have as a musician, well… Now, I come home at 3.30h in the afternoon and I can do whatever I want. And I like it that way. I think it’s very good to take a distance from the scene for a while."
Do you still have any contact with the others who were in PESTILENCE? Do you know what they’re doing nowadays?
"Patrick Mameli is still making music but he’s totally into jazz, that’s his music. He’s just struggling to survive like all of us. Patrick Uterwijk’s situation is unfortunately not that good as he’s suffering from the same disease the ex-drummer of IRON MAIDEN has, multiple sclerosis. I will visit him real soon in Amsterdam together with Mameli to see how he is, I think he will like that. From what I know, Marco is a drive-instructor these days."
How do you look back at all those years when you were active in the extreme metal scene? What do you do all day long these days? Do you still follow what’s going on in the Metal scene or doesn’t it interest you that much anymore? Are you satisfied and happy with the way things went or are you maybe a bit bitter or disillusioned?
"I’m very happy the way things turned out. I still think though that PESTILENCE really had the potential to become a big band. That’s a pity, that that never became reality. There are a few people who have lead the life that I did. I had a phantastic time: I was involved in great bands, I played many excellent shows, I have many good memories. Nobody can take that from you. I’m happy and proud that I did all that."
Interview: Steven Willems
(extra thanks goes out to Wannes Gubbels, Bob Bagchus and Konrad Mulier)
STATEMENT FROM PESTILENCE’S FORMER BASS PLAYER SEBASTIAAN:
I would like to give a reaction on the interview with Martin van Drunen of Pestilence. He is talking about their problems with a bassplayer called "Sebastiaan" who gave them trouble. Well, I’m that guy. What he said just ain’t right. First of all, They saw my old band (Theriac) performing in Belgium and phoned us to ask if myself, our other guitarist and the drummer would join Pestilence. Our drummer didn’t want to but Patrick and I said yes. I had a lot of fun and there were no problems until I had to ask if a little money out of the band could be paid to pay for our traveling. Every weekend Patrick U. and I had to travel 4 hours between Amsterdam and Enschede and I had almost no income at that time. The unrespectful way Patrick Mameli talked to me in that conversation made me very angry so I left the band. I can tell you there was nothing wrong with my attitude and I am NOT epileptic at all!!! I collapsed because of no sleep and no vitamins… It never happened again (I ride a motorcycle every day!!!). I went back to play guitar in my old band Theriac and had some great years with them and most of them are still my best friends. Martin van Drunen was my favorite bandmember in Pestilence but his memory deserts him a little bit. I hope the rest of the interview is more accurat. I know it is a long time ago and probably nobody cares to read about it but I had to write this for my own peace of mind.