When it comes to straight ahead, raw oldschool Black Metal, Sweden’s grim two-piece PEST has been a steady name for several years already. After a couple of very limited tape releases, they first of all gained bigger attention within the worldwide underground with their "Blasphemy Is My Throne" MCD from 2002, which was followed by their No Colours debut full length "Desecration" about a year later. Musically very close to the Norwegian scene of the early 90s, PEST is without a doubt another promising name within a new generation of Swedish Black Metal, that already gave birth to likeminded hopefuls such as CRAFT or ARMAGEDDA! Most recently PEST have released their brand new full length "In Total Contempt", which finally made us contact vocalist / guitarist / drummer Necro for the following interview…
According to your website PEST was formed in late 1997 by yourself and Equimanthorn… How did you both get together? Was PEST your first band ever or have you been playing in other projects before already?
Necro: "We met up earlier that year (1997), and ended up playing in a band right away. This was a band consisting of four people, and that never worked out that well. Too many different wills and not sharing the same visions were the reasons that made me and Equimanthorn leave that crappy band after some months to create PEST. Both of us had played before this, but not in the same band, and nothing worth to mention."
When did your interest in Black Metal start to grow and what is it, that fascinates you so much about it? What have you been listening prior to that? Do you still listen to other forms of music?
Necro: "(Black) Metal is my life. It is plainly what I do. Growing up I listened to ol’ bands like Mercyful fate, King Diamond, Iron maiden (first two albums! The true vinyl sound!), Slayer (‘Antichrist’!), Sepultura ("Bestial Devastaion" and "Morbid Visions"), early Samael… Mayhem’s "Deathcrush"… Yeah you know, Morbid Angel released "Altars Of Madness" and… I can go on about this forever. What I listen to today, I’ve listened to for so long it is almost sick. Bathory, Sodom (I never get tired of the first two LP’s!), Possessed, Destruction (Mike knew how to handle the "V"!), Venom, Celtic Frost, Darkthrone ("A Blaze In The Northern Sky" is the masterpiece of the nineties), Sarcofago, Dark Angel, Burzum (first album holds a great atmosphere), Treblinka (Swe)…I’ll let it go now… if I mention too many, too many will be forgotten."
What are you five alltime favorite Black Metal albums and which newer bands to you consider worth being checked out?
Necro: "New entries in the last ten years would be Aura Noir and Nifelheim and I must say that I enjoyed the feeling I got from the latest Anal Vomit album. Terrible name, great oldschool South American Metal. Alltime five is too hard for me to choose… as you may have figured by now."
What made you work as a two-piece instead of putting together a full line-up? Lack of like-minded people in your area?
Necro: "As I said in the beginning, too many people can’t share the same visions and taste. PEST consists of two possessed souls, and that is all that’s needed. That’s all there can be. Two people’s disagreements is enough. We hate depending on other people, so we avoid it as much as possible."
Your first recording was a four song demo in 1998, that featured the songs ‘Vandring Genom Evig Tid’, ‘Sorgenatt’, ‘Pretender To The Throne’ and ‘Krig’… But as far as I know you never really released that… Why? What was the reason for that decision and what can you tell us about those songs? Have you used any of them (or parts) in the years to come again?
Necro: "’Sorgenatt’ and ‘Pretender To The Throne’ were re-recorded and released on our first "official" demo, "In Eternity Skyless“. We never released the ´98 demo because it wasn’t our goal at the time to release stuff. We played for ourselves, and the goal was to play music we could listen to since the scene had at this point become so infested with crappy bands and albums, that there was nothing to listen to, hehe. This is similar to how we work today, we never think of what people would like us to do and sound like, we create to destroy ourselves. But I must admit that I have failed the original idea, since it seems I am never to be satisfied with my work. Huh! ‘Vanding Genom Evig Tid’, PEST’s first track ever, and ‘Krig’ were never officially released on any format."
Considering the fact that you are only two members in PEST most of the time, I could imagine that you have never played any live shows so far, have you? Would you like to go out and play if you would find the right people to help you out or do you share the ideolgy of many other Black Metal acts that this music is not meant to be performed on stage?
Necro: "Black Metal is not meant for a live audience. Having said that, I will at the same time announce that we will play live once…"
In 1999 you recorded two new PEST demos, this time on CD format: the three song release "In Eternity Skyless" and the five song offering "Black Thorns"… Both of them were extremely limited in quantity (only 50 and 100 copies respectively) and both feature a session drummer, but a different one on each… What made you limit those recordings so drastically and what can you tell us about the two drummers, that worked with you on the recordings (Robban and Hate)?
Necro: "We limited the copies because we were not really that interested in other people’s opinion, and in the "Black Thorns" case we didn’t have the money or the motivation to print more at the time. What’s done is done, the urge to create was more appealing than cutting out xeroxed covers by hand you know. Robban, the drummer on the first demo, is a friend of mine who played with Satanic Slaughter at the time, he’s a good drummer that agreed to be under our command for this recording. The other drummer, Hate, will forever be a mystery for the masses. I’ve known him for a long time, his name is his call, and he wants nothing to do with the "media". He played on the "Blasphemy Is My Throne" MLP as well and he would surely still be in the band as a session musician if I hadn’t decided to return behind the skins in time for "Desecration"."
Whatever happened to the songs that appeared on those demo CDs? Will they remain PEST compositions that only a very little number of followers got to hear or is there a chance of them being re-released in one way or another sometime in the future? In noticed that there’s a vinyl album out on Deviant Records, entitled "Black Thorns"… is that a re-release of the five song demo stuff?
Necro: "That is a re-release of the "Black Thorns" demo, yes. We’ve had a lot of offers over the years re-releasing our demos, so finally we accepted on a limited one of "Black Thorns" on vinyl format. The "In Eternity Skyless" demo will never be re-printed. I see no meaning in that."
Next came your first official release, the "Blasphemy Is My Throne" MLP / MCD on Bloodstone Entertainment… How did you end up working with that label and how did things develop from there?
Necro: "I sent a rough-mix to Kim at Bloodstone Entertainment along with payment for a couple of albums I had bought from him. He answered shortly thereafter, wanting to release the recording. It took a year to get it out I think, lots of fuck ups by others involved concerning printing and shipping and shit. So we decided to change label for the "Desecration" LP. We sent one CDR with, again, a rough mix, to Steffen at No Colours Records, he wanted it so he got it."
Even though it was an official release after all, it was once again limited to 300 (vinyl) and 500 (CD) copies… Was that your own decision or did the label simply lack in enough money to press up more copies?
Necro: "Kim wanted his releases to be "special". He was not interested in making money out of it."
In 2003 you were featured with an exclusive track (‘Funeral’) on the "Tormenting Legends" compilation… What can you tell us about this? Who came up with the idea for the compilation, how many copies were spread and are you satisfied with the final result? Do you like all the other participating bands on that album?
Necro: "The track didn’t fit on the "Desecration" album, so when Blut & Eisen Productions asked us for an exclusive track, we had one in store. I don’t remember how many copies was made of this but I think I heard it sold out pretty quick. I don’t listen to any of the other bands on this one."
Next was your first full length album "Desecration", which also marked the beginning of your co-operation with Germany’s No Colours Records… How did you get together with them and do you feel treated with enough respect there? Has No Colours fullfilled your expectations so far? Tell us a bit more about the album and the songs that appear on it…
Necro: "You know the story about the label change by know. No Colours is an ok label with bad reputation I think, at least that is what I’ve heard. It’s an old label, and for persons like me, who lives in the past sort of, it felt ok signing to them. "Desecration" was meant to be a fist in the face of the whole "scene" at the time, a wake-up call. It’s focused on hatred and darkness in the old "not-so-romantic" way… Rough and cold with no questionmarks. Straight forward Black Metal, uncompromised. A typical love it or hate it album."
In-between the time of your MCD and debut full length a little bit of confusion was caused due to (at least) two other bands using the PEST moniker… Did that piss you off in any way? Have you ever been in touch with the other bands? Do you find a solution for that "problem" in the meantime?
Necro: "I just hope the other(s) get this question every fucking time as well, since I am really fed up with it. I don’t care. Mix-ups are for idiots."
2004 saw the release of your most unusual work to date, the MLP / MCD "Dauðafærð" that only features the title track, which comes up with a rather lengthy playing time though… Tell us more about that and your intentions behind it?
Necro: "During the writing process and the early rehearsals of the "Desecration" tracks, we had some riffs that didn’t seem to fit into anything we had written so far. We liked the darkness and atmosphere of the riffs so we agreed to keep them in mind. Eventually we came up with the idea to make a strange ending to the "Desecration" album, with a 10+ minute long track featuring the riffs we had kept. This though developed once we started working on it, and this track just couldn’t be rushed so, it became just over twenty minutes long instead, and No Colours thought that it would be more natural to release it on its own. So it was. It’s sung in the language that was spoken here in Sweden in the late 10th century. The B-side of the vinyl version features an English version as well, to avoid it being blank. The track is quite atmospheric, still dark and cold, but perhaps more mysterious than our earlier works. The lyrics I wrote for it are very deep and filled to the brim with hatred, pain, misery and death. Everything written at a time when my mental health was in real bad shape. The title translates "Journey Of Death" and the track in English would be "Life Is A Journey Of Death". I can’t explain in an interview the concept of the lyrics really, ’cause it would take forever trying to explain all the twists and turns, the different angles you can read out of it, and the meaning of writing it this way… Mankind is over all blind to things they don’t know of or don’t "get the first time". They read into things on a basis forced upon them, but they don’t know it… it’s a kind of submission of itself born out of the fucked up morals and standards that represents humanity today. And it’s been like this for a long, long time. Anyway, fuck it, it’s written in old Swedish Norse so noone understands shit anyway. All in all, a nice track to end your life to…"
Would you actually consider PEST’s lyrics as "typical Black Metal" or is it more the musical side that you feel connected to? And how about your corpsepaint / image? Could you imagine to drop that completely one day just like many other Black Metal bands already did before?
Necro: "PEST is all about two things, the riff-based oldstyle (Black) Metal madness and the neverending battle against religion. Especially Christianity since it raped our Scandinavia in the worst way possible. It’s quite unbelievable how it happened. It is not a religion for the Northern countries, it’s just sick how people see it as "normal" to adapt to this madness. Sweden is not a religious country at all, it’s usually very shallow. The church is growing weaker every day, and I am proud being part of it. If I can make only one person that’s baptized in the name of Jesus to leave the Swedish church (meaning filling out a simple form) for every record we release I am more than satisfied. We will change our appearence, too many idiots do not see the point of the good ol’ paint. We have used it to honour the pioneers, to try to keep something that we burn for alive… but it has gone in the wrong direction. Kids playing in bands seem to think they’re fucking rockstars when they’ve applied it hehe, unfortunally labels seem to think the same way. A painted face equals a contract. Where’s the dedication? Where’s the quality? Where is the fucking hate? I am not saying that we’ll remove our appearences completely, but we’ll tone it down. It is necessary."
Most recently your newest album "In Total Contempt" was released, which you had to record in three different sessions… Why was that? Are you satisfied the way it turned out in the end or would you already like to change one thing or another on it if you would have the possibilities?
Necro: "Desecration" was recorded in one session… meaning that we recorded for several days in a row. That made me fucking furious in the end. We lived in the studio, everything we did we did in the studio, from the first drum-mic was put up til the final mastering was done, we even slept there during the whole process, it tired me out. So with "In Total Contempt" we recorded it in three sessions instead. Since we both handle more than one instrument each, it’s a much better way to record. Easier to focus on one thing at the time. I am never satisfied with the result, but that is the way it shall be for me. If I should be completely satisfied with a record, a track or whatever concerning music, I would probably kill myself. What more could I achive from there? However, I think that "In Total Contempt" turned out ok and I am certain that the next recording will be even better, that’s one thing I am always sure about…"
How would you compare "In Total Contempt" to your earlier works? Would you say you have progressed as musicians, songwriters or whatever? What makes the album so much better than your older stuff (if it does)?
Necro: "It’s better. It’s another step back in time for me, it can’t be too oldschool. This record is really riff-based and we’ve shortened the tracks down to get more intensity. We’ve surely developed as songwriters, at least I would like to think so, we arrange in a whole different way now than we did a couple of years ago. You may not agree but I think that sometimes you shall do it as easy as possible and sometimes you shall make it weird as hell… depending on the riffs and the direction of the track. That’s oldschool Metal to me. Fuck it up, as long as you don’t fuck it up. Hah!"
Ok, I guess we have reached the end of this interview… If you would like to add something that we forgot to mention, feel free to do so now.
Necro: "Keep yourselves posted on our upcoming release. No date set, but it’ll be worth the wait…"