Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Pathogen interview

Interview with PATHOGEN...
Philippines is not a country, which I would normally recognize as a place to play some killer old school rotten death metal, meanwhile there’s one band, which really tries to prove me wrong… and they fuckin succeeded. They’re called Pathogen and in the few past months I got two of their recordings “Lust of Evil” and “Forged in the Crucible of Death”. And they both turned out to be really, really cool, especially the later served me some deliciously filthy slabs of decay. I couldn’t leave that unfinished, I had to interview these guys and support them! So, here is my chat with the leader of the band, Willie! It is quite unusual, as we’ve done it through… facebook! Yeah, we’ve used that to communicate and question / answer everything… quite unusual, but it was only sort of experiment.

It is I think the first time I'm doing something like this - interview through internet communicator... It is more like an experiment for me, but I hope we both will enjoy it. Anyway, I would like to start asking you what do you think about the role of internet in the metal undergroud? Some have opinions that metal underground and internet shouldn't go together, that we should still be doing things like in the 80's/90's, with snail mail only, cassette trades, only paper fanzines and flyers etc... which is bullshit of course. I think that even such facebook has its important role in promoting the music and getting friendships from all over the world - the only difference is that it is cheap and fast way to spread the news. Obviously I don't need to know who's taking shit at the moment or what he's been eating for breakfast, but still such facebook is a cool way to communicate, share views, promote good bands, etc. What is your opinion on the role, which internet has taken in the metal underworld nowadays, about webzines, FB profiles, etc?

First off, I'd like to say hello to all the readers of the almighty Panzerfaust 'zine! This kind of interview is also first for Pathogen, it reminds of a local fanzine who once attempted to do an interview through text messaging back in 2004! I thought that was a joke but anyway...(Hehe!) I think the internet for the most part has been and is still quite beneficial for metal and the underground scene because the updates of information and communication are now at the speed of light. Don't get me wrong, I still write to some snail mail contacts and prefers physical releases instead of electronic ones, but we are no longer in the 80's and 90's! That is the reality that we all have to face! My involvement in the underground scene began in 1997 as a young fanzine editor and I remember how incredibly and painstakingly HARD promoting, spreading out and mass producing your own merchandise it takes a lot of time and of course hard work to get
things done. Today the postage is free in the internet and bands, fans, labels, and fanzines are so much more interconnected. We never had this kind of power in past. Everything seemed so distant back then. As for this Facebook thing, I suppose this is the primary platform for bands, fanzines and labels since the demise of Myspace. I do hate the way some people use Facebook, but for independent musicians/bands especially from the third world countries this is a huge empowerment in getting their name out there.

Exactly, this is what I meant, as I think that especially bands from Asia and South America can especially be happy with things like FB, because before there was internet it was rather difficult for them to 1. spread the name of the band into the world and promote the music and 2. it was also difficult I think to get any music from Europe and USA. Now you can easily share your music to everybody in the world and maybe get your stuff released in Poland for example hehe. I guess before that earlier it would much more difficult for such Pathogen to achieve what you already have, right?

That's true very true Marcin. Back then, everyone in the underground music was forced to rely upon bad bootlegs to get music from the US and Europe. You'd have to start a fanzine to actually get free music from overseas! And some people in third world countries resorts do rip off European and American bands and labels. I would never deny the empowerment that the internet has given to Pathogen, because otherwise we'd still be releasing CDr's with photocopied covers! Although I still enjoy doing D.I.Y. releases, but we never would have been known this much all over the world without this.

I must say that the same was going on here in Poland in late 80’s / 90’s, you know, when we were still struggling with the communism or with the misery of early post communistic time… Prior to that people were getting the music from radios or wherever they can, then in the early 90’s bootlegs were everywhere… It had its charm, even if releasing your own demo or recording it in good quality was very hard. Somehow though people do live in the past, if you know what I mean… they praise the time of late 80’s / early 90’s and say that they were the best and nowadays the bands are not so good anymore. Why is that? I don’t know if they say that because they miss being young and drunk all the time (hehe) or what, but I really don’t understand that at all! Time goes by, enjoy what you have today, especially that recently metal has really gotten stronger than it was ever before. OK, we have countless bands everywhere, it is difficult to pick up jewel from shit, but once you manage to do it you enjoy it with your heart, don’t you think? Tell me what bands and albums did impress you most recently?

The only really good things about the old underground scene were the quality of music and artwork plus also the attitude of bands back then. What those old bands were doing seemed so honest and straight from their dark tormented souls unlike many bands today which basically are a spoiled generation! They grew up with the internet, cell phones, mp3's, tablets or whatever and everything for them is instant! You don't have to go to a record store to hunt down some records! They got into metal because they heard it on the internet and it sounded cool. While the old bands they became metalheads because of the circumstances they had to face in life! They were outcasts, misfits, rebellious people who had no place in society and no voice to express their thoughts and anger to the world. The inventors of metal themselves are people that nobody wanted and been treated like shit by society so they resorted to music and tried to create their own music of darkness and anger that is radically different from what you would hear on the radio! I never liked a lot of newer bands, I still listen to the classic bands 80 percent of the time. Many of the attitudes of today's bands bands seemed fake. Maybe because you can easily express your anger on Facebook and the world would know about it instantly.

So, would you say metal is still rebellious music?

In essence, yes! And it will always be. Especially for people who don't feel like they belong to the world and as long as my parents hate it then I know it still is! Hehehe!

With such an easy access to internet and recording equipment a lot of crap is flooding the scene... Crap from everywhere, really, but I must say that personally not too many bands from Asia really caught my attention before... Most of them were just too primitive, with no idea about the music, with no skills and ability to play / record it and without its own personality... So I only like really few bands from your region of the world. Bands like Anatomia, Butcher ABC, Impiety, Pathogen, Coffins, Deathevoker, Thorns of Hate... Tell me what do you think of the bands from Asia / Philippines? Which do you like most, which else would you recommend me at the moment?

That's probably the reason why it's hard to spot the good underground bands because everyone with a computer can record a demo or album today. There are too many crap releases nowadays that the real deal gets covered up. The underground here in Asia is still developing, except in Japan.
Most of the bands are poor just like us so they scrounge up whatever resources they have to put together a demo or something. Most of them couldn't afford decent sounding recordings and musical instruments, so we do with whatever we have just to keep the boat floating. As for local bands some of my favorites now are Ataul, Paganfire, Sacrosanct, Brimstone In Fire and Toxemia. Not because they're our friends but because of the quality of music that they make.

You know… you said about being poor, etc, so I think we can consider Pathogen to be very lucky band. I mean you managed to release already three albums plus several demos and splits… and more so, I must say that the recording quality of what I’ve listened to plus the music itself sounds just as good as some of the best underground European and US bands from this same kind of music… How have you managed to do this, especially such an awesome sound quality on the “Forged in the Crucible of Death” or “Lust of Evil” demo? What’s your secret, which so many other Asian bands don’t have?

Luck is merely a byproduct of hard work! We've practically dedicated much of our lives for this. Thanks for the compliment, although like most bands, we're not 100% percent satisfied with the sound of our releases but it's good enough considering the obstacles. The real reason we have a considerably better sound compared to other bands is that before we record our songs, we already have a clear picture in our heads on how the final product would sound like. So we work on tiny details before we record and of course we do some rehearsal demos before going into the studio just to have an idea of what sounds would work well.

I love the sound of “Forged in the Crucible of Death”, but also musically the album made great impression on me. But I must say that I didn’t hear any of the previous albums or demos, except “Lust of Evil”, so how would you say the music of Pathogen has been developing through these years? The first demo was “Invoking Disease” from 2001, so I bet the difference between these two recordings – both with the production and also the musical values – are huge…

Technology is also catching up on our recordings, if should say so myself. Today, it's quite easy to do a decent sounding demo or album. Earlier in our career it was difficult. The difference is like night and day! Songwriting-wise we're also developing a lot. As the years rolls on we get tighter and skillful with our instruments so I think it's good for the band. Playing music is like speaking a language. In the beginning you're not very well versed with playing but with time and experience, you'll learn how to express yourself more clearly with your instrument.

So what “Miscreants of Bloodlusting Abberations” album was like if you compare it to “Forged in the Crucible of Death”? I’ve seen it being released on vinyl, tape and CD, so I guess it got quite big recognition. I know that musicians would usually say that they’re not so happy anymore with their previous recordings, they prefer the new ones more, etc… but try to be objective and compare both these albums and tell me something about the music on “Miscreants…”.

Well, "Miscreants..." is more 'refined' production and songwriting-wise. I really like the sound on 'Miscreants.." because it was recorded in an analog recording studio, comparing it with "Forged..." we basically went back into making a very raw-sounding record at a very short period of time. "Forged..." is actually recorded at a mere 6 hours! We actually left the mistakes and some out of tune guitars in it! Since it was our tenth anniversary album we wanted to return to that primitive sound that we are rooted in the past, thereby giving it a more 'crusty' sound! We also brought back a lot of old Tiamat, Celtic Frost , Hellhammer and Onslaught riffs on that album.

Maybe that is why it has this unique charm, as instantly you can feel the same passion and atmosphere like on the ancient death metal releases, demos and first death metal albums, don’t you think? And I cannot believe it took you just six hours. Respect, man! But music wise, is the new album more “primeval” with these influences you mentioned or both are rather similar in that aspect?

You mean our forthcoming fourth album??? We're still in the process of mixing it with the same person who did 'Lust Of Evil' and 'Forged...' Yeah it would be on the same raw and violent path but a lot better, more improved songwriting! I don't want to divulge a lot details about that yet. Anyway, maybe it is the reason why our records sounds as it is, because they're all rushed and underbudgeted! Well, some of my all time favorite records sounds like that! Hehehe!

Actually I meant „Miscreants…”. Anyway… You've been working with several labels, recently with Polish Old Temple... Which labels would you say were the best to work with so far and is the cooperation with Eryk going to continue in the future? How were you finding them all / or they found you?

Oh, hehe! Well both 'Forged...' and 'Miscreants..' are similar and yet different because we spent more time recording 'Miscreants...' We very much liked working with Dunkelheit Produktionen and Old Temple - they understand what Pathogen is all about and they are easy to talk to. Yes, it is most likely that we will still be working with Eryk for a long time. We like his attitude and the quality of the releases he puts out. Same with Dunkelheit. It's safe to say that Dunkelheit will be releasing the next Pathogen album and we plan to do a CD with Old Temple with a collection of some new tracks and some rare Pathogen tracks in the near future.

You mentioned the band called Toxemia... you did split recording with them. What can you tell me about it? The limit to 50 copies is so damn small, so can you describe the content of this material?

Yeah, it was released by an Italian label, No Tomorrow. It its way too few in our opinion! But it was also re-released on tape by Mandarangan Recordings, USA in May this year to 100 copies. The contents of this split are basically some unreleased tracks we recorded in 2011, it was supposed to be for a split release with a Canadian band, Auroch, but that didn't work out and Toxemia has been long time comrades and drinking partners and for years we've been wanting to do this split and so we did!

Uhhh, Auroch - they're quite known band, I suppose. This split has been released on cassette... I think that most of your recordings have cassette versions, like you did "Barbaric Desolation" demo in 2011 on tape. Is this format something special to you?

Yeah, Auroch are quite well known I suppose, but anyway, I just love cassettes! Often times, I'd pull out all my old tapes and just have a blast, although it requires a lot of maintenance and it could be a real pain in the ass cleaning dirty cassettes, but if you can acquire a decent-quality cassette deck, cassette tapes can sound almost as good as CD's! Sometimes even better because tapes really have that warm natural compression that only analog formats can provide. Also, "Forged..." has also been re-issued recently on tape also by Mandarangan Recordings, USA.

You know, personally I always hated cassettes hehe... They're brilliant for the demos, I think, and  definitely can say that the demos should only be on tapes, I don’t like to have full albums on MC... The cover is too small, you cannot see anything these, especially comparing it to the LP
format, it is difficult, uncomfortable to rewind it to your favourite song or particular fragment... and more so, I was always annoyed by how easily you can destroy the tape and that so often the sound gets worse and worse with every new listen. So, I never understood the whole glorification of the tapes, even if I was starting listening to metal on cassettes hehe!

Well, it's a matter of personal preference I suppose, but of course LP's are the ultimate! I also do hate cassette albums that are over 60 minutes - because they're much prone to damage. Around 2000-2001 I remember the 'music industry' declared cassette tapes demise, and the entire underground scene and independent musicians responded by bringing it back into everyone's consciousness by releasing more demos and album on cassettes thereby single-handedly saving it from extinction.

I love the artwork you have for your CDs... it just looks damn awesome. Can you remind me who you've been working with? Was this sort of graphics, with these monstrous, hideous creatures something you've planned or it all came out spontaneously? I personally think that the visual side of the albums / demos, etc is an integral and very important side of the music, this is why I just don't feel so special, when I just hear some mp3 music... What is your opinion?

I'm glad you liked it! It was done by our comrade, Joel 'Necronos' Santiago. We really like the way he executes his artwork! Rarely do you see artwork nowadays that can compel upon first viewing. Cover and album artwork for the most part has lost its value today. It's only in underground/independent music that I can see cover art having almost the same importance as the musical content. Joel also is the person behind the mighty, Nigrapokalipsis Fanzine. We got introduced to his art through his fanzine, needless to say but I think he has done an incredible job and we hope to work for him on our future releases.

And in that case would you imagine selling the album of Pathogen in digital format only, without troubling about the artwork etc hehe?

Our latest releases are actually available through digital formats through Code7/PHD! It never bothered us if the consumer doesn't like music which they could not hold in their hands! The reality is that many young people have become metal fans without even buying a single CD in their entire lives! I'd very much prefer having a real CD, tape or LP of my favorite bands. But those really more or less are business plans for the labels, I understand that they would have to flexible in the ever-changing times, they have to adapt otherwise they would not survive. It's sort of like Darwinism- the who could adapt are the ones who usually survives, but anyway physical copies of albums, thankfully are still selling strong and a much preferred choice for the underground fans for the most part.

Are you responsible for writing the music? I must say I like how you recreate the ancient feeling of death metal, similar to such old bands as Asphyx, Autopsy, Death, Entombed, etc... lots of doomy riffs, but also some fast stuff, but not modern blast beat... Does it take a lot of effort from Pathogen to complete a song or everything usually comes smoothly and spontaneously? I assume also that originality is not the main factor you look for in the music you compose?

Yes, for the most part I am. Thanks for the comparison! It's quite a compliment to be compared to the legends! I think if you listen enough to a certain kind of music it tends to rub off you and how you play your instrument. There are times when everything comes really smooth and natural when it comes to songwriting and there are also days when we're really struggling to hammer out just a single riff! We tend to fuck up when we are forcing ourselves to write music. I try to be more patient nowadays and let the creativity flow naturally. As for being original, it's kind of hard for a metal band to be totally original since this particular musical form feeds off itself, meaning you really would have to listen and absorb this music a lot. It's possible create something extremely new if you're in a jazz, experimental or progressive rock band, but in metal there are certain sounds you'd have to have such as that radical guitar crunch or that dark-sounding minor chord interval, which what makes your sound to be definitively 'metal'. Our philosophy in songwriting is always a mix of 50 percent of our influences and 50 percent of our own ideas.

But you mentioned already that some material for next album is written… the tempo is very fast anyway! Can you unveil some more details on the next recording of Pathogen? Will it be a full length or maybe another split or EP? Yeah, I think you still didn’t release any 7”EPs, so maybe it’s about time to have one hehe?

Yes, we already recorded the next Pathogen full-length album, we are just the process of mixing it. It is slated for release next year. I don't want to give away to many details yet. But we can assure you that it contains some of the most powerful stuff we've written so far! We've had several offers and plans for a 7-inch release but nothing ever happened, I can only wonder why. Hopefully some good label would give us a good deal for a 7-inch release!

What was that situation with the release of "Blasphemous Communion" about? Which of the two versions is bootleg and rip off? I am quite confused here, so please explain what was this all about...

That's ancient history. We had a deal with both labels but they couldn't agree on each other and each one accused each other of being a rip-off and tied to discredit us!- Totally not a very underground attitude! We've had previously had 'Blasphemous..." on several similar formats but there are no problems within the labels because they're in it for spreading Pathogen's music! I understand that those two labels in question have made a significant investment on our music and they want to at least break even. But in hindsight the trouble stems from dominance of market shares and sales-profits to put it bluntly. Today I ask for a contract before hammering out a deal or at least point out our terms and conditions clearly.

You mentioned a fanzine, which you've been doing in the past. Tell me something more about it... I must say that fanzines I know from Asia were always really cool, as it seems like people there are more maniacal and really passionate about this music!

I was doing my own piece of shit rag as a teenager called Synapse from 1997-2000 and then I was one of the co-editors of Dead Reckoning 'zine both of which are now defunct, and I don't have any plans of doing another one since i don't have enough time to do it anymore, although I still contribute some reviews and interviews on a few local 'zines. I can say that the fanzine culture is still very much alive here in Asia and the editors are completely passionate about what they do. I guess it's because many of them are trying to recreate the old fanzine culture in the US and Europe in the 80's and 90's.

And this is the end...

No comments:

Post a Comment