When we got the opportunity to interview Martin Van Drunen (The ex vocalist of PESTILENCE, COMECON, ASPHYX and BOLT THROWER for some time) my Pal Nathaniel and I, we immediately got the opportunity and send him a big bunch of questions! I have been a big fan of these 4 bands, especially PESTILENCE who still haunts my most obscure Death metallic moments, and the vocals of Martin were one of the fucking killer highlights on great classic albums such as “Consuming impulse”! Totally scorched, screaming, aggressive, expressive and personnal! Ah! Not only the vocals, but the riffs, the drumparts, the production were great! Totally excellent! Being able to speak with a guy who was a part of it is really cool! Nathaniel was in touch with Martin for some times, and it seems he’s cool and still pretty much alive! That’s even more a pleasure to have his answer featured here! Not much words needed, read it!
Q: First of all, I’d like you to present yourself to our readers, because some of them simply don’t know you, or just by name.
Well, wot can I say? The name’s Martin van Drunen and I’m one of
the old farts from a long gone Death Metal era. So skip this page
if you’re not bothered with shit from the past. Read on, and you
will find this not the standard-protocol interview. Sit back, relax,
have a beer or something else for the mind, coz this is gonna be
a long one.
Q: When did you begin to listen to our lovely music? When did you started to play an instrument? As a child, were you often a lonesome guy or did you liked to play with other boys? What age is the worth according to you?
Now here’s a fine question. That’s why this took me such a long
time. Your editor indexes this as no. 2, But I read 4 fuckin’ questions!
And still 25 to go!!! The first heavy tones I remembered hearing
and liking were in ‘Satisfaction’ from The Rolling Stones back in
’69 when I was 3 years old. Never forgot that starting riff and
always liking and remembering it. Bones, blood and core were infected
Q: I guess that you didn’t start first with the underground bands. Could you explain your motivation to dig more into the metal scene. Which are the bands you tried to contact by mail at this time? What kind of feelings have you had the first time you listened to bands like Motörhead, Venom, Possessed and Celtic Frost?
A: I already mentioned above where I started with. But funny enough, before I got into the more extreme stuff, I wanted to know where its roots were laying. So I did some research and went back in time. It was an interesting journey. From Kiss to Grand Funk to Led Zeppelin and to MC5. Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones and The Kinks. Elvis Presley and Little Richard. James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Even forgotten icons like Blind Boy Fuller. Which brought me to the spirituals, the songs the slaves sang on the cotton-plantations. So metal is black music after all! No, just kidding, but the rhyms and rhythms come from Africa. Classical music is for the white man. And in me is black rhythm and blues. Armed with that knowledge I had a world of music coming and I still have a long list to add to my collection. This all happened long before I joined Pestilence. I was well aware of my musical roots at an early age. It still is very important to me but it seems it is not to most metal fan. Which is a shame. Every man and women should know his or her roots. Also the musical one. So digging in the past made me ready to start digging into the future. Looking for extremities, I spend hours in the record store. Finding Possessed, Dark Angel, Death etc. The first band I contacted was Sadus. Still an old fave ‘o’ mine. Their first shreds!! I wrote with Steve DiGorgio, who controlled his Rickenbacker like a madman. We exchanged stuff like shirts and tapes. Later on I got mail from a lot more bands. The other bandmembers were also in contact with several bands so we had a wide network and traded tapes. Funny, but it all happened so natural. We liked them and they liked us. Seemed like one big family. How can I describe the feeling the bands you mentioned gave me? Pushing jaws tight, pumpin’ adrenalin, shaking head, trembling stomach…Ultimate aggression!! I practically fed on the noise. They gave me a kick!
Q: The roots of Pestilence are into thrash metal. I know that Patrick Mameli ( guitar ) was not a lot into the personality of Slayer but would you please tell me your tastes in a matter of thrash metal, at the time of the first Pestilence demo?
You got that wrong about Patrick. At that time he liked ‘Hell Awaits’
and ‘Rain in Blood’ a lot. In fact we did a lot of Slayer at our
rehearsal room. I remember us doing ‘Hell awaits’ and ‘Necrophiliac’
. He just wasn’ t charmed by the solocapabilities of Jeff
and Kerry. And Toms bassplaying was even worse than mine. That’s
how Pat convinced me to start playing bass. He swore that Araya
wasn’t doing bass in the studio, coz live he was constantly doing
EEEEEEEEEEEEE. And he was right. But as a band, Slayer were godz
to us. Killer riffings and compositions with terrorizing vox. The
whole band liked them. The whole band went to Essen to check them
live. What we all liked as a collective at that time was next to
Slayer, Possessed, Kreator, Exodus, SOD and Death. I mean the year
was ’86 and there wasn’t so much around as 1 year later. Personally
I was also into Frost, Venom, Dark Angel, Sodom and Death Angel.
Holy Terror’s second also a classic.
Q: Talking about thrash metal, what do you think about this scene nowadays? What’s your opinion on the last Slayer, Testament, Megadeth, Destruction, Sodom and Kreator albums? What do you think about the Exodus reunion and the Nuclear Assault come back on stage? And to finish with this long question, what do you think about the dutch band Dead Head, that never get the following it deserved.
I can’t say much about that. The last Slayer I bought was ‘Divine
Intervention’ and still don’t know why I bought it in the first
place. After that I lost interest. In the whole metal scene that
is. So I’m completely unaware of the situation nowadays. And I can’t
give an opinion about something I don’t know. I don’t know the latest
albums of the bands you mentioned so there’s nothing for me to say.
What I can say is that I’m not willing to hear them. I just don’t
give a fuck about these bands no more. They’ve had their time so
what should be new? I like to remind them how they were and what
they meant to me and say thanx for some cult albums.
Q: If I’m not wrong, you met Patrick Mameli in the town of Enschede. Was it a good place for metal freaks at that time? Have you an explanation for the fact that the Netherlands have always had a strong metal underground with a lot of bands that became cult in their genre. What was the press you used to read in the middle of the ‘80’s. Are you still into the metalfanzines, and if yes, which ones?
Sorry, but you’re wrong again. I met Patrick when he joined a band
of some friends of mine that didn’t last long and played only covers.
He was 15 and already a promised guitar player doing Kirk Hammet
better than Hammet could do himself. He simply blew us away! We
got along well both liking Slayer. So when I bounced up to him in
Enschede a couple of years later, we knew what to do.
Q: Even if Pestilence has strong roots in thrash metal, the way you played at that time was already a step further…I mean you were from the first wave of Death Metal. What do you think about the production of ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and ‘Consuming Impusle’ nowadays? How does that you produced these death metal classics with Kalle Trapp and Harris Johns respectively? Were you addicted to the German thrash metal sound? Was it expensive to work with such cult producers? How was the life in the studio during the two recordings?
This is gonna hurt you, but I think both productions suck! Well,
that’s what I think nowadays. Kalle turned us into some Destruction
clone ,coz he was so narrow minded in original sounds. Our specific
sound was a lot heavier than on ‘Malleus…’but he couldn’t do the
job. He had this Destruction sound in his head and nothing else.
And that makes him a bad producer if you can’t get a band his own
sound. We were frustrated during the recordings, but then Roadrunner
picked him to do the job. It was all their idea. We had nothing
to say and he was available. But we wanted to record the album anyways.
Q: As a matter of fact you don’t play the bass on the two Pestilence albums, because it was too technical and too fast for you, as you played with the fingers. Then, how was it on stage, as you sung and played the bass at the same time? Were you often out of the tempo? How did you worked your basslines? How did the process of composition happened in Pestilence? Did you compose some riffs, or was it just the work of the two guitarists?
It had nothing to do with fingerplaying style, but with the fact
that during the ‘Malleus’ recordings I only played bass half a year!
So how was I to keep up with Patrick who was handling his axe already
15 to 16 years. Pat sensed this too and offered to do the lines.
Same on ‘Consuming’. It saved us expensive time too. It took him
a day. Although I felt ready for it at that time. But afterwards
he was right. It would have been a mothafuckin’ struggle for me!
Q: How comes that you sing with such a special and unique way? Who were the vocalists that influenced you in the beginning? ( I guess, maybe Jeff Becerra from Possessed ). What do you think about the Kam ‘The Tyrant’ Lee’s voice ( singer of Death during the demo’s and then Massacre and nowadays in Cadaverizer )? Do you like the deep grunting voices in the new american death metal scene? While you sung in Bolt Thrower, did you try to change your voice into a more low tune or was it near from what we hear on the Comecon’s ‘Converging conspiracies’? Do you like the Theo Loomans voice on the Asphyx ‘Embrace the Death’ and God cries and also on the demo’s.
It was all a long journey before I finally reached the point were
I knew what I could do with my voice in this particular genre. It
happened on the ‘Consuming the States’ tour when my throat could
handle anything. I found the best technique and the most brutal
sound I could produce. But it took me three or four years to get
that far. You see, my biggest problem in the Pest period were the
long lines and the massive textpassages in the songs. With the ‘Malleus’
throat, I got sore and it gave me a headache, too much pushing,
although I caught that Becerra touch. ‘Consuming’ was my first grunting
effort but I didn’t control the technique. So I needed endurance,
power and the sound. I found that on stage. Almost every death metal
singer loses his voice on an extensive tour. Except for the cheaters
who put their hands around the mic, but they’re shit. I never did.
Sometimes it got overkilled, but it was so well trained that it
always rehabilitated itself.
Q: What’s your opinion about the evolution of this big label called Roadrunner? I know that they just gave you one copy of ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ to each member of the band, and you had to buy the album for your family and friends….. But did they do a good promotion and also some good tours for Pestilence? What was the label with which you prefered to work at that time? What’s your favorite label nowadays?
Roadrunner used us as they used and will use all smaller bands to
finance and launch bigger acts or just to raise their bankaccounts.
They still owe us a lot of money but we cannot prove that in court.
To me, Roadrunner are organized crime like most of the record companies.
We never got from them what we earned. Good thing that we all can
download from the internet. In the end it will kill all record companies
and that’s allright as they are all criminal organisations. Fuck
them. It’s like pimps and whores, but then worse, coz whores make
at least some money and we got shit. I prefer people to burn the
old Pestilence albums from the internet, then to buy it from RR.
Q: Your lyrics are not so ‘death metal cliché’ than what we use to read by bands like Cannibal Corpse and the likes. Where did you find your inspiration to write so good lyrics? Have you ever had a nervous breakdown? I find your lyrics in ‘Last one on Earth’ ( Asphyx ) and ‘Converging Conspiracies’ ( Comecon ) are really great and when you talk about social problems it doesn’t sound naïve or stupid. What are the things you like the most, and also you hate the most?
A: Well, cheerzz for the compliment. Yeah, I tried out a new way of writing on ‘Last one’, but unfortunately most people didn’t give a fuck. But I have to give the Comecon credits to Pelle and Rasmus as they wrote the whole album, but we shared pretty much the same visions and also had punk roots. Inspiration? Reality! Starvation, social abuse, poverty, classjustice, capitalism, war and then I’m not even mentioning my own experiences in life. I still have about 120 potential songtitles on paper just in case. What I like most in life? Tolerance, equality, honesty, companionship. What I hate most? The opposite, intolerance, injustice, greed, desperation, religion, inequality. And yes, I had several nervous breakdowns in the past. I went deep, goddamn deep. I will never forget those periods. The feeling that life has nothing more to offer. Stranded. But I got out… with a little help of a good old friend. And in the end it made me stronger, more mature. And it won’t happen again as I know now how to fight it. ( why’d you ask? )
Q: What’s the record you’re the most proud of? Do you like bootlegs, if yes, tell us a bit more about your collection? Have you some rehearsals or live recordings with Bolt Thrower?
Definitely ‘The Rack’ as we did it in three days. No nonsense, no
fuckin’ around, no bullshit. That was Asphyx as we were. Loud, rough
and mean. Lyricwise I prefer ‘Last one’ but the Submission lyrics
were a step further, but that project never recorded on vinyl. Or
do you mean in my collection at home? My complete Kiss collection.
Q: How was your cooperation with Bolt Thrower? I read in the Necromaniac ‘zine # 3 that Gavin Ward says he didn’t give a fuck about the fact that your hair was falling, and wanted you to sing at this Full-Force festival. Were you kicked out of the band or did you decide to quit because of some divergencies? Some questions about Pestilence and Asphyx. I’ve read in several interviews that you lacked of professionalism sometimes. I mean you were not always really into rehearsals sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing, I’m just telling what I’ve read. I really enjoy every recording on which you appear. Have you something to answer to these critics against you or is it a past you prefer to forget?
A: On a professional basis the cooperation with BT was excellent and during my stay in England they treated me like a family-member. But those kinds of statements from Gav are typical. No-one orders me what to do. I mean, my long hair became a part of my personality over the years( and I had it long since I was 12 ) and I’ve sworn never to go on stage with short hair, so bad luck boyzz. That’s me. One man, one word. I’m a proud bastard. People shouldn’t fuck with my pride. So I quit. Besides, I had important things to do. And Bolt Thrower weren’t part of that. Lack of professionalism? Me? Hahahahahaha! If there was one professional mothafucka in the scene then it was me. And just because I canceled some shitty rehearsals they accuse me of that. It’s fuckin’ pathetic! Rehearsals are only relevant when there’s a need to it. With no tour or no recordings in the near future, it’s a waste of time. A healthy break. And how often did that happen? 3 or 4 times? What’s more important is being there when needed. 200%! And I always was there live or in studio’s except for the second Pest demo where I was suffering a serious hangover. But that’s rock’n’roll. Shit happens. After shows I spend hours walking through the crowd. Signing autographs on jackets, pix, fanzines, records, arms, posters and tits. Let fans take pictures, talk with them, doing interviews til 4.00 or 6.00 in the morning. To me that was essential. And where was the rest of the band? Yezz, got that right, backstage or in the bus. And if that wasn’t enough I took care of the crew, making sure they got their food and drinks, helping them carrying the backline or setting up the merchandise stand. Now tell me who’s the fuckin’ professional! If that’s all people can come up with, I’m not bothered. And to be honest I don’t give a fuck about all that band shit nowadays. It’s history.
Q: What do you think of the evolution of each band you quit after your departure? Do you like to listen for yourself the records on which you’re singing and playing? Do you still practise the bass for yourself?
A: Well, Pestilence definately went the wrong direction. Afterwards I told Pat that it was better to have a side-project where he could freak on jazz. ‘ Spheres’ was the beginning of the end. Asphyx stayed the same, just doing in what they were good at. But they weren’t really evolving. They stayed on that same level. Just as Bolt Thrower did. You can do that for a certain time but eventually it will lead to regression. What Pestilence did was too radical but the other two are committing artistic suicide. Every self-respected musician needs progression, new influences, try-outs or improvisations. Fresh inputs. Those who don’t will realize in time that they are on a dead end track. To me as a performer, that’s deadly. I haven’t heard nothing from Comecon after ‘Converging’ and Submission recruited a horrible ( but that’s my personal opinion ) singer. I once saw ’em live and wondered how he could screw up my original vocal parts the way he did. It was awful. I left as quickly as I could for a beer. I never listen to my own stuff. I’m no fool adoring myself. Those who do should consult a shrink. No time for playing bass. I’m a busy man.
Q: Are you still a lot into Death Metal? What are the last bands you really enjoyed? What do you think about the actual underground and mainstream metal scenes? To me, it seems that a lot of people of the new generation don’t try to know the roots of the genres they like.
A: A sharp conclusion, my friend. And exactly the reason why I lost interest in metal in general. Now I’m an old fucker and revealed a bit of my metal past. To me, death metal is dead. There’ no excitement in the latest scene. They’re young, but they’re no fresh blood. They shamelessly copy what others did before them or they are simply too stupid to realize that what they do has already been done. It’s nothing personal against those bands, but I always tried to be original in what I did. I quit listening when when make-up wearing, evil posing, upturned cross tattood tots and the likes came up. People tried to convince me that they were so heavy! But the guitars sounded like buzzing flies and the lyrics were Venom-cloned. And then this new Black Metal Kindergarten turned out to be some Hitlerjugend too! I took distance. Fascism and national-socialism are the worse enemies of mankind. Which doesn’t mean I don’t listen to death metal. I still put on some old stuff like Possessed or Necrophagia, but nowadays I also listen a lot to hardcore house music and gangsta/hiphop. But much more styles of music. Last bands I enjoyed? Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Varukers and Entombed. In metal that is.
Q: About Comecon, did you played some gigs with them, or did you take part in this band only for the ‘ Converging Conspiracies ‘ album? Which were your favourite Swedish bands at the time? Were the songs from ‘ Converging ‘ already written when you entered the band? Were your lyrics already written before you get in touch with Comecon? Are you still in touch with this guys?
A: Actually, I helped Comecon out for one time. And it was a favour I did for Robert at Century Media. LG left Comecon, so they no longer had a singer. But all the songs were ready and recorded except for the vox. So Robert asked me if I wasn’t willing to do the job. And so I helped them out. I had absolutely nothing of the songs when I arrived in Stockholm. So on the Friday night I learned the songs and lines and I sang them in on Saturday and Sunday. And that was my only contribution to Comecon. No gigs, no touring. There was contact in the beginning but I haven’t heard from or seen them in years. All time Swedish fave of mine will always be Entombed ( How are you guys? )
Q: And now, some questions about nowadays…First, could you please tell me how Patrick Uterwijk is doing? Is he condemned by his disease or has he got some chance to struggle some more times? Are you still under medication, due to your past Alopecia? Have you still long hair? I know you’re still in touch with Patrick Mameli, but are you still in contact with other Pestilence and Asphyx members? Will you finally go to jail in a near future, or just have bail? What’s the last job you have had? And to finish with a less serious question, what’s your favorite Simpson’s episode and also your favorite Simpson’s character?
Again another fine short question. I’ve got the feeling I’m writing
a fuckin’ novel here!
Q: Here comes my usual question: If Death metal was a beer, which one would it be, according to you? And also the typical Unholy Terror question: Please give your definition of Death Metal!!!
A: Urgh, Finally some easy questions.
Beer: Stuttgarter Hofbrau.
Definition: Imagine a bulldozer at full speed grinding, shredding and crunching the bones on a long forgotten cemetary. Heavy Metal on Death = Death Metal!
Q: What do you think about the ‘ Spheres ‘ album from Pestilence? Do you like the free jazz influences they put in the music?
A: I don’t like the album at all. As I said above I told Patrick he should have done his jazz freakin’ in another project. With that on ‘ Spheres ‘ he killed Pestilence. I do like jazz once in a while, but not the free jazz stuff. Allthough it shows their high musical skills. I appreciate what they’re doing, but I don’t like it.
Q: You’ve had problems with alcohol and it has been part of the reason that lead to your departure of Bolt Thrower, according to some rumours. Is it past or are you still often drunk.
Can I have a mothafuckin’ moment of silence???……………………………………………Where
did you hear that shit??? Complete crap! I wonder how people come
up with bollocks like that! But it does put a smile to my face,
though. It’s just so funny.
Q: Please tell us more about the Submission side project, with which you released two demo’s. This band seems to have been different from the other in which you played. Did you take part in the process of composition, and are you still satisfied of what you’ve recorded with this band? Who played in this band?
I released only one demo with them. The second must be with the
follow-up vocalist ( please tell me he didn’t fuck up ‘ Kartel ‘?!
) Well, what’s there to say? One day Randy Meinhard phoned me and
asked me if I was interested in doing something with him( musically
of course, please, I’m 100% hetero ). I was, coz he’s a good guitarplayer
with an professional attitude. We started jamming and he came up
with some shredding riffs. I had tons of ideas for lyrics so that
was no problem. We soon had the following line-up:
Everybody made his contributions to the compositions, but Randy did the riffings. I was chuffed to concentrate on the best lyrics I ever did as a performer. Nowadays I’m pretty pleased what we did on that demo. But then again, it was all done in a rush. The stuff we never worked out was a lot better though. The big difference with my other bands was that Randy had not a real Death Metal background and was the main music composer. We wanted to play metal, but no specific kind of metal. I was even thinking of doing something else with my voice too. Trying out other vocal styles. My normal singing voice is actually pretty bluesy which I’m quite proud of ‘coz I like past singers like Bon Scott, Angry Anderson, Ricky Medlocke, Rhett Forrester and Mark Farner ( AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Blackfoot, Riot and Grand Funk Railroad ). But the unique thing in Submission at that time was that it was Heavy Metal, with a Death Metal voice.
Q: Do you know the website called Death Metal Godz (http:/site.voila.Fr/Death_Metal_Godz). It’s a website dedicated to the old death metal bands like Asphyx, Sinister, Entombed, Carnage……with a lot of reviews, MP3’s, old interviews… If you already know this good website, can you tell your feeling about these kind of tributes?
A: I don’t know it, sorry…. And because I need a new PC, I’m not on the Internet either. But the idea is allright, I guess. If people feel to dig into some old stuff, why not. For example, I got a lot of old DOSgames from the internet and I’m completely into Amiga-games. Cult stuff! So I can imagine people like other old material. For those purposes it’s a good medium. If somebody feels he has to make a tribute to a certain subject, let him or her do it. As long as it doesn’t contain scruffy things like Adolf Hitler, George Bush ( sr. & jr ), Pim Fortuyn, LePen, child-pornography, Stalin, TonTon Macoutes, fundamental religious crap, Pol Pot, Somoza, Julien Clerc, Saddam, Steven Spielberg, Pinochet, Norwegian humor, Idi Amin, Sharon, Bin Laden, David Beckham and Manchester United and of course American Football, I’m not bothered.
Q: Have you taken part in the process of (suffocation?, ooops, sorry, natural thang, MvD) composition of Comecon, coz I find that some riffs sound like Pestilence? And did the guys from Comecon use a d-drum? Do you know what’s up with them nowadays? Do they still play music?
A: Most of this question I already answered somewhere in the middle of this novel, so you can get your info from that. About the d-drum, yezz, they used one. Cool huh?
Q: Do you still listen to old school Death Metal ( Morgoth, Entombed, Death… )? Have you opened your mind to other kinds of music like trip-hop?
Morgoth doesn’t belong in that row in my opinion. Put there Possessed,
Infernal Majesty or Massacre instead, but yeah, I still listen to
good healthy old school Death once in a while. Your pal Nathaniel,
reminded me of Slaughter( Strappado) and I almost forgot these elder
godz ( shame, shame). So now they’re blasting out of the speakers.
( Incinerator, works for a feast, Incinerator, where you expect
at least, etc….) Sing along, Nate…. I haven’t got a lot of
trip-hop. Maybe a little Chemical Bros. But I like a lot of rap
and hip-hop and also gabba, and hardstyle trance/house/techno. Blues
too. Alternative stuff. Reggae, dub, jungle, drum’n’bass, speedgarage.
I listen to what I like.
Q: How do you see the evolution of bands like Deïcide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, who used to be much better in the beginning ( according to me ), and who actually play always the same music?
A: What evolution?
Q: How happened your last recording with Death By Dawn, this German Death Metal act? Will you keep on playing with them or was it just for one time? What do you think about their music?
Just don’t tell Pippo he’s German! He’ll say: ‘Waffangulo, eh’.
He’s from Bari, Northern Africa, excusez moi, Southern Italy that
is. Now, he’s the nephew of the most famous Italian Black Metal
legend ever. His uncle was namely nobody less that the famous Paul
Chain! He adores his uncle who was in the well-known bands Death-ss
and Paul Chain Violet Theatre. ( Pippo’s probably gonna kill me
for all this bollocks, hahaha). No. The truth and nothing but that.
Q: These last words are yours Martin. I hope you enjoyed this long interview. Long life to the cult albums you’ve released and thanks a lot for being a Death Metal legend!!!
A: Single white male, doesn’t look bad, 36, slim, long hair, educated, some call me a legend, likes to get in touch this way with all kinds of women ( but I prefer dark haired/eyed) to make fun with, talk with, have ( good & long ) sex with, get drunk with, make love with, write with, cry with, laugh with, kiss with, party with, read with and to do everything else with that man and woman do.
send your responses to the editor of this ‘zine or to my adress
below: Martin van Drunen, Oude Lossersestraat 138, 7574 DD, Oldenzaal,
The Netherlands. If the guys printed some good pix of me then I
prefer reactions with photo. It’s worth the try, ladies!
haha, cheerzz for the interview, lads. It was the longest on paper
I ever did. Hope you enjoy the tapes and shirts Nathaniël. Thanxx
to everybody in the past who supported me.
Mr. Bagchus: Yo Bob. I’m doing great! What about you?