Global Domination recently conducted an interview with legendary death metal vocalist Martin van Drunen (PESTILENCE, ASPHYX, BOLT THROWER, HAIL OF BULLETS, DEATH BY DAWN). A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Global Domination: Martin van Drunen, what exactly are you up to these days? Let's start this off easy, 'coz it will get heavier, and you know it… Kids, married, divorced, play in any bands? Give us the lowdown on Martin Van Drunen anno 2007, if you please.
Martin van Drunen: Long story, but I'll try keep it short. Got divorced for about seven years ago now. No kids (dig them, though). Did all kinds of shitty jobs, then found an OK one, but they wouldn't give me a steady contract after slaving for some years. Now I've had it with all those fucking cunts. They can suck my dick big time and I won't go and look for another scruffy job. Started to play in DEATH BY DAWN for some six years ago, to help Pippo (drummer) out, as we met at work and he was (and still is) a killer dude. DEATH BY DAWN now are much like a family. We're having great fun always and musically we do what we like and don't give a shit what people say… And this band drinks more then any other one that I know!! DEATH BY DAWN played a show together with THANATOS and Stephan Gebedi (vocalist/guitarist of them) came up to me that night with the whole HAIL OF BULLETS idea. So, we met all together months later and got drunk and got along really well. And we decided to go 'n kick some serious ass with HAIL OF BULLETS… Now we're going to record a first demo and at the moment I'm working out the whole lyrical concept. Then ASPHYX formed again with a different line-up some months ago. Paul is with me in HAIL OF BULLETS and he's probably the only one that could replace Eric. And Wannes did so much for the band that he deserves to be in. The rehearsals turned out to be brutal and loud as fuck and we're banging our fucking skulls off. So that says enough. Now I'm focusing on these three bands and I'm fucking busy with it. Checking new songs, writing lyrics, learn them, practicing my vocals alone and with the bands, tons of e-mails and doing inties like these for people like you who still ask all that damn old shit about PESTILENCE. And this is an exception I make, hahaha… Whoever wants to do another PEST intie has to check Global Domination for all the true answers… I'll try to live off these bands but I know it won't be easy. Anyways, at this moment I think I will be playing metal until the day that I die. Further on I have a killer Italian girlfriend that consumes more alcohol than a tour bus with three Swedish death metal bands in it. Love that woman and although she's not into metal at all, she's 110% rock n roll. But she lives in Italy and I'm sitting here, writing this shit…
Global Domination: The unavoidable [question]: What the fuck happened [to PESTILENCE] really? Why did you leave PESTILENCE? Were you kicked out or did you leave by yer own choice? I have a strong feeling it has something to do with Patrick Mameli, am I right? I think that guy really came across as a dick in some interviews after you leaving. What was the bug up his ass? If there was one, that is. What's yer opinion about him anyways? How was it back in the day? How is it now? Do you guys even talk?
Martin van Drunen: First, and once and for all: it was me who left. And it all happened during the U.S. tour with DEATH and CARCASS. I can't really recall the exact "why" and "what," but many aggravations cumulated and I flew back alone to The Netherlands when they went to Florida to check out Morrissound Studios (which I didn't want to, as I thought a production there wouldn't suit PESTILENCE at all). Patrick wanted to cancel the last shows, 'coz the band was split up in two camps. Me and our friend (no name as I respect his privacy, call him "X"),who took care of everything during that tour, but "manager" is just not the right word. X was a friend and not doing it for money at all… But we had to finish the tour as we lent 10,000 dollars from another friend, and we had to pay him back. So I convinced them to finish the last shows, but we weren't any longer functioning as a unit. It's just many little things that happened. Patrick was starting to behave more or less as a band boss with some kinda rockstar attitude, and one day I told Marco in some motel room that we all were PESTILENCE. Not just Mameli and musicians, and that we all had an important individual role in what we had achieved as PESTILENCE. He agreed, but at the next show he told Pat all what I had said (the fucking snitch),when I was wandering around the area. So X came up to me and said what happened. I was like, "Well, fuck 'em." So I was the kind of band rebel from that point (a role that suits me just fine, haha),and from that day it was me on my own together with X. Uterwijk and Foddis feared their place in the band, but I couldn't give a shit. I knew I performed fucking killer on that tour and that had given my confidence a big boost. Besides, I was well aware of the importance of my voice as well. From a nobody I reached the point where the band were also depending on me. I wanted and deserved more influence. So they returned from their Florida visit and Pat called me for a band meeting. "Fine," I thought, 'coz I had a lot on my mind. I went to the rehearsal room and when I entered it was like standing in front of a Supreme Court. Prosecutor Mameli accused me of bad performances, arrogance and alcoholism on the U.S. tour. Grand Jury Uterwijk and Foddis nodded. I hadn't even said a word… I turned around, yelling at Pat, "Fuck you and your shit band!," slammed the door and left. That's all. It was mainly my pride. But I knew I was good on a stage. That accusation was way out of order. And arrogant? Me? Pfft, never was and never will be. Alcohol? In America? Fuck, I needed 48 cans of beer each show there to even feel something from that toiletwater they call beer over there. So I couldn't even get drunk… And I never was on stage there anyway. Never fuckinng ever…. So I left and they went to shit… I still don't have a clue where he had the guts to come up with that shit. It just wasn't true. And he knew it. But as a person Pat is very difficult, I guess. But he's no real bad guy. You have to know how to get along with him. And before all that shit happened we had great times with PESTILENCE. Good fucking fun. And as a guitarist he is simply brilliant. But that alone doesn't make a great songwriter. In fact, we met again in 2000. Even discussing some kind of reunion. So when I started talking about live shows (which is the reason I'm doing it all for) he didn't want to play the old material. That didn't make sense to me. I mean, imagine, PESTILENCE playing live and not one song from "Consuming"? Hey, gimme a fucking break… the crowd would lynch us… So, there we were again. Complete opposites. I tried to contact him afterwards, but his phone was down and he didn't answer my mails… not much more I can do… Now I read he started this C-187 again… Well, good luck, but I think it's not gonna work.
Global Domination: You already, very open-heartedly, answered this question last time we met, but I'm sure alot of fucken other people still walk around clueless about this… You played with BOLT THROWER for a little while. Then all of a sudden, without actually recording anything with them, you were out of the band. They made all kind of weird statements that you had lost yer hair and didn't want to play metal. Nothing, or very little, was heard from you to shed light on this whole mess. So, what happened really? Do you talk to these guys today? Any bad blood? How were the guys treating you when you had your short stint with them? Did you ever make a move on Jo? And more importantly, is there anything recorded with BOLT THROWER that has you on vocals, though it's unreleased of course.
Martin van Drunen: There must be some bootlegs or live tapes, I guess. But nothing that I know of. I think Baz must have a soundboard tape with me on it at his place, but I'm not sure. But whatever there is, it's rare material and I don't have it. What happened was that suddenly I suffered from a disease called Alopecia Areata. It's a disturbance in the bodily immunity system and makes your hair fall out. But there are various ways in how it manifests itself. You can lose all hair (from head, to eyes, to ass and armpits) and this will stay that way all your life, you can have spots where it falls out and they will remain, or in my case, it falls out, grows back again, falls out and grows back again. etc. I dunno what happened but somehow it stopped and as you could see for yerself I'm having it all back. True, grey, but that doesn't bother me. And if it gets back, so be it. I learned how to live with it now. But at the BOLT THROWER time I was pretty much in shock. Didn't know what was going on with me and couldn't cope with the fact that I was losing my trademark as a metalhead. I had long hair for years. As a kid I was the only one at school who had the guts to let it grow, so it meant more to me then just long hair. So there was BOLT THROWER forcing and pushing me to play at the big fests in front of tens of thousands of people and I was completely insecure about myself. They even came up with stupid ideas of me wearing fucking bandanas and so… So I hesitated, wasn't ready for it. And finally made up my mind and told 'em I wasn't gonna do it. They were disappointed, took Dave Ingram to replace me and we went separate ways. I was also disappointed after years in the metal business still scraping pennies, so I decided to return to college for a year and get myself a normal job. I resigned as a vocalist, so to speak. I indeed quit performing and making metal. Played my records though… hehe… I guess if I go up to them nowadays there won't be a big problem. They have Karl back and are still going strong so what's there to gob about. There can't be any bad blood… They always were cool to me. In the U.K., Gav, Jo and Baz treated me like a family member with all the English hospitality possible. And I had a great time during the two tours I did with 'em. Not only with them but also with their roadies and other personnel. It was always a doss…. Make a move on Jo? She and Gav are a couple for I don't know how long now. You don't do that with the women of other bandmembers. If she had no man it would have been different and I guess I would have made a move or two or more on Banshee (without a chance I guess, haha). After all, she looks good and has her heart on the right place. She's a cool woman. But in BOLT THROWER we (they) called her one of the men. Which she truly was…
Global Domination: You participated on one of the finest albums ever in death metal, "Consuming Impulse". In the brief coverage in our Class 6(66) section you said something that really stunned me quite a bit… I asked if you got the chance to change one thing about that album you'd change all the vocals. Exactly how drunk were you when saying that, coz seriously, you just bashed the fucken shit out of one of the finest death metal vocals on a fucken album ever made. Were you just pulling everyone's leg in funny directions with that reply or were you completely serious? You understand that your vocals are viewed upon as legendary? Of course you do, even if I know you refuse to let that get to your head.
Martin van Drunen: Hahaha, I expected this one… Who's shocking who now, heh goddamn Norseman? No, but yes, I was drunk, but I meant what I said. I can do a lot better then that. Man, "Consuming" was my first grunting effort ever. On "Malleus" I had a different style, different technique. A wrong one as I always had a fucken headache after every show. So I changed my style on "Consuming" during the recordings. The boys were pushing me, yelling at me that I could do better… So I got fucken angry, and that worked. But not really to my satisfaction. On the ASPHYX CDs I'm at my best. There I developed my throat to what it still is today. I can't listen to "Consuming"... although I like the songs still a lot, I despise my vox on it. Gimme that goddamn mastertape and I will grunt those tracks into utter death metal perfection!! It's that simple. I know I can do better than what I did on "Consuming". And that is pissing me off…. still… I'm aware of the fact that a lot of people don't, or won't, or can't understand this, but it's just a personal thing I have as a performer, always striving for perfection. The vocals on, for example, "Vermin" blasts the shit out of "Dehydrated". But obviously a lot of people like those "Consuming grunts." OK, I can live with that, but I'm not digging it as they do…
Global Domination: Were you ever asked to rejoin the fold? Would you do a reunion today if that came up? What would it take for you to do it? Lots of money? Money can never restore something that's lost, you know… But it's a motivation to try, 'coz in the end — we are all whores.
Martin van Drunen: Haha, yeah, we are all whores, but for example: ASPHYX now is great fun. If I don't have fun I won't do it. Like a whore who's able to pick out the good looks, haha… I mentioned before that Pat and I met in 2000. But I won't do PESTILENCE for money… bollocks. Just to sing those old killer songs would be a damn beautiful thing to do. But forget it… it will never happen. The old feeling would never return. I always say to people that the one band that will never reunite is PESTILENCE. Musically, personally and the whole old atmosphere… it's simply impossible.
Read the entire interview at www.globaldomination.se.