Pestifer Guitarist Antoine Paterka unveiled about sophomore album “Reaching the Void” ,bands history and many more.

In 2014 Belgium based technical death metal band Pestifer released their sophomore full length album entitled “Reaching the Void”. Earlier this Belgium technical death metal band Pestifer served up some extremely promising,significant  technical death metal album,demo. So recently I’ve interviewed Pestifer guitarist Antoine Paterka. I was very keen to interact with him and I’ve tried to explore more about his bands. Check out the full interview below.Interview done by Souvik Basu.

1.       Hello, how are you doing today? Pestifer was formed in 2004,Can you give me a brief history of how the band got together?Had you been in any bands or musical apparition before Pestifer?
Antoine Paterka:

Hello Mister Basu, Ho I’m Fine! Just coming back From Work ready to work my English!!
As you said Pestifer was Form in 2004, few months after I met The twins Adri and Phil (respectively Bassist and Drummer).If I remember well, we met because Phil took the place of drummer I Left in another local Band call Innerfire. These guys had the same taste as far as music is concerned. We were listening to the same death metal band, had the same vision about what kind of music we wanted to play. So that was obvious we had to do something together. Then came our first singer Morty, who appears on the first demo and with who we splitted 2 years later.
We had to wait 2 more years before we met Emerson (Guit.) and Jérôme (Singer) that were also in other band from local scene via common Friend. That’s bringing us back in 2008. So it’s kind of a “classic line up building”, nothing special. But enough good feelings to remain together untill now without any change!!

As far I’m concerned, yes I had several band experiences before Pestifer, since the mid 90’! some as drummer other as guitar player but nothing big enough to be mentioned here..; I mean I had good time, with some good musician, some great gigs but still local..

2.Which do you think is most important to metal, harmony, melody or arrangement?
Antoine Paterka:
Ho I guess, a little bit of the 3. But maybe I would add you have to love the music you do and be honest with yourself.  A little bit of melody gives the purpose, harmony will give the colour, and arrangement the shape…so they are dissociated. But everyone sees it in its own way. That’s the deal for me!!

3. what bands inspired the direction that Pestifer took and motivated you? Writers? Visual artists? Movies? Books?
Antoine Paterka:
 Regarding what influence our Music in Pestifer, it is mostly the 80’s and 90’s death metal scene (Nocturnus, Death, Atheist, Pestilence, Cynic, Morbid Angel, Gorguts, Disharmonic Orchestra, Monstrosity, Incantation among many other). That doesn’t mean we just listen death metal ;-), in certain title you can hear some Thrash, Black or Prog influences.
And Beside Metal, everyone has its own taste (from The Police to Ravi Shankar, From Grieg to Paco de Lucia). I think, this is what allow us to go further so when we work on songs, these different tastes can give us various view from the same patterns or riffs, what is good to avoid to repeat ourselves to much (certainly as most of bands do). So I might say our influences are the average of each one of us influence’s sum; mostly metal with some classical music, a little bit of Nintendo 8-32 Bits, a pinch of jazzy sounds and maybe somewhat Ethnical scales….(for example right now I’m listening West meets east, Ravi Shankar with violinist Yehudi Menuhin)
 For books and Writers I would say that Jérôme is more concerned, he is a big fan of Fantasy Fiction   literature that’s fit well with the music we do.
Otherwise there are no movies or books in particular that influence us, but all in the same time.

4. There are two basic ways of looking at music. In the first, there is a mechanism to the arrangement of certain tones ,musical style. in the second, a narration occurs where a story is told or a poetic function completed. In your view of compositions, which is more important? Where were you when you first thought the project had long term potential for you?
Antoine Paterka:
At first I would say that feelings and instinct were more involved than thinking about how to build or arrange a song. You want to hear what you like but you also want to try to add some own touch, which aim is to not just copy band you listen to (even if it doesn’t work all the time). You try to put different part together and hear if it works.  In the beginning, we use to work in that way without thinking about it on long term, we just did it because we liked it and we try to did the best we can(and we still)
In my opinion, the two ways you mention come later…when you get some more maturity, when you have work with the same people for some time.
That’s the mixture of tones and musical style that introduce, shape the story you want to tell. They are the tools to build the story, which only you own taste will fix the limit. Nowadays we are more aware of all that and try to think more about it. But Again I think that’s 2 ways which are dissociated and additional.
but sometimes when you begin to write material or begin your story you can’t always know how it’s gonna end…as the life when you wake up you never know how your day will happen. 

5. What for you is the significance of the name, “Pestifer”?
Antoine Paterka: I didn’t choose the name!! The twins had already that name in mind when we met and I didn’t see any reason to change it. I think they put some “evil sounded name” on the list and Pestifer was the chosen one some years before we met. But now we know that Pestifer is a Latin word who means
1) from CICERO : Disastrous
2) From TITUS LIVUS :   Pestilential, who brings the plague

6. If you could tour with other bands in metal, who would you pick if you were looking for bands similar to Pestifer?
Antoine Paterka:
We already have the great chance to tour as support Band in Europe. First one back 2011 with Kataklysm (Can), the year after it was just some day with Krisiun and Malevolent Creation, and last year we tour with Nile (USA). So we can not complain at all, we are great full…
But If I had to choose…I would ask maybe for bands like Obscura, Gorguts, Atheist, Monstrosity, Beyond Creation…It will be an good accomplishment. It’s not forbidden to dream a little…
7. From 2006 Pestifer released albums,demos etc  and shaped the style of music. How do you maintain this consistency yet keep developing with each album? How do you write your riffs,songs?What is the most difficult part about composing songs as you do?
Antoine Paterka: 
I don’t really know if we do that consciously. I mean, we are working together for about 10 years (indeed a little less with Jérôme and Mers but whatever), So I guess the fact that we know each other better and better, but also the fact that our personal taste in music involved, our respective experiences in live take place, the work we‘ve done with our instrument etc… help us to feed our inspiration. Maybe an other thing is our fear of sounding too much “cliché” (sometime for the best but sometime the worst ;-)) When I say “cliché”, I should rather say “cliché from our point of view”. Because that cliché stuff is not the same according to everybody. For some our music will sound very ordinary for others it will be unusual…
About the writing process, we do not have a fixed procedure; anyone can come with an idea or a suite of ideas and suggest it to the other member. If everyone is ok with it, we try to develop or complete it, maybe change some of the note, or add his own color to the sequence by adding a second voice (for guitar especially). Sometimes we find riff by jamming a little. Sometimes it comes easily, but most of time we have to do a lot of tests. But the most delicate part for us is to find the right structure, I think. It’s like a story, you have to keep people awake and give them the desire to listen till the end…
8. Do you have a preference for type of equipment? In your mind, how important is equipment to the production of music?
Antoine Paterka:
Maybe I am not the right person to answer that…But in Pestifer my preference goes to 7 strings guitars (since the beginning), in my case Ibanez guitar.  A tube amp is always better, with not to much gain, because I like to hear all plectrum‘s hits. If you put to much gain you lose in precision. I also like to use some effect like delay or reverb for solos and Flanger, chorus for some rhythm part, nothing fancy.  About the equipments and production, I’m not super aware… But I listen to a lot of 90’ metal band, and we can’t say that production techniques were at they best compare to these days…But does it make those songs bad or hard to listen?? So if you are comfortable with the equipment you use and succeed to make good song does it matter so much??
Look at the band that put so many efforts in production to sound as clean as possible for their album, But when it comes to live performance, rendering is not the same and it can kill your band.
In the other hand, to have an awful production can also kill your band.
So I prefer let that answer to people more skilled than me…

9.well,now I’m going to the topic about last Pestifer  album “Reaching the Void” which released in previous year and whole album is truly unblemished. When were those tracks written, and how does Pestifer go about the writing process?
Antoine Paterka:

Thank you!!
All tracks were written within the 2 years preceding the recording except “within the void” and “Abomination”. We had some unreleased old songs we wanted to put back on stage with the touch of the new member. These 2 songs date from before Mers and Jérôme enter Pestifer. The idea of record a new album simply came to us because our first album “Age Of Disgrace” was already 2 years old and we thought it was the right time to do a second one. We were also highly boosted with the tour we had the chance to experience (2011 with kataklysm and 2012 with Krisiun , Malevolent Creation), so it was just like; “hey let’s do this”. At that time we already had some new material, so we work on it and create some more as most of the band do I think. Then we came to the studio in early 2013 and we had to wait one more year before Reaching The Void was released!!!(It’s along time, but every one in the band has a full time job beside…)

10. What's going on as far as lyrical themes on “Reaching the Void”?
Antoine Paterka: I let Jérôme answer to this one ;-)!!!
Jérôme: Lyrics are mainly inspired by imaginary universes. Most of the themes are taken from books I read. For example, "Exiled to the Abyss" is inspired by 20.000 leagues under the seas (J. Verne). Or "Positronic Symphony": the word "Positronic" is directly taken from Isaac Asimov's saga. We don't especially like concrete messages such as "stop polluting the Earth" or "(Don't) kill yourself". We prefer to imagine how the world would look like after centuries of negligence. It's kinda fun. Imaginary universes are very malleable. They aren't truths. They rather are possibilities, nightmares or even dreams. That fits well with our music, which isn't really concrete. Our songs evolve again and again with new sonorities and colors. That's why we don't really worship choruses. But we suggest you to imagine them!

11. As individual members, what are your philosphies regarding the degree of importance death should be accorded in our lives?
Antoine Paterka :   I never  ask it to myself…Death is the final destination of our current life. So in a way or another we can escape to it. I tend to think simply it’s part of Life…It still hard when someone past away but it’s maybe because that’s the way we are educate in this part of the world…But Seeing that my Family has polish roots I always hear something like; “ It is useless to cry about the dead, they would prefer that we celebrate them and that we drink to their memories….”
Also, At school, I study Chemistry, what make me think about the Lavoisier ‘s conservation of masses Law who says : “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”, so that could be a part of my thinking.
Knowing that we nothing in the universe and that death could strike at anytime, Take the more benefits of you life , what must happen will happen…

12. I’ve categorized Pestifer’s genre is Technical Death metal.so, How did you get into this style of music and explain about this very complex music genre?
Antoine Paterka:  It’s kind of funny because we never consider Pestifer as a Technical metal band!!! We were just trying to play music we like and we want to hear. At first, we describe ourselves as a Death Metal Band.  Then it seems that people categorize us in the Tech death subgenre…We still not convinced about it but we are used to it.
In my case, I would say that I get into the music we play when I heard the mighty “Human” from Death!! It was just like “ho men! that’s the music I want to play”. I was already listening to metal and other stuff but it was the starting point!! Then a good friend of mine (my mentor in metal) makes me discover bands like Atheist, Pestilence, Monstrosity, Cynic, Watchtower, Decapitated, Forbidden, Nocturnus among other….(it was in the early 2000, so already too late for some of them…)  I guess the rest came naturally.

For me, Tech death is not (only) as some people describe it ; “just put plenty of notes and showing that you can play your instrument”. That’s also referring to complex song’s structure, asymmetric rhythms, more complex harmony, strange sounding riffs (ha ha ha)…maybe a little more envy of experimentation. It’s hard to explain because there is so many varieties in this subgenre…Look at Nile and Atheist as example, both can be “classified” in Tech death metal but they sound so different.

13.How would you describe the sound of the last album to someone who hadn’t heard it, and what distinguishes your music from any other act in the same genre?
Antoine Paterka: I think I shouldn’t do that… People don’t hear music the same way, I mean that’s not the same element which gonna get the attention of different people. If say it sounds more Like “X”, that’s maybe not what others will hear. So I let the people make their own opinion.
The only thing I could say is that, it’s maybe not the kind of album you can digest and understand in one listening, So it’s a good invest on long time (ha ha ha).
 So if you haven’t listen to Pestifer yet, just give it a try!!!

14. Do you guys have any official videos coming out soon?
Antoine Paterka: No yet! But we’ll think about it!!

15. How do you explain the album title, what it means and the album art and how it coincides with the lyrics,themes?
Jérôme: "Reaching the Void" is, somehow, an answer to the music. Pestifer sounds very dense, varied and oppressing. It also answers to every question about the meaning of existence. I can say it's a fatalistic vision of humanity as well.
: David Caryn created the album art. We asked him to listen to the pro-produced album and read all lyrics. From that he started from nothing and created the cover art. I can say his vision of our music fits pretty much what we expected.
16. Who came up with the album cover? I personally cherish Pestifer’s each and every album artwork because those are truly indelible, appreciable too.
He’s a local Artist and Friend. As mention just above His name is David Caryn. He is an illustrator working in strip cartoon and others. You can find his work by simply type his name on google. About Reaching the Void we gave him the music, he listened to it and let his mind draw. The game between colors is amazing, so does the covers itself.

17. What's the first gig you ever went to? Have you been to any killer live shows lately?
Antoine Paterka: As far as I can remember, I think it was a French Artist call Francis Cabrel or a band performing songs for kid called “Les Musclés” who were very popular at that time…..No it’s hard to tell because my mom was working at the national tv/radio channel, my aunt is a singer and my uncle a drummer so my first gig should be earlier than I think but I can’t really remember. But if you want to know the first big metal gig…Hum I guess it was a festival in my little town but with Stuck Mojo (USA), a Belgian hardcore Band call Deviate (A big act at that time for Belgium), Morbid Angel and the Exploited in 1998. Lately I haven’t been to many shows except those I play with my few projects. But last year there has been that show of Obscura with Death dta, pretty enjoyable.

18. In before you guys performed a lots of gigs so, Which show was the most memorable to you so far? Do you get a good crowd response? Did you get offers to play in other countries or anything like that?
Antoine Paterka: It depends in which way!! Each show can be memorable in a good or a bad way…so Let say, during our first tour in east Europe with Kataklysm, we play a show in Bulgaria! We were the opening band but the venue was already almost full, and even if we were totally an unknown band, the people get crazy from the first note!! It always more pleasant when people show you some love ;-)!!But it’s not like all the time…some other days you have just like 10 people because they waiting outside for big act…it’s like that!! Outside the tour, we had some shows in France last year after the release of RTV.  But currently, we play in Belgium most of the time.
19. Do you study other bands music to come up with ideas?
Antoine Paterka:  In a certain way yes!! But I would rather say that the ideas that come up are feed with the bands we listening to and the song we learn from those band…But I don’t know if we can really say that we study their music. So it’s more because we have listening to some cd so many times and we know all the songs that we have the sound in mind (without necessarily study the all album), you know what I mean?
 For example, if we are working on a new song someone in the band could say “hey to complete this part, we could use something like “name of the band “. But we always try to do it with our own point of view and keep personal elements.
So Yeah I prefer to see it as the ideas come up from the music we listen to than we study some band’s music to came up with ideas…

20. When death metal gets technical, does it necessarily get closer or further from other mainstream genres, or does it stand on its own in a different depth?
Antoine Paterka: Again it’s difficult to give a precise answer for me…Human have this trend to always classified stuffs, so you have so many genres and subgenres. But is it the most important? Each band try to do what they like and what they want to hear, whether it is by trying to innovate or just by copying (and when I said copying, don’t see it like something  pejorative, some band just want to play some efficacies style without going further, and it’s good like that).  So To me, you can play tech death and become mainstream in Metal, but by definition metal is not something mainstream compare to other kind off music. But tech Death is maybe not the genre you gonna listen first when entering the metal world. There is some way to go to get into it, in my opinion. So it is hard to see it as mainstream.

21. Are you a materialist, or do you believe there is a life beyond this one, or any supernatural space or beings or life at all?
Antoine Paterka: You know, I learn chemistry at school so I’m quiet interesting in science (press, documentary on the internet, some book), which is more a materialistic approach of life. But what science can explain has always been classified in supernatural stuff. So I’m also curious about meditation, shaman stuffs, etc…, everything about spiritual beyond what we can see or hear (for example the strange feeling of welfare when you walk in the wood…). So The improbable mix of science and spirituality is sometimes a good balance…it works for me.
About an eventual life beyond this one… my reflection simply didn’t get yet so far. I don’t really know what to think. My scientist part would say “we have no proof about an after life or other place and no one has come back to explain us”. but if I look at the other side, all that “déjà vu “  feeling or some “so much realistic dreams” let maybe catch sigh of other connected parallel worlds. We have just to wait and see

22. Great Dane Records is well renowned record label and  great supporter of extreme metal.So it’s nice to see that you’re signed to them now. How did this happen?
Antoine Paterka: Ho it’s very simple!! Reaching the void was almost completely achieved, and we had a show in Lille (FR) opening for Exhumed. The Label guy just came and offer us to sign a deal for Reaching The Void (without even having listen to it, I don’t if I can say that ;-)). But he has heard of us with our First Album “Age Of Disgrace” .So that pretty much it.

23. you guys are from Belgium, how much have you discovered about the Belgium extreme metal scene and how much of it were you aware of before Pestifer started?
Antoine Paterka: I have always been curious about local bands since I play myself in band. Belgium is a small country with a strange political situation that leads to a kind of “linguistic border”. Lets simplify; the north and the south ;-). We come from the South part, and the Death metal scene is not very big. So I think we are in touch with almost all the bands from the area. Some are good friends. But if you look the global metal scene you can find a bit of every style; doom, black, sludge, modern, thrash. Amongst the well know band we have; Aborted, Enthroned, Ancient Rites, …another band who seems to grow fast is a trash band called Evil Invaders.
 In The north part the scene is bigger, more bands, more places to play and bigger events, (graspop metal meeting as an example). All the big tours usually go rather in north. But some things are moving up a little bit in south since few years, some single initiative (Metal Méan Fest a.e.). Let’s see what will happen. Rely to extreme underground scene you can check Catarrhal, Neverlight Horizon, Excavated, Bursting, Atroxentis, Death Blood Destroyer, Orion’s Night, Dehuman, Saille, Emeth, Resistance, Predatoria, Brutal sphincter, Zardens, Innerfire, , Aktarum and I guess some I forgot…

24. What do you do as individual band members to relax, when not working on music? Do you have jobs or business?
Antoine Paterka:  For most guys in the band, music is the relaxing part of Life. So Phil the drummer is a carpenter and install equipped kitchens, he is also a full time dad and husband. Adrien, the bass player is a house painter contractor, a cat lover and an Orval (Belgian special beer) fan. Jérôme the singer works as graphic artist at the national railway company, a fan of Belgian national football team and a husband too. Emerson is a mechanic for a gas company, learn the oud, give some guitar lessons and venerate Whisky. It’s a little bit different for me because music is both a job and a passion. I’m guitar teacher and also play in several projects dealing with different style of music (Luis D., Orion’s Night, Jfs ET les Grunges, Christiane Stefanski,…). There is always something to learn to keep moving forward.  It pushes me to practice a lot and it takes time. My sin: I’m in love with Belgian beers!!

25. When you compose as a band, do you think in terms of scale patterns, or are your melodies more granular?
Antoine Paterka: Ho as I mention earlier we have not a special recipe!! Sometime we just think about a color or an atmosphere, other time idea come up from exercises we do to practice, it might also come from a scale pattern or a rhythm idea. At times, all begin from a mistake or an accident. And it also depends from the mood in which you are. We try to not fix limits to the way we create and we try to diversify the way we think to create. We let the door open to new things.
26. What albums are you listening to lately or just the bands and albums in general you're really digging right now and tell me about your anticipated album of this year?
Antoine Paterka:  I will try to be brief on that one because there are so many stuffsTH…Recently I get back to Album like “Unquestionable Presence” from Atheist, “The Erosion of Sanity” from Gorguts, “Communion” by Septicflesh, “Human” by Death, “In dark Purity” By Monstrosity, “The Key” by Nocturnus, “Todessehnsucht” by Atrocity  as example.In newer stuff, I would say Obscura, The faceless, Bottled Science, Scale the Summit, Vektor, Beyond Creation. A band I discover last year is called Architect of Seth and their Album “The persistence of Scars” is really enjoyable (in fact a French Band who on Great Dane Records too), in the same idea our friend from Catarrhal (Be) have release an album called “Fleshgrave” and it’s a good one too. But there are so many bands on the market, it’s hard to listen to all and so many album that I have not been able listen too…And beside you have all the” not metal stuff”.. So just a few example like Paco de Lucia , Ravi Shankar, Grieg, , Oros De Brujo, Habib Koite, Scott Henderson, Gutherie Govan, Cypress Hill, Tower of Power, Django Reinhardt, Hed(pe), Planet X, Deftones amongs those I Think about right now….
When you ask about my anticipated Album of this year, I guess you talk about the band I joint recently to fill the Bass Guitar place. In fact my cousin play in a band call Orion’s Night, it’s a kind of orchestral symphonic metal band (BTW you can check them on Face Book). They were about to record they first album but they slip with the bass player so they ask me if I can help them with the album by writing the Bass part and recording it (at first as session member but in fact I think they wait more from me ;-))!!. Seeing that I have some time and I like challenge, I accepted….They will enter the Sound Division Studio (In Poland) next month but I record the bass part at home. So I guess I’ll be able to check some result soon.

 27.last one question,what are your future band goals & tell us  something about upcoming tour. Lastly, a lots of teenagers aim to be full-time musicians. Many of them might be without any proper guidance, any words of wisdom for them?
Antoine Paterka:  We just want to keep going our path…At first we gonna play as much gigs as we can find to promote Reaching the Void, and keep practicing live shows.(so if you are reading this, and you are a promoter, or you know some guys, that need fill up a bill; tell them about Pestifer ;-) ) We’ll try to go again on tour trough Europe and further if we get the opportunity. (I say try because don’t forget that as most of the band all of us have a regular job and/or family, and Belgium death metal scene is tiny, so it’s parameters to look at).Beside we are already working on some new ideas for a third Album. But the most important; keep having fun to play together and try to keep improving ourselves.
And that also what I would say to all the young apprentice; “Have fun, and work a lot to improve yourselves, there is no end. And another thing is maybe to take your time and be patient. Try to stay open with all kind of music, you can just take little ideas here and there. It will allow you to have a richer vocabulary, you can adapt to your playing and favourite style!!
Stay humble because there are/were so many good bands and wonderful musicians in this world.

28. That's all I've got right now.again “Reaching The Void” is phenomenal release of 2014 and I’m looking forward for more upcoming updates.this album was one of my anticipated release of 2014.thanks a lot for this nice conversation. Any final thoughts,comments for the readers? If I forgot anything, please insert it in here.
Antoine Paterka:   Thank you for having take time to ask me some questions I was never asked to myself ;-)! There were good ones!! Thank you also a lot for your interest in our music and the support of underground bands. So yeah it was a good discussion!! I hope that Indian People will welcome our music as you do!!!
If you haven’t listened to Pestifer yet, it is time to go and let us a chance to enter your mind!
And if you accidentally find our album somewhere on the net don’t keep it for you, share it!!!
This is one of the best way to help us grow!!!
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