NU SLAMZ 4 U: PATHOLOGY DOES DIY DEATH
As someone who came up in the 90s West Coast hardcore scene (see my post “5 Things I Miss About 90s Hardcore” for some especially ridiculous memories), I first came across Dave Astor when he was playing drums for Locust. I saw them back in 1995 with Man Is The Bastard at the Velvet Elvis in Seattle, and they blew me away. Back then, it was almost unheard of for hardcore kids with short hair to play blast beats, and while I kind of lost interest in them when they became The Locust, got scene hair and just generally became completely lame, they were definitely ahead of their time. Dave apparently agreed with me, because he quit to join the excellent Cattle Decapitation, then moved on to his current band Pathology.
Their new album on Victory just dropped, and it’s honestly one of the best straight-up, no-frills death metal records I’ve heard in a long time. With veterans like Dave and Matti Way (Disgorge, Liturgy, Cinerary) on board, their experience and craftsmanship really comes through. I know that 99% of MS readers will write it off because I like it, but this is one of the rare instances where they might actually be missing out on something they’d enjoy. It’s by far their best, combining melodic parts that somehow aren’t retarded with brutal slamz that will have you moshing around your room in seconds.
Dave is a man of few words, so I can’t say this is the most in-depth interview I’ve ever done, but he’s real nice and the Pathology record slaps, so pick it up on iTunes ASAP!
Do you want to start by telling me a little about your new record?
We recorded it here in San Francisco at Doubletime Studios, and then we had Erik Rutan [Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal] mix and master it. A lot of the lyrics about about end-of-the-world type stuff, 2012, that kind of thing. It’s definitely one of the best recordings we’ve done.
Compared to your other albums, it’s way more brutal — parts of it are almost like slam metal.
Yeah, haha. We focused more on the slow parts.
I know you’re from San Diego originally, is that how you ended up playing with Matti Way?
Well, I saw him sing back in like ’92 when he was playing in his old band back in San Diego. Around 2008 we were looking for another singer, I shot him an email and he was way into it.
You’re on Victory now, which I guess makes you labelmates with Snapcase and One Life Crew. How did that happen?
I started talking to Tony [Brummel], the owner, in November or so of 2008. We wanted to expose our band to new people, and they’re great at putting a record out, getting it in all the stores, which is what we wanted.
It makes sense to me: I always felt like if you like Hatebreed, you should love Devourment.
Exactly. I think a lot of those kids just haven’t been exposed to brutal death metal, especially to bands like Devourment. Hopefully that will change — and I thought it was pretty cool on their part [Victory] to expand into brutal death metal. So far, everybody’s really liked it, even the metalcore kids.
Struggle/Locust/Swing Kids frontman Justin Pearson has sunk to being an electro DJ with fellow screamo alumni Steve Aoki (best known for being roommates with Javier of 18 Visions/Bleeding Through/Throwdown as a women’s studies major at UCSB and going to basement hardcore shows with “yellow rage” written on his chest in marker). Thank Christ that Dave has better judgment and taste than this!
Most people start out playing in hardcore or metal bands, and when they get older they end up doing indie rock, dance music, etc. Your bands have gotten more brutal over time, which is sort of the opposite.
This is really the music I’ve always liked, ever since back in the Locust days. This is what I always wanted to play, and actually what I wanted Locust to be playing, but the people I found at the time were more into the power violence stuff. I liked that too, but this is what I’ve always really been into. But I did try to put that into Locust, that’s where the blast beats and stuff came from.
Locust was one of the first hardcore bands to do a lot of the things that you see all over the place in current bands: blast beats, keyboards, big hair, and all that. How do you feel when you see newer bands using those elements?
I think it’s pretty cool! I don’t hear too much keyboard stuff these days that I’m really into, but it’s definitely a complement. I was in Locust until 2000, until they started wearing the masks and stuff, I wasn’t too into all that. It started getting a little weird, and I was just kind of over playing the 30-second songs and stuff. It just wasn’t very satisfying, we’d play like 15 minutes sets. So I just went off to do what I really liked and wanted to do.
You were a big part of the 90s DIY hardcore scene, what do you think when you look back on that era?
It was a great time. If I didn’t have that I wouldn’t be able to do what I am now — and Cattle Decapitation. I really appreciate that, and I had a lot of great experiences.
Being in a DIY band is a lot of work, but I feel like you learn things from it that you can’t get any other way.
Totally. I learned so much from all that underground stuff. With this band, I didn’t really focus on doing tours before we got signed, because it is really hard to break out from the whole underground thing. You pay so much out of pocket that it gets really hard. It’s a big difference: we’ve got contracts now, guarantees, which of course we never had before. Especially when you get older, it’s harder to pay out of pocket. Having the label to support us really helps. We can’t all pitch in for shirts anymore or whatever.
As a guy in his 30s, you’ve taken a different path than probably most people our age. What are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, it’s definitely different, but it’s just what I really wanted to do. But I do have three kids, I’m married, all that. But you only live once, so you gotta do it before you get too old.
You’ve been into Carcass and stuff forever. Why do you think the At The Gates/Carcass-inspired deathcore style has gotten so big?
That’s a good question, and I don’t know. But those deathcore bands really helped the scene out. It was kind of dead for a while, but they came along and brought it back in some ways, and ended up helping out the more brutal bands.
Pathology on MySpace
Cop “Legacy Of The Ancients” on iTunes