PUNGENT STENCH - AMPEAUTY - NUCLEAR BLAST
Released on the 14th of March in Europe and a month thereafter in America, Club Mondo Bizzare: For Members Only, Pungent Stench’s third full-length album (following For God Your Soul, For Me Your Flesh and Been Caught Buttering) couldn’t have found itself a better title. The band’s weird world is not for everyone. In fact, one often wonders whether the band set out to make things this way courtesy of - depending how you look at it - either an accentuated sense of humour or a perverted mind preoccupied with deviance. Alex (drums) who along with bassist Jacek and singer/guitarist Martin comprises this Viennese outfit is on the phone from home in Austria answering my questions in a solemn yet defiant manner. The band, you see, feel they cannot get a fair treatment from the press. So, it’s only natural that I scan the drummer’s mind for his opinion of Club Mondo Bizzare”¦ (Michael Jackson home videos on big screen?) now that the album’s been out some five months and the band has had a chance to look at the results in retrospect. - Ali “The Metallian”
“I am still satisfied,” Alex is quick off the bat, “but it’s very old for us. We recorded it during May/June of 1993. People probably can’t hear it, but we did the whole album in a month. We wrote, rehearsed and recorded it all in one month. For ourselves, it sounds very similar. It sounds like Pungent, but I can hear now that we did these songs in a very short time. It’s better to write songs over a longer period and play shows in-between. Next time we are doing it differently.”
That might be precisely what many listeners and journalist expect as I’ve been reading some less than glowing reviews of Pungent Stench lately. Many people, in particular, have been criticizing the band’s image and use of sexually oriented artwork. I ask if the trio have taken note. “No, not too much,” claims Alex, “but I think that people who accuse us of creating a sexual image are people who write for magazines. These people get hundreds of albums and get bored. They don’t know what to write. So, instead of talking about the music, they talk about the image. Here in Europe I’ve seen thirty-line reviews and only five lines were about the music! I mean if it’s a music magazine, you should write about the music. If you talk about the lyrics, image, photos or artwork, it means that they were bored with the music. At least they wrote something about the album.”
If that’s how you feel than how do you describe your music? “I don’t know. Very heavy rock 'n' roll.”
That’s very different from the Pungent Stench of a few years ago, which was a grindcore-oriented band. “The recording you are talking about is five years old,” Alex remarks. “That’s a long long time. You get influenced by other bands, and then you do this kind of stuff.”
In that case it might be interesting to know what Alex is listening to currently. “So much!” he answers. “I work in a Vienna record store called Why Not Records. I listen to all kinds of independent stuff. So I get bits and pieces and transfer them to my own band. The main thing with Pungent is to be very heavy. But nowadays we try to do the songs in a different way. To be honest, if we play extremely fast (these days), it sounds stupid.”
Since we have arrived at the extremity topic, why don’t you explain the concepts behind your band? “Why should I explain the concept on our mind?”
Because you claim people are misunderstanding you. “People who write me do understand,” the man replies. “They more or less understand what we are trying to say or create. On one side it’s pure entertainment,” Alex continues, “and on the other we try to be different from other bands and be special - but in an extreme way. And yeah, the lyrics, cover and photos were in a sexual direction, but next time we may be different. Maybe. Nothing is really planned.”
But before we go on to the next time, let’s stay in the present. What does a song like 'Rape - Pagar Con La Misma Moneda' mean? “It’s Spanish”, he explains, “It’s hard for me to translate into English. Roughly it means ”˜if you hurt somebody, then he should do the same to you.’”
What you are saying, therefore, is rape those who rape you. “That’s sad,” states Alex in an obviously upset tone. “That’s the main problem with censorship, and people who don’t try to read our lyrics. They go, 'Oh sexist, blah, blah, blah,' and this song has a message that, of course, is against rape. Stores don’t take our album, and MTV (Mush Television) just don’t want to play Pungent Stench videos.” Alex goes on, having obviously come across a contentious point with the band. “So what? I don’t need them. We’ve worked for six years, and we are a small band. But there are people who wait for a Pungent Stench album and know when it’s out. We earn a little money from the band, tour when we want, et cetra. That was the point of the band, and we’ve reached it. I don’t need MTV to be bigger. Fuck them. Especially in Europe, Headbanger’s Ball (a.k.a. music even your parents would fall asleep to) has a totally stupid bitch doing the show, and she just doesn’t like the band - a totally stupid cunt. I am happy she doesn’t like the band, and she doesn’t play the videos. We won’t ever send them our videos anymore. What should we do? Write lyrics for them, not for ourselves?”
Alex sounds extremely defiant and has an attitude, which I can only commend him for. In this context, what is next for the band, I inquire? “We just did a two and a half month, fifty-show tour with Brutal Truth and Macabre.” Alex notes. “That was the best tour for us. We are touring the USA from September 17th to the 14th of October with Entombed. It’s only around twenty shows, which isn’t much for the US, but it’s a good chance for us anyway. We also just recorded a new song for the Death Is Just The Beginning III compilation album. The song is totally different - kinda popcore (in style). The lyrics are influenced by (the movie) Scar Face and that kind of stuff.”
At which point Alex says goodbye. However, there is one point, which I would like to make as the conclusion to the above interview. No matter whether you agree or disagree with Pungent Stench’s choice of image, stance or attitude, the fact remains; it is their choice, and one that they’ve reached through exercising their options. It is fair enough to dislike the band or even invite others to do so too; it is not fair to ban or attempt to censor a band. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. The band’s freedom of expression is not up for the discussion - it’s that simple.
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 12.
If you enjoyed this, read Edge Of Sanity