SHAUNA O'DONNELL: HI PASCUAL, IT'S BEEN A WHILE SINCE OUR LAST INTERVIEW AND I WANTED TO CHECK IN WITH YOU TO SEE HOW THINGS ARE GOING. YOU ARE NO LONGER THE VOCALIST IN THE BAND PATHOLOGY. WHEN DID YOU LEAVE THE BAND? Pascual: We parted ways in late January 2010.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: HOW LONG WERE YOU IN THE BAND? DIDN'T YOU JUST GET A LABEL DEAL WITH VICTORY? Pascual: I was in the band from late summer 2009 until January 2010. Yes, our contract with Victory Records was signed on December 10, 2009.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: WHAT HAPPENED? WAS THERE TENSION BETWEEN YOU AND ONE OF THE BAND MEMBERS? Pascual: As far as I could see, the initial tension occurred between David Astor and I while we were on a mini-tour in early December. We received our first offer while on the road following a series of emails that I sent to Tony at Victory Records on David's behalf. David was very nervous about the record deal going through and I was being a bit stubborn as I refused to sign the first offer that came across our table. As a veteran of this business, I was quite prepared to negotiate a deal rather than jump on the first thing we were offered. David was very worried because Pathology was "his band" and he went to great lengths to remind me this every time I mentioned that I was unhappy with the way business was being conducted. I take no issue acknowledging the fact that he was the member who started the band, but the fact remains that the recording contract had three names on it and in the eyes of the label; Pathology was no more his band than Tim or myself. That means the responsibilities and commitments detailed in the contract would be each of ours, equally. My main concern was that we get a fair and honest record deal. I did not seek bragging rights or a big Victory Records flag to run up the flagpole. Record companies are not the behemoths they were 20 years ago, and I'm not going to pretend that a record deal is much worth crowing about these days. David did not share my sentiment as he referred to this as the "Death metal lottery" on several occasions. At the tail-end of our tour, we ended up staying at my house here in Los Angeles for a couple days while we dealt with the negotiations and our attorney. By the last day, David was quite upset over being away from home and his perception that Victory would pull out of the deal if we asked for too much. Tim and I had to talk him into doing a photo shoot that day as he was about ready to pack up and leave for San Diego. I was concerned as he'd been gone less than a week and I didn't see how one could tour for months at a time with that kind of attitude.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: IN YOUR OPINION, WHY DO YOU THINK YOU WERE ASKED TO LEAVE THE BAND? Pascual: Per the exceedingly limited communication I had with David in the wake of my exile, I was given the impression that he thought I wasn't working as hard as them as well as not having the previous material down. I will admit that during our short tour, my grasp of the material was very limited at best. My performances were not up to par. The fact is I was on tour with Divine Heresy until just days before our tour and I hadn't worked with the material to much of an extent. I had very little time to rehearse so I was not up to par on many of the songs. I did have a very difficult time figuring out Matti's lyrics as well.
In regards to David's questioning of my work ethic, I can't stress enough that I was working very hard. I'd written lyrics to all but one of the songs they demo'ed for me in just a few short weeks, despite a battle with H1N1 that lasted most of January. I told David that I'd have the rough vocals recorded as soon as I was physically able to. As one might imagine, being severely ill does not lend well to guttural vocals and I certainly wasn't going to risk damaging my vocal chords ahead of the actual recording of the album, which was originally slated for February. The fact remains that I was here in Los Angeles and he was in San Diego. All we really had was each other's word that we were working.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: WERE YOU COMPLETELY BLIND-SIDED, I MEAN, DID YOU SEE THIS COMING? Pascual: I could feel the tension building on David's end pretty well ahead of the fallout, but I was quite surprised to see this happen without even an official "warning" or a simple heads up as to what David's expectations were of me. Furthermore, I am very surprised that the label and management didn't seem to have any issue with this. I mean, changing vocalists isn't exactly good for business, particularly when the vocalist had been garnering publicity and promoting the album. I feel that I may have been misrepresented by David and his perception of me. It certainly was quite a shock to me in terms of how it was executed and how the aftermath was handled.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: COULD YOU EVER SEE YOURSELF IN THE BAND AGAIN? Pascual: No. I obviously don't belong on David's turf and I don't believe he's professional enough to benefit my career in any way. I believe that may be part of why Cattle Decapitation wants nothing to do with him either.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: IT'S KIND OF WEIRD HOW MATTI WAY WAS THE VOCALIST PRIOR TO YOU AND NOW HE IS BACK. DO YOU THINK THEY FELT HE WAS A BETTER FIT FOR THE BAND? Pascual: I think David thought so. The die-hards in the death metal underground are very big Matti Way fans and I always caught a lot of flak for being too "mainstream". We definitely did receive a bit of fire over our semi-"core" sounding demos. The problem is the biggest naysayers in that rather small cross-section of the metal world are the ones who are illegally downloading the albums and bashing 90 percent of metal music anyway. They're not a commercially viable demographic. I'd rather alienate every last one of those "types" than be shunned by the kids who enthusiastically buy merchandise, albums, and concert tickets. They're the backbone of the metal world and most of them were actually quite fond of my vocals. So in my opinion, I think David probably wanted Pathology's underground credibility over mainstream appeal. I don't believe it was a judgment call based on "fit".
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: WHAT WAS VICTORY'S REACTION TO YOU LEAVING? DO YOU THINK BECAUSE VICTORY RECORDS IS NOT A DEATH METAL LABEL, THEY BROUGHT MATTI BACK TO GO IN A MORE CORISH DIRECTION? Pascual: I've heard literally nothing from the label up to this point. I'm curious as to why they've appeared so indifferent to this situation. I worry that they may not know death metal well enough to understand why changing singers would make much of a difference.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: DID TONY OR ANYONE AT VICTORY EVER PUSH THE BAND'S SOUND OR TALK TO THE BAND ABOUT GOING MORE CORE-ISH? Pascual: Not really. It was actually Metal Blade who wanted to hear the bass drops and heavy breakdowns, but it turned out to be exactly what Tony was looking for and he jumped on it.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: IN THIS BUSINESS, WORD TRAVELS FAST, WHAT ARE PEOPLE SPECULATING HAPPENED? Pascual: I believe it was Blabbermouth.net where I first saw people speculate that I was used by David to get the record deal because of my connections and career history. I can't confirm or deny this as one never knows the true motives behind another person. What I will say is that David did talk to Victory Records at some point well ahead of my tenure with the band but it wasn't until I was in the band and we recorded new demos that Tony was ready to talk to us about a record deal. As I mentioned before, I sent a series of emails to Tony on David's behalf leading up to the deal. I do believe my involvement was crucial in getting the deal. I was the one who brought the attorney in and I handled the bulk of business talks with Tony. I was also the one who pushed for the best deal possible. As far as my being "used"? All I can say is that it's not hard to feel that way regardless of what the truth may be.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SPEAK OUT NOW? Pascual: After several months of trying to reach some kind of closure with the band and stay completely civil and quiet, I was essentially shut down by them. I'd rather just make my peace by telling my side of the story and letting this situation stay firmly behind me.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: I'M CURIOUS, YOU WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF RECORDING A NEW ALBUM WITH THE BAND. WERE YOUR VOCALS USED OR DID THEY RE-RECORD WITH MATTI? Pascual: We were about to record. I believe we were about a week away from studio time at that point. The demos that were online had my vocals on them, but nothing on the album was done at the time. I'm told they re-wrote the stuff I did do (Extirpate/Eviscerate and Rupture Through Flesh), but my biggest concern was that the Victory Records page for Pathology had my vocals on it until less than a week ago. I sincerely hope fans didn't go to that page and preorder the album expecting what they heard.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: WHAT ARE YOU UP TO NOW? ARE YOU LOOKING TO FIND ANOTHER BAND? Pascual: Actually, I sing and play bass in a hard rock project called Buffalo Down that features Smilin' Liar guitarist Ryan King and Groamville vocalist Sam Sibilsky on drums. It's a bit like Queens of the Stone Age meets Clutch meets Every Time I Die. It's a great departure from the brutal stuff.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: ARE YOU STILL PRODUCING? WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON? Pascual: I am. I have a couple music video projects on the burner as well as Rad Girls still being aired on Mav TV. I intend to focus a lot of my energy on production this year.
SHAUNA O'DONNELL: THANKS SO MUCH FOR TALKING WITH ME. Pascual: Thank you, Shauna. It was my pleasure.