Interview with Patrick Pintavalle (guitar) - The Absence, September 2010

Tampa Florida natives The Absence laid waste to an unsuspecting metal community with their debut Metal Blade Records album 'From the Grave', and after nearly two years of touring the guys returned with a second album. Now it is time for their third, called 'Enemy Unbound'. Time for us to ask Patrick Pintavalle a bit more about the new recording.

Please tell our readers that are not quite familiar with The Absence who you are and what releases they have missed so far.

Patrick Pintavalle: I play guitar in The Absence. We are a melodic death metal band from Tampa Florida. We released our debut full length "From your Grave" in 2005 and "Riders of the Plague" in 2007' on Metal Blade records. You hail from Tampa Florida, but just listening to the style you play, people could think that you come from Sweden, what made you decide to play this style?

Patrick: We have been long-time fans of European style metal. From bands like Entombed, Dismember, Edge of Sanity, At the Gates and many others. There was a time when we sounded more like Carcass as far as song writing goes. We play the music that comes out of us. We aren't trying to rip off any other bands.

The new album 'Enemy Unbound' is very melodic, perhaps the most melodic so far, yet it is very heavy too. Did it just end up like this, or do you enter the studio with the idea to put in more melody?

Patrick: There was a lot of thought put in to it. We definitely tried to write the music based on how it would go over in a live set. We wanted to write songs like many well-known artists write songs. The structure of the songs is so very important. We know that we are taking a chance or risking our careers by putting this style of song writing in Enemy Unbound but its better in our minds to know how to write a song than to have some trendy riff after riff after riff type of junk metal.

Aren't you afraid that your band will be seen as one of the many that play in the (old) In Flames, Soilwork, Arch Enemy - style, without getting the intention that you deserve?

Patrick: We aren't afraid of that scenario. I don't like when people say we are metalcore. There is nothing about us that warrants that title. So, to be honest when we get grouped with bands like In flames, Soilwork and Arch Enemy we love it. Those bands are all great.

Fact is that the songs are very nice to listen to and they don't sound as been written over one night. Who is responsible for the song writing?

Patrick: Peter Joseph and I were very particular on the structure of these songs. I wrote four songs and Peter wrote three songs. We both collaborated on two others and wrote some intros and outros for the record.

Why mixing and mastering the album in Europe, aren't there capable producers in the USA?

Patrick: There are but they are also a bit more expensive and we haven't really been very excited about American producer's mixes that are in our price range. Jonas has become a friend and we will work with him again.

Can you explain the artwork to us, what does the band want to tell with that?

Patrick: The cover is representing the music industry. That most of the music industry's employees are a bunch of two faced snakes. We have had an interesting ride in the music business and are ready for the next bunch of assholes to fuck us over.

Can this be found back in the lyrics too?

Patrick: There are a few songs that cover the same topic which is our disgust for the music industry. Enemy Unbound, Hidden in White and Deepest Wound are among the same topic. Erased's lyrics were based on the 1990 Scfi Total Recall.

This is the third album for Metal Blade; both sides seem to be very pleased with that. Is the band The Absence still gaining more fans and record sales?

Patrick: Yes we are gaining fans and we are still selling records. We hope to make it over to Europe on this record. We feel we would be more successful there.

Jamie Stewart has a very aggressive and grim sounding voice. I get harsh after a few minutes, how does he keep his voice in shape and how is that on tour, playing every night?

Patrick: Yeah he has very strong vocals. I've heard Jonas say his vocals were some of the best he has heard. That's cool coming from him he has a great ear for music. Jamie uses a vocal warm up thatís on his iPod. He uses it ten minutes before we hit the stage every night.

Talking about touring, any plans for the next months?

Patrick: We have a short run with Goatwhore up to New York for the TMT Metal fest. I believe we have a few dates booked with Firewind. We are being submitted for many tours. We are being patient and hoping for the best.

I guess the whole band cannot pay the bills by playing in The Absence, what are your daily jobs and is it a problem to go on tour?

Patrick: We all have shitty jobs and Jeramie and I have kids. We will quit our jobs in a second if it means to tour and promote The Absence. It's nothing we haven't done in the past. I missed the birth of my son to be on the road with Cannibal Corpse. I feel shitty about it but I know that it's what I have to do to make The Absence succeed. If The Absence is successful it can hopefully provide for my children when they are older.

How is the metal climate in Tampa at the moment and are there bands we certainly should check out?

Patrick: I think it's getting better and better every year. There are a few bands that are really good like Ovids Withering and Kalakai and our merch guy has a band called From the Embrace. All unsigned local bands that work hard and love what they do.

Please name the five albums that made you decide to become a metal musician.

Patrick:  "Sepultura" Beneath the Remains... When I first heard this record I was completely floored and was ready to throw my Slayer records out. "Metallica" Master of Puppets... closest to home for me. Metallica was the foundation for metal in my life. It sucks that they don't write decent music anymore. 

Anything else you want to tell our readers?

Patrick: Enemy Unbound September 14th. Go out and buy it, bang your head to it! Bang your fist to it! Bang your girl to it!

Thanks for answering the questions and perhaps our paths will cross some time.

Patrick: Thanks a lot.

Interviewed by Reinier de Vries

The Absence - Enemy Unbound

Album available on Metal Blade Records.