Since his days with Dark Angel and Death, GENE
HOGLAN is known as one of the best high-speed drummers
in the metal universe. His eyes aren't the best, neither is his
back (since he lost weight from 180 to 120 kilograms, he uses
a stick to support him when he needs to stand for a longer period)
but as soon as the courteous Texan takes his position behind his
kettles, an unbelievable sonic inferno breaks loose.
"I used to be
a talented air drummer," Gene reports laughing from Melbourne,
where he's completing a drum clinic following the recently completed
"As a little boy I already knew how to hit the imaginary pots
and pans damned well. Exactly 20 years ago I got my first drumkit.
Back then I already knew I wanted to be a musician. I worshiped
guys like Tommy Aldrige, Terry Bozzio, Neal Peart, Rob Hunter
from Raven and Anvils' Robb Reiner. At the time I also loved Stevie
Wonder, who, not many people know, is an excellent drummer. I
was most impressed by celebrities like Cozy Powell, who kicked
damn good double bass."
Did you ever get lessons?
"No, never. I would like to have a few hours though, because I
certainly can use some. From the beginning I taught myself everything,
as well as all string instruments I'm fluent in. I listened very,
very carefully to my favorite records and in a manner of speaking,
merged with them, which brought me quite far."
But, God almighty, how could you develop that insane, speedy
double bass technique?
"No idea," giggles the 34 year old, who currently, like Devin,
resides in Vancouver. "I was just created for it I guess. With
drumming it comes to the physical for about uhhh 10%, the other
90% is "between the ears". I keep telling myself: "Gene, you can
do it, you can do it", and indeed then I actually can do it."
How do you look at your developement over the past two decades?
"I'm still learning. It's important to approach drumming from
different angles. I mainly used to keep myself busy with that
which technically appealed to me the most. In the meantime I also
know to appreciate a very simple and solid playing style. Therefore
it's important to me to participate in different projects. With
Punchdrunk I played weird, cheerful grind core metal, with Just
Cause ultra brutal and just mean material and on "Terria" it's
at times even quite peaceful. It doesn't have to be full speed
all the time. Nowadays I'm open to jazz-fusion drummers and I
respect some young damn good drummers. With Cryptosy, 311 or Slipknot
are guys who grew up with my records and have a lot of potential.
I'm curious what will become of them in another 10 years, when
they have perfected their own style."
When did you meet Devin, with whom you've been for 5 years
now, for the first time?
"One of my high school buddies was at a guitar workshop, which
was organized by Devin in the music school. He laughed his ass
off when Devin poked fun at stringpickers; Devin at his best is
one of the strongest shredders in the world. He appeared at the
snazzy music school in the worst pink spandex pants imagenable,
and showed everybody where matters stood. I thought this was very
nice and because I also love his records with Steve Vai, I wanted
to meet him at any cost. The first time we met was at an Iron
Maiden show in Los Angeles. Shortly after we got together in all
quiteness and there was magic in the air immediately."
What's so special about Devin?
"He's not only one of the most talented muscians I ever met, but
he also takes his job very seriously. His life exists out of music
100%. Parties, alcohol, drugs and hot girls don't interest him.
He can get carried away by new songs enormously and takes me with
him regularly. It's great to work with him."
Lately you compose together as well?
"We started on the Australian tour. Traditionally the best Townsend
songs arise Down Under. Many highlights of "Infinity" and "Terria"
were created in Australia. At the moment Devin wants to make a
brutal, chaotic album and therefore I'm exactly the right drummer,
During the last European tour more people were staring at your
swinging drum kit than at Devin.
"Whatever lures people into our concerts can only be good, hehe!
That's why I love to play those Strapping Young Lad classics.
They really make most jaws drop."
In the past you put aside offers from top acts like Machine
Head and Testament. Isn't it something to play in a more known
"Only when I can stand behind the music. To be in a band just
for the money is just not my thing. I could as easily go work
at the grocery store around the corner."
Are you still in contact with Death master mind Chuck Schuldiner,
who's suffering from cancer at the moment?
"Not with him personally, I do with the people around him. Since
a few days ago things are very bad with him. As soon as I have
more time, I'm going to organize the next tribute concert for
him in Vancouver."
And how about the line
to your former Dark Angel band mates?
"I still call a lot with
them, they still live in L.A.. A few years ago we even talked
about a reunion gig at Wacken, but I didn't feel like it. I love
Dark Angel, but to let the past rise again, just is nothing for
me. If all cripled men of fourty, who nowadays reform their old
bands, still could make good metal, then they would not need this
reunion crap. Their formations split up for good reasons back
then, because nobody wanted to hear them anymore. Dark Angel as
well split up because the world couldn't stand us anymore. Why
carry on now? Bullshit!"