Two years after the Individual
Thought Patterns cd and a gig of Gene Hoglan on Slagwerk
'93 (drummers festival in The Netherlands/YK) Death is touring
the world for the new album Symbolic. Later this year
the band will tour Holland big time, but with eastern they were
here for a little festival in Paradiso (Amsterdam/YK). Reason
enough to talk with Hoglan, about the why of "the opening up new
horizons" way of drumming, about drastically losing weight and
about the art of stealing.
still has a large following, but the number of spectators that
are watching the performances of the Florida four under the leadership
of guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner with dropped jaws is winning
over the number of headbangers and slamdancers.
From album to album the band is growing with big leaps and bounds.
From extreme death metal it's going to, as extreme but of a very
high level, technical musicians music.
Death hasn't had the same
line-up for two albums in a row. For the recent Symbolic
the guitarist Bobby Koelble entered the band and Kelly Conlon
was welcomed as the new bass player. Gene: "Working
with Kelly differs a lot from working with Steve DiGiorgio, our
former bass player. Kelly only had about 5 rehearsals with us
before entering the studio, he literal attached his bass parts
to my drum parts. Steve was far more free, not necessarily better,
but very different. You could say that Steve and I are working
in a more traditional rhythm section way. Grooving was more important
to Kelly than playing difficult parts, something we let him decide
on his own. Maybe it will change in future when he's more at ease
in the band.
Gene states he hasn't been practicing
that much in between the two albums. Yet he was able to combine
more styles than before. "The preperation for ITP was so hectic
that I was glad I could play my parts the way they are on the
album now. They had to fit in, that was the only thing that mattered
for me back then. I had too little time and mainly played on routine.
For Symbolic we had from March to September 1994 to rehearse
the new material. I had far more time to absorb the parts."
"Everything I play stands
for something. Nothing on Symbolic is without a reason
and therefore I think there never has been a title more suitable.
I think people will understand because it's all very personal.
With every fill there was someone on my mind and quite often other
drummers. I let them inspire me one way or the other."
"Yes I stole breaks. Dom
Famularo once said it's permitted, so I did. It's his fault, hahahaha...
I visited his clinic in Bradford where he told stealing was OK
because drummers have to spread their art and sooner or later
other drummers are gonna steal from you. So I stole and I'm proud
of it! When you would tell me: "Gene, I hear a lot of Deen Castronovo
in your play", then I would say: "You're right and mainly Castronovo
on Marty Friedman's Dragon's Kiss". I want to let them
hear what inspired me, as far as I'm capable of course."
On ITP Gene followed Death's
frontman's riffs very tight. On Symbolic he plays far
more free and doesn't always follow Chuck Schuldiner in an expected
way. He also succeeded to give some rhythms a fusion kind of lightness.
"I played Symbolic
for my friend and great example Reynold Carlson, he used to drum
in Jag Panzer. He's a virtuous drummer, playing with one hand,
the other on the keyboard and blowing an ocarina solo at the same
time. He was laughing and shaking his head while listening. I
started wondering if he didn't like at all what he was hearing.
But on the contrary: "Man, you play it all" he said. "You play
everything there's to play in this music". I thought about it
for a while and I agreed. Damn it's true, I try to play everything
that's slightly manageable to play in this music. "Don't you like
it" I asked him, "Yes" he said "but I don't understand it". And
that was something I couldn't understand.
I slept bad for about a week thinking I had overdone, that I should
have grooved more. Now I've reconciled with the idea that I groove
in my own kind of very lively way".....
"Another friend of me had
a very different opinion. He said: "Gene, from one album to the
next you've lost about 100 pounds of weight, now you're in the
studio letting yourself go like crazy and you're wondering whether
it's a good thing to do? I think you're celebrating you're feeling
reborn"! Well that was a nice theory, I felt a lot less guilty
for the many notes I play. Believe me, I love grooving in a simple
beat. There are moments in the Death set I simplify drumming and
concentrate on the groove. How it will develop in future? I don't
know. I know Symbolic represents the way I'm feeling
at the moment. And I feel good ! Believe me, I seldom enjoyed
drumming that much and had that much fun as the past year!"