"My first band was Wargod",
Gene remembers. "Except some regional reputation we were not
very well known. The lead guitar, for that matter, was played
by Michelle Meldrum, who became famous with Phantom Blue later
on. She really was very talented and had a great ass also....".
The cool thing about Gene also is (despite his weight) besides
playing extreme fast, he also can play difficult intricate pieces
very hard and dynamic. The legend is being told he puts weights
on his feet before every gig in order to get him to stop playing
"Ha, ha, that's right.
However, I don't use them because of the speed. It would have
been a great story though. It's like most excercises: a runner
also trains with weight on his hands. When he puts them aside
later his arms feel much lighter. I warm my muscles with them
so to say. Now I only use them to sound much tougher and more
masculine, ha, ha !"
An acquaintance once told me that the long years of drumming have
worked on your health. You're using the walking stick for back
"That thing only helps
me not to fall over when I'm drunk. No, the truth is that I've
broken my foot bones several times and I'm using this stick when
I have to stand a long time, for example in the bar at night.
It helps lowering my weight, so my feet don't hurt that much.
When I go to the store around the corner I don't need it. The
back problems occurred when I "decreased" from 180 to 120 kilos.
When we were recording "Symbolic" with Death, I was in so much
pain, my drum technicion (who reaches to my breastbone and weighs
as much as I lost) had to help me get up and walk me to the couch.
Considering the pain I had at that time it's amazing how good
the result is. However, I don't have any back problems anymore."
It seems you still can
play amazing under the most difficult circumstances. I remember
a gig with Death in Dortmund where you drank 2 bottles of Jack
Daniel's and drummed as a young God.
"Yeah, I was told about
this show, I can't remember anything though. Chuck Schuldiner,
normaly not much of a drinker, already drank some beer that afternoon
and suggested: "Let's get sloshed!" I didn't need to be told twice,
with the result of me just falling down backstage and being in
a comatose condition 'til about 10 minutes before the gig. The
musicians of the support act were standing next to the stage all
the time taking pictures; they couldn't understand that I was
able to play acceptable in this condition. Drumming is no big
science. I don't look at myself as a drummer, I just hit
things hard and a lot."
In the past you were playing with bands that had a certain reputation,
however playing with a great act making big money was never the
case. Do you have to keep a job on the side for this reason?
"Only in the early days
of Dark Angel. My parent owned a manicure salon, where I sat behind
the pay desk. (Imagine: well-to-do women and older ladies meeting
this creature with the sunglasses behind the pay desk of this
beauty salon...the writer.). By the way my sister became second
on the World Championships manicure, no kidding ! My second job
really was repulsive: at a big firm I had to go undercover among
the workers, get matey with them and when I saw them stealing,
drinking, using drugs or dealing, I had to report it to the boss.
Really revolting actually !!!"
Götz (Kühnemund/YK) met you years ago with the guys
of Atrophy, you were living in their garage, at the time you really
seemed to have money problems.
"Ho, ho, I have to straighten
this out: It was my house were Atrophy stayed,
I always used to sleep in the garage. The house was really unpleasant,
I didn't even have heating and the first winter the temperature
immediately dropped under zero, which really doesn't happen a
lot in LA. In my garage it even was a lot colder than outside.
As I woke up in the morning my blanket was covered with frost.
At that time I made an appeal to all sorts of girls and begged
them to come by and warm me up. Well I actually was a smoother
and sweet kinda guy back then. Yeah, it was a crazy time but I
Who was the most extraordinary person you have ever worked with
in a band? Chuck Schuldiner?
"No, Devin Townsend,
ha ha !! There are people going their own way in a positive manner,
others are just merely insane. I often wonder how I managed to
keep on working with some of those idiots in a band. Chuck and
I always worked very good together. He always let me free, musically,
and we understood each other. It must have been a tough decision
for him to end Death, the band which he sold his heart to for
about 12 years."
After the splitting up of Death your name was connected with different
other bands: Machine Head, Slayer and Testament.....
"Machine Head only asked
me for reason of my "reputation" as a well known drummer; however
we never really came close to each other. With Slayer I jammed
a few times, but they chose John Dette, and it definitely is a
good choice. With Testament I did a gig in Mexico and played on
their new album, the job paid well, nothing more. When I had the
time and they asked me, I probably would go on tour with them,
but my interest nowadays is with Strapping Young Lad."
Last question: why are you wearing the sunglasses all the time?
"Put on my glasses yourself
Gee! It's at least +6, my guess. The glasses are as thick as a
cola bottle bottems!
"I'm as blind as a mole.
I recently saw a few pictures of myself without glasses and had
to admit I look not all too bad, I hope to have the dough one
day to buy some contact lenses."
I forgot to ask Gene if he's the hangman on the Savage Grace album
cover of "After The Fall From Grace".
Well, maybe next time......