Gene Hoglan has been a drummer in the music business since the early 80’s performing with groups such as Dark Angel, Death and more recently Testament and the Brendon Small helmed Dethklok. When not performing with one of his my projects Gene partakes in drum clinics around the world. He newest run of performances are being billed under the name “The Gene Hoglan Experience” which combines clinic style demonstrations and impromptu question and answer sessions. Media Mikes spoke with Gene recently about the shows and all of the other cool projects he has going on.
Adam Lawton: What led to the idea of doing “The Gene Hoglan Experience” shows?
Gene Hoglan: Whenever I go out and do clinics they always end up being at drum stores and a majority of the people who attend those are drummers however, I have had people come up to me afterwards and tell me they aren’t a drummer but love my work and find me interesting. I started to think about ways to reach a larger audience and make it less drummer exclusive. I also was thinking of it as a way to revolutionize the clinic industry by taking these types of performances to larger/different venues. I wanted this to be something more than just drums or drumming. I have a lot more than drums in me so I am always open to talking about whatever and answering all the questions people may have. I tested this idea out in Canada and it went really well. From there I decided that once I had some time in my schedule I would try and do more of these. This is a way for me to get out there without having to hit up my drum companies up for crap loads of money. I’m getting to do this kind of independently which is pretty cool. I get to interact with the fans and give them a chance to have a one on one moment with me. I like to talk and play drums so this is really great.
AL: What type of feedback did you get from that first show?
GH: People were coming up to me telling me that they had never seen anything like this before. Musicians were saying this is much more different than your typical clinic. Things have been super positive. I know I am not perfect but I think I have a good enough grasp on this type of thing to make it fun an enjoyable for those who attend. Things have sort of evolved over time. I did one show where I was asked if I could play a Strapping Young Lad song however I didn’t have any of that material with me. Someone from the crowd said they had the CD in their car and could go get it. They brought it in and we did it! Things have just evolved in to this really cool interactive and engaging thing. I love people having their faces rocked off followed by smiles.
AL: Being that the show is live and unscripted is there ever any nervousness on your part?
GH: It’s a very unprepared type of scenario. There are a few prepared elements like what songs I may be performing that night but even that can change. I don’t get nervous. My fiancé was with me while I was prepping for a clinic in Vancouver and she told me that she couldn’t believe how little I prepare. She’s is a musician herself and said she would need flash cards and things like that. I just have my own thing going on and she couldn’t believe how well it ended up going. I usually have a couple points in my head that I try to get to but if it doesn’t happen I try to make sure my content is so strong that it makes up for it. I want to make sure that I and everyone else have a great time.
AL: Have there been any talks about filming these upcoming run of dates?
GH: We haven’t really talked about that part of things yet. The main reason I will be out doing these shows is that I have a new DVD coming out. I’m not sure as to which show I would actually choose to film though because each night is going to be different. I don’t think I’m really up for filming all of the shows and then putting them together into one. Mainly I don’t want to wear the same shirt every night. (Laughs)
AL: In the past few years you have begun working with Brendon Small of “Metalocalypse” and Dethklok. How did that partnership come about?
GH: Brendon is one of the best guys I have ever worked with. I mean that and am not just trying to put my lips to his butt. I will tell him that to his face. From the start Brendon has always been a really easy going and fun guy. I think that also comes across in his work ethic. Brendon is a guy that always has my back. Having never dealt with a network before he has always been there backing me. The support has just been great. How things started was one day I got a call out of the blue from Brendon asking if I would be interested in recording a soundtrack album for season one of the show. I had seen the show before but wasn’t really aware of what it was. The show has killer music and it was something I was definitely interested in. We were a two man project for quite awhile until we started touring and added Brian Beller on bass and Mike Keneally on guitar. Things have just gotten cooler with each album we work on together. I love Brendon to death.
AL: Being a guy who often has multiple projects going on at once. How do you adjust your playing/mindset to fit all the things you are working on?
GH: I suppose it has to do with the fact that I am always willing to forego the “Gene Hoglan’s Style” for what is best for the band. If I am playing with someone like Death which calls for a pretty technical, busy style while the stuff I did with Strapping Young Lad wasn’t as busy but needed to be very powerful. I am very willing to suppress my own style in an effort to do what’s best for the band. I filled in on drums with Otep for a few shows and they were already mid-tour. They were used to how there drummer did things so I had to try and fit to what was already being done. When I filled in with Anthrax I sat behind Charlie for a few shows with a video camera so I could make sure I learned exactly what he was doing. Charlie doesn’t play some of the material the way it was recorded 25 years the same now. I wanted to make sure that I was able to capture that and not just learn the album versions of the songs. I was blessed with sort of a steel trap mind when it comes to learning material and I think that has been somewhat beneficial as well.
AL: What other projects do you currently have in the works?
GH: Well the new DVD I have coming out is titled “The Atomic Clock: The Clock Strikes Two”. That is going to feature a lot of the stuff I have been doing at my clinics. For this release I was able to get the licenses for the songs I am playing. Everything from Death, Testament and Meldrum are going to be on there. The new DVD has a lot of depth to it and I have tried to improve on everything included. Testament has a show coming up in August with Iron Maiden and a bunch of other great acts. After that Testament will be out with Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage and from there have already started making tour plans for 2014. Then recently I received a text from Brendon stating he has completed the next Dethklok album so I am sure we will be getting involved with that real soon. I am hoping to do some Death To All shows which is a tribute to Death performances as well. Lastly I have been recording a ton of new stuff with my guitarist Laura Christine who is just amazing. Hopefully we will have material out this coming year. I am really stoked about all of this stuff. It’s going to be great and is something I wished for. I wanted to play drums for a living and I am getting to do that.