Talking to the human drum machine about the new "Alien" album and sore butts... |
Hello guys! Nice to see you in the familiar lineup, thrashing a new piece of noise for us. As I see Devin is still the singer, and you did not change to the legendary "Drew", who screwed up the 'Far beyond metal' parts on your DVD? I felt to the ground when I first saw and hear him singing. Even you guys looked bewildered as Drew started to pose and sing the flies off the wall. How was it possible to get the worst frontman ever for this song? Did you know him before?
Gene: Poor guy! We still don't know him and never have met him. We are looking for Drew and want to thank him for doing a good job. He definitely put Dev's job in jeopardy (laughs)!
I heard of people which bought this DVD only because they read or heard about this funny part. You should give him some credits.
Gene: True! "The part of 'Bed-shitter' on this disc will be played by 'Drew'" (laughs)!
Before we talk more about "For those aboot to rock" let's talk about your new output: "Alien". As I listened to the first songs I was very lucky about the very dense mix and sound and it remembered me on "City". The last one, "SYL", in my opinion was a bit too hardcore with dry instruments and I missed the extreme noise feeling. What did you expect from "Alien", and did you try to change the sound back to the "City" roots?
Gene: We didn't purposely 'change' the sound, Strapping will always be a evolution in progress and on this album we were feeling the samples, whereas on the last album we weren't. Strapping has always been about chaos and the new album is definitely a testament to the chaos that we were feeling while writing and recording it.
"City" certainly was a milestone in extreme music. Do a lot people compare all the new stuff with this album and are you perhaps bored of getting compared? Is it your "Number of the beast"?
Gene: Actually, yes, the comparisons are a little dull, because 'City' was where we were at 8 years ago, and any band tends to change in that amount of time. True, 'City' was a milestone and it has set the bar high for all other bands that do what we do, so which better band to set the bar even higher than us?
Does "Alien" have a kind of concept, or do you try to have the most fun as possible, making the noise you want to do, and do not worry about it anyway? How about commercial or image aspects?
Gene: Dev can speak better than I about the lyrical concept of Alien, but I know a lot of it pertains to the crossroads that a man comes to in his life. For me, it is all about freaking out, layin' it down heavy and taking everyone back to school. We don't pay much attention to the commercial aspect of the band because we tend to fly over most peoples heads anyway. If we sell, we sell, if we don't, so be it. Our image is pretty non-existent. The music conjures up enough images in your head, so we don't need to force-feed you any sort of pre-conceived notions of what we look like. Grotesquely beautiful music played by beautifully grotesque men.
Do you have some songs left from your recording sessions that will be released on different "Alien" versions in some countries or some new outputs?
Gene: We did a cover of Tom Jones' classic, 'What's New Pussycat' that did not make the final cut. We also have a version of 'Zodiac' by the Melvins and both no doubt will see the light of day sometime in the future.
With your DVD and "Alien" it seems that STRAPPING YOUNG LAD is back to business. After "City" it wasn't clear for a while if it is just a project or a real band. Devin then did some great albums with DTB, and I can remember that he told he would not do a new STRAPPING record until he could beat the "City" thing. Then we waited a long time and "SYL" for my surprise was not able to reach this heavyness and sound - but new songs as 'Shitstorm" do. What is the motor behind STRAPPING YOUNG LAD today?
Gene: The only band to beat Strapping is Strapping. Dev and I have formed a pretty symbiotic relationship when it comes to writing over the past year. And writing this record was easy. We both felt a need to freak out and embrace the glory that comes with such freaking out. So in that regard this record was easy as opposed to "SYL". We felt absolutely no boundaries in writing the new record and that is pretty apparent upon listening to it.
"Physicist" from DTB sounds more familiar to STRAPPING YOUNG LAD than to DTB. There was really no plan to use this songs for STRAPPING YOUNG LAD?
Gene: Actually the "Physicist" album started off as the next Strapping album. But, something was not right about it becoming a Strapping album, so it morphed itself back into a Devin Townsend project, and rightfully so.
Let's talk more about other bands some of you are involved to. We had DTB, SYL, and I remember Punky Bruster, Zimmers Hole, Tenet... please help me? Which bands are still alive and how do the involved members manage their time between STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and side projects/other bands?
Gene: And don't forget The Almighty Punchdrunk and Just Cause. It is pretty easy to crank these bands up when we are not super-busy with Strapping, although these days it is getting harder to devote time to the side-project bands. STRAPPING took up all my 2003/2004 as it will probably do with 2005. But, we always have a lot of projects on the go. As a matter of fact, I have 3 other non-Strapping records coming out this year. Tenet will record sometime later this year, Zimmers Hole will no doubt have another output in the future and the Dev is working on the DTB as we speak.
How do you manage the rehearsels? Do you meet in regular intervals, or is the geographical distance so far that you work at home and go into the studio just after it?
Gene: It gets pretty tough when you jam in three different rehearsal rooms, for instance I might have a Strapping and Punchdrunk rehearsal at one place and then I have to travel across town for a Just Cause rehearsal the same day. Strapping lives in two or three different cities at the moment, so a lot of time we will rehearse minus members.
I saw your gig with ZIMMERS HOLE and DTB in Cologne. Can we hope that such a great tour will happen again in Germany, or do you already have other european tourplans?
Gene: Our European plans are not solidified yet. Chances are we will be playing some of the festivals over summer and return for a full-length tour in the fall. I have to tell you that Germany is our poorest market, as it seems the Germans just don't like us. But we will still play for the handful that do.
Devin does the madman on stage with STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. How much is the showpart, and how much is real?
Gene: It's all Dev. None of us put on an act onstage. That is one of the many facets of his personality. The cool thing about Dev though is that he is real, and with that in mind the show changes every night. We don't have a set pattern of what he is going to say, he just wings it every night. So everybody who is present gets their very own Strapping show, unlike KISS or someone like that, where you know what their singer's going to say before he says it because he's said the same thing over and over for 30 years.
Do you sometimes fear you could open the Pandora's Box on stage if the audience is going crazy in small clubs without a barrier, or was everything under control all the time? Who goes more wild, the band or the fans?
Gene: We have opened Pandora's Box more than once. I can recall a show in New Jersey a few years back that turned into a full brawl between the band and the house crew because we were being obnoxious on stage and the club owner was a dick. Basically a mini-riot broke out and the show was shut down and everyone tossed from the club, but fuck it, we still got paid. And that's cool. In light of recent events and the death of our good friend (Dimebag Darrell, who was shot on stage), it kind of seems like everything has changed now. A band is ready for a boot, a chair, a bottle, a cup or even coins or car keys to be tossed at them on stage, but when you have to worry about taking a bullet, that means everything has changed. Time will tell if that affects our onstage banter or not. But, I tell you, if you are a crowd that we don't like we're gonna let you know.
We all missed more homevideos and extra material on "For those aboot to rock". So please tell us something about the craziest things you experienced with the band.
Gene: All the home video stuff, touring hijinks, and all that what-not will be going onto our compendium DVD that will come out in 2007. When it comes to the craziest thing that ever happened, Hell, I don't know, come to a show! That's the craziest thing that happens every day.
Is there something you would call 'the greatest mistake about STRAPPING YOUNG LAD in the public'?
Gene: That Dev is the only member of the band. There are absolutely four members to this band. Dev may be the leader of this riff-raff, but the other 3 guys are in no way mindless automatons or mere yes-men.
On the Century Media homepage we get some chapters of an "Alien" making of. If you see you as the human drummachine at work you only want to know two things: how is it possible for you to hold this level of weight category while doing this musical extreme sports? And how much training does you need to hold his speed without getting problems with tendons and bones?
Gene: Well, my butt gets sore now when I play and it never used to(laughs)! But remember, there's a good possibility that I've been playing thrash metal drums longer than anyone else on the planet, so it comes pretty easy to me. I am currently having problems with my left sartorius muscle but it doesn't affect my playing. I do stretches and actually move my legs very little and mostly play from the ankle down and the wrists out so I don't have any full blown rotator cuff damage or knee problems.
What more will we get on the bonus DVD for "Alien"?
Gene: Good question, I don't even know!
Devin makes no secret out of his use of marijuana. How about drugs in the band... ... while songwriting ... in the studio ... on tour?
Gene: I suppose if you are into it, drugs such as pot can be a useful tool for writing but that, as in any drug, should not be relied upon too heavily because it's the drugs that end up writing the music and not you. Can you imagine if we were all jacked up on coke? Holy shit, that'd be pretty nutty! Dev likes to smoke pot, and I used to drink. I just recently quit, so, bye-bye, sweet apfelkorn...
What are your plans for the next longer period? Do you have already plans, or do you go on tour first, enjoy some gigs, and wait and see what will happen with "Alien"?
Gene: Yeah, that last thing(laughs)! We don't have the entire year planned out as we did with the last record. We're gonna put the album out, hit the road and then see what happens. We're going to blindfold ourselves and throw darts at a map to book the tour after this one.
Thank you very much, and we hope to see you soon again on stage! And good luck with "Alien"!
Gene: Thank you! See ya soon!