Arto Lehtinen of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with legendary extreme-metal drummer Gene Hoglan (TESTAMENT, DEATH, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, DARK ANGEL, DETHKLOK). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal-Rules.com: You had many, many years break [from] working with TESTAMENT but last year you ended up playing on "Dark Roots Of Earth". How did you get involved with them again?
Hoglan: At the time, I guess they had a deadline to complete the record and at the time Paul Bostaph [former TESTAMENT drummer] was injured. Like, he had an arm injury. I've actually spoken to Paul about this arm injury. Because, you know, a lot of times when it's in the presses, it's like, "Oh, he's injured." He was telling me, like, "Dude, I went for about a year thinking I may never play the drums again." He's got some… It involves crazy knuckles and tendons and all sorts of crazy stuff; he can tell you better than I could. But he was trying to rehab himself at that time, and I guess TESTAMENT's deadline for turning in the album was approaching rapidly and Paul was not going to be able to do it. So I got a call from either Eric [Peterson, TESTAMENT guitarist] or Chuck [Billy, TESTAMENT vocalist] — I think it was probably Chuck — saying, "Can you come out and do a record with us in two weeks?" I was just going on tour with FEAR FACTORY for two weeks and I was, like, "OK, so at the end of that, I'll drive on up to the Bay Area and I'll track your record with you." And we tracked it over the course of, like, twelve days or something like that. They sent me a demo so I could listen to it in the car as I was driving up from San Diego to the Bay Area and that's how I learned the record. Pretty much started tracking a couple of days after I got there.
Metal-Rules.com: Weren't you supposed to be just a session member of TESTAMENT at that time?
Metal-Rules.com: But you have now stayed a bit longer with them?
Hoglan: That's because I tried to clear my schedule for TESTAMENT. I'm still a session guy. But I like playing with TESTAMENT, I like the guys. I guess in all reality I'm a session guy, but I always go where it's fun, that's where I like to play. Like, if the band is fun and it's cool touring situations and the stuff like that, I'm there for it. I like being valued, I like having an opinion that is listened to, and I like having a say, and so I guess that's the reason why I'm around still.
Metal-Rules.com: It would be awesome if you did some writing with TESTAMENT in the future. Have you ever talked about it?
Hoglan: Yes, we have. We talked about the future our next record. I [told] Eric. It's, like, "Don't write with your drum machine. Hopefully I'll have the time to come on in and help you write your next record." I think that's always best. It's awesome to have a drum machine or the drum kid from hell to pull tracks from and write like that. But if you can write an album with a live drummer, that's always the coolest, I think.
Metal-Rules.com: As you might know, DETHKLOK is not too well known [in Europe], but how big is the band in the States right now?
Hoglan: Let's put it this way: sometimes when we go out on tour with MASTODON, for instance, we were on the road a couple of years ago — they were our opening act — and we were playing five-thousand-seat arenas two nights in a row. DETHKLOK is huge in the States. Maybe people don't understand it over [in Europe] or whatever. The music is incredible and the live show is amazing even if you're not a fan of the TV show or you don't know the TV show. Come down and see the show. You have a lot of money behind DETHKLOK, so it is gargantuan. Really big. Like, our last album we debuted, the first album debuted No. 21 on the Billboard chart and that was unheard of at the time. The next album was No. 15 on the charts, and the third album, the latest album was Top 10, so…
Metal-Rules.com: How about the FEAR FACTORY thing? It's completely done by you now?
Hoglan: Yeah. They made some choices, and I wasn't a part of their choices, so it was like, "OK. You've got the human drum machine playing for you, but you're going to [record an album] with a drum machine? OK. Bye." Like I was saying earlier, it's, like, I go where it's fun, and if it's fun, and I'm valued, and I feel like part of the team, great. And apparently I was so not even part of the team that I wasn't even told that "Oh, yeah, we recorded the record with the drum machine." I was waiting for a schedule; like, seriously, I waited. Waiting for, like, "Hey, when do you guys want to go to the studio?" Like, "Hey, I'm booked, I'm trying to get in touch with you guys to block time out." Everybody's asking me to come play on this project — "Come do this over here. When are you guys going to go in the studio?" — and they are, like, "Oh, we will let you know." Then I read on Blabbermouth the album is done, I'm, like, "OK, well, so am I. So you made your choice. Bye."
Metal-Rules.com: How did you get involved in FEAR FACTORY in the first place ?
Hoglan: It was because of Byron from STRAPPING [YOUNG LAD]…
Metal-Rules.com: …who is playing with 3 INCHES OF BLOOD nowadays.
Hoglan: Yeah. He asked me to be a part of it. Because I always said, the band knows this, I said, "I would never play for FEAR FACTORY. That's one band that I will never play for — ever, ever, ever." Byron asked — he's my brother — he's, like, "If you don't do this, we can't be a band." Will you do this? And I was, like, "For you, yes." And so I did it. Byron quit and so I was, like, "I don't want to be a part of this anymore." I didn't want to be a part of [it] in the first place. [We] made a killer record; you know, "Mechanize" is a good album. It's good for them. All I know is… I mean, I read stuff, and I see what people say about the latest record ["The Industrialist"]. They're, like, [saying] what a disappointment [and a] sinking ship this is... OK, you guys made it really obvious, You two guys [FEAR FACTORY guitarist Dino Cazares and singer Burton C. Bell] wanted all the money.
Metal-Rules.com: It seems that FEAR FACTORY is not a real band anymore, but just a project of Dino and Burton.
Hoglan: Those guys are my friends still — they're still my buddies — but [their] business decisions were… I understand it's, like, there is not a lot of money there, and I don't come cheap, and I went cheap for them, but they knew that the next album, since I did that first one ["Mechanize"] super cheap and all the touring super cheap, that it wasn't going to be cheap anymore. They made the proper business decision for themselves, so they wouldn't be super broke, but I don't know… I think they've made it very apparent that… No offense intended, but it kind of looks like a sinking ship. I dig the guys that are playing for them — they're nice guys — but, you know, [they should] bury [their] differences with [former FEAR FACTORY guitarist/bassist] Christian [Olde Wolbers] and [drummer] Raymond [Herrera]. [They should] get those two guys back and [they'll] be on top of the game again. You know, that's all you've got to do. I'm sure that will never happen, because they've gone to court against each other and all that sort of stuff, but if you really want to have a future, that's the only way.
Read the entire interview at Metal-Rules.com.