Magazine: Rock Hard / Germany
Article: Das Tier hinter der Schiessbude

Written by: Frank Albrecht
Published: March 1997


You don't hear a lot about him but there's no metal-fan around that wouldn't recognize him when meeting him somewhere. No wonder! By way of his outstanding outfit (Gene never takes off his sunglasses and carries around his walking stick nearly all the time) and his filled body one can hardly mistake.......

Besides that he also is a "terrible" nice person, a real party animal and an excellent drummer of course, as his performances with Dark Angel, Death or Strapping Young Lad prove. So it's about time this lad is being scrutinized: Gene was born in Dallas 28 years ago but his musical carreer started when he moved to L.A.


"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 so fast.

"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 problems........

"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 got stronger."

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 and............"

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......

Frank Albrecht


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Translated by YK/AS for EmptyWords-Published on March 31 1999