Ende letzten Jahres im November 2008 interviewte Nadine die Herren von Pro-Pain, die gerade in Deutschland einen Haufen Shows gespielt hatten, um ihr Album “No End In Sight” vorzustellen.
Pressure befragte die Herren von Pro-Pain zu ihrem Album “No End In Sight” und heraus kamen einige interessante Anekdoten zu ihrer Tour, ihre Kollaboration mit dem Produzenten Stephan Weidner, so wie ein sehr hitzige Diskussion über Politik und das Waffengesetz der USA.
Redaktion: You’ve played a lot of festivals in Europe this year. So how’s your festival summer been?
Tom: We played quite a few festivals, about twelve or thirteen, maybe even more.
Gary: And I like playing the festivals, I like playing them more and more each year. I don’t know why that is. But in the beginning it was really strange for me. You know, we were basically a club band and the festivals in the mid nineties were completely new to us and there were many, many people so it was kind of strange to me. It took a while for me, to get accustomed to that. But now I love playing outdoors, especially if the weather is nice. I don’t know, if I have a favourite this year, maybe Summer Breeze.
Tom: We did play a festival in the Czech Republic near Prague, the Lovosice. That was probably my favourite festival this year. But I enjoyed the Czech Republic quite a bit, too…
Redaktion: And how did the audience like the new songs?
Gary: Great. You know, I didn’t know how the new album is going to be received. Just because we like it that much, doesn’t mean the fans gonna like it. But I needed this kind of record, if I was going to continue with the band. I’m not feeling another “Age of Tyranny” right now and if I wrote something, that I can’t right now, than I wouldn’t be honest. It’s important to me, to make an honest record! And I liked the more melodic moments on “Age of Tyranny”, like “All for King George” and “Beyond the Pale” and I wanted to continue that. So we kind of dove into it. Every time in the past, we did things in little doses, it was almost unrecognized. So this time we wanted to make a statement, that we sure can do other things and stuff that really pleases us as well. And again, going back to what I said earlier, I didn’t know, if the fans would like it and I didn’t really care – I shouldn’t say that, well I do – but I write songs for my band and myself first and foremost and you just hope, that the people will like it.
Redaktion: At “No End in Sight” Tom was mainly responsible for the sound and Gary had to adapt his lyrics to Tom’s music. Why did you choose that constellation and why didn’t you stick to your old formula for success?
Gary: Well, I think the first thing we wanted to achieve is a different record and so I asked myself, how to make a different Pro-Pain record. So if I want a different Pro-Pain record, I need to step back from the music, because if I start writing music for it, it’s going to sound like the traditional Pro-Pain. You know, I wrote most of the music at all Pro-Pain records, so I encouraged the other guys in the band, to write as much stuff as possible. We didn’t stray away a hundred percent from the formula, but in terms of who wrote the music, we strayed away and that was the most important thing, because everybody has got his own writing style.
Redaktion: Tom, how was it like, to play a bigger role at the album?
Tom: It was a bit surprising and somewhat intimidating. But once everything started to come together, we quickly realised, that it is coming together in a really good was for us and very much the way we were hoping it would. And the intimidating factor was that it was going to sound different. And there will always be some die-hard Pro-Pain fans, that want to just hear the fast and heavy stuff, and they will always say, they prefer “The Truth hurts” or something. You know, that is the record, we wanted to hear, as our listening preferences mature. And I think, what we are writing needs to mature as well.
Gary: Yeah, I mean it’s save to say, that the heavy days of the band are not gone. It’s not like a kind of permanent direction, we want to go. I just felt, a style change was important at this particular point in time. I wanted “Age of Tyranny” to stand alone as an album and to write something like that right afterwards; than they are going to compete with each other. So I wanted this album to be different and unique, so both albums have the chance to breathe a bit on their own. And each album will have its own fans. A lot of our fans like the more melodic stuff, others don’t, you know, that’s Rock’n’Roll. I always wanted to do more singing. And there even was a conflict in the band, how much of that we should do. Maybe it was Stephan Weidner how convinced everybody. You know, nobody listens to me, but if Stephan says something, then everybody agrees immediately. We were in the lounge at his studio, and he said, that he liked the more melodic parts and asked us, why we do not more of this stuff. So we wrote more melodic stuff.
Redaktion: You supported Stephan Weidner with his solo project and he joined you on your new album. How come you developed such a friendship?
Gary: He is a very sexy man! I mean that’s the most important thing. And he plays pretty good music, too.
Redaktion: Aha. And what was a typical record-studio day with Stephan like?
Tom: I guess, there was nothing typical…
Gary: If you want the whole day… I guess it starts with us, getting out of bed and saying: “I think you should start playing today, because I don’t really feel that well.”
Tom: We drank a little too much last night.
Gary: Yeah, Stephan booked the hotels for us, with a million bars around… Maybe he was looking for that kind of vibe… It was a fun and interesting project to be involved in. And it was really loose; it was almost like doing a Pro-Pain record. There were always a lot of funny stuff going on all the time and Stephan is a really funny person, too. You know people always think that Stephan is a really serious guy. His album is really big, number two in the charts, but it was hilarious making this record and doing all that background vocals. He was trying to teach us to sing in German.
Redaktion: I saw that in a video at youtube…
Tom: Yeah, he was laughing at us and got a really big kick out of it.
Gary: But that’s what it is, that makes great records. The spirit makes records, sometimes even more than the music does. You can’t always be so clinical. The bottom line is, that you try to make a Rock’n’Roll record and to do that you need a certain attitude that is not forced. I said, we just need to be ourselves – and I guess Stephan liked that. So we brought a fun spirit to the project. And we joined the project at the very beginning, so at a very important time for him. And he didn’t know what direction it was going to take. We provided solid ground for his record and that’s what I wanted to do. I knew how important this record was for Stephan, because he is coming of the Onkelz and I wanted to make sure that we did our job and we finally did. So maybe we’ll be on the tour in March, too.
Redaktion: And who can handle more alcohol, you or Stephan?
Gary: I don’t really know, I’ve never really seen him drink that much.
Tom: We did have an evening in Old Saxon House years ago, when we were on tour with The Onkelz, the Viva Los Tioz Tour and we went out and drank with him and I thought we had to call an ambulance for him. He was pretty fucked up. Than again I was pretty fucked up, too.
Gary: You know what, we sure like to have a good time, but you never gonna see us completely fucked up. Even if we say, we are fucked up; you probably won’t notice it that much.
Tom: My wife even can’t tell when I’m drunk.
Gary: But we’re not a fucking mess. You know, like most of the Scandinavian bands. They’re like lying around and throwing up on each other. That’s not how we roll. If I have some drinks it’s cool and if I feel that I’m a little too fucked up I just stop. But back to Stephan, I think he doesn’t drink that much. We always had a good time and I think he is like us.
Tom: He is always very much in control of himself.
Redaktion: Okay. So back to your new album. “Age of Tyranny” decried actual problems of your society. What’s the intention of the title “No end in sight”, especially with the crossed-out “No”? Has it political implication or does it refer to your band?
Gary: Well, it doesn’t refer to the band. But I like the fact, that it implies that. I like dual meanings, especially in titles, because I like to encourage people to think. And for me, it has to do with the state of the world and the end times philosophy. It’s positive, like there is no end in sight and when you cross out the “No” it becomes very negative. But the world is very negative right now. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better and we are heading down a very bad path. And as “Age of Tyranny” pointed out a lot of things and people that were responsible for that, “No End in Sight” basically says, what we can do about it.
Redaktion: So what are your ideas to counter the currant feelings and end time philosophies?
Gary: Well, I have a lot of ideas. I think we need real change from the bottom up. I think that the global financial system has to change and that’s a very hard thing to change obviously, because there are a lot of powerful people on the top. And all the real politicians that try to step up to induce real change, they get knocked out of the box very quickly from the media. You know, we saw that with Ron Paul in the United States. He was my guy and Tom’s as well. We supported him and it was a great thing to be a part of, because he stood for real change and he frightened the establishment.
Redaktion: Yeah, but even Ron Paul has got ambivalent thinking. On the one hand he is pro gay-relationships and seems to be quite liberal, but on the other hand he is against abortions and seems to be very conservative…
Tom: Well it seems to me that he just likes people. He is an obstetrician; he has delivered thousands of babies, so I guess it goes against his belief system. But that’s his own personal thing. And I think he’s got an open mind, to understand, when people disagree with him, which is more important than just some talking points.
Gary: And in these times, we have to have priorities as to the issues. Obviously different people have different priorities, but if these wars are going to continue and we start more conflicts all over the world. I think that becomes a priority issue. I didn’t agree with a hundred percent of what Ron Paul had to say, but as a candidate that I can align my feelings at – and there where a lot of good candidates at the beginning – but Ron Paul stood a chance. I loved the Dennis Kucinich, too. And I liked what Mike Revell had to say as well, but they didn’t stand a chance at all. So I backed Ron Paul.
Redaktion: And any further comments on the currant US election campaign and about Obama and McCain?
Gary: Oh, it’s bullshit.
Tom: It seems to me, that the necessary change won’t come from the inside of the system, it has to come from outside the system. And that’s a scary notion; because that means that it’s only going to happen when the vast majority of the people are desperate. So Obama’s campaign is about change, but that’s ridiculous. There will be nothing different, beside from maybe skin colour and some kind of advertisement scheme. Things have to get very, very bad. And although it’s changing the Americans have always been very complacent for a very long time.
Gary: And now the people are not longer complacent, but just completely ignorant. Because at least with complacency you say you are comfortable, but with ignorance you don’t even know where you stand at all. They say ignorance is bliss, I think complacency is bliss…
Redaktion: Yeah, but it’s all in the system. You know, where is the democracy, when one can’t even vote directly, but only the electors have the right to vote in the U.S. Electoral College for the President of the United States?
Gary: You know it’s all fucked up. Well a lot of Europeans say that the Americans are fucked up. You guys are way ahead of us; you guys get folded in first with the EU. You know, there is no North American Union, yet. We are fighting it, but you guys are already fucked, too. You can’t even smoke in the bars. The EU is going to crash your heads. The next thing will be maybe that you have to go outside to drink? It’s a very scary and dangerous thing. If you want to see that in action, than look no further than to England and Scandinavia and you will see Big Brother in action. And we are fighting it, you know we are a pro-gun country and that’s what scares them the most, because we can actually fight these motherfuckers, because we are all armed. The second amendment is the most important thing we have. The ultra-lefties they say something like: “Oh, that’s fucked up!” But I think it’s not fucked up. That’s what protects the people from a government that is out of control. That’s the only thing that protects people from tyranny, when the public is armed and smart. Well we are armed, but not that smart.
Redaktion: Well in that case, the first thing that comes to my mind is Columbine…
Gary: Well, you have to look a little deeper into Columbine. You might be scratching the surface, but there is a lot more in Columbine than you think.
Redaktion: Well, in Germany such bad things happened, too, like in Erfurt…
Gary: You know, there is this big anti-gun lobby in America, mostly from the democrats. But you have to look at who is running the show there and where are they coming from and what their influences are, which I won’t say, but the state starts with an I…
Redaktion: But it’s a bit difficult and dangerous, if you’ve got some crazy people running around with guns…
Tom: People are not crazy! Are you crazy?!
Gary: You have been just convinced that the people are crazy…
Redaktion: Well okay, but I’ve met some crazy people in my life that I wouldn’t want to have guns…
Gary: Well, if people are crazy, why is Bush and Cheney still alive, they would have been assassinated a long time ago. It’s because all of the assassinations were carried out by the C.I.A. and government operations not by crazy people. They grab people like us from the streets and say: “He did it.” I think the people are completely sane.
Redaktion: But I can’t agree with that. One often reads in the newspapers of murder and people going crazy, so?
Gary: That’s why they put this stuff in the papers at the front page. Every time there is a school shooting it’s everywhere, because they want to pass the legislation to ban the guns.
Redaktion: But it’s not “just” about the school shootings
Gary: Well, they name every shooting, because they want to take the guns out of the hands of the people!
Tom: I think the big picture here is that the government wants to disarm the people. They want the people to be unable to fight back and resist their control!
Gary: You said, you read about it in the paper. Then you got to go one step further: Who owns this paper that I am reading?!
Redaktion: Okay, then let’s go to more funny things. Who has got more sex-appeal, Hillary Clinton or the German chancellor Angela Merkel?
Gary: Hmmm….More sex-appeal?!
Tom: Uh – I hope the German (laughs)!
Gary: I don’t know… Hillary Clinton is a power bitch. I always wanted to fuck one of these power bitches. But it would total be like grudge fuck…
Redaktion: Okay… If you hadn’t success as musicians, what would have been your profession?
Gary: Well, it’s hard to say, when you have developed into a musician. I worked a lot of other jobs and didn’t really like or dislike them…
Redaktion: So you always wanted to be a musician?
Gary: Not always. But since I was like 16 years old, when I started my first band. We got very popular very fast so I was making record since I was a teenager. So that has been a very long time, many records and many decades. I even remember when Heino used to open to my old band… But if I could be something else, I probably wouldn’t stick around in the music business, like management or something.
Tom: I grasped opportunities in life too, but I probably would have been a carpenter.
Redaktion: What have the most significant changes been on tour and in studio over for the last 16 years?
Gary: Everything has changed a lot. You know, we are still touring and playing the shows is really good. I have completely changed as a person. I think that started around the time my son was born and it was time for me to get more responsible. That’s what takes me to some earlier question about drinking. You know, I like to have a good time, but I don’t want to be some out of control idiot. And the band has changed a lot, too. We have a different mentality now. We have toured Europe so many times that our mentality is probably more European then American. So it’s difficult for us to tour in the States, because we don’t share this mentality with the audience over there.
Redaktion: So what’s the difference in the American and European audience?
Gary: Not in terms of numbers and enthusiasm, but in terms of my ability to connect mentally and it’s very important for me, to do this as an artist. I don’t look forward to go on tour in the states. The shows can be pretty violent and that’s scary. At this shows it looked like people got killed in the crowd. I remember in St. Louis a guy got his throat cut in the pit. You know, that’s fucked up!
Tom: You know, being the host of the evening and somebody gets a throat cut in the pit, that’s not what you long to be a part of.
Gary: Yeah. You know, I like people having a good time. It’s about having a good time and I want to be a part of that good time.
Tom: And the geography plays a role, too. Here, when you drive three hours you can go from one major city to the next. It’s not like that in the states. You have to travel huge distances from one major venue to the next and in between you have to play smaller shows, so it just makes it financially difficult for everyone.
Gary: I remember an interview at Blabbermouth and they picked out just one sentence like: “Gary Meskil from Pro-Pain says: Europe is better!” And all the comments on Blabbermouth were so fucked up. So I got like ten screen names on Blabbermouth to reinforce myself.
Redaktion: Aha, so that’s what you are doing, when you got freetime?
Tom: Yeah, that’s working.
Gary: You know, I used to trade stocks and back in the days when the stock market was popping you could actually go on the bulletin board at the yahoo stock boards and move money that way. I had so many screen names and I said: “I heard that….” And with the next screen name I reinforced that. So I tried to manipulate things to my favour, but who wouldn’t do that?!
Tom: So imagine if you own CNN, how much power you have.
Redaktion: What’s the difference between the actual scene and the scene 16 years ago? What would you wish the scene to be like?
Gary: The scene has always been the same. I have been playing this for such a long time. You know, sometimes certain subgenres get a little hot and the press always likes to come up with a new name for stuff, like we are in Metalcore. Come on that’s just Crossover between Metal and Hardcore. 15 years ago we had big festivals, too. You know I am convinced that metal and hardcore music will always bee there, till the end of the time.
Redaktion: Do you enjoy touring and being on stage as much as you did in the beginning of your career?
Gary: I enjoy it more!
Tom: Yeah, you know along with the experience you learn how to cope with everything and you develop your own kind of lifestyle on tour. And over the years you learn to do it better.
Redaktion: And with all that touring and being in studio you got only little time for your family. Isn’t that sometimes difficult?
Gary: I have a different way of looking at that. You know, if you have got a guy who is a husband and a father just working a regular job, he is working about eight hours a day, he has got to get to work and back home and he got to sleep eight hours, too… So how much time is he actually spending with his family?! So when I am at home I am spending all of my time with my family, so it’s just different and not a matter of time. And in terms of a relationship that really works, you know they say “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and it does, because when I am away, you miss each other and when I am back at home it’s almost like a brand new relationship again. I think the worst thing for a relationship is routine, when you do the same things everyday and it gets really boring. This is never boring and that’s why I had a relationship for so long.
Tom: If you do the math, friends of mine who work at day jobs from nine to fife, they probably have got an hour of time each day for their kids. The time that I have for my family is much more and intense and it is all quality time. I say, well what do you want to do this week, do you want to go to Disneyland?
Redaktion: Who is the last person you’d want to meet while shopping at Wal-Mart?
Gary: Probably on of my neighbours, because I don’t want them to know that I go shopping at Wal-Mart.
Tom: The last person I’d want to run into in Wal-Mart is every Wal-Mart employee. No, that’s just a joke. I sympathise with them, because they get fucked everyday of their lives.
Redaktion: So you don’t go shopping at Wal-Marts at all?
Gary: I like it, it’s a guilty pleasure. And Wal-Mart’s very close to my house.
Tom: It’s funny how they made it practically necessary. They have made it almost impossible not to shop at Wal-Mart, because they are everywhere and are open 24 hours…
Redaktion: Your main musical influences and did they change over the years?
Gary: Oh, I don’t think they change, but there has been more influence I guess, because I still listen to most of the stuff I used to listen. The catalogue gets and the influence gets wider and I always have been a crossover artist and I never was a musical purist, you know just playing pure hardcore or pure punk. I think we leave that to the legends that created the music.
Tom: There are always phases you go through. Years ago we played with the Eagles and so we rediscovered our love to the Eagles. And I think, as you go through these phases a band like for example The Eagles influences you more and you might take a little bit more from that particular artist at that particular time. In that way it helps to make each record that you do a bit of a time capsule and when you listen to it brings you back the memories of that time.
Redaktion: What was the last record you’ve bought?
Tom: I guess it was “It won’t be soon before long” from Maroon 5.
Gary: Yeah I bought that one, too. But my last record was the latest Disturbed album. They are a really good group.
Redaktion: What would you say to Nike Ness if you’d met him in the sauna?
Gary: You got some killer tattoos, bro. Can I borrow your towel for a second? I love Mike Ness and Social Distortion is one of my favourite bands. So I don’t know, in the sauna…
Redaktion: Who are the greatest sissies: Mötly Crüe or Guns’n Roses?
Gary: Well, I have to say Guns’n Roses. I love Slash and I love some of the guys in the band, but Axel’s behaviour to the fans… And with all his goofy outfits and this crazy hair… Mötly Crüe I think is really cool. They are Rockers, good guys. Vince Neil is a really good dude and I really feel for him, because he has lost his daughter. Mick Mars has got his illnesses.
Tom: I have difficulties to find anything bad to say about Vince Neil.
Redaktion: What has been the most funny situation or idea you ever transformed into a song?
Gary: That was probably “Every good boy does fine”. We used to say that as children in school in order to remember the scale and I thought that would be a good parody to write a song that’s called like this. And I came over the whole song in the shower. I had all the chord structures and the lyrics just in one shower and then I went downstairs I plugged in the guitar and it took me only about ten minutes to write the song.
Redaktion: What was your worst or weirdest experience on stage?
Gary: I had one actually here in Munich a few years ago. We were all in the Hofbräu Haus during the daytime and some got drunker than others. My stage manager pulled my pants down and I didn’t wear any underwear, so I was standing there with my dick hanging out…
Tom: It was a strange day… I do recall playing at some venue in Michigan and a guy got our attention, he was in the front row, waving around and he opened a condom and stuffed it up one nostril and pulled it out from the other and pulled it back and forwards… That stopped the whole show for a few moments. We just stood there and watched him.
Gary: But there are always some strange things, more so in the old days. You know in the early nineties, when some of us experimented some drugs and playing a show and the whole crowd looked like a big pot of chilli, like a bunch of beans…
Tom: Boiling chilli…
Redaktion: What do you like most in Germany?
Gary: I like East-Germany. They have a certain spirit. It’s not so structured. I like also Poland, Russia and Ukraine.
Tom: I tend to agree with him, the more time we spend in the East, the more I feel like at home. It suits me better, I think. I ‘m of Russian descent, my grandfather was Russian and finally go to Moscow was a real thrill for me. I saw some similar characteristics in the people that I feel about myself. The do it yourself mentality and the independence really appeals to me. It’s a stark contrast to like Scandinavia or England, where everyone is already programmed to do what they are told. I think there is a certain mentality of rebellion in the East.
Gary: Yeah, you can look for all different reasons, but it’s in our blood. I’m 50% from the East.
Redaktion: After 16 years of Pro-Pain is there anything you haven’t achieved yet?
Tom: I don’t think there were any serious expectations that we have besides just to continue playing music as long as we enjoy it.
Redaktion: And in nostalgic feelings are there things you miss from the beginnings of your career?
Tom: No, not for me. It’s much better now.
Gary: Yeah, there are things. We had a drummer, Danny, in the old days in the band. We grow up together and he is the godfather of my son. We went separate ways and that was really fucked up, because he was a really good drummer. He went to Life of Agony when he left Pro-Pain. It was never the same. At the “Foul Taste Of Freedom”-Time – that was magic. You know, now we have a great line-up, but it was magic.
Redaktion: If you could be another person just for one day, which person would you like to be and what would you do?
Gary: I would be George Bush and commit suicide.
Tom: (laughs)Ehmm – that’s a pretty good answer…
Gary: Yeah, that’s hard to beat, right?!
Tom: I have a million answers…
Gary: Yeah, ha got multiple personalities, so it’s gonna take a while…
Tom: I would be George Clooney and have one hell of an evening.
Gary: With your pig?!
Tom: Yes, with many pigs…
Redaktion: Any next projects planned in the near future?
Gary: Yeah, we are talking about, where to record the next Pro-Pain record and who to record with. We were speaking with Production Guru from The Onkelz to producing the new album with him. I think, that’s the next step to produce a different album to “No End in Sight”. And I love the studio there. I think, when we produce there, it’s going to be a hell of a record.
Redaktion: So thanks for the interview and any closing remarks?
Gary: Thank you very much for the interview and who ever is reading this: We want to thank you for supporting Pro-Pain over the past 16 years!
Interview von Nadine Gillmaier