You've been on the road with your 20 Years of Hardcore tour. How is it
going? I've noticed that when you go on tour it's very intense, with only a few
days off. Do you have opportunities to look around in the cities before or after
getting to the venues? To do a little sightseeing as tourists, that is.
Gary: The tour's going great. And yeah, we do. Sometimes we have more time
than on other days but generally there's a bit of time for seeing some of the
sights. It's always nice to be playing inside of a city rather than outside of a
city because it makes things a bit more convenient for sightseeing. Some of us
are a bit more touristy than others and I guess I would fall into the prior
category. I like to look around and see things outside of the venue. To see some
of the touristic places.
You definitely have some kind of special connection to Germany. I think
that's one of the countries here in Europe where Pro-Pain is particularly
popular and I guess that explains your Böhse Onkelz cover (Keine Amnestie für
MTV) for the 20 Years of Hardcore compilation, too.
Yeah, Germany provided us ultimately with probably our biggest fan base outside
of the United States. The shows in Germany certainly rival the best shows in the
US. The fan base is almost the same in numbers but Germany is so much smaller so
the shows are much more successful generally speaking. And German audiences have
always been there for us. We have fans that come up to us and tell us that
they've seen the band twenty-five times and things like that which is very
impressive. So we try to reciprocate that loyalty back to the German audience. A
lot of times, especially these days when everyone's attention span seems to be
disappearing at an alarming rate, especially in the United States for one reason
or another, everyone's always looking for the next fix, it's almost like a drug
or something with bands: you're interested in one band, then on the next day
they're done and you want to see something else new. So you don't have a lot of
rock n' roll loyalty as compared to, let's say, the 70s or the 80s, the real
glory days of rock music. To get that kind of support is certainly more than I
can expect from a fan. But that's what makes it all happen. It's not only about
the band, it's more so about the fans because if the fan base disappears, the
band disappears with it.
So you mean that in the USA, one trend follows the other and there's not much
loyalty unlike here in Europe where trends come and go also but people still
remember the values of the previous trends and preserve them.
Yeah, I think it's cool and I don't know why it's so different culturally in
that regard. But the English entertainment industry is the same as in America.
They coincide with one another. And the attention spans are much lower. Maybe it
has to do something with the rock n' roll media, they're always looking to sell
something new. And by always selling something new to the fans, the things that
they sold before to the fans, they don't care about it anymore, they always move
to the next thing. They do it to sell records and to sell magazines and to keep
things fresh but I come from an old school mentality and if I like a band, I
tend to follow them throughout the course of their career.
How did you choose the four re-recorded tracks from your first three albums?
We took Foul Taste of Freedom and Make War Not Love because those are
probably the two stand out tracks from those days if you have to pick two.
Denial was interesting because our ex-drummer Mike Hanzel just said: Can we
play Denial? and I said yeah, we can do that. So that was his personal favorite.
Shine is the one that Rob Moschetti wanted to play on. As a band member, Rob
Moschetti shined during the Contents Under Pressure years so I think it was
the perfect track to re-introduce Rob back to the fans. I think it was a great
idea to have some of the ex-members come in and play on this thing. It just
shows people that Pro-Pain is more than just the current members of the band and
that there's a solidarity amongst all of the members and that they still feel
very strongly about the band even though they went separate ways.
Speaking of former members, isn't it disturbing sometimes that you've had so
much line-up changes throughout the band's career? You obviously know a lot of
people in this business so you know who to contact when you need, let's say, a
new drummer but as far as writing a new material or touring, isn't it
It can be problematic but for me it's more disheartening because you want
every line-up to last and you settle into a line-up but then just some things
happen sometimes that are out of the band's control. There are real life
situations that take over sometimes and it hasn't been easy to keep Pro-Pain
together for twenty years. We've seen all of life's changes take place within
the twenty years, there have been births and deaths and extreme conditions and
over three thousand concerts on the road. The lifestyle for Pro-Pain is very
different from Metallica on the road and we really had to endure some not so
good things over the years. But then again, we've played about as many concerts
as a band can be expected to play throughout their career and when you put both
of those things together, that can really break somebody and sometimes they just
don't want to do it anymore.
What was the reason Tom Klimchuck left again, for the second time? The first
time, it was due to his illness and then the situation got back to normal more
or less so he spent a long time in Pro-Pain.
Well, Tom has been battling Crohn's disease even since I know him. That was
the reason for his early departure from the band. He pretty much had it under
control for a very long time but some of the symptoms started to come back about
three years ago. It made touring very difficult for him. Recently, he had some
major surgery that involved his spleen so they basically cut him from one side
to the other. So it's a very difficult time for him and, obviously, other things
need to take precedent in his life over Pro-Pain. And it wasn't easy making the
decision, I was part of it. He wanted to continue and even to do the last tour
and I said we can't let it happen because if something happens to him I have to
Do you have any news of him? Do you know if he's been doing any better these
Well, I heard the surgery was a success which is great but I think it's
going to be a long road for him to recovery, it's not something you just bounce
back from. There are a lot of things that are causing these sorts of severe
symptoms that he's been having for a long time. Things will ultimately get back
to normal but I think it's going to take a long time. With that type of surgery,
again, it's not something you just bounce back from overnight. The last time I
saw him, he lost a lot of weight. I'm hoping that he's well enough to get back
and to play music because that's his passion. So we'll see. Time will tell, I
Back to the re-recorded songs, it was interesting to hear your voice without
distortion effects in the tracks from The Truth Hurts album, at least in Make
War Not Love (you kept some of that in Denial). Originally, when you recorded
that album, where did the idea come from to try it out?
Well, it was sort of trendy to do that at that time and I think it was sort
of something made popular by one of the earlier Pantera albums.
And it really did make you sound like Phil Anselmo here and there...
Yeah, it was something that everybody was sold on at that time. But in
retrospect, given a couple of years time afterwards, we looked back, took
another listen and said that perhaps it wasn't the best idea to add so much
distortion. But I always knew that, probably because of that, that album would
be a real stand out record for the band. And a real different one. And it turned
out to be the biggest selling Pro-Pain album (laughs). Maybe it had something to
do with that, I don't know, but it made for a very dark and brutal Pro-Pain
Have you ever been criticized because of the riff in the chorus of Make War
Not Love which is quite similar to the main riff of Megadeth's Symphony of
I've heard that before and I've compared it but it's not a very unique riff
so I don't think it speaks too highly for either band (laughs). But to be
compared to Megadeth, even in its simplest form, is a tremendous compliment.
Is it easy to find a balance between making music (records, tours) and
spending some time at home with your friends and families?
It's always difficult. I thought it would be more difficult when my son was
much younger but its not the case. He's sixteen now, quite independent, he has
his own things to do, he's even driving now.
Does he play music?
He plays drums. He plays mostly Metallica covers and he plays them very well.
I think some of their early stuff like Master of Puppets or the Black Album are
very good to get some good metal roots as a drummer and I think the drums are
great on those albums, too. I guess aside from Pro-Pain, to which he certainly
has his devotion, he loves Metallica, he really does. And I think that's cool
because a lot of new kids who are listening to more extreme music for the first
time tend to go for more bands closer to their own age. I'm happy that he's more
into classic bands. I guess to him, Metallica would be almost like a classic
rock band. But back to your question, it doesn't get easier being away from home
as time goes on. When you're home, you settle into some simpler routines that
are really cool and you miss them when you go away. This is just a completely
different lifestyle, you find yourself being two really completely different
people. For me, it hasn't been very difficult to adapt to it because I'm a Libra
(laughs). So I found a nice balance. I try to.
You just mentioned that Metallica is a classic rock band to the younger kids
and I think they really reached this status. How do you think people talk about
Pro-Pain? How do you think people will remember the band? How would you want
them to remember the band? Maybe you would want them say Pro-Pain is definitely
a classic hardcore / metal band?
Yeah, I would like ultimately that people have respect for the band and for
what we've done, even if our music is not their cup of tea, so to speak. This is
certainly a band that's had a lot of drive and a lot of passion from the
beginning and I think after doing this for so long and with the amount of
dedication that we've given, I would like to think that it deserves a certain
amount of respect if nothing else.
Yeah, twenty years of a career is a big achievement in hardcore.
I do this because I enjoy it and I try to provide for my family by doing
this. And having been able to do so, I think I've been a success at it. But I
don't do this for any musical legacy or anything like that, its not what I
really intend to do. If people still buy our records and still appreciate the
band many years from now, I think that's great but it's not the goal.
So are you really able to make a living out of music (tours, record sales,
Yeah, fortunately, I've done very well with this from the beginning. For me,
Pro-Pain's always been a full time job. I mean I invested some of my money very
wisely but I also invested some of my money not so wisely. But I think I've done
more wise things with my money than not and so I've been able to stay ahead of
the game that way. I bought some houses with Pro-Pain. I own three houses in
Sarasota, Florida, I rent two of them out to families and it takes some of the
financial stress off of always having to go out and hustle with the band. I have
plans for the future, you know. I want to make sure that when we close the doors
of the band the members and their families are going to be O.K. It's important
because if you do it full time with the band and you don't reap the financial
benefits of it, then all you have left is whatever musical legacy you leave
behind and sometimes the future isn't so kind to artists.
What about Crumbsuckers? Are you sometimes being asked about Crumbsuckers?
Did you ever think of a reunion, at least for a few shows?
We did one show in 2006, it was the twenty year anniversary of the release
Life of Dreams. We put together a show at the B.B. King's Night Club in New York
City and it was a big success. It's not the biggest club, it's a thousand
capacity, but we sold out the room. I thought it was pretty remarkable because
if we would play a show in New York City even in the band's heyday, maybe there
would be five hundred people there. So it was a big success, the fans loved it,
it just sounded pretty close to what we sounded like in the old days. Even the
mistakes were there (laughs). So it was interesting. I saw a lot of people in
the crowd I even forgot they existed and a lot of old friends. It was almost
like being at a high school reunion. Would I do it again? Maybe. I get asked
that a lot, even on the first show of this tour somebody asked me about a
Crumbsuckers reunion. I said I personally don't want to do it but I'm not going
to be the guy that says no if the rest of the band wants to do it. Our lead
guitar player Chuck Lenihan sent me an e-mail just before I came on this tour,
asking me what I think about doing another reunion. I told him the same thing.
I'm not really into it, I got a lot of other things going on and I'm sure
everybody else does, too. But if the sentiment is there, if that's what the band
wants to do, I'll do it. I'm not going to go along kicking and screaming but
I'll do it with integrity.
On the last couple of Pro-Pain albums, there are vocal melodies in some of
the songs. Do you think this tendency will continue?
For the next album? Probably not. I like that direction but I think that for
the time being, we've satisfied our artistic desires to go in those sorts of
directions. I don't think there is a need to go to any more extreme melodic
direction. I think the vibe right now is to write more of the purest Pro-Pain
album, something really straight up New York Hardcore and not such a hybrid. I
think it will be interesting, just straight up classic Pro-Pain hardcore stuff.
You have this song called All for King George which has been written towards
the end of the Bush era. What do you think about Barack Obama? What would you
say about him if you would write a song about him and his achievement?
We subliminally spoke about some of the flaws of the Obama administration on
the Absolute Power album. They are bringing a lot of the fundamentals of
socialism into our government which, in my opinion, has been slowly introduced
over time but now it seems to be in full motion. Hence some of the symbolism on
the cover of the record and even subtly spoken in some of the lyrics like
Unrestrained which says Disgusted, I abhor this abomination which is really
Obama nation, for those who care to dig a little deeper... I think he's a
terrible president. I thought George Bush was a terrible president, too. It's a
continuation of the Bush administration with regards to foreign policy and a
complete disaster in terms of economic policy.
Do you think there's anybody who could run the country better?
Ron Paul. He ran for president in 2008 but the media tore him to pieces
because he's anti-establishment. And the people weren't smart enough to realize
that he was the one that actually spoke for real change. I used to be a
registered democrat until Ron Paul ran for president. I just saw some clips and
interviews and I said wow, finally someone I can identify with. I changed my
political party affiliation to be able to vote for him, so I've registered
republican, I was never a registered republican in my life. I've kept that
political affiliation this time because he's running again and he's causing
quite a stir now. But will he win? Probably not. If I would have to guess I
would say that there's going to be a second Obama turn because the candidates
are not going to offer any strong competition to Barack Obama. Not that the
public believes in Barack Obama or feels very strongly about what he's doing.
It's just that one day they're going to look at the competition and they're
going to say well, he's probably better than these guys. So when there's
nobody serious being offered on the other side, then Obama will get a second
term unless Ron Paul just explodes and then all bets are off.
Foul Taste of Freedom is definitely a classic in this genre but which are
your favorite Pro-Pain albums?
I love different albums for different reasons. For nostalgic purposes I love
Foul Taste of Freedom. In terms of a milestone, Act of God set a new production
standard for Pro-Pain. Lyrically, I love Age of Tyranny. In terms of diversity,
I love Absolute Power. So I have different feelings towards each album and I
can't really put one over the others in terms of a favorite one.