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Eugene (Gene) Victor Hoglan II is a well-known death metal drummer. He also plays guitar, although not on any records (save for some riffs on Dark Angel's leave scars and Time Does Not Heal and one lead on Silent Scream's record From the Darkest Depths of Imagination. He is famous for his creativity in drum arrangements and his technical playing, extremely accurate at almost any tempo—earning him the nickname "The Atomic Clock". Hoglan got his first drum kit when he was 13 and is completely self-taught. In 1984, Hoglan began his music career as a roadie (lights engineer) for the seminal thrash metal band Slayer, where he also played the drums during the soundcheck. He was also part of the band War God with Michelle Meldrum. At the end of the same year he was asked to join the thrash metal band Dark Angel as the drummer. He penned most of the lyrics for Dark Angel's next three albums. He achieved greater notoriety during the mid-1990s playing with Death, at the same time that bandleader Chuck Shuldiner was taking that group into a more progressive style.
Subsequently, he recorded one album with the thrash metal band Testament, and made the acquaintance of Canadian multi-instrumentalist Devin Townsend, forging a lasting friendship. He has since recorded several albums with Townsend, both as part of the speed / industrial / death metal band Strapping Young Lad and under Devin Townsend's name. Hoglan, also a part of a death metal band called Trenet, the brainchild of Strapping Young Lad guitarist Jed Simon. The band has been signed to Century Media Records, but has not yet recorded an album.
In 2004, Hoglan stood in for Martin Lopez of progressive metal band Opeth for the Vancouver, British Columbia show on Opeth's Lamentations tour who was said to be having panic attacks. Opeth's drum tech had filled in for the 2 previous dates on the tour and Martin Lopez rejoined the band for the Seattle, Washington show. In 2005, Hoglan stood in once again for Martin Lopez for the majority of the Sounds of the Underground tour when Lopez began having more panic attacks. Hoglan played double duty by playing a set withStrapping Young Lad then later that night performing with Opeth. It was later announced Lopez had a rare blood disorder and was seeking treatment. Hoglan also appears in Opeth's music video "The Grand Conjuration" as they filmed it on the tour while in Los Angeles, California. Other bands have also recruited Hoglan as a session drummer. He has recorded albums with the Norwegian black metal band Old Man's Child and the Danish death metal band Daemon. Additionally he has done production and engineering work for other albums and demos.
Gene Hoglan Interview:
SDM: When did you start playing drums? and did you play any other instruments first?
Gene: I got my first kit when I was thirteen, but before that I was a world champion air-drummer, and boy, was my kit yyyuuuuuuuuuge! I did play viola for six months in my 'Beginning Instruments' class in junior high. I've been playing guitar for 23 years now, and I play waaaaay more guitar these days than drums.
SDM: Did you ever play in a school band or any drum corps?
Gene: Just that viola thingy. I quit, 'cause they wouldn't let me play the drums. I think they offered snare only, and I was like, "No way man, DRUMS!". I used to just bring my viola home and try to pluck Molly Hatchet songs on it anyway. I was never cool enough for drum corps. The drum corps dudes were the coolest dudes in the school, just ask 'em!
SDM: Have you ever taken any lessons? if yes, from who?
Gene: I wish! I'd LOVE to take some lessons! I've always wanted lessons, just, never any time. The only lesson I ever was gonna take, when I first got my kit, was from a friend of my sister. We hadn't even gotten to the kit yet, and I just bonged out some double strokes in our kitchen (on our oven door, I remember), and he told me, "I can't even do those yet, what else do you want to teach me?", and so, there went our lesson.
I suppose I used to give myself 'lessons' when I was younger, by breaking down each part individually that the drummer was playing on whatever song I was listening to. "Okay, there's his kicks, his hands, his fills", etc. I'd do that with Rush songs, Yes, Pat Travers, UK, Gino Vannelli, you name it, anything I could get my hands on. When I was a teenager, and all the school rock bands start poppin' up, I'd check 'em out, and I'd think to myself, "Jeez, has this drummer even LISTENED to the song they're covering? He's not playing the pattern right, he's not doing any of the fills correctly", etc., etc. It used to kinda piss me off. I always found learning songs to be easy. I just had an aptitude for hearing and remembering everything drumwise on any given song, I guess.
SDM: Who are some of your biggest influences?
Gene: Well, Neil Peart was my first big one, then Tommy Aldredge, absolutely. Cozy Powell, for the pounding he could give a kit. And, the double bass chops he had, of course. Then there was Mark Craney, Terry Bozzio, Bill Bruford was a big 'un, with the 80's version of King Crimson, Steve Gadd had a big hand in the "Individual Thought Patterns" album, as did Deen Castronovo with "Symbolic", Alex Van Halen, definitely, Sonny Emory, Robb Reiner, Rob 'Wacko' Hunter, Rick Colaluca, Bobby Jarzombeck, Dave Culross, I always loved Nick Mason's playing on "Run Like Hell" from P. Floyd, really in the pocket. Just that song, though. I love Stevie Wonder's drumming, he is an amazing drummer, my favorite, totally. And the father of the blastbeat, oddly enough. I've have been literally influenced by every single drummer I've ever heard in my life, I think. The ones I love, I emulate, the ones I don't, I try to play as unlike as possible.
SDM: Do you practice any specific rudiments or combo's regularly?
Gene: I've worked specifically on the Flander's Method. His "Wingdangdoodleydiddles' are above reproach, as are his "Dingdong-oodleydoodles". His "Hi-dly-ho there, neglect-a-rinos" are unsurpassed. Um, I believe the answer to that question would be, "No". I've taught myself pretty much all my own rudiments. Hell, I'm just happy that I can PLAY a paradiddle and it's cousins. Pat McGrath taught me a 'reverse-accented paradiddle-diddle' back in '97, which I still think is neat.
SDM: What is your favorite part of your drum kit?
Gene: My right hand ride felt. It looks so soft and squishy. I actually had to remove it from the ride for my dvd, 'cause it was too cool. dunno, the pillows inside my kicks? I love sleeping... My throne, 'cause it allows me to not have to stand, therefore it is my friend? The sticker on my floor tom that says, "Now with softer fabric"? The sweat that I leave all over it? The part of it that writes the checks? Nah, that's a great question, Ian. I'd have to say my Pearl 14"x 8" brass free-floating snare. At rehearsal, when somebody is telling me something I don't want to hear, I can just *bangbangbangbang!* on it 'til they stop talking. I win! I like to have that thing around when a girlfriend is yammering at me...
"Gene, why can't you just-" *bangbangbangbang!* "Sorry, can't hear you." "But-" *bangbangbangbang!* "Sorry!" Boy, that thing sure comes in handy...
SDM: If you could give some advice to young drummers, it would be...
Gene: Buy my dvd, dammit! Best move you could ever make! Hee hee. Nah, seriously, my advice to all young musicians is; Find people who share your same passion, and with whom you can get along and just hang out with. Skills should come about third, really. Bands become adopted families in the long run, and it's better for all involved if ya geniunely like each other. And, no matter HOW hot and flirty your bassist/singer/okarino player's girl is, DON'T GO THERE! Keep your teeth. That doesn't really matter anyway, 'cause we drummers get all the hottest girlies.
SDM: Who gave the best live performance you've ever seen?
Gene: Wow, another great one. Sonny Emory's clinic in 86', opening for Bozzio, was pretty jaw-dropping. Tomas Haake is always completely mesmerizing, as is Flo Mounier. Akira Jimbo is from Mars.
SDM: Do you make any special adjustments to your set before touring? and do you have any other advice on tour preparations that might help younger drummers?
Gene: Rehearse twice as hard, play the set twice if you can, then playing live should come easier, 'cause you're only doing it once. Bring lots of crazy glue, so when you tear up your hands, you can instantly fix them. The 'gel' kind, not the 'liquid'. On the road, sleep as much as you can. When you're in a van, it's not the easiest thing to do, but rest is the best thing you can do for your live show. Try to stay away from the temptations of the road if you can. Your job description is 'musician', not 'full-time partier'. Again, that's if you can. Fun is fun, and don't be afraid to have it, but it can be hard to break away from. Believe me, I know. For those who are embarking on their first tours, might I suggest this; For every day that you're away, make sure you have $20 per day saved up to take with you. If you're gone for 30 days, have $600 in your pocket when you leave. At least you'll eat. It sucks being broke AND hungry on the road. Smoker's, make it $25. Or just eat less.
SDM: Aside from drumming, what else do you do, or want to do with your life?
Gene: Everything I've wanted to do with my life comes from the drumming, I think. I've always wanted to see the world, make new friends all over it, lead a nomadic life, and all of that has been made possible by the wood, plastic and metal. I've always considered myself to be a collector, and creator of, memories, and that all stems from drummin'. I mean, I hit things, hard and alot, AND I get paid for it. How cool is THAT? This is about the most righteous 'non-job' I can think of. wouldn't mind taking over Hugh Hefner's gig when he croaks, though. That'd be pretty damned righteous as well.
SDM: Having played with so many amazing guitarists like: Devin, Chuck, Alex etc... Can you describe how playing with some of them might have advanced your drumming skills?
Gene: Alex? Alex Knoll from 999 Society I played with for awhile. Alex Van Halen? He's a badass, I'd play guitar for him, just to show him how it's done, 'cause who's that hack he's been playin' with all this time? Hee hee, I'm assuming you meant Mr. Skolnick, with whom I've never had the pleasure of playing. Playing with EVERY musician I've played with has vastly improved my skills, from Dev to Chuck, Steve DiGiorgio, Bobby Koeble, Jed Simon, Byron Stroud, Eric Peterson, Brendon Small, Kris Shultz (MECHANISM), you name it. I learn something valuable from everybody, absolutely.
M.Stenland From Stanwood, WA asks: At what age did you realize that drumming was something you really wanted to make a career out of?
Gene: Did you know you ended that question with a preposition? Didn't think you'd be getting English advice, now didja? I was 11. Check oot my bio on my Myspace GeneHoglanMusic page. It gives ya the big run-down on how it all started.
E.Taber From Atlanta asks: What are some of your current favorite bands/drummers?
Gene: Seriously, I love 'em all. All drummers kick ass now. Some young ones to watch out for are Vinnie Vinh, last seen in REFLUX, Naveen from ANIMOSITY, Brendan from MISERY SIGNALS, man the list just goes on. Drummers have come SO FAR in just the last 10 years, it's great.