Wicked Channel Interview-Gary Meskil (Pro Pain)

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1. First off, thank you Gary what an honor, huge fan. You guys have a new cd out The Final Revolution. Solid record, but there seems to be an underlining theme to it. Is this the last cd Pro Pain is recording? Do you think you have said all you have to say with this band?

My pleasure. With regard to the new album, although the title “The Final Revolution” has been interpreted by some as it being our last album, we sure hope that it isn’t. There’s never any shortage of themes to write about, especially in this day and age. So, I imagine we’ll keep trucking along at our usual pace until further notice.

2. What was the first band, cd or song that inspired you to be in a band?

The first album I ever had was Kiss “Rock And Roll Over”, but if I had to pick one which inspired me to start a band, I would have to say “Beware” The Misfits. I started my first band “Crumbsuckers” shortly after the release of that EP, and we covered “Attitude” and “We Are 138″.

3. If music did not happen for you Gary, what was the backup plan?

I was involved in a couple of other businesses before I decided to take the plunge into becoming a full time musician. My wife and I owned a Delicatessen in Baldwin Long Island, and I also worked in the Liquor Business for several years as a Manager. My theory wsa that I could always return to those kinds of businesses later in life (if I choose to do so), but if I want to take a chance at becoming a full time musician, then I should start while I’m young and give it 100%. I left my last “regular job” in 1992 and I’ve been a full time musician ever since. If I had to choose another job these days outside of music, I would probably go into advertising (which I find to be creative and interesting).

4. In your 21 year career you have had your share of press both positive and negative; do you read all the press you get? If so, does the negative stuff get to you?

I do read a lot of the press, and fortunately the positive sentiments overwhelmingly outweigh the negative. As far as negative press is concerned, sometimes constructive criticism can be very helpful in terms of applying some necessary adjustments while moving forward. On the other hand, sometimes negative press solely aims to be hurtful. I’m quite thick skinned when it comes to these kinds of things, however, and I understand that it’s all part of the game. Sticks and stones.

5. Do you think it is fair for a band or singer to ask the fans to fund their next cd by doing a kickstarter? I know for a fact when I talked to Ryan of Soil, he went on and on about all the money he once had and now he is asking fans to help him make more money off a new cd. And Filter has done it as well as many countless others.

Is it fair? Sure, why not? Would Pro-Pain do it? No. Having said that, here are my thoughts on the subject: Most bands are pretty broke, let’s face it. So, if a band aspires to make a new CD but lacks the funding to do so, I think it’s perfectly ethical to reach out to the fans in such a manner. No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head, so it’s strictly up to the fans whether or not they wish to participate by way of donation. So, the option is there for bands who wish to travel down that road.

6. Let’s talk about The Truth Hurts. Do you agree that the original album cover should have been banned? Also, it is quite the departure from Foul Taste of Freedom, if you could would you change anything about it?

The cover should never have been banned because there was absolutely no reason to ban it. For those who aren’t familiar with the cover, it’s basically a black and white picture of a naked female autopsy. The Truth Hurts was a bit of a concept album based on harsh realities. The booklet included quite a few pics from the NYC Police Archives. Any potentially visually disturbing aspects of the cover were covered up by a large sticker, so the ban was unjustifiable. In retrospect, perhaps it had more to do with PR and hype. Despite instant criticism from our label partners (due to the radical departure from it’s predecessor “Foul Taste Of Freedom”), I knew that The Truth Hurts would become a classic Pro-Pain album. We are one of those bands which has ironically been criticized for change and also for staying true. I used to say that if I had to change something about The Truth Hurts, I would modernize some of it’s production value (certain aspects of which are quite primitive for today’s ears). Now that I’m a bit older (and hopefully wiser), I think it’s best to leave it “as is”. Art generally loses artistic value post alteration.

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7. Given that Foul Taste was such a popular record for you guys, and got you on MTV with a few videos. When you follow that up does studio execs come in and intervene and whisper in your ear what you need to do? Also how did working with Ice T come about? What kind of experience was it?

With Energy Records, we had complete artistic freedom. It’s such a shame that the label only lasted a few short years, but the original staff and business model were excellent. Without the efforts of Energy Records, we probably would have not been able to weather the storm for 22 years. With regard to our collaboration with Ice-T: It came about as a result of touring together in 1992. We became friends, and fans of each others work. So, we thought it would be cool to record a song together in the studio sometime. The song “Put The Lights Out” (feat. Ice-T) is track # 4 on The Truth Hurts album.

8. Do you still get nervous before playing live? Also, have you ever been on stage and forgot the lyrics to the song? If so, what does one do?

Fortunately, I no longer get nervous before a gig. Those days are long gone. On occasion I do forget some of the lyrics, which I think is quite natural considering how many songs we have. When this occurs, I generally just mumble through the part with the same delivery as the rest of the song, and then I hope that no one notices.

9. I am begging you Gary, begging hard to give us something. You have toured with a who’s who of musicians and bands. Who were the best to be on tour with? And who was the worst? And dish, you have to give us something…

Best bands to tour with: DRI, Undivided, Zuul FX, GURD, Soulline, KomaH, etc… The worst? I’ll plead the 5th and leave that one up to the imagination. I will say this, however: 99% of the bands (and band members) we toured with are generally cool and easy to work with. On many tours, the techs and bus drivers can be the biggest rock stars.

10. After almost 22 years together, the in thing these days is for a band to document their life stories and interweave it into today’s situations. Have you been tempted to make a documentary?

No, although I’ve been asked quite a few times. Perhaps it would be interesting, but I have no interest in doing such a thing at this particular time. Maybe later on down the road, we’ll see.

11. Do you think the music media is fair to Pro-Pain? It seems like no magazine has listed any of your cds on any top list of all time, and fails to mention you for your vocals?

Being a realist, I tend to accept things as they are. Judging by the amount of press that our new album is currently generating, I think the music media is quite fair to us. I really can’t complain. Perhaps we’ll even make some of those lists someday.

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12. What was the last cd you had to rush out first day and buy? Also what is the most embarrassing cd in your collection?

The last CD I bought on day of release was Black Sabbath 13, which is great! The most socially embarrassing CD I in my collection is Air Supply “Greatest Hits”. I say “socially embarrassing” because it’s not embarrassing to own or to listen to, but only during the first half of parties when everyone’s sober. After a few drinks, everyone’s a fan!

13. I am finally going to put you on the spot. We are also a horror film site. Are you a horror fan? If so, give us some titles you would recommend to us?

I like Horror Films, but I’m anything but an expert on them. So, here’s my short list:

The Sixth Sense
Jacobs Ladder
Insidious
Trilogy Of Terror
The Birds
The Serpent And The Rainbow
Silence Of The Lambs
Rosemary’s Baby

14. Beside the new cd because everyone for sales purpose and to keep a PR person happy will name it. What is the best Pro-Pain cd and why? And also, what is the worst one and why?

My favorites: Foul Taste Of Freedom, Act Of God, Fistful Of Hate, and The Final Revolution. For me, those albums hit on all points from substance to production. Generally speaking, the albums which are a bit lacking for me are lacking only due to the production aspects of the album. Those albums are: The Truth Hurts, Contents Under Pressure, and Shreds Of Dignity. Otherwise, I think they are fine Pro-Pain albums. Would I change them if I could? No.

15. Gary the new cd is out and you play a gig, afterwards you announce to the audience that you are signing discs afterward. (these things never go well, just trust me) A fan comes up to you and is such a huge fan of yours and pulls out an illegal burn of your cd and asks you to sign it. What do you do? Does gender play a part in what you do or react? Like say some woman who is beautiful as opposed to a guy who looks like Artie Lange.

I would politely sign the burned copy because he’s a fan, and because he made an effort to come to the show. Gender and or vanity has no influence on how I treat people. It’s all about respect.

16. Your band has seen so many changes in the musical climate. You guys hit the scene right when the chords to Teen Spirit hit the airwaves and had everyone thinking they should wear combat boots and flannel. You guys stuck thru Nu-Metal, the huge wave of rap, and now the American music scene has met the computer age. Do you think that the music scene can ever recover from this? Also, do you truly think the government is doing all they can to prevent it?

Yes, we have fortunately endured many changes in the music scene over the years. Our business model is about as strong as it gets for an independent band, so if and when a band such as Pro-Pain is forced to throw in the proverbial towel, then that would signal tougher times ahead for indie bands. The computer age has forever changed the music industry as we knew it. To argue whether it has changed things for the better or worse would amount to nothing more than an exercise in futility. In recent years, the record industry (like most other industries) has been under consolidation. The largest companies have either been putting their competitors out of business or they are buying them up. Traditional “brick and mortar” record stores have been dropping like flies as everything moves online. All of the old catalog which is owned by the largest companies can now be purchased online, whereas one would be hard pressed to find such titles in record shops due to lack of space. For example, you probably wouldn’t be able to find Cat Stevens “Buddha and The Chocolate Box” in FYE or even Walmart or Target. You CAN now purchase it via iTunes for $8.99 So, think about the thousands and thousands of old catalog titles which are owned by the largest companies. Keep in mind, that there is no packaging involved with a Digital Download, so profits are large. Accounting and accountability is murky at best with such a medium. So, who wins and who loses? The large companies win (as usual) and the artists and small businesses lose (as usual). No one (incl. the Government) is stepping in because this is how it was designed to play itself out. This was not done out of ignorance, and it seems that I’m a bit of a lone voice when it comes to getting down to the truth of the matter. After all, we live in a Corporatocracy in which the top corporations earn more than the GDP of most countries.

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17. What was the first song you learned how to play or sing?

The first song I learned how to play was Smoke On The Water. Just kidding, it was actually Jingle Bells. I didn’t start singing until the later days of Crumbsuckers, so I don’t recall which song was actually the first. Definitely hardcore though.

18. What advice would you give a young kid who wants to be in a band?

Go for it, but don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Get a higher education, because in these times it is becoming increasingly more important to have a competitive edge via degree. Continue your musical passion as a hobby, and if and when the time comes to get more serious about it, then you will have to give it your all. Lastly, get to know the music business, make sure that you maintain most of your financial interests along the way, but leave enough room and incentive for professional help.

19. What do you think is the biggest misconception of Gary?

That I am somehow the same person onstage and off, and that I am an angry person. Sure, there’s a lot to be angry about, and I write about such things with a poison pen and deliver them onstage and on record with a sharp tongue. For me, it’s a personal release of sorts. In person, I’m anything but outspoken. I’m actually quite introverted.

20. This is your time to be the critic. I am going to name some records and you say whatever you want.

a. Pantera-Vulgar Display of Power: The title couldn’t have been more suitable. The right metal album at the right time. Awesome, although I prefer Cowboy’s From Hell.

b. Sepultura-Chaos AD: My favorite album from Sepultura. Who would have thought that such a brutal album could be made by such nice guys?

c. Crisis-The Hollowing: Crisis was ahead of their time and vastly underrated. The Hollowing was edgy, experimental, dark, and emotionally captivating.

d. Leeway-Desperate Measures: NY’s answer to Death Angel Act lll. Leeway was unique and anything but typical NYHC. Solid album.

e. D.R.I-Thrash Zone It’s classic DRI. I’ve been a DRI fan since the 80′s. I bought their debut album “Dirty Rotten LP” outside of CBGB’s at one of their gigs. It’s still my favorite DRI album, but Thrash Zone is in the top 3.

21. This is fill in the blank
a. My biggest vice is single malt whiskey
b. The best part of being in this band is being in this band
c. The Truth Hurts is the one song I hate to play live. Too many lyrics, not enough places to breathe.
d. I wish we could get on tour with Metallica!
e. Lana Del Rey is the hottest woman in music

22. I hope this was not too hard, it was such an honor. This is your chance to tell people about the tour, what is going on…aka promote and plug.

We’ll be on tour throughout 2014 in support of our new album “The Final Revolution”. For more info log onto pro-pain.com or visit us on Facebook at Pro Pain Official Also, check out my new band Darkhaus at www.darkhausmusic.com/

Thanks so much

Thanks for this interview!

\m/ Gary \m/

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2 Responses to Wicked Channel Interview-Gary Meskil (Pro Pain)

  1. James DePaolo says:

    thank you so much..I know Mike interviewed him on the Fearshop Metal show one time and he came across so cool and Mike sang his praises..so I talked to him, and the guy was super cool and down to earth…great guy who deserves any success he gets…

  2. Devil's Chord says:

    This was a fantastic interview. I’ve always imagined Gary was a great, intelligent guy but only have known him through his songs, really. I don’t recall ever seeing an interview with him. He was better than I even imagined.

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